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Sunday, October 25, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

My heartfelt and most sincere appreciation for the continued love you have all shown in your cards, emails, phone calls and backyard visits. My heart is filled with joy and sadness, gratitude and grief and so are yours as you’ve expressed them to me. The heart can carry all kinds of emotion that may seem intellectually contrary, but as anyone who is anyone knows, life is never black and white and often takes a turn we didn’t see coming.

Perhaps Moses knew this better than anyone, when at the end of his life, he was not allowed to enter into the Promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1-12). Sunday after Sunday we’ve followed Moses in the wilderness, witnessing him as a faithful servant of God’s, obeying God (not always perfectly), only to be denied entry for the remaining years of his life. There is nothing fair about it and our heart breaks for Moses as we look to God and ask on behalf of Moses, “Why not?” 

In this scripture Moses is the picture of unfulfilled dreams and disappointment. Many of us are feeling that way these days, some of you for personal reasons, and perhaps all of you collectively as a congregation. 

But also like Moses, you have seen God intimately and journeyed with God so closely that many of you have expressed versions of coming face to face with God in unexplained and undefinable ways. To be a servant of God’s is often like this –  contradictory in nature and as fulfilling as it can be frustrating.

But unlike Moses, you will not be separated from the community that you’ve traveled with this far. And the promises that God makes to you are fulfilled in Christ, the one we profess as our Lord and Savior. As you continue to journey ahead, my prayer is that you will do so as a body, one body, in Christ. All of God’s promises are already living among you, and they are not just a vision of some unknown future, but living among you in the hear and now, expressed in the ways you carry one another and love one another today and all days.

Yours in Christ,
Nicole

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

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Dear St Luke Community,

I want to thank so many of you for reaching out and expressing so graciously your well wishes and your heartfelt sadness. I continue to be humbled by your continued love. 

None of this is easy. Period. Not before and not now. Worship becomes more important than ever during times like these and I do hope you will come. God’s loving community first and foremost is a reflection of the steadfast love of God. In my opinion the sermon is never as important as the ways God’s people show up for one another.  And if there is one thing you can all say with certainty, it’s that this community knows how to do just that: show up for one another.

We will look to scripture for comfort and for guidance and I believe this Sunday, like so many others, the Word of God will provide just that.

Moses is asking God to show up, searching for reassurance and guidance just as we all are these days for endless reasons. (Exodus 33:12-23) And while God will not reveal God’s face in this anthropomorphic vision of God, we do know that God shows up, as God does again and again to say, you are not, nor have you ever been alone. 

Or in the words of Howard Thurman:

God is with me. 
Always there is the persistent need for some inner assurance,
some whisper in my heart, some stirring of the spirit 
within me-that renews, recreates and steadies.
Then whatever betides of light or shadow, I can look out on life with quiet eyes.


See you Sunday,
Nicole

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

This Sunday we welcome Reverend Joanne Whitt to the virtual pulpit. Joanne has been a colleague, friend and mentor since I began at St. Luke over 5 years ago.

Joanne has served churches in San Francisco and the East Bay, and in 2019 retired after nearly 15 years as the pastor/head of staff of First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo.  Currently she is a credentialed spiritual director practicing in Marin County and beyond, working with people of various faith traditions and spiritual philosophies, including people with questions and doubts or longing to sense God’s presence.  Prior to entering seminary, she was a trial lawyer for 15 years.  She has served on the Board of Trustees of San Francisco Theological Seminary and as the Moderator of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Pacific.  Currently she serves on the Zephyr Point Board and as co-chair of the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of the Redwoods. 

Joanne will be preaching on the story of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-14). It seems like only yesterday that the Israelites received the commandment to make no other God’s before God, and here they are throwing Moses under the bus and asking Aaron to do help them make gods that will go before them.

What are the idols we follow today? Who and what do we place before God in the ways we focus, the things that take our energy, the time we spend? We are human beings who find ourselves wandering away from God and then back again, reassured of God’s presence when we return, and forgetful as we wander. 

During a Centering Prayer retreat with Father Thomas Keating, an attendee of the retreat complained to Father Keating that she could not stay focused but would wander away in her thoughts saying, “Oh, Father Thomas, I’m such a failure at this prayer. In twenty minutes I’ve had ten thousand thoughts!” 

“How lovely,” responded Keating, without missing a beat. “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God.”

While the spirit will lead Rev Whitt in her one direction regarding this scripture, I can say with all certainty that you are in for a meaningful, thoughtful and heartfelt sermon. 

Enjoy this Sunday,
Nicole

P.S. Michael Baranowski will be leading worship along with liturgist Lynn Callender. 

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