Understanding Jesus and Politics

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Religion should stay out of politics. Do you[r] job and preach what is important. The Lord our savior. Don’t get the two confused.”

That was a comment left on my Facebook page. The man (not a church member) was clearly unhappy with my posting. I was thanking Bishop Bruce Ough, the president of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. Ough was denouncing President Trump’s alleged expletive-filled comments about immigrants. Ough said he found the comments “not only offensive and harmful, they are racist.”

Honestly, I’m not sure if the man who posted those words was aiming his remarks at the Bishop or me, and it doesn’t really matter. The fact is that there seems to be a lot of confusion about the role of religion in relation to politics. If any Christian thinks Jesus was non-political, well then, that person is missing the point of a lot of Jesus’ teachings.

“Religion should stay out of politics.”

How many times have we heard Jesus speak of the kingdom? That’s a political statement. His goal was to show the kingdom of God was in direct contrast to the kingdom of the political elite. “My kingdom is not from this world … my kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

As we work our way through this Lenten season, we look toward Easter Sunday and the joyful message of a resurrected Lord. But we must get through the ugliness of Good Friday to get there. The execution that ended the life of Jesus of Nazareth was political. People who posed a threat to Roman authority would find themselves nailed to a cross. Jesus’ execution was a political statement by leaders who hoped it would put an end to this movement. As we sit here two thousand years later, I am grateful for the brave followers of The Way of Christ. The violent end to his earthly life would not stop his message of salvation, love and social justice.

“Do you[r] job and preach what is important. The Lord our savior.”

This is actually a great reminder to me. Preach what is important, and that is indeed the peaceful teachings of the Lord our Savior.


Silent Lent

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

In my Confirmation and 5th & 6th grade classes I try to help students practice silence and centering. With eyes closed, there’s a moment of silence. Then I give directions to breath fears, anxiety out and to breath in God’s love, peace and joy. I’m not sure how it has helped students, but I feel so much better by taking ‘some time out to be’ (as Pastor Eileen always reminds us during Communion). I feel refreshed, relaxed and connected just by taking that short time of silence and centering prayer.

Then why can’t I practice this more often in my life. I engage in the usual things that everyone else similar in my life stage engages in like work, household chores, commuting, shuttling kids to practices, and other important responsibilities in life. Therefore, I have plenty to keep me busy, and I could make a fair case that I do not have time to sit in silence. But the problem is … that’s not entirely true. I do have the time and the need to practice silence more often. On top of that, I see that my family needs a father, husband, and faith leader who’s living out a centered and undistracted life. Because there are so many distractions that draw me away from centered and focused life, I’m probably modeling the opposite to my family.

During this Lent season I share my struggles in fasting from busy-ness, distractions and interruptions because we know that silence relieves stress and tension. Also, it improves memory, fights insomnia and heightens sensitivity. Surprisingly, it also stimulates brain growth!! (http://www.medicaldaily.com/5-health-benefits-being-silent-your-mind-and-body-396934) The practice of silence is almost a universal practice in many religious traditions. Then the natural question is, how can we reap more benefits from this ancient spiritual practice? And maybe we could help our children learn from our practice and modelling of silence.

One way is to acknowledge that we are over saturated with information, music, entertainment, sport events, news and social media. Yes, we’re way overloaded! Two, instead of thinking about silence as taking time out from life, see it as taking in more life. Moreover, see it as abandoning things and events that drain you of life so that you’re allowing growth, relaxation and mental attentiveness to fill you. Three, realize that doing nothing is sometimes doing something powerful. Have an abundant silent Lent!

The Mind of Christ in Lent

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Trinity’s annual Pancake Supper is Tuesday, February 13. Join us for a celebration of Fat Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, the first of the 40 days of Lent. Lent is probably the most widely observed season in the Christian year. Remember that Easter Day was originally the focus of the Christian year! The early Christians met weekly on the first day of the week to pray, break bread, and share in the apostles’ reminiscences of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 2:42). Their meetings were characterized by an expectation of their Lord’s immediate, sudden return. In this ecstatic atmosphere, one did not do long-range planning and goal setting. Within the pages of the New Testament, we have indications that time is fast becoming a threat to Christian faith. Time, if it were not to be an enemy, had to be made a friend. It was through this domestication of time that the Christian year evolved.

Although the precise details of the evolution are impossible to know, the general outline is rather easy to discern. First, there was the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. This celebration was of the entire Paschal mystery: the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension, the gift of the Spirit, and the promise of the Lord’s return. There next emerged a special emphasis in the spring on the celebration of the Paschal feast in relation to the actual time of the historical event. This celebration extended itself back through the Crucifixion on Friday and the Last Supper on Thursday, thus creating the Paschal Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. We know that in Jerusalem the custom began having the bishop ride a donkey into the city on the Sunday before the Passion and so inaugurate that period of observance that we call Holy Week.

Penitential discipline came to be attached to Lent as the Church increasingly understood itself as the field where the wheat and the weeds grew together. A major disagreement in the second century had to do with how to deal with those who denied or betrayed the faith. Those who had sinned were expected to perform appropriate penance. It soon became customary for all Christians to use the Lenten period as a time for repentance of past sins and self-denial (hence, “giving things up” for Lent), even if their sins had not been of a major or notorious kind.

Lent, then, is not a prolonged meditation upon the Passion and death of Christ, a pre-extended Good Friday. The clue to the meaning of Lent can be found by looking at the two days that frame it, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On Ash Wednesday, it is customary in many congregations for persons to have ashes placed upon their heads while they are being told, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In other words, we are confronted by the fact of our mortality in a vivid physical encounter. On Good Friday, we witness the death of another human being, and we are told that in this death we all have died. Lent is intended to end at the cross, but it begins with the human condition that we all share, and it takes on the character of a pilgrimage. We’re on a pilgrimage. Keep an account of what you observe along the way.



Discover Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you are like most Americans, the most common resolutions are to eat more healthfully, exercise more or save more money. (I looked up the most popular resolutions and these are, year after year, usually the top three.) Those are all noble ideals. But, what about making a commitment to church? Not surprisingly, this didn’t make the list!

I’d like to invite you to consider making this a focus for you in 2018. How? I’m so glad you asked! There are many ways to get involved at Trinity. Some are long-term and others are one-time events.

Do you like to speak in public? We would love to have you be a reader during worship. Do you have a passion for feeding the hungry? Help us with Martha’s Table Sunday by buying the bread, making sandwiches and snack bags, or delivering them. Do you have an interest in finance, administration, children or adult education, worship, or social justice? We have a place for you! God has placed a call on your heart. Trinity would love to have you live out that call with your church family.

Where do you get started? If you are thinking about joining Trinity or are interested in finding ways to get involved with the church, we invite you to join us for our Discover Trinity classes. See graphic for details:

Childcare is available during this time. The nursery (also located in the Fellowship Building) is open for infants and toddlers. We also have Sunday School available for children Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade.

During our Discover Trinity classes you will have a chance to meet with church leaders, as well as find out about what it means to be a United Methodist and member of Trinity Church. Plus, you’ll have a chance to ask questions about Trinity or the greater United Methodist Church. We would love to have you join us for both classes but welcome you, even if only for one.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can always reach me at the church or through my email: egilmer@umtrinity.org.

I’ll see you at church!



As Living Bibles

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

On Jan 14, eight students and their parents visited the Museum of the Bible. The museum measures 430,000 square feet over eight stories with four major exhibits trying to convey the impact of the Bible on society and history. We planned to cover it in three hours but needless to say, we only saw a fraction of its contents. Hopefully, we can revisit and explore in-depth this $500 million project to promote the Bible’s importance in our society. During the trip, I could not help thinking, “Does the Bible have a similar influence today?” And the follow-up question is “If not, then how can it become relevant again?”

One of the main reasons why the Bible might have lost its importance in society (and in some cases in the church) is that the approach to interpreting it has changed dramatically. Ancient interpreters for the first 1,500 years held these four assumptions about the Bible:

  1. They assumed that the Bible was fundamentally a cryptic text: that is, when it said A, often it might have meant B. They didn’t read it literally, but tried to discern deeper spiritual interpretations.
  2. Interpreters also assumed that it was a book of lessons directed to readers in their own day. The book is not about the past, but an instruction book to tell us how to live today.
  3. They assumed that the Bible contained no contradictions or mistakes. It is perfectly harmonious to the interpreters’ own religious beliefs and practices.
  4. They believed that it is essentially a divinely given text in which God spoke directly to the authors and prophets.

These assumptions still hold true for some Christian traditions today!

However, due to enlightenment and academic approach to biblical interpretation another set of assumptions developed.

  1. Scripture is to be understood by Scripture alone. Absurd and allegorical interpretations that early church interpreters and rabbinic midrash madewere rejected.
  2. In order to understand Scripture, we must understand the original languages used.
  3. Even though the Scripture disagrees with our conceptions, it means what is written.
  4. Someone who wishes to inquire into Scripture’s meaning must likewise investigate how the books themselves were put together and the process of transmission.
  5. Finally, there are parts of the Bible that contradict each other.

These two sets of assumptions quoted from James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible.

The problem with modern interpretative assumptions is that they reduce the authority that earlier assumptions held about the Bible to its readers. However, as believers who also affirm modern scientific worldview, we cannot fully embrace assumptions of ancient interpreters. My suggestion is that as parents, teachers and models of faith to our children, we keep in mind these two sets of assumptions and live out the Bible so that they observe how relevant, reasonable and vibrant its teachings are in our lives.



February 2018 at Trinity

Feb. 5 Crafts for a Cause
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Read how we’re continuing our mission through pillows, blankets, dresses and dolls at https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-mJ
Feb. 11 Martha’s Table Sandwich Making

Discover Trinity Class

9:30 a.m.

Volunteer at bit.ly/MTVol
Feb. 13 Book Chat

7 p.m.

Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
Feb. 13 Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, 5 – 7 p.m. Details in graphic below.
Feb. 14

Feb. 18

Ash Wednesday worship at noon and 7:30 p.m.

Discover Trinity class, 9:30 a.m.

Feb. 19 Office Closed
Feb. 19 Crafts for a Cause

7—8:30 p.m.

See Feb. 5 listing above.
Feb. 24 Chat n’ Chew with Bishop Lewis See information here
March 7 Easter flower orders due Get the form in the pews or at bit.ly/TUMCEasterFlowers


Date with Destiny

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

January through December of 2018, Trinity has a date with destiny. The members of Trinity Church will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to influence the desires and direction of the church for the next 10 -20 years. Your staff and church leaders invite you to join us and others from the District Next Level Innovation Team as we begin living into our NLI goals which will assist our discovering the joy and power of purpose driven mission and ministry. During the first quarter of 2018 you’ll be invited to join one of our four NLI teams. Check out the four teams below. Which one is calling your name? Let us know.

Vision for Trinity

  • What is our church’s vision? Join the Vision team to help Trinity create and organize around our vision.
  • This team will read Canoeing the Mountains, by Tod Bolinger.
  • Team Vision will inspire and orient the other three teams to fulfill Trinity vision.

Abundance through Generosity

  • Join Team A & G that’s  created around gifts and skills to make our vision possible.
  • Team A & G will create a Capital Campaign team engaging people of all ages to go deeper into service and commitment.
  • Team A & G will coordinate with the Stewardship team helping Trinity develop a deeper spiritual understanding of a life of generosity.

Hospitality for the Next Generation

  • Blessed by diversity, join Trinity’s Hospitality team to reach the people of Northern VA.
  • Team Hospitality needs persons who have the gift of hospitality, networking, and connection-building.
  • This team will read together: Beyond the First Visit, by Farr and Kotan.
  • Organize a hospitality training even for all the people of Trinity.
  • Team Hospitality will address our need for user-friendly signage.


  • Join Team Discipleship to help Trinity member gain a deeper relationship with Christ.
  • The team will develop a Sermon Series for Lent of 2018.
  • Join a small group created by Discipleship team for studying scripture, creating fellowship time together, eating and praying together.
  • Team Discipleship will live like Christ in the world.

Between 50 and 60 years ago Trinity’s faithful and visionary leadership influenced the then present and future needs of the people of McLean by building a new sanctuary. In order for us to be faithful in our time and place you and I need to improve our sanctuary’s physical appearance, and expand and enhance our ministry and outreach programs.

I deeply believe that you and I are being challenged and charged by God to continue Trinity’s long-standing tradition of responding to God’s call to contemporary vision and mission. God is definitely reaching more and more souls in McLean by growing Trinity Church, spiritually and physically. The enhancements and additions to our present church will improve and make more effective Trinity’s local and global outreach; build upon our valued diversity in Christ’s body; sustain and strengthen us through the life of prayer; encourage us to become more faithful stewards of God’s resources; and educate and equip us for the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ through social justice.

Please join me, Eileen, Keith, Jerry and Catherine, and all Trinity’s leadership and members, and the terrific leaders of our NLI teams for our date with destiny over the next twelve months. Together, with God, we’ve got lots of wonderful work to do.