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Sunday, July 4, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:   

 A number of years ago, I preached a sermon entitled, “The ‘E’ Word.”  The “E” word was “evangelism.”  Many of us in mainline Protestant churches cringe at that word.  We imagine televangelists, fundamentalists, and bad hairdos.  Jimmy and Tammy Faye Baker.  Pat Robertson.  Or corny bumper stickers, like “Honk if you love Jesus.”  Many of us are a little embarrassed by these images – maybe even more than a little.  That’s why I called it the “E” word.     

Evangelism does have a tarnished past.  We know there have been times when evangelism was the excuse for forcing the ways of one group of people onto another group.  Conquistadors, Manifest Destiny, all shapes and sizes of imperialism and colonialism have been cozy with Christian evangelism.  We’ve also seen evangelism used to promote intolerance.  How many of you have had a frustrating conversation with a well-meaning Christian, perhaps someone with pamphlets at your front door, who tried to convince you that even though you say you’re a Christian, you’re not their brand of Christian, and so, well, you’re just not Christian enough?

Then we encounter a passage like this Sunday’s passage, Mark 6:1-13, in which Jesus sends the disciples out to carry on his teaching and healing ministry.  Repeatedly, the New Testament confirms that we and all Christians are “sent.”  Jesus prays to God in John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”  At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).  In the “Great Commission” at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …” (Matthew 28:18-20).  We are sent by a sending God, the God who sent Jesus and who sent the Holy Spirit; the Jesus who sends us.   

Okay, we’re sent.  Where, and to do what?  In the 21st century, in Northern California, we take a dim view of the kind of faith that insists, “My way or the highway.”  There are many paths to God.  But Matthew’s Gospel gives us a clue about what being “sent” might mean.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.  Let your light shine” (Matthew 5:14-16).  I love that image.  It always takes me back to childhood and the little song we learned in Sunday school: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.” 

This Sunday, we’ll explore what being “sent” might look like for Presbyterians, in Marin County, in 2021. 

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:   

We’ve been easing our way back into the sanctuary since May 16, and now more people are worshiping in person than on Zoom.  We’ll continue both Zoom and in person worship, what we call “hybrid worship,” for the foreseeable future.  The Session has approved a plan to have in person worship only (i.e., no Zoom) on one Sunday a month.  That allows our Zoom/Communications Coordinator, Beth Potillo-Miller, and Erich Miller who has been instrumental in getting cameras and sound up and running, to have one Sunday off a month.  It looks as though second Sundays might work, so we’ll try that beginning on August 8.  

Everyone has missed the casual connection of coffee hour after worship.  Now that we’re confident about safety, it’s time to get coffee hour going again.  Look for coffee hour after worship on July 11.  We’re trying something new: Our sexton Carlos Aruara will set up and make the coffee for us, but we’ll take signups for snacks for the Sundays going forward.  People may sign up to bring whatever their favorite coffee hour treats might be: sweet or savory, homemade or store bought, already on serving plates.  Watch for the signup poster in the narthex. 

Another shift we’re making is in response to Music Director Becky Viebrock’s suggestion that perhaps the choir could prepare for two Sundays a month instead of every Sunday.  Beginning in September, the choir will perform in worship on first and third Sundays, and we will have alternative music second, fourth, and fifth Sundays.  Plans are still being made, but given the popularity of Acoustic Sundays, we expect something similar.

Looking ahead, I’m planning a special Labor Day service for the Sunday before Labor Day.  For the sermon that day, I’ll be asking three of you to talk for five minutes each about how you live out your Christian faith in the workplace.  

Then the following week, we’ll celebrate that we made it through the pandemic and kick off the school year with an all-church Homecoming Celebration on Sunday, September 12.  We’re still making plans, but we’ll have special music in worship (including the choir, even though it’s their Sunday off), and we may follow worship with a picnic or barbecue.    

Finally, plan now for our October fundraiser dinner, which will be on Saturday this year: Saturday, October 9.  Details to follow, but save the date!

Things are opening up, and St. Luke is getting back in gear!  See you this Sunday, when we’ll look at the healing powers of grief.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Church Reopening Practices

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Dear St. Luke family:

This coming Tuesday, June 15, is the date of California’s “Grand Reopening,” when most restrictions imposed during the pandemic will be lifted.  Fifteen months ago, we followed science (and Jesus) into the pandemic, and now we will follow science (and Jesus) out.  Science says that if people are vaccinated, they have minimal risk in participating in normal activities.

So, it is with both gratitude and caution that your reopening team announces the practices we’ll put in place at St. Luke going forward:

  • We will not ask for proof of vaccination to attend worship or other church functions, but we ask that people decide for themselves, based on their vaccination status, whether they feel safe and/or comfortable participating in worship in the sanctuary or other activities at church.
  • We ask that people self-assess their physical condition, and stay home if they are not feeling well.
  • We will no longer require masks, but we recommend that people continue to wear masks if they have not been vaccinated or if they are more comfortable doing so.
  • We will not require worshipers to sit 6 feet apart, but we invite people to decide for themselves how much physical distancing they need, and we all respect those choices.
  • We will continue to pass the peace without touching for now.
  • We will permit singing in worship.
  • The full choir will not perform in worship until fall, but small ensembles will perform this summer, and they will remain at least 12 feet from worshipers.
  • We will not take temperatures or prepare for contact tracing.
  • We will continue to worship both in the sanctuary and on Zoom for now.
  • We will celebrate communion at least one more time with the pre-packaged kits, and then make a determination about safe communion practices going forward.

It’s been a long, strange trip.  None of us has experienced anything like this.  May our joy that we are nearly at the end of the pandemic inspire us to act on behalf of the people and places in the world still struggling with COVID19, and to address the inequality the pandemic exposed. 

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor   

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