COVID-19: While we aren’t going to church due to social distancing there is no better time for the family of God to BE the church to one another and for the good of the communities around us. 

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Midweek Moment

Midweek Moment: July 1, 2020

One of my favorite encounters in the New Testament is in Acts 17:16-34. Paul finds himself in Athen and starts in his comfort zone, reasoning with his fellow Jews in the synagogue. However, verse 17 suggests he is also talking with anyone who will listen in the market place as well. Eventually, one thing leads to another which lands Paul in the Areopagus, the place where roughly 100 of the most influential city council people, philosophers, and court officials would debate policy while both locals and foreigners would listen.

What is so influential to me in this account, is the way Paul then goes about navigating this huge moment to share the message of “Jesus and the resurrection.” Paul first uses one of the idols labeled “to the unknown God” as a jumping-off point to introduce the God he knows to them. Then, to drive his point home, he quotes Epimenides and Aratus, two of their own poets and philosophers to them. To put these strategies in different words, first Paul has obviously taken time to listen and read the common voices of the culture he has found himself in. Then, rather than trying to push the people of Athen’s towards the Jewish culture or Scriptures that point to Jesus, he finds creative ways to point to God using the Athenian culture. In the midst of all that is happening now with politics, Black Lives Matter, cultural religion debates, and more, we would be wise to adopt a posture as Paul did in Athens. For many of these conversations, we will find ourselves in uncomfortable positions, encountering thoughts, and perspectives we may not have heard before. Rather than pulling away, what would it look like to lean in; to deeply listen and ask questions that lead to greater understanding? More so, what would it do to our society as a whole if, instead of engaging in the discussions based on the disagreements we have, we creatively found ways to affirm the things we can agree upon; things that echo the teachings of Christ? Grace & Peace Jake

Midweek Moment: June 24, 2020

As we prepare to launch House Churches starting this Sunday as part of our reentry strategy, I have found myself reflecting on my experience with the first church I ever worked at. It was a small church on the North Shore of Boston that had an eclectic collection of people. There were a few families from the local community, a number of empty nesters and seniors, and then a group of college students like myself. All in all, there were about 20-25 people who gathered each week. 

Speaking honestly, I don’t actually remember much about the actual worship services from this season in my life. I couldn’t give you one quote from a sermon or identify any specific life-changing moment. What I can remember, and very fondly at that, was the deep sense of community and belonging that I found every week. In part, this was aided by the fact that after the service we would all share a meal together. 

Around those tables, real conversations happened as we shared about our lives and what was coming up in the weeks ahead. Young and old would be seated together as we talked about our different life experiences and backgrounds. Questions would be brought up from the sermon that morning, and the best debates and discussions would ensue as we processed the Scriptures and teachings together. My faith was much deeper after these times together and my life more enriched.

In the midst of where we find ourselves in now, I’m reminded of the importance of community and doing life and faith together. Whether you are ready to gather with others in person or you are sticking with Zoom via Groups or personal connections for a while longer, we should heed God’s warning from the Garden of Eden - that it’s not good for humans to be alone. Though it may not be easy, getting out of our comfort zones to meet others, share our lives, and deepen connections is vital for a full and healthy life that Christ desires for us all.

Grace & Peace


Midweek Moment: June 18, 2020

Twelve years ago I remember sitting on the “common” (open grassy square) in the small English town where I ministered at the time, and while there sensing the Holy Spirit speak to me very clearly. He pointed me to Isaiah 58:12 which has become something of a vision verse for my life and ministry ever since: 

“And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; 
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; 
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, 
the restorer of streets to dwell in.” 

In the last few days, this verse - and those preceding it - have been front and center in my mind again when not one but two Trinity groups, which I visited via Zoom, were studying the passage in light of recent events in our country.  

In essence, the message of Isaiah 58 is that true worship of God is always accompanied by care for, and - more critically - identification WITH the disadvantaged, disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed. To not only remove the “yoke” of oppression but also to break it (v6), and to extend the same sense of rest and security that we enjoy (“sabbath” v13-14) to those whose experience is devoid of such things. 

In other words; the cause of justice, equality, freedom, and the breaking of the systems which stand against them have always been the heart of God. We seek these things now, not because it is culturally relevant to do so (though it is), but because without them our worship is, at best, incomplete, our love muted, and our light dimmed.  

“Is not this the fast that I choose: 
to loose the bonds of wickedness, 
to undo the straps of the yoke, 
to let the oppressed go free, 
and to break every yoke? 

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry 
and bring the homeless poor into your house; 
when you see the naked, to cover him, 
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, 
and your healing shall spring up speedily…”  
- Isaiah 58:6-8 

Oh Lord - would you do this in our time.  

Grace & Peace, 


Midweek Moment - June 10, 2020

Each spring, I attempt to show my kids how plants grow from seeds.  With great fanfare, we’ve placed lima beans in ziplock bags and taped them to our windows.  Two years in a row, to everyone’s disappointment,  I have managed to teach them more about growing mold than growing plants.  This year, however, we decided to try planting our seeds in soil.  (SUCH a novel concept, I know!).  We planted wildflowers in one pot and have about twenty different types of vegetables starting to sprout on our kitchen table.  It’s such an amazing thing to watch the process through the eyes of a 2 and 4 year old - each day more exciting than the next as we count our seedlings, water and admire them.

All this planting reminded me of the way Jesus spoke to his disciples about his coming death and resurrection.  He said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”  I don’t know much about planting and harvesting, as evidenced by my failed quests to grow lima beans, but I have been surprised by the apparent paradox of planting.  You bury a seed (that has no indication of life!) underneath the soil and then wait for the growth to burst through.  

As the events of the past weeks unfold, I wonder what Jesus might have to say to us?  In that same passage, he goes on to say, “Whoever serves me, must follow me. And where I am, there will my servant be also”.  Where do we find Jesus this week?  I suspect he is with the vulnerable.  He is with the hurting.  He is with the oppressed and the marginalized.  I wonder today, what might need to die in us personally and in our society’s systems in order to see much fruit?  What of our privilege, our complacency, our silence, or our current beliefs about race must we allow to fall to the earth and die, in order to see much fruit borne in the area of racial justice for all?

Today, make space to sit in the presence of God.  And just simply ask Him.  

God, what might need to die in me in order to make space for the fruit you want to see my life bear? 

Jesus, where do I see you this week? How can I join you there?  Blessings,  Katie

Midweek Moment - June 7, 2020 

Every year, a number of churches in Darien do a walk through town, carrying a wooden cross as a prayerful marker of Good Friday. This year, the walk was canceled due to COVID.

However, in light of the pain around recent racial violence and injustice, one pastor proposed bringing back the walk for Pentecost Sunday. 

I knew it could be a good show of solidarity with other local clergy, and I believed in the cause. Still, I was expecting maybe 50 people to be there.

Within moments of arriving, I knew that I had grossly underestimated the situation. The initial plan called for folks to walk on the sidewalk for the 2-mile walk. However, so many people came that the Darien police escorted the gathered crowd down the actual road!

The experience was surreal. Believers from a number of churches, with nearly no prior publicity, gathered in droves. This was a peaceful, prayerful, sacred walk.

As Anne and Eden and I walked (and strollered) down the Post Road, I saw familiar faces (under masks of course!), Trinity staff members, congregants, and friends from other local churches.

As we passed the local Starbucks, I noticed several employees who had come outside to see the passing crowd, their eyes filled with tears.

To fully grasp the moment, we have to remember that some of the more affluent towns in Fairfield County have shameful, painful histories when it comes to issues of race and inequality. There are sad legacies and also current realities that demand honesty and repentance if we are to move forward.

Just as the Holy Spirit filled and unified the early believers at Pentecost, defying and healing boundaries of discrimination of the surrounding culture, followers of Jesus today should be the first in line to participate in the work of racial justice and reconciliation. It matters to God, so it needs to matter to us.

May Pentecost remind us of the powerful, unrivaled work of the Holy Spirit and what’s possible in the Kingdom of God.


Midweek Moment - May 27, 2020

When I was unemployed a few years ago and trying to figure out what was next, there was such a recurrence of “California” coming up everywhere. It got to the point where I would run into people who would share they were leaving on vacation the next week, and I would immediately ask them if they were going to Cali. They would then stare at me oddly and ask how I knew. For a while, I was completely convinced we were bound for the West Coast.

Despite that feeling, every door I explored that would move us to California slammed in my face. Then the next thing I knew, God was throwing the door wide open at Trinity. I was more than happy to follow God’s lead, but at the same time I was confused. Somewhere along the line, I looked up the epistemology of “California” and found out that the name came from a novel depicting a “paradise island” that had connections to the Garden of Eden. When I read that, I had a deep sense in my Spirit of exactly what God was doing: bringing me and my family to an internal paradise, connected with the true identities that were given to us at Creation, and a place of healing and restoration. 

In the time since that point, I’ve been living into that promise and seeing it come to fruition in a number of ways. However, there are other ways where it feels like things are still stuck in the same place that they were. Some days are filled with hope and excitement, and others with discouragement and frustration. In the middle of the later kind of day last week, I was stopped dead in my tracks with the quote from an online course I was watching: “I didn’t make it to California, but I did make it to Texas.”

As we go through seasons of healing and growth, setting goals and focusing on the end destination for sure can provide us with motivation and hope. However, we can’t put all our focus there or else we will miss the progress that is worth celebrating along the way. It’s not just about the end, but where you have come from as well.

Grace & Peace

Midweek Moment - May 20, 2020

This Sunday, in the moments while not “on set” in the ministry center, I was reading along with some of the chat which accompanied our live-streamed service. I resonated with the many people who expressed a longing to be together in person again soon, which in turn led me to reflect on the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica: 

“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face… when we could bear it no longer… we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 3:1-2 

For the majority of us, our situation is likely less severe, and will likely be less drawn out than Paul’s, yet our emotions are sometimes very similar. I’m so eager to be with our church family again, and at times it feels like I “can’t bear” to go another week with only digital substitutes for connection with each of you. And at the same time, God is unmistakably at work in our lives and in our church family, His power is in no way hindered by our physical distance from one another. 

I have great faith that during this season God is doing deep work inside each of us (whether we realize it or not!); healing wounds, speaking wisdom and direction, increasing intimacy with Him, and more. I’m looking forward to the day when we will be together again - however near or far it may be - not only to experience the joy of re-connection with you but also to see and celebrate every way that your life with God has grown and flourished. 

My prayer for every one of us this week is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians: 

“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” -  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13


Midweek Moment - May 13, 2020

While this time is “uncertain” for everyone, it’s not the same for everyone.  Some people are feeling isolated and alone, while others may feel like they have too many interactions inside their homes.  Some have lost their jobs and are struggling to fill their time.  Others are working more than ever.  One thing that has remained constant in our world is that God is with us.  At Christmas, we celebrated that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us; He put on flesh and blood and entered our world.  Eugene Peterson put it this way in his paraphrase of John 1:4, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”  He may not have lived through a pandemic during his time on earth (that we know of!), but he for sure felt every emotion that we may be having these days.  The knowledge that God is with me, with us, in everything we are walking through during this time has been comforting.  

During this new season, I’ve been waking up early and watching the sunrise as I drink my first cup of coffee.  It’s this tiny reminder at the start of my day that so often seems to spin out of control with all the wants, needs, and demands of tiny humans that God did it again.  He brought the sun up.  With no effort or work or input from me.  He holds all things together (Col 1:17).  I don’t have to hold it together.  I don’t have to know all the answers, I just have to look to the One who does. 

What would it look like to take a breath and acknowledge that God is with you?  That He is constant and stable?   And that you don’t have to hold it all together, because He will take care of that? 

Today, may you experience the God who holds all things together and who is constant, stable, unchanging; the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He is good.  And He is with you.


Midweek Moment - May 6, 2020

For many of us, finding wise words of guidance or hopeful encouragement are some of the most helpful things in a time like this. We fill our Instagram feeds with inspiring quotes or Bible verses to share not only what is speaking to our souls but also to help others. Yet in times of difficulty, it can be challenging to find those words. It can feel like the things you find are cliche or even empty compared to what’s actually going on. Sometimes, it can be hard to find those things to share when you’re the one who is supposed to be saying them…

In light of this, I am finding myself reflecting on Romans 8:26: “For the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

It is completely normal for us to find moments in our lives where we just don’t have words or prayers to offer up, even though we know “we ought” to. Whatever the reason may be - whether we’re overwhelmed, tired, not in a place of honest self-awareness, or perhaps we feel like life is so good, we can’t think of a prayer request to share when asked - speechlessness is normal. Even the Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the letters in the New Testament, knows this experience too. 

When we face those moments, we are not alone. What Paul writes in this passage is that God doesn’t guilt-trip us about what we “ought” to do. Instead, the Holy Spirit, as a Loving Parent, comes alongside us and speaks the words for us that we truly need. Though all we have are groanings (one commentator points out the connection to verse 22 and the idea of groans in childbirth), God turns those things into prayers. Even when we have nothing to say or when we may not know what to ask for or how to articulate where we are, we can trust that God is still at work birthing new things in us.

Grace & Peace

Midweek Moment - April 29, 2020

My wife and kids were sitting on a rock that overlooked a pond as the kids asked questions to better understand the pain in the world right now. After my wife navigated some of the messy stuff happening, she turned the conversation to some of the positive stories of hope, encouragement, and people helping one another. She then explained that even with all the pain and suffering around us, there are some who suggest that we are living in the safest time in human history.

As my daughter took that in, she turned her attention to the pond which was covered in pond scum around the edges and at different spots around the middle and she said: “So it’s kind of like the water: if you only look at the dirty stuff, you could think the entire pond is bad. But if you look at all the clear water, you can see there is actually more good stuff there.” And a child will lead them…

It’s simply unhealthy to put all our attention towards “the dirty stuff.” Anyone who has struggled with that will tell you it leads to anxiety, discouragement and robs you of any hope. This is why it’s so important to look for good stories and practice gratitude. I recently found a really helpful app called Happyfeed that can help you do this on a daily basis.

More than that, when we realize all the “good stuff,” it doesn't mean we should ignore the pond scum over on the edges and maintain a “positive attitude.” Instead, it actually provides an invitation. Christ’s work of “making ALL things new” and bringing the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven” is what we see when we acknowledge the “good stuff.” The hope that we find in that should then cause us to ask, “How can I play a part in cleaning up the rest of the pond?”

Are you spending too much time looking at the “dirty stuff” and missing all the “clean water”? 

What would it look like to find the “good stuff” right now?

What would it mean for you to use your unique gifts and resources to help others see that same Hope?

Grace & Peace,


Midweek Moment - April 22, 2020

Recently, we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with our five year old daughter. Each night, by night light glow, we read about the adventures of the four Pevensie children in the world of Narnia, under the spell of the White Witch, a place that is “always winter and never Christmas.” As the story unveiled the presence of the magnificent lion, Aslan, Eden’s eyes grew wide with wonder. She instantly loved him and grabbed her large stuffed lion which she promptly renamed. She loved when Mr. Beaver responded, “Safe? Who said anything about safe! ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you!” She loved hearing about Aslan’s return from death to vanquish the evil in Narnia and set all to right.

The Psalmist echoes this theme: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” (Psalm 46:1-5) We are told in the New Testament that today God’s presence is not in a physical temple, but the Spirit of God dwells within us, His children! Our God is both a mighty King and a perfect Father. He is a loving comfort who draws near to us and also a warrior who is strong to save and provide refuge as He fights our battles. As we walk through a season of challenge and uncertainty, we can find such comfort knowing that the King who dwells within us is so powerful. In his power, He has vanquished all sin and death on the cross, but in his gentleness, he creates a refuge for us. His presence is a river of living water whose refreshment makes glad His people whom he loves. Today, may we trust and love Him back with the wide-eyed wonder of a child. Anne & Ben Valentine

Midweek Moment - April 15, 2020

Our family has committed to regularly going on walks together. On one recently, my son was given clear instructions about holding my hand to ensure that he would avoid the poison ivy on the edge of the path. Rather than listen, he decided to fight it tooth and nail. He wanted independence to go wherever he wanted. 

“You need to surrender,” I frustratingly told him. As soon as I said it, I knew that I just as easily could have said it to myself.

The truth is I like my independence as much as my son does. Many of us are the same way, as a sense of being in control makes us feel safe. We want to call the shots and have life go the way that we want it to. Yet, we have all found ourselves in a situation that is highlighting just how little control we really have. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are ways we can display control over specific areas of our day to day lives. However, on a larger scale there are no guarantees about tomorrow (see James 4:13-17). For every opinion piece that looks at how all this ends, there is an alternate view. No one can tell us exactly what the world is going to look and feel like a month from now, let alone what “normal” will look like eventually.

When we find ourselves anxious, scared and feeling out of control, rather than fighting for more control, it is key to understand the importance of surrender. As the serenity prayer encourages us to pray, our mindset should be: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The things that we cannot control or change simply aren’t worth the fight. Yes, we can and should lament and bring our authentic feelings to God, but eventually, we can either choose to let our feelings own us, or we can choose to trust and surrender to a Father who has a bigger perspective than we do and who is ultimately in control.

What would it look like for you to surrender the things you can’t control to God today?

Grace & Peace,

Midweek Moment - April 8, 2020

In many of my conversations over the last couple of weeks, there has been one common denominator: anxiety. This moment is forcing all of us to grapple with the reality that life is hard and we are not in control. As Andy preached this past Sunday, COVID-19 is revealing where our true trust lies, and the consequence is that many of us have found ourselves like the emperor who suddenly discovered that he had no clothes.

It is important to understand that this anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of and is not “un-Christian.” Anxiety is a natural response when our true trusts are called into question and we are forced to realign. In fact, in Jesus’ own experience through Holy Week, Luke records an actual medical condition that is a result of intense and overwhelming anxiety: 

Being in agony [Jesus] prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 ESV)

outstretched hands

What Jesus models through this experience, and even more so with his approach to the cross, is that he purposefully enters into his pain and his intense emotions. He doesn’t avoid them or seek comfort instead, but he prayerfully brings them before God in honesty and humility. He asks for the pain to be removed, and yet at the same time declares trust in God’s bigger plan that there is a purpose behind what he is facing. As we will celebrate on Sunday together, this purpose is one that leads to resurrection, as the work of Christ makes all things new.

What would it look like for you to be fully honest with God this week about your feelings and emotions?

What friend or family member can you be vulnerable with to share what’s going on inside of you in this time and how it’s revealing your true trusts?

What would it mean for you to pray the same prayer as Jesus: 

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 ESV)

How is God using this moment in time to lead you to a new trust in God?

Grace & Peace,

Midweek Moment - April 1, 2020

Let the one who walks in the dark,
   who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
   and rely on their God. (Isaiah 50:10b)

There's a reason why night lights are so popular. We have multiple in our home, even one that looks like a friendly bunny.

Many young children are afraid of the dark ... some adults are too! The darkness, whether it's in a bedroom or a dark alley, doesn't feel reassuring to us- we like to know what's ahead. And yet, our cultural moment leaves us desperate for light, craving for clarity.

Nobody on the planet today knows what tomorrow brings, whether it's about our health, our financial state, or changes to our routines. It’s normal to feel restless. You might want to hold back on hope for fear that God can’t or won’t act.

This idea of reliance on God is tough in our culture that so values independence and self-reliance, where so much of our lives are devoted to creating systems of control. We are seeing now that our sense of control is merely an illusion.

Thankfully though, the Bible offers good news to those of us walking in darkness. As the prophet Isaiah declares, trusting in the name of the Lord brings deliverance from darkness. 

Why? Because Jesus is the Light of the World.

Jesus experienced every fear and worry that we might have today. Jesus faced deep darkness, and even separation from the Father so that through His death and resurrected life, we could have confidence in our future. This is a confidence that isn't tethered to good circumstances, but anchored in the light of God's goodness.

We don’t have to cower in the face of the unknown because we have a God who is with us.

This is the one factor that changes our risk analysis and overcomes our addiction to control. God is at the helm, He is ultimately in control. Trusting in Him should help us lie down and sleep peacefully unafraid of present or future darkness for He is our Light. (Psalm 4:8)

Today, may you know the light and life that’s found in Jesus.


Midweek Moment - March 25, 2020

I am normally ever-optimistic, however, in this season it is proving more difficult than normal to see the silver lining. Our entire world has been turned upside down and we are left to adjust to a “new normal” that no one really knows how long it will last. It’s completely understandable for feelings of fear, uncertainty, and a general sense of stress to mount in our lives as we try to figure out what’s next.

As I reflect on where we find ourselves, I am reminded of the place that Jesus’ closest friends found themselves in right after he died. After Jesus was arrested, they fled in an attempt to save themselves from the same fate (Matt. 26:56b). More so, once Jesus had been killed, they locked themselves in a house out of fear (John 20:19). They too had their entire lives completely changed and were trying to fathom their new future.

Little did they realize, that right around the corner from their darkest moment was resurrection! 

The same is true for us today. Resurrection is coming! 

I had a reminder of this last week on a walk with my family as we were starting to adjust to life in quarantine. We found a little nature preserve, literally within walking distance of our house, that we never knew was there. Halfway through the walk, I was struck by this dead, rotting tree stump that had fallen so long ago that the debris was nowhere in sight. Yet growing right out of the middle of the stump was a new tree. I immediately thought of Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (NIV)

I don’t know exactly what life is going to look like on the other side of this, but we can trust that because we worship a God who conquers death and makes all things new, that it will be exactly that - LIFE! - on the other side. May we find hope, not in temporary things, but instead in the eternal love of Christ and the power of the Spirit that lives within each one of us even in the difficult moment that we find ourselves in.

Grace & Peace,