Newsletters

Sunday, August 2, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

Recently, while standing in line at the supermarket, I glanced over at the magazines and I saw the usual, “Lose ten pounds,” “Closet makeovers” and other articles in the same vein. I couldn’t help but desire a different kind of magazine: one that might reflect a different kind of goal where beauty and feeling good is desired. I can’t tell you what the title of those articles would be, but I can tell you that they would reflect the kind of beauty that God reflects back to us while we sink into compassion for those who are suffering.

Granted, at times I want to forget it and put it all down, and in those moments the best remedy can be a mindless television show and a blanket. But that only works for so long and then the solution becomes part of the problem. As a Pastor, it’s possible that I spend more time than most people pondering life and death, lives lost, lives of those left behind, the mess of our government and a vaccine that may take a while. Which leaves me, like Jacob, wrestling with God, because, quite frankly, right now, God’s design seems pretty lousy (Genesis 32:22-31). 

In this passage, after a long night of wrestling with God, Jacob emerges with a new name: Israel. The idea of wrestling with God and emerging with a new identity, a new way of being, a new purpose, gives me hope. Those hopeful moments don’t happen on the couch. They happen when I’m willing to engage with God, even when that engagement leads me into a wrestling match with God, at times in the mud, pinned down and mad, desperate for a blessing.

Imagining all of us emerging from this experience so profoundly changed by God, witnessing a profound cultural shift in what we value and how we treat one another, is as hopeful as I get. It gives me hope because it’s something that God does. If we’re willing to wrestle, engage, wrestle some more, and demand a blessing, we may just discover that we can become the very blessing we search for.

May it be so.

See you Sunday,

Nicole

P.S. This is Communion Sunday, so please gather whatever elements you have in the house, and let’s remember together what is most meaningful – life itself and the new life offered us through the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

This Sunday we welcome Reverend Nancy Martin Vincent as our guest preacher. I will also be at worship with you and look forward to our time together. Some of you may recall that Nancy served as an interim pastor for St. Luke and has helped countless churches during times of transition. She currently serves as an executive for the Synod of the Pacific.

Nancy will be preaching on Matthew 10:27-39, and the title of her sermon is Life a God-sized Life.  I spoke with Nancy for an hour this week on Zoom and it could have easily gone all day if we both didn't have jobs. I can see why so many of you speak so highly of her warmth and humor. Nancy is also finishing up her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching, so I expect we are in for a treat.

See you Sunday on Zoom,
Nicole

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

I trust you are all well. While we can’t be together in the sanctuary, we are still very much connected. Most of you I see on Zoom worship. Many I see in our different classes on Zoom, and a few I’ve seen in your backyards. I’d love to continue to connect one-on-one, whether by phone, on Zoom, or at a distance outdoors.

Not too long ago, I was on a Zoom call with my old college friends. As we talked through the different challenges facing our country, the topic of shamecame up. Some on the call expressed that they believe shame is an integral tool in achieving social justice. And others did not. I wasn’t sure, but I had a gut feeling on the issue. So I began reading and searching the topic. I’ve mentioned shame as a side note in a few sermons, but this Sunday I’d like to explore it more deeply. Shame is not unique to one kind of Christianity, one facet of society or politics. It’s used by all kind of people in all kinds of ways.

In this Sunday’s scripture (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) Jesus puts before his disciples another parable about weeds and good seed. Jesus describes a scene of division, pitting good against evil, and a final judgement as an act that ultimately belongs to God. 

This will prove to be one of the more challenging texts I’ve ever chosen to preach on, mostly because there’s so much about it I don’t like. 

This Sunday we welcome guests from Sausalito Presbyterian to our Zoom worship. Rev. Paul Mowry is on vacation, and his congregation has been invited to join us for our worship. I trust we’ll welcome them with the same warmth St. Luke welcomes all visitors.

See you Sunday on Zoom,
Nicole

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