Each week, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church invited its neighbors to join us each week for Lenten soup suppers. We met on Tuesday evenings through the Lenten season. These gatherings allowed us to share a simple soup supper from 6:00-6:30 pm. Participants were asked to bring their own place setting, a beverage, and fruit, cheese, or bread to share. After supper, we discussed the Five Marks of Love curriculum from 6:30-8:00 pm. Participants did not need to study ahead of time or commit to every week.
Each year, we set the 40 days of Lent aside for a reboot. On February 26, the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) published a self-paced (anytime) course called 5 Marks of Love. “The six-week series provided the opportunity to observe and to reflect on the ways in which the Divine Life expresses itself in and through us; individually and in our faith communities, as well as in the world around us.” You can find more details: click here
On Maundy Thursday, April 13, we gathered downstairs at 6 pm for an agape meal and foot washing. The meal included Middle Eastern finger foods such as dates, grapes, nuts, olives, pita bread, and cheeses. Adults had an option of wine, and the children had apple juice. As we ate, there were points when we paused to reflect on scripture. The evening included a Holy Eucharist, and after our meal, we washed each other’s feet.
Each month, members and friends of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church gather at The Pantry to volunteer their time and talent. On April 6, 2017, in addition to helping the staff and program participants, we also had the opportunity to share some of our treasure. Through a donation of $750, we hope these funds will assist The Pantry in its ministry even when we aren’t physically there.
It’s taken me some years to realize it, but Jesus didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. He wasn’t on vacation. He wasn’t just hanging out in town. Jesus was in Jerusalem on purpose. He arrived in Jerusalem about the time of the Passover when pilgrims were in the city. When people’s hopes and expectations for the dawn of freedom that Moses had promised in the first Passover might suddenly be realized for them in their time.
Jesus arranged his entrance into Jerusalem to send a message. He entered the city, having come in on one side of the city, the scholars tell us, at just about the same time that Pontius Pilate made his entrance on the exact opposite side of the city. Pilate, coming forth on a warhorse. Pilate, with soldiers around him. Pilate, with the insignias of Rome’s Empire. Pilate, representing the Caesars who claimed to be son of god. Pilate, who had conquered through Rome the people of Jerusalem. Pilate, representing the Empire that had taken away their freedom. Pilate, who represented the Empire that would maintain the colonial status of the Jewish people by brute force and violence.
Jesus entered the city on the other side, not on a warhorse, but on a donkey, recalling the words of Zechariah:
Behold your King comes to you
Triumphant and victorious is He
Humble and riding on a donkey
Jesus entered the city at the same time as Pilate to show them, and to show us, that God has another way. That violence is not the way. That hatred is not the way. That brute force and brutality are not the way.
Jesus came to show us there is another way. The way of unselfish, sacrificial love. That’s why he entered Jerusalem. That’s why he went to the cross. It was the power of that love poured out from the throne of God, that even after the horror of the crucifixion would raise him from death to life.
God came among us in the person of Jesus to start a movement. A movement to change the face of the earth. A movement to change us who dwell upon the earth. A movement to change the creation from the nightmare that is often made of it into the dream that God intends for it.
He didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday. He went to Jerusalem for a reason. To send a message. That not even the titanic powers of death can stop the love of God. On that Easter morning, he rose from the dead, and proclaimed love wins.
So you have a blessed Easter. Go forth to be people of the Resurrection. Follow in the way of Jesus. Don’t be ashamed to love. Don’t be ashamed to follow Jesus.
Have a blessed Easter. And bless the world. Amen.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
At the beginning of episode 14, A Full and Equal Order, season 2 of Priest Pulse, Fr. Benjamin Gildas prayed for my discernment of ordination to priesthood and highlighted Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wyoming, Michigan (not to be mistaken with the state of Wyoming). I feel humbled that his prayer and words served as the foreword to the podcast’s two segments dedicated to the diaconate.
During the first segment, Fr. Ben interviewed The Ven. Dr. Pamela Nesbit, Archdeacon of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who spoke passionately about the distinct role of deacons. “[Deacons] don’t think of [themselves] as servants [but] as leaders of the diakonia.” The Ven. Dr. Pamela Nesbit
In the next segment, Fr. Colin Chapman interviewed The Rev. Geoffrey Smith, COO of the Foreign and Domestic Missionary Society (DFMS). The DFMS is the corporate and legal entity of the national Episcopal Church (Canon I.3). During his interview, The Rev. Smith encouraged people who feel called to Holy Orders to discuss their calling with others and to explore their calling fully.
Just before concluding the episode, Fr. Ben surprised me by uplifting me once again with another round of encouraging words. After listening to the episode, I felt led to reach out to both deacons to thank them for their leadership, service, passion, and commitment to the diaconate.
Regardless of where my discernment process leads (to priesthood, to the diaconate, or to continued service in the laity), I “go with God and [without being] God. It will work out.” The Rev. Margaret Neill, former Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church [deceased]
Click here: full podcast
On Saturday, March 4, 2017, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church hosted the 2017 Bishop’s Workshops in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bishop Whayne Hougland opened the workshops in prayer (shown in photo). Then attendees had the opportunity to attend up to three workshops. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was represented by Allen Gradnigo, who attended Adaptive Leadership in Reformation Times, What You Can Do to Help Your Church with Good Communications Practices, and Thinking Theologically in Today’s Culture. The two additional workshops offered were Nuts and Bolts of Church Finance and Discerning Our Own Racism. Read more here: 3.5.2017 Bishop’s Workshops.