Newsletters

Holy Week

Dear St. Luke Community,

Maundy Thursday, John 13:1-35
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day we remember Jesus’s greatest commandment, which is to love one another. The Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber gives a lovely reflection on John’s Gospel. You can read Rev. Bolz-Weber’s reflection here.

If you recall we also reflected on this Scripture just a few Sunday’s ago. If you missed it, you can go to our website and read or listen here.

In Bolz-Weber’s reflection she speaks about how we usually think about loving one another in the active form of giving, but we forget that it’s equally important to know how to receive love. I often hear many of you, whom I know have spent the better part of your lives giving, tell me how hard it is to ask for help. “It’s your turn to allow others the opportunity to give,” I’ll say. 

And there’s another way we receive and it comes in the form of unconditional love. It’s the kind that comes from God, Christ, Spirit and for many of us, our dogs. It’s the kind that sees you, all of you, and loves you, imperfections and all. It’s the love that says, ‘It’s okay, you’re okay, and I love you.” This Maundy Thursday, may you be reminded of how our goodness is born directly out of this unconditional love that never quits.

Good Friday Worship, 12:00pm via Zoom (link sent via email)
The Seven Last Words from the Cross: 
A Service of Scripture, Reflection, Meditation and Music

We’ll hear the last words of Jesus from the cross and sit together in sure and certain hope of the resurrection. Life is born in the dark, in the earth in the womb and reborn in an empty tomb. May this time together enrich your experience of what’s to come in gratitude for life, it’s gifts and the companionship of Emmanuel, God with us.

This Sunday, Easter Worship, 10:00 am via Zoom
Join us and invite your friends and family for this Sunday’s Easter Celebration of Resurrection and life.   (Please note, we are continuing to use passwords for Sunday Service. Link to worship sent in weekly email.)

While some of us are carrying the sadness of a world devastated by this pandemic, we’re also reminded that God has the final word, which is God’s  “yes” to the world’s “no.” God brings new life out of darkness. While some of us still can’t wrap our heads around the physical manifestation of the resurrection, our bodies know all too well the smells of wisteria blooming on vines that looked bare just months ago. We witness buds on trees and the light green ivy growing on top of the older deeper green leaves. Our bodies know spring. Our psyches too, know joy after grief. We know that life continues in periods of darkness, and we know that even the death of a loved one is not the end of love. We know the rising of tides and we know growth after wildfires. We know the waning of the moon and we know that babies live in wombs, alive and well before they can breathe on their own. These are the ways we can wrap our heads around the resurrection of Christ. Christ is in everyone of those experiences. 

While we can’t physically be together, we are still the body of Christ as we discover new ways of being the church together on Zoom. If there’s anyone who still hasn’t figured out how to use Zoom and wants to, Beth and I are happy to help you practice on Saturday. Please email me back if you’d like help. We want to see you!

Easter Bonnets
This is a joyous occasion and I invite you to make an Easter Bonnet at home. You’re encouraged to get creative with whatever supplies you may have at home.

Yours in Christ,
Nicole

 

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

This Sunday

Dear St. Luke Community,

This Sunday we meet again by Zoom. If you would like to join us but aren’t sure how to use Zoom, you can contact Beth or myself to help walk you through it.  Last Sunday we had 58 screens with multiple people watching in different households. Even my mother and her husband in New York were able to join.

Palm Sunday
The worship team would love for you to go into your yard and pick any kind of branch, or even piece of a bush. Then just as we do every year during the processional, we’ll wave our branches together. I’m grateful there will be all kinds of branches and not just palms. What a beautiful reflection of how diverse we are as a world. Big and small, complex and simple, fragrant and neutral, we are all majestic and loved in the eyes of God who seeds us, grows us and brings us to life.

Communion Sunday
The PCUSA recently established new guidelines on what constitutes as Communion during these special circumstances. Please bring with you any kind of something to eat and drink and we will, in unison, share in the bread and cup of Christ.

Scripture
This Sunday we hear from Mark 14:32-36 as Jesus prays to God in the garden. In that prayer we hear Jesus refer to God as “Abba.” When I was in Seminary (not that long ago) we learned that this was a more intimate form of the word “father,” similar to the meaning of daddy. But in my reading just a few days after Bible Study where I shared that understanding, I’ve learned that scholars are insisting it does not mean “daddy.” They maintain it means Father. Why should this matter? It seems some scholars criticize the use of a term like “daddy” because it over sentimentalizes God, and makes him more of a buddy and friend used for us personally. To that, your Pastor says,“hogwash.” Intimacy doesn’t negate transcendence, nor does sentimentalizing our understanding of God water down the power of God. When did sentimental become something we should fear? I suppose your Pastor is just a sentimental old fool, as the expression goes. But I wear the title proudly. The world is in need of intimacy, which is born out of things of beauty, like nature, art, poetry, dance, music and in turn gives birth to more intimacy. The world is in need of the fools who fall for love and can speak to God as though God were in the room, intimately there for them, and yes, also there for the world transcendently, beyond our understanding. Okay, I’m done.

The scripture this week is powerful, as Jesus prays to God during what is one of Jesus’s most vulnerable moments, to remove the cup, essentially asking for a way out. And then, ends his prayer with, “Yet, not what I will, but what you will.” (NIV)

Beth sent me a prayer this week that I believe most intimately and sentimentally (in the best sense of the word) speaks to both the scripture and what we’re experiencing today. It’s a dialogue between a person and God. Enjoy and I hope to see you Sunday. Invite your friends, near and far.

Yours in Christ,
Nicole

Okay, God, Here's the Thing
Me
: Okay, God, here's the thing. I'm scared. I'm trying not to be, but I am.
God: I know. Want to talk about it?
Me: Do we need to? I mean, you already know.
God: Let's talk about it anyway... We've done this before.
Me: I know, I just feel like I should be bigger or stronger of something by now.
God: *waiting patiently, unhurried, undistracted, never annoyed*
Me: Okay. So, I'm afraid I'll do everything I can to protect my family and it won't be enough. I'm afraid of someone I love dying. I'm afraid the world won't go back to what it was before. I'm afraid my life is always going to feel a little bit unsettled.
God: Anything else?
Me: EVERYTHING ELSE.
God: Remember how your son woke up the other night and came running down the hall to your bedroom?
Me: Yes.
God: You were still awake, so when you heard him running, you started calling out to him before he even got to you... remember? Do you remember what you called out to him?
Me: I said, "You're okay! You're okay! You're okay! I'm here."
God: Why did you call to him? Why didn't you just wait for him to get to your room?
Me: Because I wanted him to know that I was awake, and I heard him, and he didn't have to be afraid until he reached the end of the dark hallway.
God: Exactly. I hear you, my child. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There's an other side to all of this. I'm there already. I've seen the end of it. And I want you to know right here as you walk through it all, you're okay. I haven't gone to sleep, and I won't.
Me: *crying* Can we sit together awhile? Can we just sit here a minute before I go back to facing it all?

Source unknown; circulating on social media

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dear St. Luke Community, 

This Sunday we’re changing our worship format to Zoom. All week long Beth and I have offered tutorials for those who needed extra help. We realize that this may still be difficult to access. So if you didn’t have a chance or you’d like another try, we’ll offer another practice session tomorrow, Saturday. Please let me know if you decide to join this practice session by emailing either Beth or myself. Once we know you’re trying, we can get on the phone with you to walk you through it. 

Also during the week, I and others have connected with you either by phone, email, text or Zoom. While I’m grateful for the technology, nothing beats a warm body to touch with a handshake, hug or smile. I’ve never been more aware of the importance of the gathering of God’s people on a Sunday morning. And I suspect each week we don’t meet in person will bring with it a deepening of that longing. 

This Sunday’s scripture we follow Jesus, who is also experiencing a kind of longing, to make sure the ones he loves know what they need to know before he goes. At his last supper as told in the Gospel of John, Jesus gets up from the table and begins to perform the task of a servant by washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus knows the worst is ahead of him, and he wants to leave his friends and the world with love: love not spoken, but love shown. He shows love in a home no less, around a table. The very commandment he’ll leave us with, that we love one another as he’s loved us, Jesus brings alive at home.

We may not be encountering very many people these days as we’re mostly sheltering at home or out for a walk. But as Jesus shows us, there’s always ways to serve. There’s those we might live with, there’s those who need a phone call, need a smile on the walking path, those who need an email, a text, a FaceTime call. As we’re commanded to love, we are finding new expressions of what that means. God is always in the business of new expression, continuously and unceasingly finding new ways to reach us, touch us and bring to life hands on tangible ways for us to share that love with one another. 

With love in Christ,
Nicole

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