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The Weekly View - September 10, 2021

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


Dear St. Luke family,


This coming Sunday is Homecoming Sunday, a festive celebration of the beginning of fall and a new church program year.  We’re welcoming the choir back to the sanctuary and we’re starting a new sequence of traditional worship music alternating Sundays with alternative music.  We’re looking ahead to a stewardship campaign, a gala fundraiser dinner, the election of new deacons, an officers’ retreat, and exciting progress reports from the pastor nominating committee.  We’ll observe Reformation Sunday and All Saints’ Sunday, remembering those resting in God’s care beyond this earthly life.  We’ll celebrate God’s generosity with Thanksgiving, and once again we’ll look forward to God’s coming in the season of Advent.  We’ll celebrate Christmas Eve in the sanctuary, offering our service of candlelight and carols to our friends and neighbors as we have for many years.      
 
When we planned Homecoming a couple of months ago, we were assuming the restrictions of the pandemic would be behind us and we’d be back in the sanctuary after Labor Day without masks.  But then the Delta variant intervened.  Nevertheless, with so much to celebrate, we’re proceeding with Homecoming with our masks in place.  We’ll hear festive music from the choir and from Erich Miller on steel drums.  We’ll celebrate the amazing burrito ministry of church member Michael Baranowski, Kitchen Manager for the Marin Street Chaplaincy.  We’ll celebrate September birthdays and anniversaries, and together we’ll lift up a prayer reminding our school kids that God is with them, even at school.
 
Our Scripture passage from Mark’s gospel this Sunday invites us to think about where the focus of our congregational life and activity is found.  Of course we seek spiritual nourishment for the faithful, but a congregation’s mission cannot end there, within our own church.  Like Jesus himself, his disciples are continually called to a larger vision of mission — one that aims to embrace the outsider, the stranger, even the enemy.  After all, we do know, we really do, just how deeply God loves the whole world – and that is exactly what the whole world needs to hear.
 
Because it’s the second Sunday of the month, we’ll worship only in the sanctuary, with no Zoom or online worship this week.  Our sanctuary is big enough for a good crowd to worship socially distant, and we’ll keep the doors open for increased ventilation.  We’ll all wear masks, including worship leaders except when we are speaking.  We’ll pass the peace observing people’s need for safe distance. 
 
Please join us at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday in the sanctuary for our festive Homecoming Service.  Don’t forget to “like” St. Luke on Facebook, where you can keep up with announcements and see our weekly midweek video.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:   

For the next two Sundays, I’ll be on vacation.  My husband David and I are headed to the Chicago area, where most of his family lives.  We’ll participate in the delayed celebration of the life of his aunt, who passed away during the pandemic.  It will be a family reunion; memorial services always are, with much laughter and sharing of memories as well as tears.  We’ll spend the week with David’s family, and then drive to Des Moines, Iowa, to celebrate my birthday with my brother and his wife.  My brother and his wife moved to Des Moines from California to be closer to her family.  She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s about 5 years ago, so I’ll be glad to see my baby brother and offer him some emotional support.  After Des Moines, David and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in downtown Chicago before heading home.

The trip is all about family, and relationships, and maintaining ties across distances.  We haven’t seen most of these family members since before the pandemic.  Maintaining in person connections seems to be the work ahead of most of us as the pandemic eases.

That includes maintaining relationships with our church family.  The pandemic forced us to change the way we did things.  We’re all grateful for the technology that allowed us to gather safely for worship.  It turns out some of our meetings and gatherings work just as well or better on Zoom.  A Zoom meeting also reduces our carbon footprint.  But we’ve also learned that we lose something by not being with each other in person.  Many of you will remember the ad slogan during the 1960’s for long distance phone calls: “It’s the next best thing to being there.”  Perhaps Zoom is now the next best thing to being there, but it isn’t being there.  Research shows that people need people, and not just online.  We need to be present, in person, with each other for our emotional and even for our physical health.  Over Zoom, you can’t share in laughter, hear your neighbors sing, catch nuances of expression, or give or receive hugs.  You can’t hear the music as it’s meant to be heard.  You can’t share a story over a cup of coffee and a doughnut.  You can’t greet newcomers and help them to feel welcome at St. Luke.  

It will take time for people to feel comfortable returning to church.  People have different needs for safety.  We must respect that.  This summer, many of us will miss Sundays at church because we are catching up on missed family time.  That is wonderful, something to celebrate.  And I look forward to the time when we are all back in the sanctuary again.

This Sunday, come hear Dvera Hadden, who will be preaching from Chapter 2 of Ephesians, “When Walls Divide Us.”  I’m grateful to Dvera, Becky Viebrock, Beth Potillo-Miller, Erich Miller, Jose Guarcas, liturgist Laura Hislop, and to all who help make worship happen while I’m away.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, July 11, 2021

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King David and the ark of the covenant

Mark Chagall, c. 1956

Dear St. Luke family:   

I’ve quoted author Brené Brown in sermons a few times.  Brown is a sociologist and author who, as one writer put it, “put vulnerability on the map” a little over ten years ago in a TEDTalk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability” (2010) (which you can see here).  Brown explains that vulnerability – that is, uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure – is the key to connection.  After all, love itself is uncertain.  It leaves us emotionally exposed.  Further, to put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s also vulnerability.  To let ourselves sink into the joyful moments of our lives even though we know that they are fleeting, even though the world tells us not to be too happy lest we invite disaster – that’s also vulnerability.

In this Sunday’s Scripture passage, King David makes himself vulnerable by “dancing with all of his might before the Lord” as the Ark of the Covenant is brought into Jerusalem.  It may have been politically savvy, as well, but it was also vulnerable.  His wife, Michal, condemns him for appearing foolish in front of the people of the kingdom.  King David wasn’t cool, but what Michal doesn’t understand is that his dance connected him to the people.  As Brown puts it, “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen. … Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

What might it mean in your life if the appropriate response to the presence of the Lord is to be vulnerable, to be authentic, to be really seen, to be “uncool”?  This week, our music director Becky Viebrock told me the choir is preparing an anthem for later this summer entitled, “I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing.”  Other verses to this old spiritual include, “I’m gonna pray when the Spirit says pray,” “I’m gonna shout when the Spirit says shout,” and even, “I’m gonna moan when the Spirit says moan,” and “I’m gonna dance when the Spirit says dance.”  All very uncool.  And what if we add, “I’m gonna speak up when the Spirit says speak up”?  And “I’m gonna share my ideas when the Spirit says share your ideas”?  And “I’m gonna try something new when the Spirit says try something new”?

And how can we help each other be more authentic, and less cool?

Don’t forget to “like” St. Luke on Facebook and check out this week’s Midweek Video on spiritual practices.

See you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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