Meeting the Needs of the Young

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

There is today a cultural war for the hearts and souls of Protestant denominations. People are drifting away from the two most centrist denominations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church. These mainline Protestant denominations are not successfully engaging with the young in this country or protecting them from the erosion of contemporary culture. We need to stress wholesome fun, sports, warm mentoring relationships tied to Bible study and a personal relationship with Jesus. We need to provide a remedy from the isolation experienced by our young from the adult world and provide alternative models to the entertainment industry’s portrayal of adolescence, adulthood and family.

The mainline Protestant denominations must renew our focus on the needs of our young. Our graying mainline churches have, in the past, interpreted Christianity through the demands of peace and social justice agendas. And there is nothing wrong with these agendas so long as we don’t neglect the weighty needs of a personal salvation and relationship with Christ. Social justice and loving Jesus do not have to be in tension. Perhaps mainline Protestant churches need to initiate fresh discussions about the relation of traditional Christian beliefs to social justice issues.

Trinity Church addresses these concerns by beginning to focus on the individual child, partly out of the traditional evangelical impulse to save souls, but also out of concern for children in today’s culture. Our leaders here at Trinity are waking up to the real moral and spiritual forces of evil abroad that our young need our support to withstand. Every ministry at Trinity is trying to discover new ways for praise music to join hands with prayer book – that is to say, joining the love and merciful lifestyle expressed in the Gospel with the character formation our young need to live in the real world.

Trinity Church’s leaders believe that societal needs are changing rapidly, and in ways that call for our rethinking (and re-imaging) our understanding of the Christian mission. The Christian Church has undergone a reformation every 500 years. The spiritual reformation of the 21st century is underway. So what we do at Trinity now will make all the difference to our future. We seek a renewed pursuit of personal salvation without undermining our corporate responsibilities of the church to society. We seek to reach more young people in the McLean area and open their hearts to both the inclusivity of the Gospel and historic Christianity.

Perhaps we are living through a seismic shift in Christian history. That’s okay, provided we learn to keep a period of silence too, in order to discern God’s leading.

Shalom,  Jim Sprouse

 

Self-Knowledge and God Knowledge

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

As we dive head-first into the dog days of summer, I’ve been looking for just the right beach read. I already read a lot of books that pertain to God, scripture, church and leadership. Lately I’ve been looking for something to read during a trip to the beach—something to read for fun.

No matter what other books I might take with me, I won’t leave behind Yes, and …, a book of daily meditations. It’s by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and prolific author. I love his writing style. He pulls no punches for those of us who call ourselves Christians. He calls out our hypocrisy and shallowness. Sometimes his words can sting, but that’s only because they’re true.

In one of his devotions he speaks of our “operative God image” as being a subtle combination of our mom, dad or any other important authority figure in our life. In order for us to move past that view of God (for some that can include an image that is unreliable, scolding or punitive), we must begin an “inner life of prayer and in-depth study of sacred texts.” If we stay stuck in this early “God talk” and skip the self-knowledge and inner journey, Rohr says we remain in a “sincere pretense.”

But if we immerse ourselves in prayer and scripture study, Rohr says our lives are changed forever. “The miracle of grace and true prayer is that they invade the unconscious mind and heart (where our real truth lies)—and thus really change us!” This allows the love of God and love of self to “proceed forward together.”

Rohr also shares a phrase that he considers a foundation in our faith. It is: Your image of God creates you. I find this phrase so powerful in its truth. If your image of God is that of an earthly mom or dad, then you will assign human faults and limitations to God’s mercy and love. Alternately, if your image of God is one of limitless power, love and forgiveness, you are freed to be the people God is calling us to be.

I hope you have a great rest of the summer. When you’re in town, I look forward to seeing you in church!

 

Too Busy to Pray?

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

No worries, I get it. There is so much going on even weekly church attendance is a stretch. Because we are so busy the activity of just sitting there seemingly doing nothing feels odd. Therefore, it does not climb high on our priority list. When I was in seminary the professor from Spiritual Discipline class noted that pastors pray an average of 20-25 minutes a day. This stat came from the nineties. I bet it is much lower now. Imagine. If pastors do not pray much, how much less do lay people pray? (If I’m making a wrong assumption here, please shoot me an email.)

So, it is understandable that prayer is not the most sought out activity of the day. I get it.

But here’s the thing. Prayer does not have to be something artificial where you set aside special time to do it. Of course, it would be nice if you had extra thirty minutes or an hour a day where you could go and lift up your petitions to God. That would be so nice. And if you have the time, more power to you. Keep doing it.

However, if you are like most NOVA folks, you probably find it hard to even sit down and chat with your loved ones. Being too busy to pray is totally acceptable. However, deep inside you, there is this little voice that says, “you should pray a little bit more.”

Let me help. Brother Lawrence in his book Practicing the Presence of God makes this uncanny observation: we can communicate with God in the most common and mundane situations. You do not have to go to the desert and sit alone for years in order to commune with God. You do not have to drive yourself to a sanctuary. You do not have to set aside a swath of time and clear you schedule. You can just practice God’s presence when you are out and about doing your everyday tasks.

This insight has helped me to pray through busy times. I am in my car at least two hours a day for my commute. It has been one of the most blessed times for prayer. Yes. I pray while I drive! I do not close my eyes of course. During these long commutes, I often practice silence. Not all the time. I drive in silence and have a conversation with God. It helps me go through the day.

Too busy to pray? Try praying while you drive. Let me know if it helps.

 

August 2019 at Trinity

Aug. 5 – 9 Vacation Bible School Register/Volunteer at http://umtrinity.org/education/vbs
Aug. 11 Martha’s Table Snack Making Sunday
Aug. 12 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-vT
Aug. 17 Christ House  
Aug. 18 Trustees

6:30 p.m.

Meeting by telephone
Aug. 18 Child & Youth Outing Nationals Game, contact Keith if you’re interested in attending
Aug. 18

 

Celebration of Life: James Hanson

2 p.m.

Aug. 25 Celtic Service

5 p.m.

 
Aug. 26 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-vT

Approval for New Ministries Granted

On Wednesday, July 10, between 9 and 9:30, Trinity received the green light from Fairfax County’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to continue our dream of expanding our mission into those necessary ministry areas that address the critical needs of the families of northern Virginia. God has been prodding Trinity to take action in this direction for a number of years. Finally, God swept away the current obstacles. Permission to proceed – granted! Here’s what this means for Trinity and the families of NOVA.

Trinity’s new permit will allow us to continue all of our current children’s ministries including Sunday School; Youth Group; Trinity Preschool; Vacation Bible School; and others, as well as our parking and shuttle arrangement with the Potomac School.  It will also allow us to have up to 99 students on campus at one time for potential new ministries such as:

      • Preschool before and after care (a la carte options for preschool academic program only, and/or before care, and/or after care)
      • Public elementary school before and/or after care
      • Summer camp for children of any age
      • Senior day programming for enrichment and wellness
      • Week day infant care in our Fellowship Building Nursery

And more …

Trinity is thankful for all who prayed, envisioned and worked to make new ministries possible. We hope that everyone in the Trinity community will prayerfully listen for God’s call to leadership or technicianship in any new ministry and share that call with your faith family.

With gratitude and praise to God for his work in and through Vicki, Karen, Shirley, William, Sasha, David, Wayne, Reba, Jim, Keith, Eileen, John, Peggy, Jeremy, Jim, Harriet, Andy, Jose, John and the leadership of Trinity Preschool. We are also grateful for the important assistance of Perry Swope, Dyana Conroy and Michael Van Atta through the Potomac School; Supervisor John Foust and Benjamin Wiles; Reverend Doctor Sarah Calvert, District Superintendent, UMC; Debbie Matz, McLean Citizen’s Association; Gary Davis of The Davis Law Firm; Jeffrey Stuchel, Walter L. Phillips; Brent Krasner and Kevin McMahan, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning; Patricia Josiah, Fairfax County Land Development Services; and the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals.

With gratitude to God for a promising future, we humbly give thanks. -jcs-

 

 

Crafts for a Cause Shares Good News

Crafts for a Cause meets twice a month on Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 in Room 124 to make comfort items for hospital patients. No crafty skills required. Upcoming dates: Aug. 12 and Aug. 26.

Many thanks to Bea Wiesner for her generous donation to Crafts for a Cause in honor of her aunts, Beatrice and Ina Henderson, who enjoyed crafts. We’ll use the funds to buy fabric for hospital comfort items and dresses for girls. If you know of someone in the hospital or recovering at home who might appreciate a neck pillow, knit cap, bear or blanket, please let Crafts for a Cause know. We will be happy to provide a comfort gift! Contact Molly Sprouse.

Ten Reasons to Join a Choir

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

  1. You’ll serve God through musical prayer and help others praise God through hymns
  2. You’ll stimulate your intellect by engaging both sides of the brain
  3. You’ll have a creative and enjoyable way to express emotions through music
  4. You’ll belong, feel wanted and be a part of something positive
  5. You’ll gain self-confidence through teamwork
  6. You’ll improve your music skills while enjoying both traditional and contemporary styles
  7. You’ll create an extended family and find new friends (42 million Americans are in choirs)
  8. You’ll be in good company: actors (Sandra Bullock, Kevin Costner), singers (Alicia Keys, Jason Mraz), athletes (Troy Aikman, Sugar Ray Leonard) and political leaders (Kamala Harris, Barack Obama) all participated in choirs
  9. You’ll have the congregation looking up to you—literally
  10. You’ll be invited to our choir parties!

Want to learn more about choirs at Trinity? Talk to Jerry Rich. Summer Choir continues to meet on Sundays at 10 a.m. in Room 115 and Chancel Choir and Trinity Ringers will resume regular rehearsals in September.  Children’s and Youth Choirs will also resume in September.