This Sunday...Plus - April 26, 2020

by: 
Bob Scott, Kathryn Carroll, Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Windows at Trinity Church

Members of my family — and I won’t name names — are notoriously bad at finding things. They are even worse at following spoken instructions for locating items in the places where I know them to belong. So, I usually give up and either find it for them or leave them to their own devices. And predictably, when it’s the latter, after upending a drawer or an entire room, I hear, “It was in the last place I looked!” Cue: sigh, eye roll, and, sometimes, a giggle.

We say that God is present in all times and places, but we’ve all had times when evidence of God felt scarce. Now might be one of those times. But when we stop our frantic searching, we may find that God is hiding in plain sight.

Kathryn Carroll
Interim Program Manager, Children and Families

 

This Sunday

Respond

Reflect

 

Family Coffee Hour

This Sunday

To prepare for Sunday, see this week’s readings and download the worship bulletin.

Children can follow along with the Illustrated Ministry and the Sunday Paper Jr. worship bulletins.

Please join us for an Eastertide Family Coffee Hour following the service. We will meet online from our respective “upper rooms.” RSVP to Kathryn Carroll before 11am on Sunday and she will send you a link to join. Come as you are, from wherever you are. All are welcome! You can expect:

  • Show & Tell: BYOP Day — Bring your own pet (or stuffed animal)!
  • DIY Coffee Hour Refreshments: Try this delicious scone loaf! Or, if you missed it last week, here’s a recipe for simple cinnamon baked doughnuts.
  • Conversation Idea and Game: I Spy — What did or do you see out your window that surprises you?
 

Good News Project

Sometimes good news is harder to see than at other times. Sometimes it’s hidden and we choose to look for it. Sometimes something or someone needs to be broken open to see it. And sometimes we become the good news ourselves. We invite you to share your good news with us. Before Pentecost, we will collate people’s entries to share churchwide in a digital Good News Family Scrapbook. Feel free to enter more than one!

  • For dinner table conversation: Have you ever seen something good that was hiding inside something bad?
  • For individual reflection: Where have you felt God’s abiding — or seen the tiniest glimpse — during this challenging time? What have you noticed about the presence of God as you’ve fallen to your knees or fallen in love?
  1. Pay attention to the world around you in an Easter way: Where are you finding signs of God’s living presence today?
  2. Share the good news of Christ in your life with:
    • A photo you take (with or without a caption)
    • A poem or prayer you like or write
    • A link to a hopeful or joyful article
    • A short story or essay
  3. What can you share? Send your good news, in any format, to ChristianFormation@trinitywallstreet.org. We would love to hear it!
 

Baptism at St. Paul's Chapel

Hiding in Plain Sight

Kathryn Carroll
Interim Program Manager, Children and Families

If you became a parent or studied basic psychology in the past 70 years, you are probably familiar with something called object permanence: knowing something is present even when it’s not visible. It is one of the first cognitive developmental milestones to watch for in infants. Piaget originally introduced it and asserted that it had to do with memory development among other things. And he thought babies first demonstrated object permanence at around 18­–24 months.

Since the 1950s, you can imagine how many more conclusions have emerged about object permanence. One recent theory that intrigues me is that object identity must be established before an infant’s brain can begin to decode the concept of its permanence. And this ability can be determined in babies as young as 3­–4 months, who are yet unable to name anything. They measured their recognition of objects by tracking how long babies looked at it or for it. To me, this indicates that spiritual intelligence might be baked in and could even precede cognitive development.

There are references to seeing throughout the Gospels. In Lent, we read stories about blindness. In Eastertide, the Gospels are all about seeing or identifying Jesus without the instinctive assurances of object permanence. Children have invisible friends; they’re fascinated by invisibility cloaks and superpowers. And they can love invisible Jesus and fear invisible viruses. They facilely suspend disbelief to embrace the stories and possibilities that capture their imaginations. In Jesus’ day, people were identified as demonic or heretic, and were stoned or crucified for the same or less.

The good news is that whether by nature or nurture, we all grasped object permanence when we were infants, perhaps around the same time we were baptized. And we can see what’s possible in the impossible. And it just might look like good news hiding in plain sight.

 

A flowering tree in Riverside Park

Sometimes a Glimpse Will Do

Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
Associate Director, Faith Formation and Education

How I love the account of the appearance of Jesus on the Walk to Emmaus and the supper that followed, as told in today’s Gospel. It is a poignant story of a pair of men, with their hopes dashed and spirits crushed … and the dawning of their awareness of the grace and presence of the living God alongside them.

I think of this story as emblematic of the spiritual life because, well, they didn’t all live happily ever after, did they? Jesus’ apostles still had long journeys ahead of them, with all the joys and setbacks and challenges of their calling. I think of the spiritual life in this way. We have moments where our hearts burn and our eyes see clearly, and we are not assumed heaven, but have to finish our work, and do the laundry, and bear our suffering, nonetheless. In the scripture passage, we are reminded that the work of the spiritual life (as well as the sweetness of it), is in walking alongside Jesus with an open, vulnerable heart, and staying in conversation. This action — the walking, the opening, the sharing, and the communion — is not a movement from point A to point B. Rather, it is a kind of active tension drawing us, as if in widening circles of awareness, into the heart of God.

It makes me think of an evocative poem by David Whyte called “The Opening of Eyes,” in which the poet alludes to Moses falling to his knees at the sight of the burning bush and the utter astonishment of falling in love. He seems to suggest that there is a moment in life in which enlightenment dawns, in which the heart knows clearly that there is only love and that love is the ground of life. 

But who is to say that this is a once-and-for-all moment? What if, instead of waiting upon a once-and-for-all “opening of eyes,” we could seek out and be grateful for the tiny glimpses caught out of the corner of the eye? What if we paused to acknowledge the less spectacular moments where our hearts burn with a new insight? Or our hearts open to a new way of seeing someone or something that we were unable to receive before. The everyday astonishments. The smallest of openings that tutor our hearts and remind us of God’s accompaniment.  

Where have you felt God’s abiding — or seen the tiniest glimpse — during this challenging time? What have you noticed about the presence of God as you’ve fallen to your knees or fallen in love? Noticing small gifts and moving toward the Giver is the practice of a lifetime. Sometimes a glimpse will do.

THE OPENING OF EYES 

That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

—David Whyte

 

Trinity Churchyard

What Story Will We Tell?

Bob Scott
Director, Faith Formation and Education

You’ve probably heard of the little Broadway musical about Trinity Churchyard’s most famous occupant. The comments from this week’s Broad Way Bible Study reminded me of one of the songs: “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?”

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Luke tells a strange story about two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They find themselves in a conversation with the Risen Christ, “but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” The study group noted something significant I’d always missed: Jesus and the disciples compare stories. He asks what they’re talking about, and the two (appalled he doesn’t know) tell the story of the crucifixion, ending with how perplexed and disappointed they are. Jesus (still incognito) calls them fools and proceeds to tell his version of the story. His narrative begins with Moses and is a story of vision and hope.

We were struck by how powerfully this reading speaks to the importance of storytelling. Jesus solicited their story, listened, and then shared his. When the disciples’ eyes are opened so they recognize him, they say their hearts were burning as he spoke. The impact of how he framed the narrative inspired them to rush back excitedly to Jerusalem to find the other disciples.

Who will tell the story of this strange time in our lives? Will it be a story of despair or of hope? What does the current story reveal? What will we do about it? Where does it go from here?

This commentary from Spirituality of Conflict frames the question well: “But in our own context, a new burning in our hearts not only comforts us with the reassurance of Jesus’ resurrection; it provides this pandemic’s glaring illumination on what has been true for too long: inequality, injustice, and inaction. Having our eyes opened, we see more clearly the persistence of societal and personal conflicts that cause real harm. As we re–examine everything that has come before in the light of this global crisis, we too will want to acknowledge things now evident — both the good and the bad — and hurry back to address the systemic problems we kept ourselves from seeing” (Alex Wimberly, SpiritualityofConflict.com).