Our many blessings

Dear Friends,

St. Luke’s is inviting all of us to do a very basic thing as special creatures of God, who is the very best and finest craftsman there is - to think, recall to memory, reflect on, and be grateful for, the many “freebies”* we have been given and received through our lives pursuant to* God’s immeasurable love and mercy to us all.

Taking time to think, reflect and be thankful/grateful for all our blessings, as St. Luke’s is asking us to do I believe, is a universal thing at least for Christians. This past Monday, my sister Grace (the oldest of five of us siblings) called me from Nigeria, telling me about her church Annual Harvest (a time for thanksgiving) they had the day before. Harvest in Nigerian churches is a very big deal – usually a special Sunday service, which culminates with a huge bazaar of food and activities. How did it go I asked? She told me the long service was beautiful, and she talked about how grateful she was and things she was grateful for. Especially, she emotionally told me how grateful she feels every time she thinks about me, that but for the mercy and love of God, our family would have also lost me the same day as my father and our brother who died in the auto accident that I was also a passenger in at age 6. I had called my sister on the Thursday before, and during our discussion she cut me off in midstream and told me she was having dinner and would call me back because there was something she wanted to tell me. So, I asked her, what was that you said you will tell me? She said: “It is what I just told you, I am so grateful to God that we have you.” Silence, then I managed to say back to her, I am glad too we have you.

My sister had no knowledge then or now, that I am to write this weekly message for St. Luke’s, but her call and all she said to me, adds to the myriads of blessings and experiences that I am very grateful and thankful to God for.  Like my sister, I am reminded every day, that I am the very expression of God’s love in real-time, and I will ever remain grateful to God for his grace in saving my life on that fateful day even though I was the weakest amongst all that died in that accident, and for many other things.

I am to bring an immigrants’ perspective to this. I have been a “traveler” for most of my adult life, living in different places other than where I was born. Naturally as a traveler, you are vulnerable in any new surroundings for the simple fact that you are new and do not know much about the new place or know anyone there. A lot of immigrants find it very difficult in their new countries for many reasons. However, unlike many, I did not, because God worked through others to help me and made my experience relatively easier. As a student in Britain, I had, and still have, the Brandler family. Mr. Brandler, who my father worked for before I was born, and his wife, made all the trips from Cambridgeshire to London every school holidays and vacations just to pick me up so I can spend them with his family. The Radcliffe’s in London also treated me as their own, and are involved in my life to this day. In the United States, the Geiger family gave me a job, treated and paid me very well, despite knowing that I had no work papers. For all these I am very thankful and grateful to God.

I am very grateful for being part of our St Luke’s family. A place to worship where I feel I belong, has always been important to me, and I am grateful for the fellowship that I share with all at St. Luke’s and in a special way, the choristers. I count it a blessing that I finally joined the choir. It has been a very uplifting and rewarding experience. Above all, I am very thankful and grateful to members of St. Luke’s for all their help and love when my mother was here and after she passed. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for. My thing is that every day I see day break, is a blessing in itself that compels my gratitude to God no matter what it brings. So, hope you will join me in taking time to reflect and be thankful to God.

To our God and Rock of all ages!

Charity Emeronye Swift

Note: *In my first paragraph I used the words ”freebies” to highlight the fact that all good gifts, things and acts of mercy and love that God has given us or has ordained to happen to us, has never been for a price, or because we are good, or deserved it. I also used the word pursuant to (conforming/in consonant with) – one of my favorite words that I use regularly in my work, to signify the authority behind assertions/claims that I make in my legal briefs in support of my clients’ claims. I use those words here too, because like the statutes/laws/case law that it refers to, scripture tells us in various verses and words, that God’s love and mercy to all of us through Jesus Christ, is an edict, a constitution, a covenant, an irrevocable promise etc., that we, as children of God, should and must rely on, as our authority for pegging our unwavering confidence and trust in God’s everlasting love for us.

Gratitude for God's care and the service of others.

This week I am grateful for the surprising ways that God takes care of us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a common theme in scripture to remind the people of God that their efforts are not what upholds the world and all living things, but God’s creating, sustaining and redeeming power. Our work as individuals, families and communities is all in response to God’s gift of our lives. It is this acknowledgement that everything belongs to God, including us, that makes care for others, service in the world and stewardship of resources and creation possible. Realizing that nothing we own or gain is ours opens us to a life that is less self-interested and more oriented toward service of others.

Singing Alleluia to God-Giving thanks for community and music.

As we're invited this fall to take stock of the many blessings in our lives together at St. Luke's, I've made it my practice to run through a long list of blessings in my head, acknowledging the people, activities and experiences for which I am grateful. Every day I am grateful for the love of my husband and the people of St. Luke’s; the ability to listen to music and raise my own voice in song; and the big one – that I made it out of bed and can sing alleluias to God one more day here on earth.

How responding to God's Gifts strengthens us to "Go Now into the World" in love and service.

Dear Friends,

When I was approached last year to take over as Stewardship Chairman, my first reaction was there had been a terrible mistake. Stewardship involves funding the church’s activities and I’m not even allowed to balance our checkbook at home! My international relations degree and career spanning US Embassies around Africa makes me potentially the least qualified person at St. Luke’s to take on this important task. What does diplomacy and interacting with foreign nations have to do with Stewardship? Luckily God know has a plan for each of us, one that we may not even know about.

How St. Luke's Pumpkins Send Vines into our Lives and Community

“…send us out to do the work you have given us to do as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”

BCP p. 366

With the arrival of the pumpkins this Saturday morning we have the chance to do the good work God has given us to do! There are so many reasons to love Saint Luke’s Pumpkin Patch and its many vines that go out into the world. Here’s a glimpse of a few of those

FISH Groups and Being Together as Christians

Why do we attend church together as a congregation and not just pray on our own?  After all, we can talk to God whenever and where ever we want.  Right?

         "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." 

- Matthew 18:20

The answer can be found in Scripture readings like Matthew.  And, like much of Scripture, it speaks to a truth that is in our hearts.

Spending our dollars....

Some of you may remember Tuck handing out dollar bills several years ago and telling us we could use the dollar for whatever we wanted, but we should try and discern how God wanted us to use it.  It took a while for me to eventually heed the call.  Thankfully, I did.  What I discerned was God didn’t care if I worked at a prestigious law firm, wore fancy clothes, and had fancy things.  God wanted more for me.  So, I invested my dollar to leave my old law firm and start my own.

Creating a St. Luke's Prayer Library

Ever write a prayer?  No?  Why not?  That's for theologians and, you know, priests and stuff.  Maybe not.  Consider some different perspectives on prayer, and, specifically, The Book of Common Prayer (BCP).  First, think about the word "common" and what it might imply in the BCP context.  Common means normal, everyday.  It also means collective:  Us together.  When Thomas Cranmer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cranmer set out to write what would become the BCP for the Anglican church, he was, in effect, bringing prayer to the common people, rescuing it from the experts.  The reformation of the Christian church made prayer common in both senses of the word.