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The Weekly View - November 12, 2011

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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:

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  

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The Weekly View - November 5, 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:

While I was serving a church in San Francisco, I was able to help a man who was suffering from mental illness and as a result, was homeless.  When we said goodbye, I didn’t think I’d see him again.  But he came back to my office the very next week, and gave me a little box of Cheer, the laundry detergent, the kind you buy in a coin operated machine at a laundromat.  It was tempting to read something into the gift itself.  Was the gift meant to “cheer” me?  The box said, “Ultra powerful, so use less.”  This is sound advice for life in general.  It was a product for washing things, and that reminded me of baptism.  But what the gift really meant to me, and the reason I kept in on my bookshelf for many years, is that every one of us, whatever our situation, wealthy or homeless or in between, can respond to God’s love and grace with gratitude and generosity.
 
This week we explore the story known as “the Widow’s Mite” in Mark’s gospel.  Biblical commentators point out that Jesus is not really holding the woman up in a “Go and do likewise” way; rather, he’s critiquing the hypocrisy of the scribes and their failure to care for this woman.  Nevertheless, she does show us that each of us, whatever our situation, can respond to God’s love and grace with gratitude and generosity.
 
This Sunday, we conclude our stewardship campaign.  Last Sunday during worship, John Lenser gave a terrific pitch as only John can do, explaining St. Luke’s financial needs for the coming year.  The most powerful incentive for generosity right now (in addition to responding to God’s love and grace) is that you will have a new pastor, most likely within 2 or 3 months, and you’ll want to support him or her and your ministry together with energy, commitment, and resources.  I cannot emphasize enough the message it sends to a pastor when the congregation backs his or her ministry with their pledges.  Not everyone can write a big check, but the story of the Widow’s Mite shows us that small gifts matter, as well; that it’s generosity that matters, not the size of the gift.
 
Don’t forget that we “fall back” this Saturday night.  Turn your clocks back one hour and get an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning.  As I mentioned in the midweek video on Facebook, if you forget and show up to church an hour early, you are more than welcome to rehearse with Becky Viebrock and the choir and join in the anthem for the morning. You might even decide to make it a habit!
 
I’ll see you on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time ~
 
Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor  

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The Weekly View - October 22, 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:

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  

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