Leadership in the 21st Century

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Keith, Eileen and I over the last 3 months have been attending leadership seminars training us for the church of the 21st century. You and I are part of the first generation of North Americans to live in a society that no longer appreciates the presence of Christianity. Many are hostile toward the church. The early church shared the gospel of Jesus in a religiously plural, but hostile world. The 21st century has brought Christianity full circle.

Early Christians came together to celebrate their life together with God through prayer, table fellowship, and teaching about the Way. They also went out from the Temple and into the streets to be witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Their message asked persons to embrace the Way of life and the rule of God in their hearts but it was not about joining a particular church. They established small groups that met in homes for nurture and fellowship. It was through these small groups that a larger sense of community developed. Finally, they experienced persecution and arrest from religious authorities and non-religious people because the Way they chose affected the economic practices of society and challenged established religious traditions.

Based on these essential concerns of the early church and what is becoming obvious to us by now of the emerging world, we can conclude a few ideas about the church in the 21st century.

      1. Our primary mission will be to establish Christian communities in the midst of a hostile and violent world.
      2. The mission of these communities will be to proclaim the rule of God to all people.
      3. Existing and emerging Christian communities will need to nurture this new life in the Way and to bring new life to others.
      4. Our mission’s dominant theme will be the Way of life prefigured in the life and ministry of Jesus.
      5. The life of prayer will be necessary to keep our Christian communities focused on our mission as witnesses to the Way.
      6. And finally, all church and community leadership will be based on faithful service to the Way of Christ.

The excellent leadership of Trinity Church believes that, based on the life of the early church, the only way to move forward together in our time is for our congregation to turn outward to the world. All our new and existing buildings, ministries, and missions need to shout to the entire world that Jesus is the Way without being judgmental or forming value judgments on the worth of others with regard to their religious beliefs or their nationality. Our mission involves not losing our passion for social justice and the demand Christ makes on us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive sins, and love the enemy.

To move forward together as followers of the Way of Christ, all our missions and ministries must be willing to exist for the sole purpose of bringing this new life to others who are not yet experiencing it. We must be willing to invest our time, our talents, our treasures, and our very lives in order to turn society upside down so that, from time to time, those who are usually last can be first at the table of the world’s bounty. You and I need to discover as we move forward together the courage needed for embracing and offering this new life in Jesus as the Way. We are fellow pilgrims along the Way that leads us more fully and deeply into the wonder of God’s love, presence in the world, and mission.

 

Spending Holy Week at Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

It’s hard to believe that Easter is almost here. I know I say this every year. It seems like we just celebrated Christmas and now it’s April. We certainly hope you’ll spend Easter Sunday with us but that’s not the only day we hope you’ll join us. In order to get to Easter, it’s important we walk through Holy Week. Here’s a quick look at all the days of Holy Week and why they matter in the lives of followers of Christ.

Palm Sunday, April 14, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.: We celebrate the day that Jesus made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The crowds cheered him as he humbly entered the city riding on a donkey. In a sign of respect, the people threw their cloaks and leafy branches on the road in front of him. We will wave the palm fronds during worship to mark this first day of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday, April 18, 7:30 p.m., Chapel: The English word for Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, which means commandment. John’s gospel tells us that on his last night on earth (before his betrayal and arrest), Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as Jesus had loved them. John’s gospel does not record the institution of the Lord’s Supper among the events of this night, but the other gospels do. That’s why we mark this night with celebrations both at the basin (foot washing) and at the Lord’s Table (Holy Communion). Those who attend our service can choose whether to participate in one or both celebrations.

Good Friday, April 19, 7:30 p.m., Sanctuary: We will remember the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. We’ll mark this reverent evening in our dimmed Sanctuary, hearing scripture readings of the powerful story of the last hours of Jesus’ life. If you have never attended a Good Friday service, I encourage you to come this year. Experiencing Good Friday will make Easter Sunday even more meaningful.

Easter Sunday, April 21, 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.: Christ the Lord is risen today! We will celebrate bright and early at our sunrise service in the memorial garden, right outside the Fellowship Building. We will also be celebrating in our Sanctuary at our regular worship times. It is a day of celebration and joy, and we look forward to having you join us.

I’ll see you in church!

Trinity’s Outreach Helps Heart to Heart Be Self-Sustaining

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Trinity Church is returning to Heart to Heart Children’s Village (H2H) in Honduras from July 4 to 13. We’re calling for volunteers to participate in this heart-renewing trip and you’re invited!

The outreach represents multiple opportunities to aid H2H in its mission to nurture one hundred and ten children in their care. H2H is unique in that they develop and maintain multiple facets of social and spiritual endeavors. A complementary benefit from these multiple endeavors is that they help H2H become a self-sustaining ministry. To me that’s unique because our strategic contributions help them further their viability.

We know that they care for one hundred and ten children. Therefore, much of received financial support pours into this worthy endeavor. But did you know they also operate two high-quality schools—one bilingual and the other Spanish? The reason was that due to political disorder, weather conditions, and teacher strikes, students averaged about seventy days out of two hundred school days. Also, they not only educate H2H children but offer quality education opportunities for children in the schools’ neighborhood. Over three hundred tuition-paying students attend alongside the H2H children. This revenue makes operating schools a sustainable undertaking while educating all of the H2H children.

Two years ago, H2H leaders asked Trinity Church to help fund a solar system for H2H Children’s Village because a local electric company reneged on H2H’s prior arrangement with city officials. We agreed because this was another contribution to help H2H’s sustainability. The solar system would not only be a one-time assistance but a perpetual one because every time there’s sunshine, they’re saving electric cost! Fortunately, Peggy Fox and her daughter Leah organized a fundraiser that raised over $10K for the project. This plus generous donations from church members made possible about $13K total. Oscar, the H2H director, was able to complete a system for the boys’ dormitory with Trinity’s contribution. Then, other contributions helped complete the whole village.

In addition to schools, they started a church, manage a medical clinic and, in recent years, planted a coffee farm. A main factor in starting the farm rose out of needs to fund college educations for H2H graduates.

The main goal of Trinity’s trip to H2H is to develop and strengthen our relationship with their staff, volunteers and children. This is the most important and worthy goal. The second is to help H2H fortify their sustainability with technology to further solar projects, educational development for the schools, medical expertise for the medical clinic, theology for church growth, and marketing for coffee distribution. If you have expertise in one or more of these areas, please consider joining us this summer. You can reach me at 703-356-3312 or klee@umtrintiy.org to learn more.

 

April 2019 at Trinity

April 1 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-uthttps://wp.me/p3ZFFv-ut
April 3 Widows’ Support Group

6:30 p.m.

Meets in the Fellowship Building.
April 6 Good Works Day

8 a.m.—12 p.m.

See graphic below
April 7 Youth Choir Practice

11:40 a.m.

Meet in the Chapel
April 9 Book Chat

6:30 p.m.

Varina, by Charles Frazier
April 10 Easter flower orders due http://umtrinity.org/worship/easter-flowershttp://umtrinity.org/worship/easter-flowers
April 14 Martha’s Table Snack Making Sunday
April 15 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-uthttps://wp.me/p3ZFFv-ut
April 14

April 18 and 19

April 21

Palm Sunday

Maundy Thursday & Good Friday

Easter

 
April 22 Office Closed  
July 6-13 Mission trip to Honduras’ Heart to Heart Contact Keith Lee to get involved klee@umtrinity.org
Aug. 5-9 Vacation Bible School Volunteer at http://umtrinity.org/education/vbs

Praying for a Hopeful Lent

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The General Conference voted Feb. 26 to leave the language in the Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons unchanged for the next four years. Others desired what many consider offensive and hurtful language removed. This story isn’t finished. It’s part of our denominational struggle in our time and place. Let’s learn from a struggle taking place in Jesus’ day and time.

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Biblical scholars often note that the Gospel of Mark actually had two endings. One is found in Chapters 14-16 (the story of Jesus’ rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection). The other is Chapter 13, which talks about a period beyond Jesus’ resurrection— about the destruction of the Temple and the coming of the Son of Man.

It will be helpful for you and me to not read this scripture as a predictive message for the future, but as a word addressing the issues squeezing Mark’s community of faith at the time of the Gospel’s writing. The events in today’s lesson don’t come from some crystal ball of a divine soothsayer but are the fabric of the community’s everyday life. The violence of war, the Roman impending destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the perilous existence of the church under persecution, the enticing voices of false prophets and false messiahs were all urgent concerns for the Christian church about 30 years after Jesus’ earthly ministry.

The initial words of Jesus’ announcing the destruction of the Temple are prompted by a comment from one of his disciples about the beauty of the buildings. Jesus knows how Jerusalem will suffer in the near future, and also how much he will have to personally suffer to accomplish God’s purpose for all the world’s peoples and all of creation.

The modern church knows plenty about religious controversies and voices that talk a good game, use many of the right formulas, but at heart worship at a different altar. There are many churches who offer a crossless religion, a Christianity without tears; others wed faith to nation and cultural preferences and demand loyalty to some ideology; still others advocate the usefulness of religion arguing for the importance of prayer as an effective means of self-enhancement.

In spite of all that transpires within the world and the global church and the United Methodist Church, we are still invited to be hopeful. Wars, threats of wars, earthquakes, world-wide diseases and famines, denominational controversies, etc., all represent the worldly chaos in which Mark’s church and ours find ourselves. The woes may have changed a little or travel under different names, but any church that remains faithful to Christ will always find itself beleaguered and vulnerable.

And yet … all this chaos is understood to be the beginning of the birth pangs. The image is striking. It takes seriously the reality of human sin and the suffering it causes. There is no denial of life’s pain from Jesus. But in the economy of God all our sufferings serve a purpose. They signal the end of a long time of waiting and the coming birth of new life. Our sufferings need not lead to despair, but to hope, to the anticipated dawn of God’s new day—a new day of God that we anticipate during this season of Lent, and celebrate on another glorious Easter morning.

 

Letting the Church’s Light Shine

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

I recently took a class at Wesley Theological Seminary. It was taught a pastor from the United Church of Christ. She had us look at a writing by Marianne Williamson. Here’s the passage:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Then, the professor invited us to look at this passage again. This time, she told us to change the subject from being about us, to being about the Church. Let’s look at it again:

“The Church’s deepest fear is not that it is inadequate. The Church’s deepest fear is that it is powerful beyond measure. It is the Church’s light, not darkness that most frightens the Church. The Church asks itself, ‘Who is the Church to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who is the Church not to be? All the members are children of God. The Church playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around the Church. The Church is meant to shine, as children do. The Church was born to make manifest the glory of God that is within all. It’s not just in some; it’s in everyone. And as the Church lets its own light shine, the Church unconsciously gives people permission to do the same. As the Church is liberated from its own fear, the presence of the Church automatically liberates others.”

When you remember that we are the church, this writing takes on even more impact. We are called to be empowered as children of God. As Williamson writes, we were “born to make manifest the glory of God that is within” each one of us. We are liberated by the love of Christ. I invite you to answer the call and live as God’s loved and confident child.

 

Together Everyone Achieves More

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Vacation Bible School is scheduled for Aug 5-9 and the theme is To Mars and Beyond. VBS is not just one of the large events that we sponsor for the community but a wonderful avenue of interacting, building relationships, serving, and blessing our McLean neighbors. It provides a wonderful opportunity that we should develop to its fullest potential. The biggest obstacle is lack of volunteers. We turn away ten to twenty students every year due to overcrowding. The good news is that we have the TEAM strategy: Together Everyone Achieves More. Basically, it is about recruiting friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.

In my experience, a major bottleneck to a healthy church life is a lack of volunteers. This is true in growing a church or developing children’s programs. Volunteers are difficult to recruit especially in the Northern Virginia area where over-commitment is a way of life. However, a solution might be found in utilizing a network of relationships in our lives. The effectiveness of this was demonstrated by our VBS team leaders, Marci and Jen. I noticed that one of the reasons for the success of Trinity’s VBS is that they recruited their neighbors, friends and family members.

This is an excellent approach because, first of all, church members are always asked to volunteer. Many people respond gladly. We intend to keep recruiting from our members. But we encounter limitations due to a finite number of members and conflicting summer vacation plans. Reaching into relationships outside of Trinity has been fruitful; almost half of volunteers and students are non-Trinity members. We would like to continue and develop this approach.

Second, this recruitment of volunteers invites others to share in the joy of serving wonderful children. Almost all of the volunteers including myself, find VBS to be an encouraging and inspiring experience. The energy and excitement, friendly and warm interactions, fun and memorable activities, and serving with other volunteers and students make VBS not just a program but a cherished event. Therefore, it is an opportunity to receive as well as to give.

Third, inviting volunteers is an excellent way to introduce our church. Visiting a new church can be intimidating. However, asking someone to volunteer gives a person a purpose and a time frame to check out our church. It is a neutral form of invitation.

There are many other benefits of recruiting from our personal network of relationships. But the bottom line is the idea of working together, building a team, and creating a cohesive community. To extend this idea further, let us build teams when we take on tasks in life or church because Together Everyone Achieves More!