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The Weekly View - November 26, 2021

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

Dear St. Luke family:

Thanksgiving is behind us, and we’re heading into Advent!  Advent originally was a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the end of time and the return of Christ at the Second Coming.  But there is not just one end to the world any more than there is just one coming of Christ to look forward to.  In a manner of speaking, the world might end any day of the week for any of us with a grim diagnosis, a sudden accident, the death of a loved one, a debilitating injury, the loss of a job, or a notice of divorce.
 
When the heavens are shaken and the sea roars and the foundations of the earth split apart, our best hope is to keep looking for the coming of our Lord.  But we don’t have to look far, because he’s already here.  The Spirit of Christ is with us and for us and among us.  Christ can’t fix all our problems or stop all our pain or replace all our losses, but he can walk with us through them.  He can share the load and accompany us on the journey.  Advent is when we pay attention to that.  
 
Jesus chided the religious authorities of his day for their failure to see the signs of the inbreaking reign of God.  He said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” and the signs were healing broken bodies and bringing wholeness and peace to tortured souls who had been excluded, outcast, pushed to the margins.  If we’re watchful, we, too, can see signs of God’s love all around us.  If we’re alert and awake, we can see God’s love expressed in a thousand different ways.  That’s the miracle of incarnation, which we celebrate at Christmas.
 
Our Advent theme this year is “Prepare the Way.”  These words, spoken by the prophet Isaiah and quoted by John the Baptist, inspire us to ask, “How are we preparing the way for God’s reign?”  How is St. Luke getting ready to welcome Christ afresh into our own lives and the lives of those we encounter?  In particular, now that the Pastor Nominating Committee has announced that they have found a candidate to be your new pastor (although we do not yet know who he or she is), how might St. Luke prepare the way for new hope, new ministries, new life in Christ’s name?  How might we help one another see the signs of hope?
 
We’ll observe Advent beginning this coming Sunday by lighting the Advent candles and hearing special music from Cassandra Mech and Beth Potillo-Miller.  Thanks to the worship committee, the sanctuary will be festively decorated.  Each week, we’ll look at ways to “prepare the way.”  On the 19th, the choir presents their special Christmas music in worship.  On Christmas Eve, we’ll celebrate by candlelight with lessons and carols.
 
Shortly after Christmas, I will be saying goodbye to the beloved saints of St. Luke.  My last Sunday with you will be Epiphany Sunday, January 2.  We’ll celebrate that day with “star words.”  Each worshiper will receive a paper star with a word meant to inspire you, challenge you, and shape you in 2022.  What a blessing to me that I get to introduce this spiritual practice as my parting gift and farewell!  In the meantime, we’ll all be preparing the way for what God has in store for us.  
 
Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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The Weekly View - September 10, 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,


This coming Sunday is Homecoming Sunday, a festive celebration of the beginning of fall and a new church program year.  We’re welcoming the choir back to the sanctuary and we’re starting a new sequence of traditional worship music alternating Sundays with alternative music.  We’re looking ahead to a stewardship campaign, a gala fundraiser dinner, the election of new deacons, an officers’ retreat, and exciting progress reports from the pastor nominating committee.  We’ll observe Reformation Sunday and All Saints’ Sunday, remembering those resting in God’s care beyond this earthly life.  We’ll celebrate God’s generosity with Thanksgiving, and once again we’ll look forward to God’s coming in the season of Advent.  We’ll celebrate Christmas Eve in the sanctuary, offering our service of candlelight and carols to our friends and neighbors as we have for many years.      
 
When we planned Homecoming a couple of months ago, we were assuming the restrictions of the pandemic would be behind us and we’d be back in the sanctuary after Labor Day without masks.  But then the Delta variant intervened.  Nevertheless, with so much to celebrate, we’re proceeding with Homecoming with our masks in place.  We’ll hear festive music from the choir and from Erich Miller on steel drums.  We’ll celebrate the amazing burrito ministry of church member Michael Baranowski, Kitchen Manager for the Marin Street Chaplaincy.  We’ll celebrate September birthdays and anniversaries, and together we’ll lift up a prayer reminding our school kids that God is with them, even at school.
 
Our Scripture passage from Mark’s gospel this Sunday invites us to think about where the focus of our congregational life and activity is found.  Of course we seek spiritual nourishment for the faithful, but a congregation’s mission cannot end there, within our own church.  Like Jesus himself, his disciples are continually called to a larger vision of mission — one that aims to embrace the outsider, the stranger, even the enemy.  After all, we do know, we really do, just how deeply God loves the whole world – and that is exactly what the whole world needs to hear.
 
Because it’s the second Sunday of the month, we’ll worship only in the sanctuary, with no Zoom or online worship this week.  Our sanctuary is big enough for a good crowd to worship socially distant, and we’ll keep the doors open for increased ventilation.  We’ll all wear masks, including worship leaders except when we are speaking.  We’ll pass the peace observing people’s need for safe distance. 
 
Please join us at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday in the sanctuary for our festive Homecoming Service.  Don’t forget to “like” St. Luke on Facebook, where you can keep up with announcements and see our weekly midweek video.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:   

For the next two Sundays, I’ll be on vacation.  My husband David and I are headed to the Chicago area, where most of his family lives.  We’ll participate in the delayed celebration of the life of his aunt, who passed away during the pandemic.  It will be a family reunion; memorial services always are, with much laughter and sharing of memories as well as tears.  We’ll spend the week with David’s family, and then drive to Des Moines, Iowa, to celebrate my birthday with my brother and his wife.  My brother and his wife moved to Des Moines from California to be closer to her family.  She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s about 5 years ago, so I’ll be glad to see my baby brother and offer him some emotional support.  After Des Moines, David and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in downtown Chicago before heading home.

The trip is all about family, and relationships, and maintaining ties across distances.  We haven’t seen most of these family members since before the pandemic.  Maintaining in person connections seems to be the work ahead of most of us as the pandemic eases.

That includes maintaining relationships with our church family.  The pandemic forced us to change the way we did things.  We’re all grateful for the technology that allowed us to gather safely for worship.  It turns out some of our meetings and gatherings work just as well or better on Zoom.  A Zoom meeting also reduces our carbon footprint.  But we’ve also learned that we lose something by not being with each other in person.  Many of you will remember the ad slogan during the 1960’s for long distance phone calls: “It’s the next best thing to being there.”  Perhaps Zoom is now the next best thing to being there, but it isn’t being there.  Research shows that people need people, and not just online.  We need to be present, in person, with each other for our emotional and even for our physical health.  Over Zoom, you can’t share in laughter, hear your neighbors sing, catch nuances of expression, or give or receive hugs.  You can’t hear the music as it’s meant to be heard.  You can’t share a story over a cup of coffee and a doughnut.  You can’t greet newcomers and help them to feel welcome at St. Luke.  

It will take time for people to feel comfortable returning to church.  People have different needs for safety.  We must respect that.  This summer, many of us will miss Sundays at church because we are catching up on missed family time.  That is wonderful, something to celebrate.  And I look forward to the time when we are all back in the sanctuary again.

This Sunday, come hear Dvera Hadden, who will be preaching from Chapter 2 of Ephesians, “When Walls Divide Us.”  I’m grateful to Dvera, Becky Viebrock, Beth Potillo-Miller, Erich Miller, Jose Guarcas, liturgist Laura Hislop, and to all who help make worship happen while I’m away.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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