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Sunday, February 7, 2021

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Dear St. Luke Family:

Our Scripture passage this Sunday describes Jesus’ performing a healing miracle, and then heading off to be alone to pray.  Thinking about our current situation, stuck at home in the pandemic, it seems that more isolation might be the last thing we’d want.  But prayer – now, maybe we could use more of that.  

In Sunday’s sermon we’ll look at prayer, how it can take many forms, and why it’s important.  I ran across a poem by Lynn Ungar, entitled “Pandemic,” that functions as one kind of prayer, even though it doesn’t begin with “Dear Lord” or end with “Amen.”  I’m sharing it here, as my prayer for you, for all of us: 

by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:

This Sunday we look at the Jesus’ very first act of ministry in Mark’s Gospel.  It’s a healing miracle in which Jesus restores a man possessed by an “unclean spirit” to health and community.  Some people have an easy time believing in biblical miracles, while others are skeptical. 

Author Brian D. McLaren ponders: What if, instead of debating whether the miracle actually happened or didn’t happen, we asked another question: What happens to us when we imagine miracles happening? Perhaps a miracle story is intended to shake up our normal assumptions and make it possible for us to see something we couldn’t see before.  Perhaps the miracle that really counts isn’t the one that happened back then, but the one that could happen in us today as we reflect on the story. 

Perhaps, by challenging us to consider impossible possibilities, these stories can stretch our imagination, and in so doing, can help us play a powerful role in helping God create new possibilities for our world.  Doesn’t that sound rather … miraculous?

We’ll hear how after people met Jesus, they started telling wild, inspirational stories full of gritty detail, profound meaning, and audacious hope.  They saw new possibilities; they imagined new life.  Their faith and courage grew.  They were transformed.  That’s why they had to tell these stories, and that’s why we still tell them today.  You may or may not believe in literal miracles, but faith still works wonders.

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

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Dear St. Luke Family:

In his inaugural address on Wednesday, our new President called for healing and unity.  The question facing our country now will be: do we really want it?  The short, comical story of Jonah we’ll hear this coming Sunday might have something to say to us about this.

Last Sunday, we heard about Simon Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael.  In John’s gospel, these four men are Jesus’ first disciples.  Jonah is nothing like them.  He doesn’t leave what he’s doing and immediately follow God’s call.  Instead, he jumps on the first boat going in the opposite direction and he hides in the hold of the ship, hoping that somehow God won’t notice.  Imagine if, upon encountering Jesus, Peter and Andrew jumped into their fishing boats and rowed like madmen for the opposite shore, as far away from this dangerous itinerant preacher as they could get.

Jonah did just that, trying to get as far away from God, and God’s bizarre instructions, as he could.  Go to Nineveh?  The capital of the Assyrian Empire, that destroyer of Israel, that brutal occupying force?  Those bad guys?  It was unthinkable.  Jonah spends a little time in the belly of the great fish before he finally complies with God’s request. 

Here’s what Jonah eventually learns: God is God, and does not act as we think the Almighty should act.  When we go where God calls us, what we find is that God is already there, ahead of us.  We find that no people, and no place, not even Nineveh, can properly be called God-forsaken. 

Jonah was not at all happy about this.  Are we?

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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