Newsletters

Results filtered by “Newsletter”

The Weekly View - December 3, 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

Dear St. Luke family:

My midweek video on St. Luke’s Facebook page this week asked the question, “Why bother with Advent”?  I’m still chewing on that subject.  Advent means “to come” or “to arrive.”  I read an article that suggests paying attention to three “comings” during Advent: The first coming of Jesus as an infant born in Bethlehem, his second coming at the end of time, and his coming to each of us in the meantime.  That first coming is, of course, what we celebrate at Christmas.  The second coming is when Christ returns at the end of time.  In the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving that we pray during the Lord’s Supper, we respond to the prompt, “Great is the mystery of faith” with …
             Christ has died.
             Christ is risen.
             Christ will come again.
 
But frankly, the Second Coming isn’t a big focus for most Presbyterians. Presbyterians believe that the time of Christ’s coming can’t and shouldn’t be predicted, and so we are more focused on God’s healing presence and work here and now.  So it’s that third coming that has me intrigued: Christ’s coming to each of us in the meantime.  Now, there’s a worthy Advent focus.  But … what does it mean, what does it look like for Christ to come into our lives, to come “afresh” into our lives?  What does it look like for you?  
 
A good place to start is seeing Advent as a time to slow down and remember the meaning of Christmas.  What the Bible passages we read every year during Advent and Christmas tell us is that God loves God’s world so much that God came in human form to show us who God is, and what humanity can be.  God came not in majesty and glory, but as a fragile infant born to ordinary nobodies in a backwater town.  His birth was announced not to princes but to poor shepherds, and he was visited not by the High Priest from the Temple but by foreigners who practiced a foreign religion.  And when that baby grew to be a man, he wasn’t a mighty warrior king, but a carpenter’s son who explained that loving God and loving our neighbors is more important that all the religious rules, more important than wealth or status or worldly power or anything else you can think of.  So maybe Advent is a good time to recommit to our St. Luke mission statement: “To practice love by following Jesus.”
 
This Sunday, we’ll hear from John the Baptist.  We think of him as famous, of course, but he was a nobody, too.  And yet, the Word of God came to him.  One message in that story might be that the Word of God could come to you, as well.  And then what would you do?  
 
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, when we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  A week from this Sunday, Mikki and Cole Tate (along with others) will provide special music, and on the 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the choir will treat us to special Christmas music.  

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

The Weekly View - November 19, 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:
 
I learned this past week that for many Native Americans, the holiday we celebrate as Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest because it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed.  I don’t know whether it is possible to detach our Thanksgiving holiday from that association, but that would be my hope.  A day to show gratitude, to celebrate God’s blessings, and to share a meal with family and friends is a wonderful spiritual practice.  As a matter of fact, while some Native Americans have chosen to reject the Thanksgiving holiday entirely, many embrace the positive messages of the holiday and choose to put aside concerns about the complex history of the day.  The idea of giving thanks is central to Native heritage and culture, and so Thanksgiving is simply a chance to appreciate the good things of life like family, community, and the riches of the land.  Long before settlers arrived, Native tribes were celebrating the autumn harvest and the gift of the Earth’s abundance.  Native American spirituality, both traditionally and today, emphasizes gratitude for creation, care for the environment, and recognition of the human need for communion with nature and others.[1]
 
And so, at St. Luke this coming Sunday, we will focus on giving thanks, on gratitude, and not on the other aspects of that complex history.  Recent research tells us gratitude is more than a polite gesture.  It changes us; it helps us; it helps our world.  Research shows that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits, including the physical benefits of stronger immune systems, being less bothered by aches and pains, and lower blood pressure.  Grateful people exercise more, take better care of their health, and sleep better.  People who are grateful also reap psychological benefits: higher levels of positive emotions, more joy and pleasure, and more optimism and happiness.  Grateful people are more helpful, generous, and compassionate, more forgiving, more outgoing, and feel less lonely and isolated.  Gratitude strengthens our relationships because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.  We acknowledge that other people – and for people of faith, God – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.[2]        
 
It sounds to me as though gratitude is something of a wonder drug!  Some people keep a gratitude journal as a gratitude practice.  I include gratitude in my daily journaling, and I post “one wonderful thing” on Facebook every day; it’s really “one thing for which I’m grateful.”  I’m going to introduce the children to a “gratitude jar.”  How might you practice gratitude?
 
Some of us will be cooking this coming week for the Street Chaplaincy Thanksgiving Dinner.  I’m on Pumpkin Pie Patrol on Monday.  Keep us and the lovely folks who will consume what we make in your prayers.  Note that the Street Chaplaincy Interfaith Thanksgiving Service is Wednesday evening on Zoom;.  See details below - you need to RSVP to get the link.
 
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday when we will “consider the lilies.”  Two Sunday’s from now, we begin the season of Advent.  What might it mean, in 2021, as you wait for a new pastor, to “Prepare the Way” for Christ coming into our lives afresh?
 
Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor  

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

The Weekly View - November 12, 2011

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 past Sunday afternoon, the officers of the church (deacons and elders) and the pastor nominating committee met for the officers’ retreat.  It was a very fruitful afternoon, and the first time since my arrival as your interim pastor that the church leadership was able to gather in person to think and pray about St. Luke’s future.
 
We based the retreat on the work of author, former pastor, seminary vice president, speaker, and executive coach Tod Bolsinger.  Bolsinger wrote a book entitled Canoeing the Mountains: Church Leadership in Uncharted Territory(InterVarsity Press, 2014).  The book title refers to the Lewis and Clark expedition.  In searching for the elusive Northwest Passage, the expedition believed that what they experienced of North America east of the Mississippi River would continue west of the Mississippi.  They thought they would be able to canoe across the continent.  And then they hit the Rocky Mountains.  They weren’t prepared for what they encountered; they were in uncharted territory.  They had to change their expectations and let some things go in order to persist in their mission.
 
The Church in the United States is in uncharted territory.  We pastors, lay leaders, and church members, too, for that matter, were trained for the way church looked in the 20th century.  This is true to some degree even of recent seminary graduates.  If you preached good sermons, offered a Bible study, a choir, and a Sunday school, and visited church members when they hit a tough spot, you didn’t have to worry about whether people would show up.  They just did.  But over the past seven decades, the mainline Protestant Church in the United States has experienced consistent, unbroken decline in membership.  This trend now has spread to evangelicals and Roman Catholics.  We are in uncharted territory. All we know is that if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to get the same results we’ve been getting.
 
So Bolsinger and other church leaders recommend adaptive change.  This starts with figuring out what our real mission is.  What is it about St. Luke that is so central to our DNA as a congregation that if we quit doing it, we would no longer be St. Luke?  Your leaders arrived at “the beloved community.”  St. Luke has built a community that welcomes and includes, that shepherds and nurtures, that supports and inspires, that provides opportunities to serve and opportunities to grow in love and faith.  Everything St. Luke does needs to further that mission; it needs to be consistent with that core DNA.  If what we’re doing doesn’t further not only nurturing but building a beloved community, we need to let it go, or adapt it so that it does.  
 
Bolsinger points out that people don’t fear change; they fear loss.  What I’m describing certainly points to some loss.  We don’t know what that means for St. Luke.  But what I describe is also an adventure, one we take together and one you will embark upon with your new pastor.
 
St. Luke’s leadership is invested, committed, and excited about preserving what it is about St. Luke that needs to be preserved, and adapting that which gets in the way of St. Luke’s mission.  I pray you will be, as well.  There is no formula for this.  We are off the map.  It is an adventure.
 
This Sunday, I’ll preach about hope when things seem to be falling apart.   We will experiment with music from Taizé, because the last time we did, a huge storm kept most folks home from church.  Taizé music is contemplative and prayer-like, and it appeals to young people who flock to the Christian community at Taizé, France from all over the world.  Come check it out this Sunday.  Join the adventure!

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor  

Posted by Joanne Whitt with

Previous123456