You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

Andrey Mironov,  Jesus and the rich young man

Andrey Mironov, Jesus and the rich young man

You may be a business man or some high-degree thief,
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief,

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are,
You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord,
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Bob Dylan penned these words in 1979, and unfortunately they never become obsolete. I am reminded of them once again, as I prepare my sermon for this Sunday on a very difficult text: Luke 16:1-13. There, Jesus says some hard words to all of us who have been entrusted with resources of time, talent, and treasure: 

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much…No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. 

Note what Jesus doesn’t say as well as what he does say. He doesn’t say that it is immoral to have resources. What he does say is that it matters to God what we do with those resources, and what hold we allow them to have on our lives. Are we faithful with them, or are we enslaved by them? Do we serve the Lord with all our hearts and souls, and all that we have? Or do we let the culture around us — or, indeed, the temptations of the devil — whisper in our ears the lie that that our worth is defined by our bank account? Whom do we serve? 

We have so much to celebrate at Trinity Church given our accomplishments and growth as a community over the past year.  In worship and formation, in loving service to our neighbors near and far, and in our common life, we have achieved so much.  We have welcomed many newcomers and built our programming to serve them. We have continued to build on the firm foundation of our life together in Jesus Christ that is not only part of our great history, but also part of our present and our future. 

Soon you will be receiving a pledge card asking you to prayerfully consider how you might contribute your time, talent, and treasure to the life and work of Christ’s Church at Trinity. As I’ve mentioned before, your support of the Church isn’t in the same category as other contributions to causes or institutions you support. Your pledge to the Church is a matter of spiritual discipline, and a mark of your religious commitment to make Jesus Christ the Lord of every aspect of your life — including your financial life. 

This is our time to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in Princeton. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector for Operations and Discipleship

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Surrendering to God’s Embrace

I find repentance to be something of a relief. A surrendering to God’s embrace. That’s why I love our Gospel reading for this Sunday (Luke 15:1-10). God is a shepherd searching for one lost sheep or a woman searching for one lost coin. And when the sinner repents, all the angels rejoice. 

But I know that not everyone views the connection between sin and repentance so positively. We imagine that sin is attached to God’s judgement, wrath, or rejection.  We imagine that repentance should be motivated by the fear of punishment or the pain of separation. 

It’s hard to remember that the first believers who felt the power of Jesus’ cross and resurrection did not really know how that miracle led to the forgiveness of sin. They certainly knew that it brought forgiveness (Matt 26:28; Acts 10:43). Through the cross they were a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), children of God and heirs of everlasting life (Col 1:14). They were a new community, with Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female becoming one Body in Christ (Gal 3:28). They had to live differently as children of the light (Eph 5:8; 1 Thess 5:5).

They knew this because they experienced it through the Spirit. But actually how were we reborn and restored in Jesus? Over centuries, different metaphors have tried to capture the mystery of sin and salvation. Jesus, like the Paschal Lamb, is the only sacrifice needed for sin. Or, his obedience unto death undid the original disobedience of Adam. Maybe, the world was in bondage to the devil and Jesus was our ransom. Or perhaps, we are like debtors in prison or slaves to sin, and Jesus redeems us. In a feudal vein, God is like a Lord and we are faithless servants. Jesus is the perfect offering that restores the Lord’s honor and our place in his kingdom. Or, God is like a judge who declares us worthy of punishment and Jesus steps in to take that punishment on himself. 

All of these express some aspect of how we experience ourselves and God in the work of repentance. 

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But what if, God is a woman. And you are a treasure. She wants you back because you belong to her. God is focused on finding you with method and intensity, searching every corner to sweep you back into her hands. 

Or what if, God is a shepherd. And you belong to his flock. He is not insulted but afraid for your fate, as he retraces every path with worry and skill, hoping to rescue you from yourself… before you fall deeper into danger. 

What if, when you are found, it is because you are wanted. There is relief, rejoicing — God calling the heavens to welcome you. The cheers of the stadium: that thrill down an angels spine that you made it. This is my hope for your experience of repentance. Because what defines our relationship with God is not our sin but our great value to the One who died for us. 

In Christ,

 

The Rev. Dr. Sonia Waters
Trinity Fellow for Spiritual Care

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Mutual Love

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Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
— Hebrews 13:1-3

Dear sisters and brothers,

The needs and struggles of the world are ever before us. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” however, often holds true. What we no longer see, what is not present before us and pressing upon us, can all too easily be forgotten. If we don’t feel it and see it, if it doesn’t affect us … then perhaps it is of no real concern at all. This, however, is contrary to the Gospel of Christ. Contrary to how we are to live in the world as Christians.

Without question, the weight and intensity of such concerns can be too much for us to bear, but that does not release us from our holy and sacred call to be present with those in need. We must not forget, we must not put aside, the cries and longings of those who suffer. Because our cupboard is full, we can’t forget the struggle of those who have no food. Because we go about our daily lives free and unencumbered, we cannot forget those who are locked away in our system of mass incarceration. Because we know the love of family and friends, we cannot forget those who live lives of “quiet desperation.” 

As we now prepare to embark on this new program year, may mutual love, genuine affection, and humble service be our guide that all may know the healing and loving truth of God. 

In Christ,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

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Trinity Choirs Are Open to You!

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It’s almost September and the season is about to begin. Labor Day weekend is upon us — the last gasp of summer vacation time. Schools start, others launch their own September vacations.

But have you signed up for the Trinity Choirs yet?

All are invited to be a part of the singing. Much fun, laughter, great community, and glorious music. We hope you will give it a try! There is always room for people interested in singing.

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Choral Singing for All Ages


— ABC Choir —

ABC Choir for children second grade and younger. Trinity Staff Singer, Annie Bryson, is Director. This choir rehearses Thursdays from 4:45–5:30pm, mid September through early May. Choristers and their families are welcome to attend Choir Supper in Pierce-Bishop Hall from from 5:35–6:10pm. This choir sings at the 10am service on the first Sunday of the month, October through May.

— Treble & Schola Choir —

Trebles & Schola Choir puts trebles, third grade and older, on the soprano line.

The Trebles rehearse Tuesdays & Thursdays (see schedule below). This Choir sings the 10pm service on the first and third Sundays of the month; and the 5pm service on the second, fourth and fifth Sundays.

The Schola consists of nineteen alto, tenor, and bass singers who are there to support the treble line, giving the Trebles the opportunity to sing very sophisticated music at a very high level. The Schola membership is made up of six Staff Singers as well as teenage boys who are going through voice change, as well as some choir parents. (All other adults sing in the Adult Choir.) The Schola Choir rehearses with the Trebles on Thursdays from 6:15–8pm. The Schola is also invited to Choir Supper in Pierce-Bishop Hall 5:35–6:10pm.


 

Tuesday —

3:30–4:30pm Study Hall available
4:30–6pm Trebles 3rd–8th grades
6:15–7:30pm Trebles 9th–12th grades

Thursday —

3:30–4:30 Study Hall available
4:30–5:30 Trebles 3rd–8th Grades
5:35–6:10 Choir Supper in Pierce-Bishop
6:15–7:30 Trebles & Schola
7:30–8:00 8th grade and older

 

— The Adult Choir —

The Adult Choir Is comprised of thirty-three adults who love to sing and who enjoy singing the magnificent repertoire of the Anglican Choral Tradition. It’s a fun group! The Adult Choir rehearses Wednesdays from 6:15–8pm. On Sundays, they sing at the 10am service on the second, fourth and fifth Sundays; and the 5pm service on the first and third Sundays.

Give it a try!

Back to School

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Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to go back to school.  The time for reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teachers and students ready themselves for another year of learning, challenge, exploration, and growth. 

I must admit that when I look at the course offerings from which my children have to select, I’m a little jealous – there are so many amazing subjects to choose from. It is a truly unique season of life when one’s primary “job” is simply to learn, to explore, to grow. The older I get, the more I realize just how much I don’t know and the limits of what I think I do know.

In the days ahead, students put on their backpacks and head back to school. I want to remind all of us that we are still and always will be students of life and students of the faith. There is more to learn for ALL of us. No matter how much we know or how much we “think” we know.

As we enter our new program year, I am challenging myself to take more seriously my priestly call to be an intentional “student” of the faith. That is a disciple. A disciple is a student or follower of a mentor or teacher. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to continually be about the practice of learning and growing in our faith.  As a priest, I can often get lost and distracted by the duties of church work. I can all too easily neglect to sit at the feet of the Lord in prayer and study because there is always “work to be done.”

As we enter this new year, I challenge you to be a true disciple of the Lord, a student of the faith. What does the Lord want to teach you? What do you need to learn?  Where to do you need to be challenged? What aspect of faith do you need to explore more deeply?

So, it’s that time of year again. Time to go back to school. The time for reading, writing, arithmetic, and ... JESUS!  It’s time to learn. 

I’m excited. I hope you are too!!

Peace,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

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Ordinary Thoughts in Ordinary Time

Summer marks the long stretch of the Sundays after Pentecost that are sometimes called “Ordinary Time.” This doesn’t mean ordinary as in run of the mill. In this case ordinary, is used in the sense of counting or numbering, as we do with the weeks after Pentecost until Advent. In this season, we have already heard again the story of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus told through the Church year. Now we turn to the business of living as a people for whom that story has made all the difference in the world. It is, I believe, a matter of living an extraordinary life in ordinary ways, of doing “small things with great love,” as one quotation attributed to Mother Teresa says. 

In addition, it is a time for focusing of the gift of the Eucharist, the weekly practice that brings the presence of Christ as close as possible to us, and then sends us out into the world to share that presence with others.  I wanted to share with you a beautiful poem by the English priest and poet Malcolm Guite entitled This Table. It reminds me so much of the table I have the honor to stand behind at Trinity Church, and of the community that gathers around it each week:

The centuries have settled on this table
Deepened the grain beneath a clean white cloth
Which bears afresh our changing elements.
Year after year of prayer, in hope and trouble,
Were poured out here and blessed and broken, both
In aching absence and in absent presence. 

This table too the earth herself has given
And human hands have made. Where candle-flame
At corners burns and turns the air to light
The oak once held its branches up to heaven,
Blessing the elements which it became,
Rooting the dew and rain, branching the light.

Because another tree can bear, unbearable,
For us, the weight of Love, so can this table.

However, beyond participating in the weekly practice of the Eucharist, there are other ways to do “small things with great love.” In particular, I would like to encourage each of you to discern how God may be calling you to serve in specific ministries at Trinity Church in the coming year.  I guarantee that they will be rewarding to you spiritually, as well as an essential help to the parish. At the start of the fall, on September 8, we will have our traditional ministry fair, where you can learn more about our lay ministries from acolytes to altar guild to outreach. If you are not currently involved in any of these ministries, please pray about making it a part of your life at Trinity Church. In the end, it isn’t about what the church needs you to give, it’s about what you can receive as a gift through loving and serving both God and our neighbors. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

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The Rev. Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector for Operations & Discipleship

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Blessing of the Backpacks

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For some of us, the advent of a new school year is exciting. We hear West Side Story lyrics (“The air is hummin’ and somethin’ great is comin’… “) in our heads and tap dance to the bus stop. School shopping is the absolute best – bouquets of pencils delight us. We just can’t wait to organize our new assignment planners. For others, a new school year brings nothing but trepidation and an onslaught of anxious questions. Will I like my new teacher? What if my best friend isn’t in my class? What if I get a bad grade?... don’t make the varsity team?... 

No matter where your kids fall in this spectrum, they will most likely carry a backpack to and from school. These backpacks may be mostly empty or crammed full of books and papers. No matter how full they are of stuff, they will contain hopes, dreams, fears, and questions for each new season and each new day of this academic year. 

We would like to invite you to bring those backpacks to Trinity on September 8. Bring them empty or full. Invite a friend! Adults, if you’d like in on this, bring your briefcases, tote bags, or backpacks as well. The priests will bless the bags during the announcements in the middle of the service, to honor all the hopes, dreams, and fears that accompany the new school year, and to ask for God to strengthen, sustain, and encourage all our children as they learn and grow throughout the year. 

We have a small tag for you to attach to your bags as a reminder of God’s love for you and for everyone you meet as you go to and from school each day. There are color versions of these tags, pre-laminated, so you can attach them and go. Or if you’d like to decorate your own tag, please see Emily, who has black and white versions of the tag for you to color yourself. 

In addition, we are all ever-mindful of those in our midst who do not have enough money to buy school supplies, and who will not even have a backpack on the first day of school. We will be collecting school supplies to donate to Urban Promise. Suitable supplies include: a new backpack or lunchbox, packs of loose-leaf paper, No. 2 pencils, erasers, Ball Point pens, Highlighters, Composition Books, 1” or 2” Binders, and Folders. Please consider contributing something for a child in need. Collection boxes will be in the Narthex and at the Front Desk until September 15. 

 

Emily Pruszinski
Director of Family Ministries

Adult Forum Preview: What Are We Doing Here?

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine and the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine and the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you! The time is coming when we look to the start of the program year and especially to new offerings for our adult formation hour at 9am. I have several exciting things to share with you in the hopes that you will take advantage of them. First, instead of having one-off classes on different topics, we are going to schedule the forum in blocks. Several of those blocks will examine in detail what we do in our liturgy and why we do it. So many times we participate in the liturgy — receiving the Eucharist or reciting the Creed — without thinking about it. And that is part of the gifts of liturgical worship: it is here for us regardless of what we think or feel on a particular day. Sometimes it brings us intensely into God’s presence, and sometimes it washes over us while our minds are on other things. And that’s OK. 

This year, I hope we can dig deeper into understanding what we do in the liturgy. In the fall, I am going to teach a four or five week series on the Eucharist, and in the spring I will do the same thing with the Nicene Creed. We will also have a series on prisons, theological responses to incarceration, and the broader implications for a holistic pursuit of social justice. In addition, several other series are still in the planning stages, so stay tuned for more information and a full schedule. 

Second, on the second Sunday of each month, we will have an ‘on-ramp’ introductory class in the Thomas Room for newcomers as well as long-time members interested in learning more about basic Anglican topics and happenings at Trinity Church. This class will have four parts, repeating in a cycle throughout the year, so that regardless of when people join our church, they will be integrated into our parish seamlessly. 

Finally, look for some regular features in the ePISTLE from our Director of Family Ministries as well as myself. Emily will keep you updated on family ministry topics and on how to share the faith with your children, and I will have a regular “theological word of the week” column. 

One way to grow closer to God in Christ is through learning, and I hope you will join me in this adventure of discipleship next fall. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

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The Rev. Canon Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector for Operations and Discipleship

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