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The Weekly View - October 22, 2021

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


Dear St. Luke family:

On Tuesday evening this week, my husband and I attended an outstanding concert remembering Michael Morgan, the artistic director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony who died following kidney transplant surgery this past August.  As we stood in the long line waiting for the doors of the Paramount Theater to open, a large man, apparently unhoused, came along with a big coffee can asking loudly whether anyone would contribute to the homeless.  A security guard, another large man, came up to him and told him to quit bothering the concert patrons.  “Come on, man,” the first man said, “Don’t do that.  Leave me alone.”  He did not want to be silenced.  He did not want to be shooed away, hidden from the largely well-dressed crowd as an unpleasant reminder that life is hard for some people. 
 
How often something like that happens!  This is the story we hear this Sunday in Mark’s gospel, the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man who will not keep quiet, even when he’s shushed by the crowd surrounding Jesus.  But Jesus heals him, saying his faith has made him well.  This doesn’t mean Bartimaeus was healed because he had enough faith; that would mean he, Bartimaeus, accomplished the healing, when the healing was all Jesus’ doing.  Bartimaeus merely had the faith to receive it.
 
Almost all of us know how it feels to be silenced from speaking our truth.  And most of us have participated in silencing others, particularly where we’d just rather not see, hear, or know about someone else’s truth.  What has this looked like for you?  We’ll explore this on Sunday.
 
We’ll also try something new for St. Luke.  We’ve built this Sunday’s worship around music from the Taizé community, an ecumenical Christian community in the Burgundy region of France.  The community focuses on God’s love, reconciliation, and living simply.  Taizé has become a Christian pilgrimage site, attracting people and especially young adults from all over the world.  Taizé worship uses simple, repetitive chants to provide a meditative worship experience. The songs have simple lyrics taken from the Psalms or other Scripture.  Your worship team is discussing whether this might be a form of worship we offer one Sunday a month or once a quarter, or perhaps even as a contemplative service one evening a month.  This is your opportunity to experience it and let us know what you think.
 
Don’t forget that a week from Sunday, October 31, we’ll observe All Saints.  That day, you’re invited to bring photos of your loved ones who have died, and we will place them around the communion table.  Also, remember that two weeks from Sunday, November 7, we’ll switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time – we’ll “fall back,” and get an extra hour of sleep.
 
I look forward to seeing you in church, in the sanctuary or on Zoom.
 
Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor  

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

The Weekly View - October 15, 2021

Click here for the full NEWSLETTER

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

Dear St. Luke family,

What makes someone “great”?  Power, prestige, wealth, position, or fame?  Awards, inventions, critical acclaim, talent, or accomplishments?  In this Sunday’s passage in Mark’s gospel, Jesus says it’s none of these.  It’s serving others.  We’ll explore what that means, and how it’s really true, and not only in a “Jesus loves a paradox” sort of way.  
 
You may have heard that Marin County has adjusted the mask mandate.  The new rules provide that people need not wear masks at indoor gatherings if:

  1. There are no more than 100 individuals present; and
  2. The host, employer, or organizer commits to:
    • Verifying (via vaccination documentation) that all individuals present are fully vaccinated; and
    • Maintaining a list of individuals present; and
    • Controlling access to the indoor setting, ensuring the setting is not open to the general public. 

A final decision about masks needs to be made by the session, but note that even with the vaccination verification procedure the new rules apply only to places that are not open to the general public.  A church worship service is open to the general public.  Further, at this point, going maskless would exclude children younger than 12 from our worship service.
 
By now you will have received a letter from Laura Hislop representing the team of church members who have been seeking a tenant to replace the Monte de Sion congregation.  That team has been in a productive conversation with a preschool.  There are details to be hammered out, and if all goes well, the preschool isn’t likely to be on site until next fall.  Session determined that the preschool fits with our use of the parts of the St. Luke campus that are important to us.  Session also concluded that a preschool is good stewardship of the property and a faithful contribution to the neighborhood and surrounding community.  John Lenser and Laura Hislop will be available following worship this Sunday to answer any of your questions. 
 
A note about upcoming worship services: Next Sunday, October 24, we will be experimenting with contemplative worship including silence and music from the Taizé community.  Taizé is an international and ecumenical Christian community in Burgundy, France, founded in 1940.  It has become an important site of Christian pilgrimage, with a focus on youth.  Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work.  The community focuses on peace, simplicity, and reconciliation, and their worship is characterized by repetitive chants with simple phrases from the Psalms or other parts of Scripture.  Short songs, repeated again and again, give worship a meditative character.

On October 31, we will observe All Saints.  All Saints is officially November 1, and your worship committee has decided to observe it on the 31st rather than waiting until November 7, which is also a communion Sunday.  As in years past, on that Sunday we invite worshipers to bring photos of loved ones who have departed this earthly life.  We’ll set those photos around the communion table in a service of celebration and remembrance.
 
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, in the sanctuary and on Zoom.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

Posted by Beth Potillo-Miller with

The Weekly View - October 8, 2021

Click here for the full NEWSLETTER

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


Dear St. Luke family,


This coming Sunday we’ll explore a well-known passage in Mark’s gospel that is challenging for many reasons.  One of the main reasons it’s challenging is that people misunderstand what Jesus means by the phrase, “the kingdom of God.”  So, this is a quick refresher on “the kingdom of God.”  It might help you this Sunday.  
 
The kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary metaphor for what God wants for God’s world here and now – for what we mean when we say, “God’s will.”  Author Brian McLaren tells a story about how his life and faith were forever changed during a 1994 conference of Christian leaders in Africa.  A Burundi pastor named Claude said he realized his whole life had been lived against the backdrop of genocide and violence, poverty and corruption.  He wondered, “Did God only care about our souls going to heaven after we died?  Were hungry bellies unimportant to God?  Was God unconcerned about our crying sons and our frightened daughters, our mothers hiding under beds, our fathers crouching by windows, unable to sleep because of gunfire?  Or – did God send Jesus to teach us how to avoid genocide by learning to love each other, how to overcome tribalism and poverty by following his path, how to deal with injustice and corruption, how to make a better life here on earth?”          
 
Claude said he’d come to realize, “Something was missing in the version of Christianity we received from the missionaries.  The missionaries told us how to go to heaven.  But they left out an important detail.  They didn’t tell us how the will of God could be done on earth.”
 
Brian McLaren recognized immediately that this is not just an African problem.  Over the course of the conference, the leaders talked about the kingdom of God, and how the message of the kingdom – contrary to popular belief even among many Christians still today – was not focused on how to escape this world and its problems by going to heaven after death, but instead, was focused on how God’s will could be done on earth, during this life.  During a break in the conference, McLaren saw a woman from Burundi sitting at a table, her face hidden in her arms.  He checked to see if she was okay.  “I’m okay,” she said, “but I’m shaken up.  …  Today, for the first time, I see what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God.  I see that it’s about changing this world, not just escaping it and retreating into our churches.  If Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God is true, then everything must change.  Everything must change.”
 
In this Sunday’s passage, we’ll hear Jesus say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  He is not saying anything about whether a rich person will or will not go to heaven.  He is saying it is very hard for people who are essentially comfortable to believe that everything must change, and to join in and pray for God’s saving work to create a kingdom, a unity of harmony and shalom for all of God’s creation that’s good for everyone beyond what we can imagine. 
       
But that is what we pray for when we pray the Lord’s Prayer.  We say the Lord’s Prayer so routinely that we might miss how revolutionary and challenging these particular words are.  That’s why the petition about God’s will and about God’s kingdom go together.  Thy kingdom come ON EARTH.  Thy will be done ON EARTH.  When we say the prayer, we usually put a pause in between “thy will be done” and “on earth.”  In fact, our pew Bibles put a comma there.  When we pause like that, it’s easier to imagine, as many folks do, that Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in heaven once we’re dead.”  No.  I checked with my friend the Greek scholar.  There is no comma in the Greek text between “done” and “on earth.”  This is what we should be saying, what Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.” 

There is plenty more that is challenging about the camel and the eye of the needle.  Still, it doesn’t say anything about who is going to heaven after they die, and who isn’t.  Stay tuned, and see you on Sunday!


Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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