Trinity Stories

All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.
Matthew 13:34-35 – The Message

RECTOR’S BLOG

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Applegate

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

Dear Friends,

Peter Higgs’ obituary was in The New York Times on Wednesday. In 1964, Higgs predicted the existence of a new particle that would explain how other particles acquire mass. That’s as far as I’m going to go in trying to explain his contribution to what’s known as the Standard Model – a model that captures all human knowledge acquired to date about elementary particles and the forces by which they shaped the universe. My paltry understanding of physics is limited to the long-running (and now syndicated) sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory.”

Dr. Higgs died at the age of 94, sixty years after he suggested the existence of the boson that now bears his name. The Higgs boson is known popularly by another name – “The God Particle.” This name was coined by the media, not because Peter Higgs was particularly religious. The story goes that the name was derived from the title of a book written by the Nobel-prize winning physicist, Leon Lederman. Lederman was frustrated by how hard it was to detect the Higgs boson, so he proposed that the title of the book he had written be “The Goddamn Particle.” The publishers – as publishers will do – changed this to “The God Particle,” and a connection with religion was drawn, one which bothers physicists to this day (and certainly bothered Peter Higgs.)

The announcement of the detection of the Higgs boson was made at the European particle physics laboratory CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland on July 4, 2012. It took until March the following year to confirm that the detected particle was indeed the Higgs boson. Peter Higgs and another scientist, François Englert, were subsequently awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, for their Higgs field theory.

The news of Higgs’ death in Edinburgh came during the same week that people across North America observed a total eclipse of the sun. Traffic backed up for miles on interstate highways; Chambers of Commerce calculated the economic impact of visitors to places like Findlay, Tiffin, and Toledo; and businesses, museums, and churches all planned special events. Our “Totality at Trinity” event on the restored Plaza was well-attended, and it was a special gift to welcome guests from St. James Episcopal Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan. (Now there’s a faith community that raises the church potluck to a whole new level!)

As I read articles about the eclipse afterward and scrolled through Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok, the overwhelming reactions people shared were of awe and wonder – emotions usually associated with religious/spiritual experiences.

We live in an amazing universe, and we have – at least some of us have – the ability to conceive of subatomic particles and forces that help us understand the cosmos. When was the last time you experienced awe and wonder? Maybe it was this past week during the eclipse. Maybe it was when a child or grandchild was born. Maybe, just maybe, it was in church.

A week like this leads me to give thanks for the extraordinary complexity of the created order and how the glory of God is manifested in it. The opening verses of Psalm 19 come to mind:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2 One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3 Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,

4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.

Blessings,

Stephen Applegate

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter! We’re still in the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season that began on Easter Day and continues through the Day of Pentecost. This is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian Year! Our celebration continues this coming Sunday with four baptisms at the 10:00 am service.

St. Paul connected baptism to Easter in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.” As we do at every service of Holy Baptism, we’ll renew our own baptismal covenant and be reminded that, through baptism, we are raised to new life with Christ.

Another metaphor for baptism is re-birth. The prayer the priest uses to bless the water at a baptism service says that through water “we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.” In Orthodox churches, the baptismal font is often referred to as “the Divine Womb,” since, in the font, we receive the second birth as child of God.

These female metaphors of womb and birth, borrowed from our Orthodox siblings, are a helpful counterbalance to the Western Church’s theology and symbolism which are often dominated by male metaphors.

The fact is the Good News of Easter came to women first. The Gospel accounts may differ in the details, but they agree that God chose a small group of women to share the greatest news of all time. And it was the women who told Jesus’ male disciples, “He is Risen!” Luke’s Gospel captures how the disciples responded, “they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Not a very good look!

In the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday we meet the apostle we know as Doubting Thomas, but Thomas was not the only one who had trouble believing. Jesus’ words to Thomas could well have been addressed to the others: ““Have you believed because you have seen me?”

Having spoken directly to the apostles, Jesus then turned his attention to us. He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” May his blessing be on those who are being baptized this Sunday and on all of us who believe without seeing.

Blessings,

Stephen Applegate

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A sermon about a sermon

A sermon about a sermon

Dear Friends,

This letter will arrive in your inbox early on Good Friday morning. Trinity is offering two ways to observe this most solemn of days:

  • The Liturgy of Good Friday at 12:00 noon
  • Stations of the Cross at 7:00 pm (this service will be livestreamed)

Easter is still three days away. So it seems premature to bring the Alleluias out of mothballs where they’ve been during Lent. What to write is a conundrum but let me give it a shot.

Years ago, Tony Campolo preached a sermon that has since become famous. The sermon, which later became the title of one of his books, was “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Comin’”. For those of you who have never heard of Tony Campolo, he’s a sociologist and a Baptist pastor who has been one of the most influential leaders of the evangelical left. He’s been a huge proponent of progressive thought and reform.

Dr. Campolo’s sermon is really a sermon about a sermon. He tells the story of a “preach off” that occurred in the church he attended. A “preach off “ is when several preachers get together and try to top each other’s preaching. Of course, it’s never said that it’s a competition. It’s all for the glory of God! But every preacher knows it’s game on!

According to the story, Tony Campolo preached first and, he says modestly, preached well. He sat down after his sermon and said to the old preacher sitting next to him, “You’re turn. See if you can beat that.” The old man looked at Tony and said, “I’m going to do you in.” And that’s just what he did.

He started with the two phrases “It was Friday . . . but Sunday’s comin’” and built his sermon from there.

Friday. . . Jesus was dead on the cross, but that’s because it was Friday. Sunday’s comin’

Friday. . . people are sayin,’ “as things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change things in this world. But I’m here to give you the Good News. It’s only Friday. . . Sunday’s comin’”

It’s Friday, and they’re saying that a bunch of old people sittin’ in church can’t change the world. That’s because it’s Friday. . . Sunday’s comin’”

People of Trinity, these days it can feel like we are living in more and more of a Good Friday world. Innocents are suffering unspeakable horrors because of conflicts around the world. Bridges – both real and metaphorical – are collapsing. And, if the pundits are right, we are heading into one of the most contentious and bitter election seasons in recent memory.

But Sunday’s comin.’

For every Good Friday, God’s answer always is, “Sunday’s comin’!”

Please join us when Sunday arrives – Easter Day at 10:00 am in person or on our livestream.

Blessings,

Stephen Applegate

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A humble ‘self-emptying’

A humble ‘self-emptying’

Dear Friends,

In her 2009 book, The Case for God, Karen Armstrong argued that religion is a practical discipline that teaches us to discover new capacities of the mind and heart. What new capacities of the mind and heart might we cultivate during the holiest week of the Christian Year?

Holy Week begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday. Most of the scriptural “airtime” on Palm Sunday is given over to the stories of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion, suffering and death. Because of this, we might miss the practical discipline St. Paul offers us. In his letter to converts in Philippi in what is now Asia Minor, Paul quotes a hymn that was, evidently, already well-known to Christian communities. Armstrong writes, “. . . from this very early date (c. 54-57) Christians saw Jesus’ life as a kenosis, a humble ‘self-emptying.’”

Here’s what Paul wrote to the Philippians – in contemporary English: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.”

This coming Sunday morning, bread will be broken, and wine poured out in remembrance of the one who emptied himself for our sake. He did not seek to save his own life but lost it and is alive for evermore. If we can begin to imitate Jesus’ kenosis – his self-emptying – in the details of our own lives, our hearts will open in response to Christ’s great love for us. They will open to the pain and suffering we see all around us. They will open to those who are on the margins of society. And they will even open to our enemies and those who wish us harm.

Imitating Christ is not without cost, but Jesus tells us that “those who lose their lives for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, will find them.”

Blessings,

Stephen Applegate

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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

George Benson

Rooted in Abundance: Toledo Streets Lunch

Rooted in Abundance: Toledo Streets Lunch

Yesterday a group of volunteers showed up at 9:30am to start cooking for the vendors at Toledo Streets Newspaper, a community partner we have had for a number of years now. Every month, we provide a thought out, well cooked meal that has a meat and vegan option for...

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Rooted in Abundance

Rooted in Abundance

This week I’m talking about something everyone “loves” to hear churches talk about, money. For those who may or may not know, our pledge drive kicks off this Sunday, and it is a pretty big deal. So over the next few weeks I’ll be inviting guest writers onto this blog...

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The World Between Worlds

The World Between Worlds

If you are a Star Wars nerd like myself, you’ve probably been watching the eagerly awaited Ahsoka tv show on Disney+. Now that the writer’s strike is over, I can talk about something that has been gnawing at my mind. Ahsoka during the season finds herself in a space...

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Community Life

Community Life

What a week everyone. Yesterday we were fortunate enough to have an end of summer bbq with our friends over at Toledo Streets Newspaper because they were gifted a grill! What a fun and delicious time - as a reminder y’all are welcome to join us the third Thursday of...

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MUSIC & THE ARTS

Chelsie Cree

Abundant Gratitude

Abundant Gratitude

Hello, Trinity Community, We have just come off a fantastic weekend. The Multifaith Gun Violence Forum was well attended, with just a little more than 70 people in attendance. And NOVA had a wonderful debut concert with around 180 people in attendance. Including our...

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Why We Sing

Why We Sing

Hello, friends! This weekend is the start to our Annual Pledge Drive. It's always a wonderful time for the music department, as we are tasked with finding a song to serve as inspiration. As many of you have come to know me, you know that this is one of my favorite...

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NOVA

NOVA

Hello my friends!  I’d like to invite you to an afternoon of fabulous choral music! NOVA, or Northwest Ohio Vocal Arts, is a new professional choral ensemble. We’ll be singing a great program called Motets and Madrigals, put together by Kevin Foster, a local composer,...

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NOVA Coming to Trinity

NOVA Coming to Trinity

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! A fabulous concert is coming to Trinity October 8th at 3:00 pm. Lead by Kevin S. Foster, NOVA, or Northwest Ohio Vocal Arts, is a small professional choral ensemble making their debut performance in our sanctuary. If you love choral music, this is...

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