Newsletters

Sunday, August 9, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

I’m pleased to begin with some good news. This Sunday we will receive three new members: Scott and Rebecca White, and Mary Molander-Scull. We’ll also celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and receive some good news from our treasurer, John Lenser. It feels a bit awkward to begin this letter on such a positive note knowing how much has gone wrong, just this week alone, beginning with Beirut.

This period in time is strange, sad and challenging to say the least. Many people are tired and worn out.

The lectionary passage this week (1 Kings 19: 9-18) reflects many of our moods: feeling burned out, isolated, helpless and restricted in what we can and cannot do. Elijah, who is one of God’s greatest prophets, is feeling all of that and more. All the usual dramatic ways that God shows up, (like fires and earthquakes) are devoid of God. Instead, Elijah experiences God in silence. But in this passage, Elijah does not walk away changed as Jacob did in last week’s scripture. God essentially says to Elijah, it’s time to retire early. (That will change in 2 Kings, but for now, this is where God leaves it.)

We see a lot of awful dramatic events all around us these days, and many people believe God is responsible. But what if, like in this scripture, God is is none of the destruction? What if God shows up in the silence that takes place in the aftermath? The aftermath is when people are in need of comfort, in need of other people, in need of grace. Perhaps God’s “still small voice” is not a voice at all, but a kind of knowing. A wordless knowing that we’re not alone, best felt in silence. 

That’s a space we can help nurture for ourselves and especially for others when they’re experiencing a particularly tough time. Instead of reminding them what they have to be grateful for, or spiritually bypassing over what is dark and difficult, perhaps we can just sit in silence with them, just as God sits with us in our silence.

Elijah didn’t walk away changed in this particular scripture. But maybe that’s the point. What if we gave up trying to be anything other than who we are, and instead chose to just be?

Of course that’s not the end of the story, or our experience, but what if we all just sat with that for a moment, in silence, letting God’s presence be enough, for today, for now.

I’ll see you Sunday,
Nicole

 

Posted by Nicole Trotter with

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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