Newsletters

The Weekly View - October 1, 2021

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In This Issue
  • Weekly Message from Rev. Joanne Whitt
  • Weekly Facebook Video
  • Announcements & Upcoming Events
  • Outreach Opportunities & Updates
message from rev.  whitt


Dear St. Luke Family:

We’re celebrating a couple of important family dinners this weekend.  This Saturday is St. Luke’s annual fundraiser dinner.  As it’s my first time attending this dinner, I expect all of you know much more about it than I do.  I’m looking forward to what has been described to me as a festive time when the St. Luke family gathers to enjoy good food, good drink, and good company.  I’m bringing my husband, David Buechner, and our son, Pete, a college sophomore at Contra Costa Community College.  It’s been fun to watch the St. Luke community mobilize to put this together.  I’m grateful to the many people who have contributed to make this a lovely party with food, drink, music, decorations, auction items, set up, bartenders, an M.C., an auctioneer, and all the folks in the background who keep track of numbers, checks, and reservations.  Thank you!

Then this coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday, when our church family all over the world gathers around the communion table to celebrate that we are “one bread, one body.”  With over two-thirds of Christians living in the Global South, Christianity is more truly a world-wide religion than ever.  We speak many languages; we worship in cathedrals and huts and everything in between; we read the bible differently and disagree about theology; we ascribe different meanings to the sacrament we variously call the Lord’s Supper, communion, the Eucharist, or the Mass.  Nevertheless, in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, we become one with Christ and with all believers of every time and place. 

We’ll celebrate World Communion Sunday with special breads from different cultures, and with music from Christians around the world.  Erich Miller will play steel drums and percussion, and our choir is working on a couple of pieces from Jamaica and South Africa. 

We’ll hear how Jesus welcomed children even though the disciples tried to shoo them away.  Jesus isn’t saying children are special (although of course they are).  As the quotation on your bulletin covers this Sunday puts it, “There is something about children and their place in the kingdom that is simply not reducible to innocence, vulnerability, humility, lowliness, lack of prestige, simplicity, purity, nearness to God, openness to Christ, or any other attribute one may suggest.  It is all of this and more, for their place in the kingdom is by virtue of their being simply children of God.” (Cornelia B. Horn and John W. Martens)

And so is ours.  We join around the table this coming Saturday night, and this coming Sunday morning, because we have been welcomed by Christ and each other, and we are called to welcome others. 

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor 

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

The Weekly View - September 24, 2021

Click here for the full NEWSLETTER

In This Issue
  • Weekly Message from Rev. Joanne Whitt
  • Announcements & Upcoming Events
  • Outreach Opportunities & Updates
message from rev.  whitt


Dear St. Luke family,

This Sunday we’ll look at the Book of Esther.  It’s a wonderful story, full of intrigue and humor.  It’s the basis for the late winter/early spring Jewish festival of Purim.  A curious aspect we’ll explore this Sunday is that, in the entire book, God is not mentioned once.  My sermon is entitled, “Was God Involved?”  It’s an important question: Is God involved in the events of our lives, either the small coincidences or the major turns?  If so, how do we know?  
 
So many Bible stories make God’s activity obvious.  God has actual conversations with Abraham telling him to pick up and move his family and everything else to a promised land.  God speaks to Moses through a burning bush and gives him the explicit instruction: “Go tell Pharaoh to let me people go.”  God parts the Red Sea, and then hands Moses the Law on stone tablets.  God speaks through prophets, warning of the consequences of injustice.  Through Jesus, God heals the sick and feeds the multitudes, and finally God raises Jesus from the dead to show dramatically that nothing, not human cruelty or even death, can stop God’s love.
 
Esther, on the other hand, witnesses to the power of a good story to give us hope.  Rather than succumbing to despair, Esther — like the carnival-esque festival of Purim it inspires — encourages us to meet terror with ridicule.  Imagine that: Humor as one of the tools in God’s toolbox!  Former political speech writer John Lovett writes, “If you can make someone laugh about something that your opponent or your opposition thinks, that means you’ve done a really good job of highlighting what’s wrong with their argument or their position.”  
 
Satiric storytelling is not the only response to oppression we can or should muster, but the book of Esther reminds us it is indeed a valid response, one that helps us hold fast to our conviction that the grace-filled power of God ultimately will overcome the destructive powers of this world.  
 
The best line in the book of Esther is the holy challenge Mordecai gives to all of us when he says to his niece, Esther, “Who knows?  Perhaps you are here, at this place and time, for such a time as this.”
 
Perhaps you are here, at this place and time, for such a time as this.
 
Don’t forget to register for the gala dinner on October 2.  Everyone is invited, regardless of what you can or can’t donate.  There will be both indoor and outdoor seating.  
 
See you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

The Weekly View - September 17, 2021

Click here for the full NEWSLETTER

In This Issue
  • Weekly Message from Rev. Joanne Whitt
  • Weekly Facebook Video
  • Announcements & Upcoming Events
  • Outreach Opportunities & Updates
message from rev.  whitt


Dear St. Luke family,


Our Homecoming Sunday was a zestful celebration!  We’ll be back on Zoom this Sunday, as well as in person in the sanctuary, to consider doubt as an element of faith.

When you were a child or teenager, did you have questions about faith or beliefs?  Was there anyone to whom you could turn with those questions?  Were your questions encouraged, or discouraged?  

My uncle was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  He was a wonderful man, and I have a lot of respect and affection for him.  However, when I approached him with my questions about the traditional beliefs with which I’d been raised, he didn’t help.  I was in my late teens, and I wrote him a long letter that raised many questions.  In a nutshell, I asked, “Can I still be a faithful Christian if I don’t believe these things?”  He never answered my letter.  My mother, who had suggested that I write to him, was as disappointed as I was.  

After that, I left the Christian church for about 16 years, returning only after I had two toddlers, and my older daughter expressed a desire to go to Sunday school (she always was both curious and precocious).  So, you can see why it’s important to me that a church not only tolerates but welcomes and even encourages questions.  But this isn’t just a personal agenda.  Author Brian D. McLaren reports that we actually have a good bit of survey data that shows that one of the real issues that keeps people from giving church a try is “real struggles with professed Christian beliefs.”  Many Christians in our country tend to define faith as an adherence to a set of beliefs instead of a commitment to a way of life that’s centered on faith, hope and love.  A commitment, as St. Luke’s mission statement puts it, “To practice love by following Jesus.”

As Anne Lamott put it, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.  Certainty is missing the point entirely.  Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.  Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”

Join us this Sunday as we explore the adventure of faith that wrestles with hard questions.

As this Sunday is the third Sunday of the month, we’ll hear from the choir, which is preparing a toe-tapping anthem.  Normally, we’ll be hearing Rebecca Viebrock and the choir with traditional church music on first and third Sundays, and from Beth and Erich with alternative music on second and fourth Sundays.  Luckily, our church musicians are flexible enough that when Beth has a commitment on a fourth Sunday, and Becky has a wedding on a first Sunday, they can switch.  I am very grateful for their gifts, their flexibility, and for the variety of worship music that enriches our worship.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

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