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The Weekly View - September 24, 2021

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


Dear St. Luke family,

This Sunday we’ll look at the Book of Esther.  It’s a wonderful story, full of intrigue and humor.  It’s the basis for the late winter/early spring Jewish festival of Purim.  A curious aspect we’ll explore this Sunday is that, in the entire book, God is not mentioned once.  My sermon is entitled, “Was God Involved?”  It’s an important question: Is God involved in the events of our lives, either the small coincidences or the major turns?  If so, how do we know?  
 
So many Bible stories make God’s activity obvious.  God has actual conversations with Abraham telling him to pick up and move his family and everything else to a promised land.  God speaks to Moses through a burning bush and gives him the explicit instruction: “Go tell Pharaoh to let me people go.”  God parts the Red Sea, and then hands Moses the Law on stone tablets.  God speaks through prophets, warning of the consequences of injustice.  Through Jesus, God heals the sick and feeds the multitudes, and finally God raises Jesus from the dead to show dramatically that nothing, not human cruelty or even death, can stop God’s love.
 
Esther, on the other hand, witnesses to the power of a good story to give us hope.  Rather than succumbing to despair, Esther — like the carnival-esque festival of Purim it inspires — encourages us to meet terror with ridicule.  Imagine that: Humor as one of the tools in God’s toolbox!  Former political speech writer John Lovett writes, “If you can make someone laugh about something that your opponent or your opposition thinks, that means you’ve done a really good job of highlighting what’s wrong with their argument or their position.”  
 
Satiric storytelling is not the only response to oppression we can or should muster, but the book of Esther reminds us it is indeed a valid response, one that helps us hold fast to our conviction that the grace-filled power of God ultimately will overcome the destructive powers of this world.  
 
The best line in the book of Esther is the holy challenge Mordecai gives to all of us when he says to his niece, Esther, “Who knows?  Perhaps you are here, at this place and time, for such a time as this.”
 
Perhaps you are here, at this place and time, for such a time as this.
 
Don’t forget to register for the gala dinner on October 2.  Everyone is invited, regardless of what you can or can’t donate.  There will be both indoor and outdoor seating.  
 
See you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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The Weekly View - September 17, 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,


Our Homecoming Sunday was a zestful celebration!  We’ll be back on Zoom this Sunday, as well as in person in the sanctuary, to consider doubt as an element of faith.

When you were a child or teenager, did you have questions about faith or beliefs?  Was there anyone to whom you could turn with those questions?  Were your questions encouraged, or discouraged?  

My uncle was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  He was a wonderful man, and I have a lot of respect and affection for him.  However, when I approached him with my questions about the traditional beliefs with which I’d been raised, he didn’t help.  I was in my late teens, and I wrote him a long letter that raised many questions.  In a nutshell, I asked, “Can I still be a faithful Christian if I don’t believe these things?”  He never answered my letter.  My mother, who had suggested that I write to him, was as disappointed as I was.  

After that, I left the Christian church for about 16 years, returning only after I had two toddlers, and my older daughter expressed a desire to go to Sunday school (she always was both curious and precocious).  So, you can see why it’s important to me that a church not only tolerates but welcomes and even encourages questions.  But this isn’t just a personal agenda.  Author Brian D. McLaren reports that we actually have a good bit of survey data that shows that one of the real issues that keeps people from giving church a try is “real struggles with professed Christian beliefs.”  Many Christians in our country tend to define faith as an adherence to a set of beliefs instead of a commitment to a way of life that’s centered on faith, hope and love.  A commitment, as St. Luke’s mission statement puts it, “To practice love by following Jesus.”

As Anne Lamott put it, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.  Certainty is missing the point entirely.  Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.  Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”

Join us this Sunday as we explore the adventure of faith that wrestles with hard questions.

As this Sunday is the third Sunday of the month, we’ll hear from the choir, which is preparing a toe-tapping anthem.  Normally, we’ll be hearing Rebecca Viebrock and the choir with traditional church music on first and third Sundays, and from Beth and Erich with alternative music on second and fourth Sundays.  Luckily, our church musicians are flexible enough that when Beth has a commitment on a fourth Sunday, and Becky has a wedding on a first Sunday, they can switch.  I am very grateful for their gifts, their flexibility, and for the variety of worship music that enriches our worship.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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The Weekly View - September 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
message from rev.  whitt

Dear St. Luke family,

The Sunday before Labor Day is the day set aside to remind us that every Christian is called to service to God, to be part of God’s drama, as one writer puts it, even if we seem only to have a bit part and haven’t read the whole script.  God needs every single one of us.  The word we use to describe this calling is “vocation,” which comes from the Latin for voice or calling, and this Sunday is Christian Vocation Sunday. 
 
Vocation isn’t limited to paid work or even volunteer work.  How we use our time, our resources, our special talents – all these are part of our vocational response to God’s call.  As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.  We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…”  So, whatever our situation, whatever our gifts, whatever our role or task, we who are part of the body of Christ are to respond accordingly.  That isn’t always easy at work, especially when our culture so often values the bottom line above all else.  But our calling as Christians is to go beyond the question of, “Is it profitable?” and even “Is it legal?”  An article by Christian ethicists includes these questions we might ask ourselves when faced with an ethical dilemma in the workplace: 

  • Will my actions show love to the others involved in the situation?
  • What answer does my own conscience tell me will bring me inner peace, even though it may also be painful?
  • What faith example will I provide to my co-workers and my family by the decision I make? 

This Sunday, we’ll hear from three of you, three members of our community, describing how they work out their Christian discipleship in the workplace or as volunteers.  It might inspire you to consider: What is your calling?  On the one hand, Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  On the other hand, Frederick Buechner wrote, “The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done.  If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing cigarette ads, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b).  On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either. … Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do.  The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  
 
Join us Sunday as we explore vocation and calling.  We’ll be in the sanctuary and on Zoom at 10:00 a.m.  Don’t forget that a week from Sunday, September 12, is the second Sunday of the month and so there will be no online worship.  It’s also Homecoming Sunday, a very festive day of music and celebration – it will be worth putting on a mask and showing up in person! 

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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