Category Archives: Worship

Trinity in the Community: Environmental Spirituality

October 2, 2016

In this Sunday’s Gospel, plants are metaphors to express the growth potential of faith: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17) Of course the increase of faith is about our faith in God, but mustard seeds, mulberry trees, and the sea are somehow part of the world of faith. In fact, we could ask ourselves, what our faith, our life, even our urbanized lifestyle, would be without the plants, trees, animals, water… The awareness of the crucial place of nature and ecology in our lives continues to grow. Environmental Spirituality aims at creating a deepened awareness of the importance of our climate, our natural context, our human biotope.

This Sunday, October 2, Julia Johnson will introduce this concept of Environmental Spirituality, announcing  a Bible Study and related movie series. She will speak during the 9am service, at the 10am Sunday Forum and during the 11am service.

On a related note, from the office of our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Water Is a Gift: Respect It, Protect It

The planned 1,172 mile Dakota Access Pipeline could transport up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day in dangerous proximity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their precious water supply: the Missouri River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved construction of the pipeline along this route, and the Standing Rock Sioux argue that the Corps failed to complete a full environmental assessment of the project before commencing construction. In April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux initiated a protest effort to protect their water rights and the sacred burial ground that the pipeline would traverse, and they later sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to properly consult their tribe.

As the court case awaits resolution, the protests continue. Last weekend, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry traveled to North Dakota to stand with “protectors” at the Sacred Stone Camp, and he invites us to join him in solidarity with the Sioux through advocating to policymakers for responsible water stewardship and the indigenous rights of the Standing Rock Sioux.
You can stand with Presiding Bishop Curry and the Standing Rock Sioux by contacting your members of Congress and urging a complete environmental assessment of the pipeline that includes potential impacts of the project on the tribal reservation and honors obligations expressed in the treaty with the Standing Rock Tribe.

Take action, click here and urge your members of Congress to address this critical matter of eco-justice today!

Forgotten Insights from the Gospels; Summer Preaching Series 2016

June 26, 2016

What “evangelical” means has a clear definition in our American culture. But do these “evangelical” values actually match the values of the Gospels?

For centuries the Gospels were practiced through a summary of “evangelical” living that was very different than the current popular view of what “evangelical” means. Each Gospel presents a particular tool-set on how to be Christian. And the Gospels promote three particular insights in how to live as Christian: in poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, those specific tool-sets and three “evangelical” insights have been forgotten or have been buried under monastic traditions that at times have obscured their meaning.

During this 2016 summer we will dive into these forgotten insights of the Gospels and take a closer and modern look at how they define Christianity. This is not a summer course in exegesis. Rather, we will explore how the (forgotten) roots of our culture can bring balance and sanity in our challenging times.

June 26: Forgotten Insights of the Gospels – The Rev. Luk De Volder (download sermon)
July 3: American Evangelicals versus the Good News – The Rev. Luk De Volder
July 10: Poverty – The Rev. Rowena Kemp
July 24: Chastity – The Rev. Rowena Kemp
July 31: The Gospel of Mark – The Rev. Luk De Volder
August 7: The Gospel of Matthew – The Rev. Luk De Volder
August: 14: The Gospel of Luke – The Rev. Luk De Volder
August 21: Obedience – The Rev. Rowena Kemp
August 28: The Gospel of John – The Rev. Luk De Volder

Meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ

March 25, 2016, Good Friday

1. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
2. Today you will be with me in Paradise.
3. Woman, behold your son.
4. My God my God, why has thou forsaken me?
5. I thirst.
6. It is finished.
7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

  1. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
    Ellen Freiler, Trinity Home Board Member

The writer Norman Cousins once said, “Life is an adventure in forgiveness.”
When I first started working on this homily, I had it going in a very different direction – opening with lyrics from the Don Henley song “Heart of the Matter,” in which he sings about forgiveness.
It’s difficult, however, to use words from a popular song to talk about forgiveness in a world where that very concept is tested over and over again, day after day, by rampant and destructive ignorance, and senseless violence. We find ourselves struggling mightily with the idea of forgiving.
The word “forgive” appears in the New Testament 33 times, much of the time coming from Jesus. Here are just a few of his teachings on forgiveness:
From the Gospel according to Mark: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
From the Gospel according to Matthew: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
And from the prayer which Jesus gave us in the Gospel according to Luke: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
As you can see, forgiveness was a frequent theme with Jesus; he knew it was a challenging concept, one that the average person found difficult to understand and even more difficult to carry out.
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
In his last moments on earth, Jesus was still reaching out to God on behalf of those he had been teaching and guiding for months. He had spent most every moment of his ministry advocating for others – and now, as he hung on the cross, he asked God to pardon those who had put him there for their ignorance.
He asked for them to be forgiven. His concern was not for himself, at that point, but for those who were killing him. They do not know what they are doing, he explained to God, and people who don’t know what they are doing should not be held accountable. Jesus wanted God to know that he had no case against them. Jesus wanted all charges dropped. But how do we, as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, discover this capacity to forgive for ourselves? I don’t know about you, but every time I hear about someone being killed by a drunk driver, or an innocent bystander being gunned down in a shooting, I find myself thinking “How do you forgive THAT?? Where do you even begin to figure out what forgiveness is for something like that? We learn to forgive by taking a lesson from Jesus. As he was nailed to the cross and lifted above the crowd, his request of God was simple: forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing. Forgive them their ignorance. He wasn’t saying, “Forgive them for nailing me to a piece of wood, causing me great physical pain, which will ultimately lead to my death” – no. He said, “forgive them for what they don’t know.” While I was working on this homily, it became clear to me that there are varying levels of forgiveness, depending on the circumstances.
There are the minor transgressions, like being late for an event or not returning a phone call or email – these are well within our power to forgive. We can forgive simple negligence, inconvenience, or unintended omission. But then there is the shocking evil that we seem to encounter day after day – the mass shootings, the suicide bombings, the deliberate acts of hatred and violence. We need to let God handle those who act out of hate. It is not up to us to forgive evil – that’s God’s job, it’s what He does. Through Jesus, God provides us with the ultimate in redemption. Through the sacrifice of his only son, we are given complete forgiveness – full and permanent pardon from our sins, known and unknown, no matter what. We can build the practice of forgiveness into our lives by learning to forgive the small things, by pardoning the transgressions that affect us personally. And when we live our lives with a spirit of forgiveness, we will more readily find ourselves forgiven as well. Father, forgive them. Father, forgive us…

  1. Today you will be with me in Paradise.
    Murray Harrison, Trinity SC Region Representative

“Believing is seeing….”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:39-43]

The men being crucified on either side of Jesus embody for us the very challenge of faith: the struggle between authentic belief and cynical unbelief; from recognition of sin versus its abject denial; between those without understanding that are blind to the realities of faith and those who are empowered by and through their faith to seek and yearn for God’s Kingdom.

Acknowledging his criminality, one thief recognizes and believes Jesus for who he claims to be; he asks that he might be remembered when Jesus comes into His Glory, and he receives the blessed assurance that he shall, indeed – that very day – reside with Jesus in Paradise.

The other thief embodies and amplifies the attitude of the jeering crowd below: manipulated…yearning for deliverance from a host of miseries and yet bereft of any true understanding of their situation; unwilling to admit guilt. If we listen carefully, their jeers are a disguised plea that we perhaps harbor as well: “Come down off that cross…save yourself and US…. from even having to acknowledge we are lost, condemned sinners…make all our troubles go away – THEN (perhaps) – we will believe .…If you truly are the Son of God…come down off that cross and ‘…turn these stones into bread!’” [Matthew 4:3]

Like the crowd – kneeling or standing – we are ALL at the foot of the cross – and we also yearn for Deliverance – from all that grieves and afflicts….. I will share an uncomfortable truth about myself – despite what I may claim and tell myself I believe, I am so much more readily disposed to spend my income in the pursuit of various temporal pleasures rather than release it into the work of God’s Kingdom; and to use my leisure hours engaged in frivolous pursuits, as contrasted with prayer and study!

Yet according to the Scriptures, Jesus has declared in no uncertain terms that those who will not deny themselves and pick up their cross to follow after Him cannot truly be His disciples, and much as we would desperately prefer not to believe this, He has given clear warning about the reality and permanency of Hell as a destination for the vast majority of humankind who will not avail and yield themselves to Him:

“…Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “It is better for you”, Jesus says, “… to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into HELL, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED….” [Mark 9:47-48]

And if this were not sufficiently alarming, Jesus cautions that, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but (they) who do the will of My Father…. do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the… (people) who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” [Matthew 7:21; Luke 13:4]

So exactly HOW and from WHAT do you and I need to repent, so that we don’t “perish in our sins”? I strive to be a “good person” and I am privileged to know a great many “good persons” far superior to myself. A few months ago, by God’s grace I turned 63; I find the time seems to be going by faster, as if I am being dragged along by some hidden current toward oncoming rapids, and I am increasingly ever so much more aware of and distressed by the myriad, nearly imperceptible ways that I am so deeply flawed. I am beginning to “get it” – my heart is corrupted and deceitfully wicked – on my own, in my own effort, I am not nor ever will be fit or able to stand before the Judgment Seat of a Holy God!

Jesus said that one must be “born again” to see and enter the Kingdom, and I cannot truthfully say that I have and I am; all I need to do is stand in a shopping line for “a little too long” on Sunday or drive to church and come up on someone who I think is going “too slow” to suit me, and I feel the annoyance flare up – and frankly, I don’t think that’s pleasing to Jesus – that’s the same old “sinner Murray” I’ve known for far too long, and so how can I tell anyone about Jesus? I fear that I don’t truly KNOW Him; I fear that I only “know” ABOUT Him! I fear that my spiritual profile more aligns with those St. Paul warns about, who have the “form of religion…but not the power thereof….”! [2 Timothy 3:5]

More broadly still, what about our nation?   “We the people…”: How and for what are we accountable? What collective and individual responsibility do you and I bear in this “Age of ISIS” / post-911 terror, for allowing the imposition of an increasingly intrusive “homeland security” apparatus and the evisceration of Constitutional protections; for the increase of “wars and rumors of wars” and for the conduct of torture as chosen instrument of national policy; for ominous, ever-looming threats of political, social, economic and environmental chaos; for the marked increase of disturbing public rancor and uncivil political discourse, cultivated through incendiary media manipulation; for pervasive greed and immorality…the rise of corporatism, “downsizing” and the overseas off-shoring of jobs and tax-havens under the banner of “free trade”; for “geo-engineering” chemtrails, the proliferation of human trafficking and manifold addictions; for mass incarceration, FEMA camps, militarized police and expanding police brutality; for the increase of homelessness, with Lazarus embodied in our brothers and sisters, who – just outside the doors of this very sanctuary – languish on the Green and in the greater New Haven region; and certainly not least, for the mysterious, pervasively sinister influence in our nation’s affairs of the secretive, Yale-affiliated Society of Skull and Bones, situated behind our altar just two blocks away?

Where is the hope for us to be truly “saved”, both now and for Eternity? Throughout the course of his ministry, Jesus has manifested the power and presence of His Father’s Kingdom – while en-route toward Jerusalem and the Cross, he resurrected his friend, Lazarus. Jesus’ poignant words to Martha (and by implication, to us) are resplendent with promise: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” [John 11:40]

Belief and unbelief… is our cynical refusal to believe that indicts and afflicts us in the NOW and threatens us eternally….Like the crowd at the cross, we can choose to turn away from Truth we find disturbing, or we can instead open ourselves to hear and embrace the Word that is alive:

“Behold….I stand at the door and knock….if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” [Rev.3:20; 2 Chronicles 7:14]

Today – in THIS very hour – in this and every moment, as those gathered at the foot of the cross, we are also given the choice: Shall we persist in our demand – ever so quietly whispered in the deep, secret places of our hearts – that God conform Himself to our own predispositions and eclectic understandings… or shall we instead risk and abandon all – so that we may truly believe – and indeed thereby see and be saved, both now and for Eternity? The Kingdom is ours for the asking and believing! Which pronouncement of the Lord shall it be for us?:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered you under my wings…but you would not….now your house is left unto you desolate.” [Luke 13:34-5]

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the power of God….”

“I am the Resurrection and the Life, the one who believes in me…shall never die….” [John 11:25-26]

“NOW is the acceptable time….TODAY is the Day of Salvation!” [2 Corinthians 6:2]

“TODAY – thou shall be with ME in Paradise!”


  1. Woman, behold your son.
    Mary Barnet, Trinity Spirituality Committee Member

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

When Rowena asked me to do this reflection… I thought, yes…as long as it is not that mother…the here is your son one.

Because that’s the one.

That’s the one that breaks my heart
Every time
Every year
Mother, this is your son.”

My mother lost a son

I remember the call
My legs giving way beneath me like melted wax

In an hour or so, the Boys Choir will sing the Stabat Mater

Stabat Mater
Standing mother
Standing mother weeping:

“Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.”

You will hear this sung in our son’s voices.
These glorious son’s voices.
Mother – this, this, too is your son.

It isn’t that her God is dying. It’s her son. And she can’t help him.

I know the call I don’t want to get
Never never ever
The calls others have gotten
The guttural sounds we utter, as the floor of our lives gives way

And yet, maybe it’s exactly because of that moment
that this Good Friday service first allowed me to truly believe.

I saw the depths in Christianity, depths I hadn’t realized were there
When all I knew about, when all I was practicing, was “Easter.”
When all I knew was “the Good News,” Christianity felt flat.
Not like something that could actually rise up and save someone
“Good News” like that, good news without bad news
Doesn’t reflect the world we live in
Where people hurt so much, and do such horrible painful things
and have to bear so much loss
So much which seems, and maybe is, totally meaningless.

This sacred room dark and silent, the crosses covered
The news so bad
The altar so empty
This was where faith found me
A faith I needed and wanted to live within.
Because this good news was big enough to admit the bad news, my bad news
All of it.

And I could bring it and lay it down right here,
at the foot of His cross,
or stand there like Mary, and listen, brokenhearted, to the glorious voices…

And cry.

I just had to be willing to show up and to look
To not look away.

Christianity isn’t just a fairy tale or history lesson, or a highway to heaven for the faithful or an unpopular way to spend a Sunday morning. It isn’t even the world’s best charity organization or supporter of democratic values or force for social justice. And it sure isn’t just getting dressed up and pretending you are a better person once a week.

It’s alive.

It’s a “Word” that might just jump down from the cross,
sit down next to you in a darkened pew and speak your name.

It’s a body we all share; your hands, my feet, his neck
We’re like relentlessly squabbling kids, crammed into the same earthcar
Refusing to get along, pulling ourselves limb from limb…
“He’s squishing me!! He’s a liar! His lunch smells funny!”

Until someone suggests we build a wall.

And then Someone else comes down and points out that we are ALL already in the same body
His Body
And we look and see its true
His hands His feet His side
And the food has already been provided
And the is water is turning into wine
And the story says we’re all in the same family, whether we like it or not
And absolutely everybody matters and nobody gets a pass and sometimes it is going to hurt like hell.

If that’s “a metaphor,” it’s a metaphor for the only thing in the world that isn’t a metaphor.

Today is the day that acknowledges
not only the death of what is divinely precious and beyond us,
but also the deaths of the divinely precious who are standing right in front of us.

With outstretched arms
A shattered subway station…a child shot by police…too many black men shot by police…the sudden death of a lifelong partner, cancer’s relentless greed, an office Christmas party blown to pieces

This was the year when deaths from traffic accidents, America’s number one killer, was finally equaled by the same number of deaths from gun violence:


It makes me furious,
violence that robs the world of sense.

These are the events in the world around us
that we may want to look away from
that we may have to look away from, because we cannot bear it
We can’t see any more photos of surprised people on the floor
Staring blankly at where their limbs were, a moment before

Mother, this is your son.
Oh, Mother, this is your son.
Mother, this, this too, this one too is your son.

And in pain beyond words, we see Jesus’s unimaginable self possession
At the last moments, nails through his hands and feet, a spear in his side
Still expressing love for his mother, and for his friend

It seems so impossible to imagine
He must have been God, to have spoken that way.

I couldn’t have mustered it.

And if I were his mother, I might have wailed, tearing the hair from my head
“I don’t want the beloved disciple. I’m not living with John. I want you.”
But Jesus is there and Jesus is here
leading his mother and his friend to each other,
leading us to each other,
two thousand years later.

Saying “your family” is bigger than you think
“Your family” isn’t only what you think, it isn’t only who you think
Mother, behold your son:
A small black boy shot to death in Florida,…in Michigan,…in New Haven.
Son, behold your mother:
A woman killed by cancer, an accident on 95, a drive-by shooting

Her son shows us that life and love will go on, must go on
Even after the worst happens,
Even when we don’t want them to,
Even when meaning has been blown away.
When we are hollowed out inside,
our altars empty
And we exhale out over ribs filled with cut glass

So that in three days…
or three months
or three years,
we’ll finally realize
that we can breathe in again.

This is the day, this one…that allowed me to first believe.
It wasn’t “Easter”
Not yet
I wasn’t ready
But together, together
Your hands, my feet, his heart, her face
No matter how torn asunder
We are joined together as one body
One body in the Body of Christ
And Easter is coming
And together
we know that it will come

  1. My God my God, why has thou forsaken me?
    Kate McKey, Table on the Green Member

I am thrilled to be speaking after we have just heard about the Garden of Gethsemane. See, the Garden of Gethsemane is my favorite reading in the Bible. If I am looking for something to meditate or pray on, that is the reading I go to. One of my favorite bands, NeedToBreathe, sings a song called “In the Garden” about this beautiful passage in scripture. I would like to share the words with you but I can’t keep them in my head if I don’t sing them. So I ask you to bear with me for a moment.

In this hour of dark I see
That who I am is not just me
So give me strength to tithe myself
So love can live to tell the tale
Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite, too
And father let my heart beat after you

I love that song and the scripture reading because we get to see Jesus as fully human. When Jesus is teaching or healing I can’t find a way to make him feel like someone I could be like. He feels larger than life and I can’t wrap my mind around it. In the Garden, though, I find a Jesus in his most human state. He is scared. He doesn’t want to go through with the actions laid out in front of him. He doesn’t want to die. But he will go through it because that other part of him, the God part, asks it of him.

The repercussion of seeing Jesus this human is to see Jesus as human again, after he has followed out the actions of God. Being forsaken. This is not a word many people use to explain their feelings on a daily basis. And why is that? To be forsaken is not something that can happen to you by yourself. In order to be forsaken, there first has to be a relationship. A strong, important, life giving relationship that means a great deal to all involved. Then, one party in the relationship turns away, leaving the other alone, stranded, bereft, confused. To feel forsaken is to feel cut off and abandoned by the one you trusted. What happened to make this happen? Was it me? Was it them? Why must I suffer through this utter abandonment when I once felt known and loved?

Jesus, having a human will and God’s will, has known complete acceptance. There are two parts of him through his whole life that have dwelt together, worked together, and cared for each other. In the moment of the crucifixion, though, where the pain is unimaginable and unbearable, the human man Jesus can not find that part of him that has always been his companion. Where is the part that is God? Why am I alone in this pain? Why? Why? Why?

I am not sure if God really left the human man of Jesus at that moment. He may have or the pain that was being inflicted on him was so strong that nothing else could be felt. That moment of confusion where pain and loss feel unbounded and overwhelming is like fumes: choking, blinding, and burning. Jesus, in that moment, was forsaken. I believe in a Christ that took on all of human emotions and feelings, even the ones I would not wish upon another human being. He did this so that when we feel forsaken, he can be there with us in that pain, holding and nurturing us back to wholeness. What a gift we have been given.

  1. I thirst.
    Chuck Kaywood, Trinity Vestry Member
  1. It is finished.
    Julia Johnson, Trinity Christian Education Director

This passage in the gospel of John is a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry. It signifies the completion of Jesus mission here on earth. When I read this passage, I try to visualize this scene where Jesus is dying, all the while surrounded by people, watching him be “defeated by death.” What they may not realize, however, is that Jesus has the last word.

When I read this passage, I want to tell him, “It’s not really finished! You defeat death in just a few days!” But I mishear him – I hear him say, “I am finished.” But that’s not what he said. He said IT is finished. This stage of God’s plan is finished, but Jesus is just getting started.

When Jesus asked for something to drink, they gave him vinegar. If you drink vinegar, it will tighten your vocal chords so that you can barely speak. It was as if these people were trying to silence Jesus.

Have you ever had someone try to silence you? When God plants a seed in you – whether it be a passion, an idea, or an opportunity – you are so excited. You want to shout it from the rooftops! You want to share this news with everyone. But, some people will respond with condescending words of discouragement. “You can’t do that,” “Are you sure you’re up for the task?” “It will be too hard for you,” “It isn’t challenging enough,” “You aren’t experienced,” “You’re too experienced,” “You’re too young,” “You’re too old.”

Now, that original call from God is starting to lose its flame – you are starting to feel discouraged, beaten down, defeated. But Jesus shows us what to do – he takes that bitterness of the bystander’s vinegar and speaks. As soon as he receives the vinegar, he speaks. He has the final word – it is God who has the final say in your destiny here on earth.

Even in death, Jesus is still in control of his thoughts and actions. He knows that it is always God’s Will. Our task is to model Jesus in this moment. When we feel that we are near death – near being defeated – we must stay in faith and remember that God is in control of the entire universe, and therefore in control of your destiny. Your bystanders do not have control over your thoughts – just like Jesus, you must stay aligned with God and God’s mission, because God has the ultimate last word.

Now, this is all very important to remember, but I have to remind myself to again visualize this scene, and remember that in order to defeat death, he must in fact die. His blood was shed for us. For me, the worst part about his death is the innocence and helplessness of Jesus. I often ask myself, “What makes me so special that he would want to die for me? Why am I worthy?” Jesus’ mission on earth ends with the finishing of his life, for us. While we may not feel worthy, he still loves us so much that he is willing to take on our burdens, our baggage.

I want us to sit in the sadness of his death, so we can truly recognize the sacrifice being made for us. This scene of Jesus speaking and then bowing his head is so silent, and so holy, yet is so powerful – Jesus, not the bystanders, not the soldiers, not the enemy, but Jesus, has the last word.

As Jesus bows his head, we see a physical sign of obedience to God – even at the moment of death. Jesus shows us that it is not over until God says that it’s over. On this day of sorrow, remind yourself to never let the vinegar of your lives silence you – you have been created by God to complete the mission that God has in store for you. You determine your destiny established by God, not your bystanders. Let us model Christ and allow God to have the final word in our lives.

  1. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
    Lilian Revel, Trinity Pastoral Associate for Elder Care

In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritus meum
(This is the Latin version of Jesus’ last word)

Some of you may be familiar with the last monastic service of the day, called Compline, during which excerpts from Psalm 31 are intoned. This phrase, “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” is an old and very familiar prayer for the Jews. It comes from Psalm 31 and it was something like a prayer before going to sleep, similar to “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Lord my soul to keep.” I am quite sure that Mary sang or recited parts of Psalm 31 to baby Jesus.

Most Jews, Jesus included, knew their scriptures very well, particularly the Psalms. I wonder what was going through Jesus’ mind when he finally at the end of his suffering uttered the familiar words “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Was Jesus remembering his mother singing this evening prayer? Or was it: Father, I’m giving you my spirit. Do with it what you will. Or, Father I am done, I am coming home to you. I am sure there are many interpretations.

I would like to explore the following thought. Throughout his public life of teaching Jesus explained over and over again that he was one with the Father, at least according to the gospel of John. He also taught that he was one with us, and consequently we, too, are one with the Father through Christ. In the Book of Genesis we read that God created us in the image and likeness of God. The mystic Julian of Norwich says that we are not only created by God, we are made of God. We have God’s DNA in us. We are divine. From the moment we are created we share in God’s divinity. There is nothing we can do to change that. Sadly, we are not always aware of this fact. Jesus models for us a life of intimacy and trust with God whom he calls the Father. This is not a relationship that only Jesus can have, it is available to all of us to enjoy too.

I believe that when Jesus commits his spirit to the Father he is also entrusting his spirit to us, through that communal relationship between God, Christ and us, as a beautiful parting gift to us because he loves us so much. This is not a gift to be put away in the closet for safekeeping. As in the parable of the talents we are to use this gift. Through his spirit Jesus wants to help us become true human beings. That is our purpose on this earth. To become fully human. We are already divine, but becoming fully human is a much more difficult task. Just look around us and the world at large, the wars, the violence, the injustice, the hatred. These are not traits that characterize true humanity. An individual who is fully human is filled with love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness for all other beings, it is someone who exercises humility, courage, patience, someone who speaks truth and is aware of the presence of God in all creation. Jesus is our supreme example of such a true human being. In leaving his spirit in our hands Jesus makes sure we are never alone, never without his guidance.

It takes St. Paul a few decades before this idea sinks in and he is able to write in his letter to the Philippians that we are to put on the same mind that was in Christ; as if this were a most precious garment which, when we use it often enough, will eventually become part of us. From this gift of the spirit of Christ we can again and again draw new strength for the road, to experience love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and joy of life until we, too, are able to enjoy the fullness of humanity.

How can we ever thank Jesus for this wonderful gift of his everlasting spirit? By never giving up on trying on this precious garment and living into it. In J.S. Bach’s oratorio on the Passion according to St. Matthew there is a wonderful aria that, roughly translated, goes like this:

Lord, to you I want to give my heart,
May you, my Savior sink into it and dwell in me.
Though this world may appear too small for you,
For me you are more than heaven and earth can ever be.

Gentle Jesus, thank you for committing your spirit to us. Amen.

Sunday School

We welcome all children from Infancy through high school; everyone has a place here at Trinity.

Children of preschool age through grade six are engaged in our Godly Play Program.

Teens in grade 7 to 8 are enrolled in our Upper Room discussion and formation group.

Our Nursery, for infants through age three, is stocked with toys and books and comfy furniture. The Nursery is run by our experienced childcare staff every Sunday morning, as well as during many special events. Parents are welcome to stay with their children and listen to the service on the speaker located in the Nursery.

Who We Are

Education - rainforestTrinity’s Church School is made up of children from all over the greater New Haven area, coming from as far as Madison, Trumbull, Cheshire – and every town in between.

We gather each week to worship with our families, spend time learning about our faith, and sharing the Holy Eucharist as a community. And during the year there are many opportunities for youngsters to get involved in cultural and educational activities at Trinity.

We are a vibrant educational program that offers weekly child care, church school for preteens, teen discussion groups, and a summer program (see details in side column).  In addition, we offer special events such as the annual Christmas pageant and Easter Egg hunt – not to mention the ever popular blessing of the animals.

“The Godly Play program is offered between the two services, from 10:10-11:00 a.m.”

Middle and high school youth meet with an experienced facilitator each Sunday, and are offered the opportunity to discuss a different topic each week, based on the lectionary material or on a subject of their choosing. Youth ages 14 & up are encouraged to be a part of Trinity’s Youth Group, which meets Sunday afternoons in the Church.

How We Teach: Godly Play

“Godly Play brings the children ‘in touch’ with the stories of the Bible: they can see and feel and work with the stories of Jesus and the Bible.”

Trinity Episcopal Church successfully uses Godly Play, a curriculum developed by the reverend Jerome Berryman, an Episcopal priest, to nurture and guide children as they experience God in their lives.

Godly Play is an interpretation of Montessori religious education that provides a special environment for children. They are guided through parables; sacred stories and sacred liturgy by two teachers who help them get ready, enter into and respond to the presentation. After hearing the lesson the children are encouraged to choose which materials they want to work with. The small manipulatives used in Godly Play offer a hands-on method that enhances a child’s interpretation and response to the lesson. Using a hands-on approach to manipulate the lesson materials helps a child to “get in touch with” and process what they have experienced.

A Godly Play lesson is designed to mirror what the adult congregation experiences during a typical church service. Children hear the word, respond to the word through their work, share a feast together and say good-bye to each other as they leave the space.

The Godly Play classroom environment functions as a place where children can be themselves as they learn how Christians live in community. It is a place that encourages each child to process their own experiences with God.

Trinity is proud to offer children this unique approach to Christian formation and is dedicated to fostering the spiritual growth of each child we serve.

The Upper Room

Our Upper Room curriculum is a teenage-oriented program that offers weekly themes related to the questions of faith and life teenagers seek to discuss. The youth prayer book “Call on Me” is a popular and shared resource from which participants select their favorite prayer of that Sunday.

Father of three children himself, David has also taught this age group for many years. His experience with middle-school aged children makes the participants feel comfortable to voice their questions and to engage in discussions that their faith life needs.

The class is held at 9 am in the Upper Room.

For more information please contact David Phelps.

Sunday School Registration

We offer the Godly Play Program for children in preschool to grade 6 and the Upper Room Program for children in grades 7 and 8. Sunday School Registration is available online.

Child Care in the Nursery

Slider - Sunday nursey keeptersTrinity offers safe child care for parents during most services.  The child care is in the undercroft right next to the other Sunday school rooms, each with a sliding door and a floor to wall vertical window, and happily staffed by trained volunteers.  It is stocked with toys and books to free up parents to attend services and special events, though parents are welcome to stay with their children.

Stewardship Committee

The Stewardship Committee organizes the annual Pledge Drive, which asks parishioners to commit support of their time, talent, and finances for the work of Trinity.

Members of Trinity Stewardship Committee in 2015-2016: (foreground) Mary Ellen Savage and David Jenkins, co-chairs. (at the rear) Ellen Freiler, David Assis, Glen Segger, Don Knapp, and Charles Kaywood

Your donation will make a difference. For more information please contact us: Trinity Treasurer David Soper or the Stewardship team co-chairs: Mary Ellen Savage & David Jenkins.

Click here for more on stewardship, giving and contributions.


The acolytes are some of the quiet background soldiers in the worship of our church. We welcome both youth and adults into this vital ministry, at both the 9:00 and 11:00 services.

Participate - Acolytes - three girls - very young and holding bible

Altar Guild

One of the basic ministries of any Episcopal Church is its Altar Guild. The Altar Guild prepares the church for whatever worship service that is on the schedule. They maintain our vessels, linens and all other accoutrements of worship. They would be so pleased to talk to you of their work and invite you into participation.

Where else can you aParticipate - Altar guild text - Doris's flower arrangementrrange the flowers every week for two altars?  Polish silver and brass.  And best of all, hold Altar Guild teas.


Chapel on the Green Overview

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Mathew 25:34-41

COTG - Intro image for Welcome to Chapel on the Green videoEvery Sunday at 2:00 pm, 52 weeks a year, outdoors in almost every sort of weather — the service was only canceled once since 2008 during a blizzard — behind the church, or in front when the rain makes the Green too soggy, Trinity offers a short Eucharist service followed by a simple lunch. Led by Trinity or visiting Clergy, a congregation “of all comers” — between 50 to 150 people — show up weekly  to sing, offer prayers, celebrate a simple Eucharist and partake of a meal. Special services are offered in a foot washing clinic, handing out socks and clothing, a moving memorial to the homeless who have died the past year, and the popular Fourth of July grill/picnic. Click on the image to see a video explaining the purpose and history of Chapel on the Green.


We use grape juice to stand in solidarity with those who do not drink alcohol.  We believe this is God’s table and all are welcome to receive Communion.

The Push Cart Altar

COTG - Portable altar from Facebook page for COTGOne item is of particular importance — the portable, or push cart altar.   Constructed by former Warden Warner Marshal, who wrote, “The top is made from old oak pews from the main floor of the church, and the sides and front frame are made of old pine pew seats from the balconies,  where the blacks and less-fortunate once sat, so that they are combined into one altar for all (along with some scrap lumber from around here, as you say).  The shopping cart handle just seemed like a modern badge of the homeless.”

Every Sunday at 2:00 in all sorts of weather it is rolled out onto the Green, then back again, waiting in the wings of the church.

Help Wanted!

But every Sunday extra hands are most welcome to ensure a great experience of prayer and service. An hour of your time can do a world of good for others and for yourself.  Help is always needed. Anyone of any faith is welcome to help and very appreciated.  If you want to help, or your regional church or volunteer or organization wants to support this ever more necessary ministry, contact Samantha Butler.

COTG - New Haven Register article AR-311049949.jpg&maxh=400&maxw=667Click on the picture for a New Haven Register feature article on November 4, 2012, titled “New Haven church without walls serves homeless”, By Mary E. O’Leary

Trinity Players

Nicene Noir Script

Click on the image below to download a MS WORD version of Nicene Noir, a play by Neil Olsen, presented as a Trinity Players dinner theater on July 9, 2016, or download as a PDF file.
Poster Nicene Noir 480x263

Players - Neil Olsen Author and State Director Sunday Jun 1979 on Green New Haven Connecticut 72 dpi 480xTrinity Players

In 1975, as part of a revitalization of Trinity Church, and an exciting reinvestigation of its liturgy and service traditions, Trinity Players was reformed to present liturgical or sermon dramas in the chancel (and sometimes the nave) of the church under the direction of the Rev. Robert Sandine, minister of the arts, presenting original plays by various parishioner authors, including Neil C. Olsen, Carol Edwards, Susan Bingham, and Laura Patrie. The group was co-founded with a community theater group, The Something Players; Trinity Players and Something Players jointly presented The Lark at Trinity in 1992. Since 1975, Trinity Players has presented from one to four short plays each year at Trinity Church and other local churches as part of its mission to spread the gospel in mimetic form. In 1979 (see picture) it presented Noyes Fludde on the Green. In 2002 it presented the Anniversary Play Golden Arches Golden Pipes.  In 2007 it presented Nicene Nior during the Festival of Arts and Ideas — a play which was presented in 2015 in Tucson at Grace St. Paul’s, and again at Trinity as a dinner theater in 2016. In 2008 we began reading plays on a ad hoc basis, including Shakespeare.  In 2010 a very popular “dinner theater” began the tradition of offering a Christmas play reading along with dinner in the church undercroft.

Trinity Players welcomes everyone to join and participate.


Our aim is to present the gospel message in dramatic form, continuing a tradition of liturgical drama that began in the tenth century while enriching the worship experience within the traditional service. Three or four times a year, the Trinity Players presents a liturgically integrated chancel Drama or Opera in place of the usual sermon. The work is inspired either by a scriptural passage or adapted from a classic Christian work of drama or literature. The dramas are frequently presented at other local churches upon invitation, as well as for local church festivals and public events, including “mission” performances on the noisy but vital New Haven Green. Some of the works are so popular that they have been performed more than once over the 42 years (so far) of liturgical drama at Trinity.

Our Opening Prayer

Trinity players opens each rehearsal and performance with a prayer. One of its long time members, Ed Getlein, wrote a prayer in verse which is read before the opening performance.


Oh Lord, be with us now, we pray,
In lines we speak and parts we play;
May all our mimes and speeches be
A help to all who hear and see.
If through us some small light may shine
Upon things plain and things Divine,
We only ask, when the curtain descends,
Be with us when our music ends.


Drama has been a part of Trinity Players for a long time. In 1922 Trinity’s Girls’ Friendly Society organized a Passing Show at the Schubert Theater with 250 local people performing songs and dances; it included a group of Dutch children in wooden shoes, and according to the New Haven Evening Register of June 8, 1922, a “group of little girls in kilts who march like a Highland Regiment, all performed as a benefit for a home for ‘business girls’.”

When the Trinity Parish House was built in 1925 it included three four-room apartments, a gymnasium, kitchen, dining room, offices, and a really beautiful auditorium that seated 416; it was sold to Yale in 1980 and is now the Whitney Humanities Center. In addition to showing movies, the auditorium became the home of the first incarnation of Trinity Players. Growing out of the Youth Group and the Supper Club about the same time as the parish house was built in the mid-twenties, it put on regular performances of community theater. In the mid-thirties, along with the Trinity Young Men’s Club, it mounted an antiwar play called The Grail, by Albert Mark Foster, which stirred up a bit of local controversy at the time. This was actually written by Foster Furculowe, an athlete, lawyer, actor, playwright, and Trinity Church member. It and others of his plays were performed at local theaters as well as in the parish house. Under his original name, John Foster Furcolo, he ran for office and was elected representative to the 2nd Congressional District in Massachusetts, and then elected and re-elected Governor of Massachusetts, serving from 1957 to 1961. After leaving office he was indicted on charges of bribery, but perhaps his skills as an actor served him well, for he beat the rap and the indictment was dismissed.

In the following years Trinity organizations continued to use the parish house for theater; during the time Lawson Willard was rector (1940-1970), they mounted a production of a play by the rectors’ neighbor and friend Thornton Wilder; we think the author of the most performed play of modern times attended and approved our offering of Our Town. Members of our Players group also found back behind the clock in the rear of the Church an ancient (circa 1920’s) carbon arch spot, indicating some dramas were performed in church (at least the annual and venerable Christmas Pageant). But as drama in New Haven and Yale grew in professionalism, the need for community theaters correspondingly declined, and no records of performances exist between the fifties and the seventies.

In 1975 the modern Trinity Players was founded by the Rev. Robert Sandine and the Rev. Phil Weihe. The new idea was to present theater integrated into the liturgy by replacing the usual scripture-based sermon with a scripture-based “sermon drama.” In addition to presenting sermon dramas integrated into the liturgy, and the occasional full length evening chancel drama, it sponsored the more secular productions of The Something Players, a community theater group that performed in the Trinity Parish House, the Trinity Church Nave, Eli Whitney’s Barn, and in the “black box” theater in the basement of The Church of the Redeemer after 1980 when the Trinity Parish House was sold to Yale. Trinity Players also typically takes their Sermon Drama on the road, performing each play twice at Trinity services, and typically two more times at other local churches, sometimes as far afield as Philadelphia. On two occasions it has competed with the traffic and bustle of the Green, and performed on the church apron just as its medieval predecessors must have done. It has also performed twice at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Very soon after founding Trinity Players, Trinity Church helped found the community-based theater group The Something Players as an outreach program to the larger New Haven Community. The community theater quickly took on a life of its own, and has performed many plays, with a mission that takes it beyond the typical community theater offering, including Oedipus Rex, As you Like It, The Lady’s Not for Burning by Christoper Fry, and a number of original plays.

Lay Ministry through Drama: Why We Do What We Do

St Francis is reputed to have said, “Preach the Gospel every day, and if necessary, use words.” From our indissoluble baptismal initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into the Church, we are commanded to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” Our international Christian religion, and the Anglican Communion in particular, though founded on the Word made English, is also founded on the Word made flesh. And proclaiming “by word and example” is pretty much a definition of drama. Or as 1 Corinthians 4:9 puts it (with a slightly unusual translation), “we have become a theater to the world, to angels and to all humanity.” With drama, our lay people may preach the word to the people of the world, the words of a hidden God to the unconverted, the fallen off, and to the faithful, and obey the baptismal covenant’s injunction to “do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ.” Drama is one way those without, and sometimes even with, the gifts of vocation, preaching, singing, or wealth, may also preach the gospel, using action, scenery, lights, spectacle, and sometimes even using words.

Dramas 1975–2014

The mansion of religious drama has many rooms, and many types of plays. There are liturgical dramas added to the existing service: these are known as tropes, and have been around ever since Bishop Ethelwold of Winchester scripted Quem Quaertas in 970 AD. These are sometimes called Lesson Dramas or Epistle Dramas, and Trinity, in addition to those below, annuGod and DevilMask origionalally performs a children’s Christmas pageant and on Palm Sunday an end-of-service trope describing the trial and death of Jesus. Chancel dramas are simply any drama performed in a chancel, and may be short or full length. Sermon dramas, unlike tropes, replace the sermon, with the same pedagogical intent of illuminating the scripture reading for the congregation.

Sermon Drama Performances

This is a partial list of some of the plays we have presented over the last 30+ years. Note that some of the sermon dramas were presented two or more times.  Other churches have presented some of the more popular plays as well.

  1. Quem Quaeritis (performed twice)
  2. Good News Tonight– words by Ivan Vasey, music by Philip and Sarah Wieh
  3. When the Angels Cried: Abraham and Isaac –adapted from the Legend of the Jews by Robert Sandine
  4. Scenes from Marriage– adapted from the works of various playwrights – by Robert Sandine
  5. Visitatio Sepulcher– from the Latin liturgical service
  6. Christ in the Concrete City– by Philip Turner (performed twice)
  7. Our Town, Act III– by Thornton Wilder
  8. Let Man Live– by Par Lagerkvist
  9. Grab and Grace– by Charles Williams (performed twice)
  10. A Conversation Between Mary and the Angel Gabriel– words and music by Susan Bingham
  11. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat– by Rice and Webber, Sign of Jonah – by E. Rutenbern
  12. The Grand Inquisitor– by Neil Olsen from Dostoevsky (performed three times)
  13. Woman at Jacob’s Well– words and music by Susan Bingham
  14. Noah’s Flood– Anonymous, modernized from the Coventry Pageant Play – by Neil Olsen
  15. The Beginning– by Arnold Thomas
  16. The Raising of Lazarus– words and music by Susan Bingham
  17. Return from Babel– by Neil Olsen (performed three times)
  18. On the Road to Emmaus– words and music by Susan Bingham (performed twice)
  19. The Babel Trilogy– by Neil Olsen (performed twice)
  20. The Awakening– words by Neil Olsen, music by Susan Bingham (performed twice)
  21. Simeon– words and music by Susan Bingham
  22. The Potting Shed– adapted from Graham Greene’s play by Neil Olsen
  23. The Sacrifice of Isaac– words and music by Susan Bingham
  24. The Rose Fire– based on The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald by Neil Olsen
  25. Ruth– words and music by Susan Bingham
  26. Not for Death– by Neil Olsen
  27. Golden Arches Golden Pipes: The First Hundred Years of Trinity Church– a history pageant by Neil Olsen, presented in 2002 and 2016 as Anniversary plays.
  28. Oh that Lazarus (performed twice), a fundraiser play by Neil Olsen
  29. Holiday from Hell– adapted from C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce by Neil Olsen (performed twice)
  30. The Scallion – by Neil Olsen
  31. The Second Shepherd’s Play– by the Wakefield Master from the Wakefield Mystery Play Cycle, modernized and cut to sermon length by Neil Olsen (performed twice)
  32. When the Angels Cried: the Story of Abraham and Isaac from the Legends of the Jews – by Neil Olsen (performed three times)
  33. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Jericho– by Tom Long, of Friends of the Groom
  34. Fragments from The Balance– a play about Harry Croswell, by Neil Olsen
  35. 12 Hours of Daylight– by Laura Patrie
  36. Jacob, medieval mystery play
  37. This Must be Paradise– adapted from the York Cycle Creation Plays
  38. The King Post– adapted from “The Boy with the Cart” by Christopher Fry
  39. Nicene Noir, by Neil Olsen, (performed three times)
  40. Everyman’s Isle – a religious parody of reality tv shows based on The Summoning of Everyman by Neil Olsen

House Churches

Trinity’s two Monday night house churches are lay person groups. Largely self-governed, they meet weekly without a leader, much in the way the first century house churches met. Each week a group five to 12 people meet  to discuss the coming week’s scripture passages in each others homes, serving food and beverages, and sharing stories and prayers.  Some groups have met since 1991, and all welcome new members for an evening of talk, study, prayer and community.

Consult the event schedule or contact lists if you wish to join one of these groups.