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Sunday, September 27, 2020

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Dear St Luke Community,

This Sunday we return to the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7). The Israelites are complaining to Moses and are completely justified in doing so. In turn, Moses complains to God. I’ve never had any trouble complaining to God. My hope is, that after Sunday, neither will you. If we can assume anything about our God, maybe it’s that’s God wants all of who we are, which means expressing our truth, our honest feelings to God and that includes our complaints.

As one person said in Bible Study, “If you’re going to complain, make sure it’s to someone who can do something about it.” Many of us were taught as children to pray reverently, which we often interpret as politely. But what if we could understand complaining and even anger as an expression of self compassion when expressed to God, who is the one being who can do something about it.

If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, “I shouldn’t complain,” I’d be rich. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes we have every right to complain, especially when change is completely out of our own control and the situation is horribly unjust. Our God, the God of grace and mercy, can take it; he can take all of what you have to hand over as he carries us through these wilderness times.

See you Sunday,
Nicole

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

I hope you were able to open the windows and sit outside these past few days. The simple gifts of God’s grace take on an entirely new level of appreciation when the things we normally take for granted are no longer available. During the worst of the smoke-filled skies, many of us felt forlorn and a few felt it was unfair as they compared themselves to those in other states or countries who were enjoying clean air. I read somewhere that there’s a term being used called “Covid Envy.” Some folks can escape to second homes and others cannot. Some have to work and others do not.  Some have to work with children at home and others do not.

In this Sunday’s scripture, Matthew 20:1-16 (The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard), we’re presented with this idea of what is fair and what is unfair. Workers show up at different times, some working all day and others only for a few hours, but everyone receives the same wage. It doesn’t seem fair.

Because this is a parable, I invite you all to think about the details, the characters, the back stories of all the players. Who are the ones who didn’t get hired till the end of the day? What were they doing all day? What were they capable of doing? How we imagine the answer to these questions and the intonation we use to ask them will reveal the lens through which we look.

I very much look forward to unpacking this parable in light of our present moment in history, when so many are out of a job and struggling economically, those who have lost their homes, those who are disabled, those who are working, and those who stand on street corners hoping for work. 

God’s sense of fairness is not ours. Does our way of living, our laws and our attitudes reflect that of God’s or does it reflect our sense of entitlement around what’s fair?

See you Sunday,
Nicole

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

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Dear St. Luke Community,

What a week. On Wednesday morning most of us woke up to an orange sky and unhealthy air quality for days to follow. Many of us are feeling the weight of everything, if not for ourselves, certainly for those most affected. Many of us have lost our rhythm, our usual ability to to move through tasks seamlessly, our usual good nights sleep, our usual, well just our usual. We are, in many ways, experiencing a kind of wilderness time, where the usual is no longer experienced and what’s to come is still unknown.

In our focus scripture for Sunday, (Exodus 14:10-31)  the Hebrew people followed Moses into the wilderness with God’s promise for the promised land. 

But as they were fleeing Egypt, the threat of the Egyptians who were on their heels, plus all the uncertainties that the wilderness brings became too much for them. And they blamed Moses for not letting them stay in Egypt, the only place they knew as home.

It seems that what was familiar, even if it was slavery, was preferred over the unknown. And what does Moses tell them to do? Well you’ll have to stay tuned and come Sunday to find out.  

But here’s a hint:

We cannot go back to the usual. And while we may never know what it means to live as slaves or to be victims of oppression, we do know what it means to travel in the metaphorical wilderness of our lives. We’ve lived wild chaotic periods of our lives personally at different points of our lives, but now we’re living it collectively: as a state on fire, as a country on the brink of a volatile election, and as a planet experiencing a global pandemic. We cannot go back to business as usual; but we can travel deep into the wilderness with God who leads us to the promise of God’s grace and mercy.

See you Sunday,

Nicole

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