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Sunday, May 24, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

This was one of those weeks that reminded me of just how great Bible Study is. In fact, Beth called me after Bible Study to tell me it was the best it had ever been. And the reason? Because the pastor went into Bible Study with no enthusiasm around the scriptures and instead relied on the wisdom of the group to lead her. The discussion that took place was filled with insight, meaning and humor. 

So what did we decide for Sunday? Seems this Sunday you’re going to hear about the Devil! That’s something we just never do in Mainline Protestant churches in Marin county and I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. At this point, all I can think of is Flip Wilson’s old routine, “The Devil made me do it!”

I plan on enjoying the next few days thinking about the concept of the little red being with horns and a pitchfork. But I also look forward to naming some of the ways that the concept of a force, whether outside of us or within us, tries to convince us that we’re not worthy of love or forgiveness. I suppose this force could work in the other direction as well, convincing us that we’re above reproach. This is going to be fun. 

See You Sunday,
Nicole

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

When my daughter Charlotte was little, we had a ritual where she would say “I love you,” and I would answer, “I love you more;” and she would reply, “Can’t be possible.” And then we would laugh as I would try to up her again by saying something about her understanding how very possible it is when she’s older and maybe has children of her own. 
 
This is how this Sunday’s scripture reads (John 14:15-25), with Jesus beginning with “If you love me, then you’ll keep my commandments,” which if you remember are to love God and love others. So we could understand this scripture as a kind of love letter. If you love me, then love me by loving others. And then Jesus ups the ante by saying, by promising the gift of the spirit and reminding us of how he lives inside of us and us in him. It’s an endless, almost embarrassing display of love, until we, like Charlotte used to say, “This can’t be possible.” But it is. 
 
And these days, for most of us in our community, we’ve been given the gift of time to reflect on the gifts of our life, like shelter and food.  But we’ve also been given spiritual gifts, like the indwelling of the spirit through Christ, who lives inside of us and with us intimately, like a partner who knows and sees us beneath the surface and loves us even more because of it.
 
Let us all be mindful in our prayers, praying that those who feel most alone during this pandemic may find that intimate love present in their lives, whether through Christ or family, stranger or happenstance. May we all take the power of our own spirits to be used by God as an advocate for those who are in need.
 
See you Sunday on Zoom.
 
With love in Christ,
Nicole

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

 Dear St. Luke Community,

I’ve been doing a lot of jogging and walking lately, which means I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and music. Each week I look for guidance from God in sermon writing, and this week, the theme that keeps coming up is about finding one’s voice and speaking your truth, even when it means risking loss: loss of friends, community and belonging, especially in the context of faith. So many churches require followers to hold certain beliefs or risk no longer being a part of the community they once belonged to. 

In the song I listened to this morning there’s this lyric… “So put your voice up to the test, Sing Lord, come soon.” What does it mean to put your voice up to the test? Stephen, the church’s first martyr, put his voice up to the test and it cost him his life (Acts 7:55-60). And while most of us will never have to face the decision Stephen did, what convictions of your own are you willing to speak up for and risk some kind of loss in the process? 

In our second scripture we’re told to let our selves be made into spiritual houses (1Peter 2:2-5). Houses are built upon foundations. In the context of faith, this is like our voices being built upon our convictions. When we find what it true in faith, we build everything else in our life upon that foundation. We speak from there, make choices from there and at times, it can ostracize us from our own community, political party, family, club and even church.

What are you willing to speak up for? What are you willing to risk? What are the foundations of your spiritual house that your own voice speaks out from?

See you Sunday,
Nicole

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