Reclaiming Jesus:
A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Action

As the elders who wrote the declaration “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis,” to which 5 million people responded, we now issue “A Call to Prayer and Fasting.” We urge Christians to remain steadfast in their faith and engage with the deepening challenges our nation faces.

 In 1863, at the height of the Civil War—the most divided time in American history—Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national “day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” Today, we also believe our national crisis calls for prayer, fasting, humility, and repentance. With the season of Lent before us, we ask how we can apply Lenten spiritual practices to our lives and to the dangers facing our democracy.

Jesus is God's invitation to everyone to come to God's table. 

Recently the Special Conference of the Methodist Church voted to adopt the Traditional Plan that declares homosexuality incompatible with scripture and is designed to expedite trial and deposition of clergy who are GLBTQ. This conference was, as you might expect, very painful for members of the UMC GLBTQ community, which is a large group within the UMC.  This may mean some Methodists show up at our doors to explore whether the Episcopal Church offers hospitable place for them to worship while the UMC continues to sort out its next steps.  The Rev. Chris Agnew, longtime ecumenical officer of the Diocese of Virginia, has recommended these reflections by Fr. David Simmons on Welcoming Methodists, and I commend them to you.

Seeing God's Glory and Unveiling It

The story of Christ’s transfiguration, when his face shone with the glory of his divine nature, is one of my favorites. I think it is the best expression of what grace is doing in humans, shining us up so that we glow with the glory of God whose image we share. The apostle Paul clearly felt it was a good example too, because he uses the image of Moses speaking with God and having to veil his shining face as an example of how those who are closest to the revelation of God sometimes cover it up for the comfort of others, and how that is no longer the way that the truth of God is to be shared. He makes the contrast with himself and other Christian witnesses, who like Peter, James and John experience the glory of God in Christ, and are instructed by Jesus not to cover it with a tent. The grace of God in Christ is for everyone, but it makes some of us very uncomfortable. What if other people aren’t as together as we are and we bring them into our joy only to have to deal with their problems? What if they aren’t following God’s way the way we think they should? What if we need a tent to keep our God contained in?

Weekly Message

There is a popular movement floating around these days by Marie Kondo that suggests that when organizing your space you should look at your “stuff” and decide if it brings you “joy”.  If something does not spark “joy” then you should get rid of it and keep the items that truly make you feel happy.  I would argue that church involvement should be looked at in much the same fashion.  After more than 25 years of participation in a wide range of activities at St. Luke’s, I have found my “joy” through being a lector and chalice minister.

Prayer in the Midst of Pain: A Message from Bishop Goff

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Two of the three highest elected leaders in our Commonwealth of Virginia are embroiled in scandal right now that touches the painful legacy of racism in our nation. White American culture once not only tolerated white people donning blackface, but embraced it as a form of entertainment. Yet it was always hurtful, demeaning and insulting to people of African descent. What was accepted back then was not acceptable, and it is not acceptable now.

We as people of faith, no matter what our race, gender or ethnicity, promise in our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being. We also know the power of confession, so much so that we engage in the practice regularly. This current scandal provides us an opportunity to examine not only the lives of our political leaders, but to take a close look at our own lives. When have we done or said things that have diminished the dignity of others? In what activities have we engaged that were once accepted, but never acceptable? This scandal invites us to confess the ways we have fallen short of the image of God that is in us and to repent, to turn around and act in a different way.

St. Luke's Annual Meeting and Gratitude for Vestry Service

Please join us this Sunday following the 10 o’clock service for St. Luke’s 79th annual meeting.  The primary purpose of the Annual Meeting is to elect new members of the Vestry.  This year, as usual, God has blessed St. Luke’s with wonderfully talented candidates, each of whom is a glowing example of Christ’s love, humility, and faithfulness– Reisa Kall, Christine Kelly, John Little and Tim Staples. 

Don Hazen, Cathy McPeek, Terri O’Connor, Skip MacMichael, Suzanne Reynolds, and Chris Weaver will complete their three-year terms on the Vestry with the election of their replacements this Sunday. Despite various personal challenges including cancer, relocation, the death of a spouse, unemployment, and countless other responsibilities they have not faltered in their commitment to St. Luke’s, nor ever hidden their lights under a bushel. Each has been a shining example of Christ’s love, humility, and faithful service.  

When God puts words in your mouth: formation leads to proclaiming good news.

Some children know how to speak God’s truth early on. Some are more reticent, but I think the best Christian formation helps them to realize that God has known them since before they were born, and that God’s word is part of them, to be shared with the world in a unique way. Adults who have had the experience of growing up in the faith can help children to know God. Curricula help in Christian formation, and content matters, but relationships and the encounter with God matter more. Adults and children together can meet God and become prophets, apostles and teachers to others. They may not realize it, but God’s words are in them, right in their mouths, ready to come out when God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, calls them forth.

Weekly Message

Our congregation and the Saint Luke’s community have been looking at ways to continue its spiritual journey and discovery for the last 2-3 years. From the time Tuck began his Sabbatical to today, we have considered how we as individuals and as a group can discern more about our faith and how we can better serve God’s mission. While Tuck was away, Grace led us in renewing our relationships with one another and those in the surrounding community. Upon his return, Tuck focused us on discovering where we are in our path to spirituality. In 2019, we have been asked by Tuck and Veronika to reflect on God’s word and how God is leading and impacting each of our lives.

Vestry Reflection

January is usually considered a time for new beginnings and of looking forward to a new year.  I believe it is also a time of looking back to assess how the previous year has gone—a time of reflection.  For me, 2018 has been a year of challenges as we on the Vestry considered the possibility of a new venture—the feasibility study.  For some of us that was like a wrapped package and there was anticipation of a gift inside.  For some of us it was stretching our comfort zone and there was some angst.

Peace and Goodwill

We are all struggling to understand what to do or say that might help our fellow parishioners, friends, and neighbors who are directly impacted by the government shutdown.  If any of you know of families that need additional support, please let me know. We can help with food cards and some additional forms of financial assistance. Many St. Luke's members are ready to help as neighbors.  And please know St. Luke's building is available for anyone who wants space to gather with children or colleagues.  There are some restrictions, but most days our library, nave, narthex and sometimes the parish hall are available.  We have plenty of supplies for coffee and hot chocolate, and we would be happy to try to provide anything else that would be of help.