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.

A multitude of camels

Oh, what a beautiful and comical image the prophet Isaiah gives us for the world’s response to the messiah coming in Israel. Multitudes of camels! How extravagantly the world will welcome him! Imagine if a multitude of camels arrived at your door. It would be a bit overwhelming and disorganized. That’s probably why our friend John Henry Hopkins Jr. trimmed the number down to three bearing his three kings of Orient for his famous Epiphany hymn. It is a bit overwhelming and a bit strange to imagine the camels, and presumably their riders, from three whole nations arriving to see “the glory of the Lord.” (Is. 60:1), but that is what the prophet says will happen.

Amen! Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Finally being able to say that on the evening of December 24 (OK so, I might have said it once or twice before then) felt like finally exhaling after holding my breath for a really long time, the way some kids do on car trips when passing cemeteries or crossing bridges.

God so Loved the World that He Gave...

In the Third Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says at one point, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

For years, I’ve often thought that that passage only referred to Jesus giving his life as a sacrifice on the cross. And to be sure, that is part of what it means. But some years ago I was reading a commentary by Raymond Brown, on the Gospel of John, and Professor Brown said that that passage not only speaks of Jesus willingly giving his life on the cross, but it actually speaks of Christmas, of God giving his very self, his very son to the world, not for anything God could get out of it, but for the good and the welfare and the well-being of the world. Of us.

Christmas Joy

The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday.  It takes its name from the first word of the introit for Latin mass for the Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete in Domino semper - Rejoice in the Lord always (again I say rejoice! Philippians 4:4.  And comes from a time when, like Lent, Advent was a 40 day season of fasting before the feast of Christmas, and therefore it was good to have a respite, a rose Sunday, a Sunday for joy, before entering into the final leg of the journey, during the darkest nights of the year.