December 7, 2018

December 7, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

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On this date in 1941 many gave their lives in service to our country. In a 6-month period around December 1969, the three young Trinity members honored in our memorial garden gave their lives in service in Vietnam. All went willingly and without question—just as Jesus gave his life to save us all.

Recently, an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch quoted Father Adrian Harmening from Benedictine High School that his internal guidance was not GPS but GOS. “God first, Others second and Self third.”

In the five decades I have been at Trinity, I have seen many people who have served this church faithfully. Their commitment to God and others ahead of themselves has been evident in their selfless service.

Who do you serve above all?

Let us celebrate the coming of Christ and renew our commitment to serve.

Mike Cross

December 8, 2018

December 8, 2018

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

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Being on the Advent Book committee has its advantages – you get to pick what picture you want to write about! I chose this picture as it symbolizes the very substance of Advent—light breaking into darkness. As the morning’s daylight breaks through the sanctuary windows in this picture, light permeates the once darkened sanctuary.

This picture reminds me of the selected verse from Lamentations, “…new every morning are God’s mercies, love and faithfulness.” Amen and Amen.

As I write this, my family is still reeling with the news of Abby’s torn ACL—this time it’s her right knee (last year’s tear was on her left knee). When Eric and I visited with her yesterday at school (the University of Lynchburg), she told me about Claire, a graduate of the University of Lynchburg. Abby had met Claire just this past weekend through homecoming activities, and they became fast friends. Claire has an extreme digestive condition; she has to take medication every day, she endures painful medical procedures and even with that protocol, her life expectancy is just 35 years. With tears in her eyes, Abby said, “So Mom, I have nothing to complain about. An ACL can be repaired. Claire’s situation is much more serious.”

Light breaking in the darkness. God’s message of life, grace and hope articulated so clearly by an 18 year old whose dream of playing college basketball is postponed another year.

New every morning are God’s mercies. May you be reminded of them each and every morning this Advent.

Judy Oguich

December 9, 2018

December 9, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. Luke 24:31

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God reveals himself to Christians in many ways. For me, I call them “God moments,” times when I feel a heightened sense of God’s presence, or the Holy Spirit surrounding me. Occasionally, I have these moments while singing in the church choir when the music brings me closer to God.

A family “God moment” occurred on the day of my dad’s graveside service. Our family was escorted by two small deer bounding through the cemetery, keeping pace with our car, as we drove towards the gravesite. I have never seen deer in that cemetery before. To us, that symbolized my parents’ reunion in heaven.

Another “God moment” for me occurred when my ophthalmologist removed the eye patch after my first lens implant at age 33. I had congenital cataracts, and Jane and I cried as I saw the weave of the doctor’s sweater, all the colors in the carpet, and once outside, the individual leaves on the trees rather than just the trees.

That day involved my sight, but my experience pales in comparison to today’s scripture. Two men walked with Jesus to Emmaus yet did not “see” him until they had broken bread later in their home. Imagine, the resurrected Lord sitting beside them as they ate. What a life changing “God moment” that must have been for those men and readers of that passage today.

In this season of Advent, imagine actually “seeing” the Christ child arrive in all his glory. Halleluiah!

Doug Rechenbach

December 10, 2018

December 10, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

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Usually when I see a cross, I automatically conjure up thoughts of conflict, turmoil and strife. But this snow-covered cross evoked tranquility in the waking hours one December morning. This fresh blanket of snow along with the rising of the day covered the blemishes of its surroundings. The noise of the world was muffled if only for a few hours.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a blanket of snow to cover 2018? It too has been wrought with worry, conflict and loss. Devastating hurricanes and storms, polarizing thoughts, uncertainty about our world, the passing of loved ones… Uncertainty and worry sap our strength and consume us in a world that seems to have little hope.

But worry is nothing new. Mary and Joseph had worries as they traveled to Nazareth. And closer to home, at this very minute, if known, the all-out list of worries of our Trinity family would astound us.

So what can we do? Well, for the moment, or maybe as long as a Christmas season, we can see the cross as it is here, blanketed with God’s love and grace. We can see the promise of hope and renewal. Surrounding this cross of crucifixion and pain is the Spirit that is continually restored and provides a hushed calm that is “whiter than snow.”

Our Christmas prayer is that the Lord grant us
a passion to give and receive grace freely
and to allow loving hearts to ever be our guide.

Dennis & Kay King

December 11, 2018

December 11, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

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I am honored to be asked to participate in this year’s Advent devotional booklet.

For our December 2017 Pub Theology, it was a special night with Dr. Charles Staples and Drew Willson performing Christmas carols at a sing-along. The discussion for the evening was the significance of Christmas carols.

I have witnessed over the years that when two or more Methodists gather, someone has to bring the refreshments. How awesome is it that we meet at Ardent Brewery and share Belmont Pizza. On this particular night over 80 people were in attendance.

It was a cold and blustery night as we gathered under the tent, shoulder to shoulder to stay warm. We sang our favorite Christmas Carols. Mathew 18:20 is the foundation of Pub theology: “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

As the Advent season approaches, family and friends are gathering together to celebrate and anticipate the birth of Jesus Christ.

This particular night was magical. The blistering wind shocked the tent, and although snow is rare in Richmond in early December, sleet and snow pelted the tent for an everlasting memory.

Dear Lord, thank you for bringing our church together, as we gather together to celebrate the Advent season and the coming of Jesus Christ.

See you at Pub Theology this December.

Jack Berry

December 12, 2018

December 12, 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. Proverbs 22:6

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My husband and I often struggle with the sheer weight of being a parent in today’s society. We have many conversations in our home about the pressures of society and how that differs from when we were raised.

Sometimes it seems parenting can be a bit like this picture. Lonely and desolate; something beautiful hiding just underneath the surface, but you have to walk through the cold and discomfort to get there. In our society, it can often be isolating to be “that parent” that is the strictest, that parent that limits who their children can be with, that parent that can sometimes be considered a helicopter. It’s a balance, though, I believe. A balance between wanting to shelter your children, and wanting to allow them the space to make some mistakes that they can learn from.

I imagine this is a lot like how God feels about all of us. I believe that if we live a life that pleases God our children are going to learn about the world from our example. How to react, how to love, how to forgive and show God’s grace. How to practice self-control. While I’m certainly enjoying our children at their various stages now, I also look forward to the days when the snow will melt, so to speak, and the fruits of our labor spring forth in them as adults.

Emily Jiancristoforo
mom to Hannah, 11; Carter, 9; Lucy, 7 and Reid, 4