From Pastor Neil’s Study, M/J 2022

Most of us give at least some attention to our physical health and wellbeing. We usually have certain markers that tell us how we are doing. These are things like how much we weigh; what we see when we look in the mirror; how quickly we get out of breath when we run up a flight of stairs; or how many muscles ache the day after we work in the yard. With the help of a physician, we may also keep track of vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar. When one or more of these vital signs get out of line, we know that we need to make changes in our diet or exercise. Like the dashboard of a car, these vital signs help us make good decisions and navigate healthfully through life.

But what about our spiritual lives? What are the vital signs that tell us how we are doing in our relationship with God? How do we know if we are on the right track in our discipleship — as followers of Jesus?

These are important questions, and I encourage you to think for yourself about how you know how you are doing. While I wouldn’t presume to give you an exhaustive list, I have some ideas about what the vital signs of Christian life might be. I share them in the hope that you will explore them for yourself as you grow in your faith.

To start with, remember that on Pentecost, we claim Jesus’ Easter promise that God would send the Holy Spirit into our lives. So, as you celebrate Pentecost (it’s June 5 this year) consider Galatians 5:22-23, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Each of the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit is a vital sign for Christian life. They are indicators of God’s Spirit in our lives.

As a spiritual exercise, take them one at a time. On a scale of one to ten: how much love are you experiencing today? How much joy? How much peace and kindness and generosity, etc. do you experience? Because these are subjective questions, you might want to think about how you know whether you’re experiencing and producing love and joy and peace, etc., and as you increase your awareness of the Spirit’s movement, you can intentionally allow God’s Spirit to have more and more access to your life.

Other vital signs of Christian life include the amount of time we spend in spiritual disciplines. We know that important relationships take time — including our relationship with God. The amount of (quality) time we spend with God in prayer, worship, Bible Study, service to others, etc. are pretty good indicators of our spiritual health. (These are also the primary ways we allow the Holy Spirit to access our lives.)

The good news is that, as we mature in our discipleship, just monitoring the vital signs of our spiritual health will bear fruit. I believe that as we pay attention to the vital signs of spiritual health, we start to make decisions that will transform our lives. When we allow God to have access to our lives, we experience the transforming power of God’s grace. And that really is good news!

In Christ,

Neil

Who was Paul? Is He Still Relevant Today?

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Statue of St. Paul at the ancient basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
Photo credit: Adam Hamilton

How much do you know about the apostle Paul? Other than the fact that he was a leader in the early church, what could you tell someone who knows nothing of Paul? Actually, there is more available about Paul than most other early church leaders. Thanks to his prolific letter writing to the churches, coupled with writings of others about him, we actually know quite a lot. (We even have a description of what he looked like and—spoiler alert—a unibrow comes into play.)

That’s why I’m happy to have the opportunity to teach a class on Paul. Beginning May 17 and running for six weeks, we’ll look at this fascinating character from the Bible. Among other resources, we’ll be using Adam Hamilton’s book, The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul. We’ll also be using Hamilton’s video series that accompanies his study. It’s an added bonus because he retraces some of the steps of Paul, taking us to key places where the apostle traveled and carried out his ministry. Reading the book is not mandatory, but it will add to your understanding of all Paul accomplished in his ministry. It’s available through Cokesbury, Amazon and other book retailers.

Here’s a brief overview of the weeks.

    1. Called to Follow Christ: Paul’s background, conversion and early ministry
    2. Called to Go: Paul’s first missionary journey
    3. Called to Suffer: Paul’s second missionary journey (part one)
    4. Called to Love: Paul’s second missionary journey (part two)
    5. Called to Give: Paul’s third missionary journey
    6. Called to Be Faithful: Paul’s death and legacy

This first-century leader traveled thousands of miles by sea and land, was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and ultimately executed for his unrelenting faith.

Please plan on joining us Tuesday mornings at 10:30 and Wednesday evenings at 7. We’ll continue to meet on Zoom. Look for details in our weekly bulletins as well as in our Friday e-news on how to join us via Zoom.

I hope to see you in our class!

Children’s Corner, M/J 2022

By Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry

What a joyous time we are having this spring! Our Children’s Ministry program is experiencing renewal and new beginnings, as we continue to bring families and children back to in-person activities, like our traditional Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday! I especially enjoyed seeing all the children at our Easter services and worshipping the risen Christ together. Eighteen children accompanied me to Children’s Worship, where we made pictures of the empty tomb – a reminder of God’s abiding love for all his children.

We look forward to Mother’s Day, Pentecost, the end of the school year and the beginning of summer fun! Together, we will learn about Jesus’ teachings and find new ways to share the Good News with others.

If you would like to be included in our biweekly Children’s Ministry email, please contact Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry, at lstrollo@umtrinity.org. Volunteers are especially needed to staff our Children’s Worship and Club 56 during the 10:30 service each Sunday. Please consider sharing your time and talents in this way. Lesson plans are provided.

Come join us in fellowship as we encourage and prepare our children to become followers of Christ.

Confirmation & Youth, M/J 2022

Got Summer Plans?

By Catherine Wethington, Interim Youth Director

The end of the school year is around the corner, have you thought about your summer plans? If not, now is a great time to consider how you will spend your free time this summer! Hopefully there will be opportunities to sleep and relax, maybe even sit next to the pool enjoying the sunshine, with proper use of SPF, of course. Maybe you have a summer job, big travel plans, or a sleep away camp to attend. For some, it will be their last summer before college, big changes ahead! There are friends to see, bags to pack, books to read, and adventures to be had. Undoubtedly, the summer will fly by. Amidst our big plans and relaxation time I hope that the youth will find ways to give back to our community and spend time at Trinity. Here are a few ideas for activities this summer:

    • Tutor younger kids in your neighborhood
    • Volunteer at a community garden- like Arcadia Food http://arcadiafood.org/
    • Spend time with your Grandparents (priceless)
    • Help a neighbor with a project
    • Babysit (for free!)
    • Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity https://www.habitat.org/
    • Plant a garden (it will bring joy for years to come)

The youth group will remain active through the summer serving our community as well as opportunities for fellowship—pool parties, movie nights, and other fun events! The summertime is a great opportunity to invite your friends to youth group. Spread the word that even though school is out, activities at Trinity continue. It’s also a great time to make Sunday mornings a priority, join us for regular weekly worship!

 


Confirmation 2022

By Anne Hough, Confirmation teacher

Since January, the following 8 young people have been participating in confirmation class: Elena, Landon, Jack, Christian, Leighton, Ella, Ashton, and Sydney. We have met at the church most Sunday afternoons from 4-5 p.m. to study together all the different topics that will help them know what it means to be a follower of Jesus and be a member of The United Methodist Church.

One of the most important things we have done is read through the Gospel of Mark together to understand more fully Jesus’ earthly mission and ministry, his death and resurrection. This is the main reason that we gave the class their Bibles at the beginning of the year.

We began the year by reading and discussing the two Creation stories at the beginning of Genesis, and then in the next couple of weeks heard the story of God’s people through the whole of the Old Testament and learned about the history and make-up of the Bible. Other topics included God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, the Christian calendar, grace, church history from Jesus’ ascension through present day, John Wesley and United Methodist Church history, the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds and the two Sacraments – Baptism and Holy Communion.

On May 1, we will have guest speaker, Rabbi Elianna Yolkut and then during our last class we will cover the New Testament history and talk about making decisions. The week following the last class, each confirmand will meet individually with Pastor Neil to discuss their decision about being confirmed.

It has been an amazing journey and the youth have been a wonderful group. We have learned a great deal, but also have had fun playing games at the end of many classes!

I would like the thank the faith friends who have accompanied the youth on this journey:

Marci Thomas with Elena; Wes Bricker with Landon; Vinnie DeMicco with Jack; Jamie Loving (Mr.) with Christian; Amanda Lawrence with Leighton; Andrea Hager with Ella; Wayne Detwiler with Ashton and Beth Lord with Sydney.

Also many thanks to Catherine Wethington for all her help.

Please mark your calendars for June 5 at 10:30! This is Confirmation Sunday (and Pentecost). Come and support your confirmands and celebrate with them at a fellowship time following the service.

 

May & June 2022 at Trinity

May
2          Crafts for a Cause
10        Book Chat
14        Celebration of Life: S. Martin
16        Crafts for a Cause
29        Celtic Service *
30        Office Closed
30        Crafts for a Cause
June
5          Confirmation
12        Graduate Recognition
13        Crafts for a Cause
14        Book Chat
20        Office Closed
26        Celtic Service *
*The Celtic Service will stream on Facebook and YouTube.
Book Chat

51nlvdy4wtl._sy291_bo1204203200_ql40_fmwebp_Trinity’s book club will meet by Zoom on Tuesday, May 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to discuss Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. Then, on Tuesday, June 14, we’ll have our annual end-of-season get-together in-person.  Please contact Kathy Maher at Kathyngs@gmail.com or 703-790-8884 if you’d like to join the group.

 

Graduate RecognitioN: June 12

cap_24308cSend us the names of your graduates (high school and above) to be included in our list for graduate recognition in worship on June 12 and in the July-August Spire. Student name with the name of the school from which s/he is graduating should be sent to info@umtrinity.org by June 6.

Available at https://bit.ly/TUMCgps and in your Sunday bulletin.
 

pastels_24613acVBS is coming this summer. To be part of the team, lease contact Laurie Strollo, lstrollo@umtrinity.org.

From Pastor Neil’s Study (M/A 2022)

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

1 Corinthians 2:2 (NRSV)

When the Apostle Paul wanted to summarize the Christian gospel for the church at Corinth, he used the words quoted above. It’s a powerful reminder that the events remembered during Holy Week are central to our Christian identity. No single event in human history has received more attention than the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. We are Christians because Jesus lived, was crucified, and then resurrected three days later. Because the events of Holy Week are so important — specifically the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life — during Lent this year, we are going to journey together, in both sermons and a companion study, through the 24 Hours That Changed the World.

Starting Sunday, March 6, we will be using Mark’s Gospel as our guide to journey with Jesus through the final day of his life on earth, experiencing the events that have changed the world. The 24 Hours start at sunset on Thursday when Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover and continue through Jesus’ crucifixion on Friday afternoon. During the sermon series, we’ll find ourselves in the story, not only to learn more about what happened, but to learn more about ourselves, and about what Jesus’ final 24 Hours mean for us. The series will culminate on Easter Sunday (April 17), when we celebrate Jesus’ victory over the power of sin and death.

The study, which will be offered on Zoom on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. (starting on March 8 & 9), is based on 24 Hours That Changed the World, a book written by the Reverend Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS. The study will help us grow in our understanding of the Gospel story. It will include video of the Reverend Hamilton visiting the Holy Land and teaching in his own church. When the sermon series and the study is finished, I believe you will have a deeper understanding of the meaning of the cross for Christian faith and hope you will plan to join us for worship every week and participate in the study. Look for additional information about the study in emails, bulletins, and Sunday morning announcements.

Finally, I’m sure you’re aware that many people in our world — including friends and members of our own families — wonder about the meaning of the cross. (You might even be wondering yourself.) I hope our Lenten journey will help answer some of those questions. So, this is a prime opportunity to share your faith by inviting someone you know to join us as we discover that the 24 Hours That Changed the World can change our lives too.

Neil

PS … Don’t forget that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2, with a service at 7 p.m. (in-person and online.) We will also have special services (in-person and online) at 7 p.m. on both Maundy Thursday, April 14, and Good Friday, April 15. Additional details will be available soon.

Faith During a Time of Uncertainty

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

In reflecting on our world right now, I often think of the start of M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled. The very first words are, “Life is difficult.” That’s it! Three little words that say so much. While one could think Peck wrote the book based on our lives for the past two years, the book was actually published in 1978. He’s right. Life is difficult, but it is also outrageously beautiful; it can be messy, but also glorious; heartbreaking, but also life-affirming.

It’s no wonder we feel exhausted by the hardships of our Covid-impacted lives. Parents became ad hoc educators. Most of us have been forced to embrace Zoom birthday parties, staff meetings, social gatherings, and even medical visits. Few have the right to wave the “Life is hard” flag more than frontline workers. They have seen more severe illness and death in two years than many would see in a lifetime of healthcare.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. It’s a fair question. We know life has been so, so hard, but do we stop to consider that part of this hard-and-unfair equation is the fact that life has been hard—in alternating greater and lesser degrees—for as long as there have been humans? (I refer you to the Cain and Abel family dynamic.) In this history of hardness of life, where is God? Or, maybe the question should be: Where do we find God during a time of great uncertainty?

As Christians, we are equipped with stories of those who lived thousands of years prior to our own existence on this earth. We look at the stories in the Bible of people like Esther. She is the Hebrew woman who would go on to become the queen of Persia—and in the process, prevents the genocide of her people. Fascinatingly, God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, but it is evident that what transpired would not have been possible without the actions of a faithful God. Just because we do not recognize the actions as those of God, does not mean there is a lack of presence of God. God is and always has been present, regardless of our acknowledgment.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). I truly believe that in all things, God does work for our good. This is one of the places where we can find hope and hang on with our dear lives, even in the midst of a pandemic. Even when we only see impossible, God sees incredible possibilities, hidden to the mortal eye but not to the Divine.

After his statement that life is hard, Peck continues:

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

What does matter? The powerful, grace-filled, merciful God of all creation, time and space. The God who loved us enough to take on human form and live among us, with all the drama and baggage that entails. This is love greater than any hardship life can throw at us, and that is what truly matters.

Children & Youth

Children’s Corner

By Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry

The first signs of Spring are appearing around us, reminding us of the opportunity for renewal and new beginnings. Our Children’s Ministry program is focused on bringing to the children of Trinity an understanding of God’s abiding love through Jesus Christ.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we have been enjoying our time together and strengthening our faith, with Children’s Worship lessons on Jesus’ early life and ministry, accompanied by stories, crafts and games. In the coming weeks, we will receive a Lenten kit brimming with items and ideas to make the 40-day journey to Easter more intentional and enriching. Look for information about our Easter egg hunt on Palm Sunday and join us on Easter Sunday as we worship the risen Christ.

If you would like to be included in our biweekly Children’s Ministry email, please contact Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry, at lstrollo@umtrinity.org. Volunteers are especially needed to staff our Children’s Worship and Club 56 during the 10:30 service each Sunday. Please consider sharing your time and talents in this way. Lesson plans are provided.

Come join us in fellowship as we encourage and prepare our children to go deeper into the Easter story.


Entering the Wilderness

By Catherine Wethington, Interim Youth Director

Lent is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday during which Christians prepare and focus towards Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During these forty days we reminisce on the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness in prayer, solitude, and fasting while resisting temptation. He separated himself from worldly influences in order to focus on God and God’s plan for him. Living in the way of Christ and listening for God so that we may use our unique gifts to serve Him, has been a recurring theme during our youth meetings.

So, how do we enter the “wilderness” like Christ? How do we leave our “worldly” distractions to better foster our relationship with God? We could unplug from technology after a certain time of day, we could try fasting 2 days a week like John Wesley, we could let go of sweets. Maybe we only play our favorite video game on Sundays.

Food and technology aren’t the only distractions we have. There are other types of worldly distractions, too. We could refrain from gossip, or speaking unkind words, to ourselves and others. We could focus on hope rather than pessimism. We could strive for thankfulness in all things rather than complaints.

What about adding something to your routine? You could do a Lenten photo challenge, post a verse each day, read a daily devotional, or say a daily prayer. You could journal each day or write a daily thank you card to someone. You could continue with your service to others. After such a positive experience with our Share the Love Food Drive you could allow that energy to drive your next service project at school, at home, or at church.

This Lenten season I challenge each of us to enter into the wilderness with Christ. Choose something to give up or add to your daily life, come to Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services, and continue to share the Gospel through service and love of others. Are you ready?

March-April 2022 at Trinity

Book Chat

Trinity’s book club will meet by Zoom on Tuesday, March 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to discuss Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman. This #1 New York Times bestselling novel has been described as a “charming, poignant [story] about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.” Please contact Kathy Maher at Kathyngs@gmail.com or 703-790-8884 if you’d like to join the group. Then, on Tuesday, April 12, we’ll discuss Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey. Please contact Kathy Maher at Kathyngs@gmail.com if you’d like to join the group.


On Easter Sunday, April 17, Trinity’s Sanctuary will be decorated with lilies and tulips, given in honor or memory of loved ones. Orders can also be placed online at
http://umtrinity.org/worship/easter-flowers and through our app. Paper order forms are available in the Narthex. All memorials/honors will be noted in the Easter Sunday bulletin. If you order flowers, you’re encouraged to take them home after the service.

Tulips are $9.75 per plant.

Lilies are $14.75 per plant.

Deadline for ordering is Friday, March 25!


Worship will be in-person and live-streamed on http://youtube.com/UMTrinity.

We ask that everyone pre-register or complete an attendance card in worship. This registration will be used if contact tracing becomes necessary. Pre-registration will open the week prior to the service at http://umtrinity.org/health.

Palm SundayApril 108:20 & 10:30 a.m.
Maundy ThursdayApril 147 p.m.
Good FridayApril 157 p.m.
Easter SundayApril 177 a.m.
8:30 & 10:30 a.m.

From Pastor’s Neil’s Study (J/F 2022)

A lot of people, including me, make New Year’s resolutions — or we have in the past. In the past couple of years, I’ve stopped using the word “resolution” but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hopes and dreams for the new year. I still use the change in calendar from December to January as a trigger to review the past and look ahead to the future. It seems like a natural time to review our lives and resolve to make changes. There’s something inviting about a brand-new year to make us want to start afresh.  And there are not many of us who don’t have some part of our lives that we want to work on.

Many followers of Jesus include our relationship with God in our year-end and year-ahead reflections. I know we’re a couple of weeks into 2022, but it’s not too late to take stock and consider where we are and where we think God is leading us. See if you can find a few hours to sit quietly and reflect. Ask God to help you be honest with yourself. Ask the historic question: “What is the state of my soul?” Then look at your whole life and ask yourself some personal questions. Do I have a regular habit of reading Scripture, and spending time alone with God in prayer? Do I attend worship services every week and receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion on a regular basis? Do I participate in classes and small groups so I can grow in my faith? Have I answered God’s call to use my gifts and abilities in the church’s ministries?  Have I found ways to serve God in the world? Do I share my faith when the opportunity arises? Do I invite family, friends, and neighbors to visit my church? Do I recognize the magnitude of God’s blessings in my life and give to God in proportion to what I’ve received?

You might have realized that my list of questions is closely related to the current sermon series about the 5 Commitments That Will Change Your Life In 2022. If you’ve missed any of them, you can go back and watch them again on YouTube. The 5 Commitments are the fundamental spiritual disciplines that God uses to changes our lives. As you reflect on your life, you may discover that you want to make these commitments — these spiritual disciplines — a priority in 2022.

I read somewhere that only about 12 percent of people who make resolutions in January actually keep them. The rest of us eventually give up and nothing changes. I’m sure there are many reasons, but my guess is that the 12 percent who are successful in keeping their resolutions have enlisted the help of others. They have intentionally sought out support and accountability from people close to them.

The lesson we can learn is this: if we want to grow in our relationship with God, we need help. We cannot do it alone. First and foremost, we need God. We need to recognize and remember that it is only by God’s grace and power that we experience the new life God intends for us. But we also need the church. We need to recognize and remember that the church belongs to God and a community of believers is essential for becoming a deeply committed follower of Jesus. We can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t try to do it alone.

If you — like me — want to make 2022 the best year ever, make and keep the 5 Commitments That Will Change Your Life, and know that Trinity Church is here to help. By the grace of God, we can do it. Together.

In Christ,

Pastor Neil