From the Rector (September 2016)

 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 & “Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.” 1 Peter 4:9
 
This is not a new idea, hospitality; it has been a part of the fabric of St. Luke’s since the inception of this congregation 64 years ago… However, the Vestry and various committees of the Church have been reflecting on how we might revitalize our understanding and participation in this “way of being” (hospitality)… particularly in relation to the “Stranger”.
 
For several years now we have been working on our remodel and renovation projects both inside and outside the Church… one of the big “Makeovers” was the creation of the large gathering area in front of the Church including the curved concrete bench that borders the pavers near the street. I have written (and even spoken at Diocesan Convention) about the impact this little concrete bench has had on our neighborhood… people walking by will often stop and sit a spell there, or in the reflection area just below and to the right (thanks to Skip & Rosey Parks for the patio furniture, and to Mike Ferree for bringing it to us.) The bench/wall lends itself to a short rest and reflection. 
 
On Sunday, September 11, we will be unveiling plans for a new “Hospitality” feature near the bench/wall, close to the street… a “Watering Station”. Roger Taber, in consultation with the Vestry and Design Committee, is designing a watering station that will provide “on demand” water for the many dog walkers (and others) who frequent this portion of Palma Ave. This new feature will also include a stone mosaic that is being developed by Kathy Hansen… And, as part of the “unveiling” we will be setting a bucket out, near the sidewalk, into which passersby and congregants will be encouraged to drop stones (no larger then a Quarter). These stones, along with some of our “Confession” stones, will be incorporated into the mosaic which will grace the outside walls of the Watering Station.
 
Pretty “Cool”, I’d say!
 
In addition to the “Unveiling”, September 11 will be our “Welcome Home From Summer!” Sunday… An opportunity to re-group and re-gather our community after “Summer Break”. In this vein, and just for fun, I am encouraging a little friendly competition to see which service can gather the most people for worship (8 or 10:15). To spice up this competition a bit, and to encourage hearty attendance, food will be provided after each service… A simple breakfast after the 8 o'clock, and a potluck brunch after the 10:15. I am developing flyers to distribute to our neighbors, announcing the unveiling of our plans and encouraging them to come
visit for church and a little repast following… A rousing treasure hunt and a few other games will be provided after the 10:15. 
 
While we are on the subject of hospitality, there are a few other things going on in September and early October that will also address this ministry: A “Newcomers” Brunch will be held on Sunday, September 18 following the 10:15am service (If you’d like to help with food and refreshments, contact Alice Baker-Taber); A Fall Inquirer’s Group will be forming this month as well to give basic introduction to the Roots and Branches of the Episcopal Church… with an emphasis on “Telling our Stories”; and of course there will be the Annual Blessing of Animals Services on Sunday, October 2.
 
Welcome back everyone,
Fr. Matt

 

From the Rector (January 2016)

On the First Sunday of Christmas the theme of the Children’s/ Intergenerational Service was, “What are Swaddling Clothes Anyway?” The kids were invited to bring their favorite blanket or animal, that they sleep with, to share. White flour sack dish towels were handed out and kids were encouraged to “Swaddle” them with the dish towels… You see Swaddling Bands or Clothes, were used to wrap newborns (pretty tightly) as a reminder of the comfort of the womb... That confining space of warmth and safety that the child experienced in utero.

 

We shared that now oft-repeated story of the little girl who wakes up in the middle of the night and runs to her parents bedroom, terrified by a night-mare. She pops into bed, snuggling down between them, and her somewhat groggy father asks, “What’s wrong sweetheart?” “I had a bad dream,” she whim-pers. “Don’t be afraid sweetie,” he replies, “You know that God is always with you to protect you…” “I know daddy,” she replies, “But, I needed God with skin on.”

 

In large part this is exactly what we celebrate at Christmas, God, “with skin on.” And, the stuffed animals (or blankets… or spouses...) we sleep with are often tangible reminders of just that… Sacraments, so to speak, of the Holy, right there with us! They “Swaddle” us… wrap us ‘round with a sense of nurture, care and protection when we enter the vulnerable time of sleep. That’s why prayers at bedtime can be so effective, they add another layer to that same sense of presence… for ourselves, and surrounding others.

 

Now, as we transition through the cycle of seasons emphasizing the Incarnation of God through the birth of Jesus, the theme of Light begins the final season of Epiphany… The Star that Leads the Wise men to the place of Jesus birth; then other miraculous portents of the manifestation of God in the person of Jesus: the Baptism of Jesus; The changing of water into wine at a wedding feast… let us re-mind ourselves that the “Holy” does not belong to us alone, but is meant to be embraced and shared selflessly!

A blessed Epiphany to all, Fr. Matt

 

“It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake. For the same God who said, ‘Out of darkness let light shine,’ has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelation--the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

From the Rector - June 2015 (In St. Luke's newsletter, "The Messenger")

 

 

These are the “Fruit” of the Spirit as listed by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (generosity), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We gave them out on Pentecost Sunday at both morning services…       

In practical reality, you and I share these “fruits” with every person (and thing) we meet, all the time, every day! I’m not kidding, it’s true... Each time any one of us is living, moving and being in the sacred (out of our connection with the Holy), we are sharing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. This is one way of understanding  INCARNATION. It’s not about being someone or something different or better than we are, it’s about being fully who we are when we’re CONNECTED!

                I know this sounds idealistic, if not unrealistic, but it is not… Reflect back on those moments in your life when you’ve felt honestly and deeply good about yourself (the way you are, the person you are)… For me those moments are the ones where I felt rooted in God (well, I may not have expressed it exactly in that way, but the feeling is exactly like that for me).     The amazing thing is that I believe this is happening more and more frequently (actually, I really think I’m simply more aware of it on a smaller scale). I notice when I am being motivated by love, or not. I’m surprised by joy (as C.S. Lewis describes it, not just the person, for his wife’s name was Joy, but by the experience of Joy that The Holy brought to him through her and the changes his love for her wrought), or not. Overwhelmed by a grounding sense of peace (when I take the time to contemplate)…

                I’ve also discovered, over and again, that awareness of these fruits, particularly Love, Joy and Peace, motivates the others… its almost as though the internal “flame” of love and joy and peace, with patience, ignite an outer expression of kindness, goodness/generosity, faithfulness and gentleness… and when I’m operating in this mode, or on this plane, self-control grows underneath it all… almost like being empowered to use my talents or gifts more care-fully and more productively. This is often (when I’m paying attention) accompanied by a morphing of time… time seems to take on a an “other-ly” dimension.. Sometimes stretching, sometimes contracting. It kind of like when you have an intense and “passionate” conversation with someone, or a group of people, and all of a sudden you realize much more time has gone by than you were aware of… or paradoxically, only a very short amount of time (like when I’m catching up with an old friend).

                In the coming months of Summer, when many of us “feel” more relaxed because “school” is out and it’s “Summer Vacation” (even though we’re still working, or retired)… I encourage you to take some time (it may be more or less than you imagine) to reflect/contemplate the “fruit” of the Spirit… How does Love affect you? Motivate you? Undergird you? How does love, in love’s “unconditionality”, call you to kindness? Patience? Generosity?  A deeper sense of the “presence” and “activity” of the Holy?

                How and when are you “surprised” by Joy? What calls you “outside” yourself? What motivates the giving you do, at you roots?

                Lastly, I challenge you, the congregation of St. Luke’s, to contemplate how the “Fruit” of the Spirit is being expressed  corporately among and through us as a congregation? How, and in what directions, are we being “called’ or “led” by love and joy, peace and patience, to the mission of kindness, generosity/goodness, faithfulness and gentleness? To whom are we being sent?

                Perhaps, as the angels at the empty tomb directed his own closest followers, we are supposed to live out of the Spirit just where we are, to begin with… In our own neighborhood (it was going back to Galilee for most of the disciples, and “meeting” Jesus there). Being rooted in the Spirit just where we are first and then simply seeing where that leads... And in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus says to his friends, directly before being taken “out of their sight”, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are witnesses to the incarnation of the Holy; first in the familiar (Jerusalem), and also the unfamiliar (Samaria), and then everywhere (the ends of the earth).

Fr. Matt