Dear St. Lukers,
As I write this, I am attending Drew University in Madison, New Jersey for a week working with a cohort of twenty students on my Doctorate of Ministry in Public Theology. During a discussion on bringing a vision of the Kingdom of God to life, one of our mentors, asked us to use just one word to describe the Kingdom of God (God’s Neighborhood). The only caveat was no one could use the word love, as it was a given.
“Grace” was my word. Grace is the single most important faith word to me, besides love. God’s radically inclusive love is expressed most powerfully in the action of grace. When God’s inclusive love meets us through Jesus Christ, it is grace that heals, forgives, sets free, unbinds, gathers in and gives us God’s vision of one another. Love expressed in grace has the power to change the world, but it begins by changing us.
This month we are going back to school, not just the kids. But all of us as we head “Back to Grace School.” We will go back to the fundamentals of what grace is in the context of our Wesleyan faith and its power to make God’s neighborhood come to life. We kick it off this Sunday with “God’s Camp Meeting.”
This Sunday we will have three services in the Sanctuary at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. for our morning communion celebration. Our youth praise team will be leading us in music and we are excited to welcome the Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin as our guest preacher Sunday morning and Sunday evening for a special night of worship, fellowship, and dessert.
Sharon currently serves as the Director of Connectional and Justice Ministries and leads our Florida United Methodist Churches by building bridges across all of our diversity by uniting us in grace and love in beloved community. She has helped churches of all sizes to unify and see the potential of reaching the people of Florida with the love of Christ.
You will want to come back on Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. for a powerful time of worship with praise songs and hymns led by guest band Evelen20 from First United Methodist Church Lakeland and Dr. Austin again bringing us the word. Come just as you are, ready to have your heart strangely warmed as John Wesley experienced. After worship we will gather on the patio and in the new youth room for fellowship, old fashioned games, ice cream, and desserts.
Invite a new friend or reach out to someone you have been missing as we join together for a special day of worship and fellowship all centered around the grace and love of Jesus Christ. This special Sunday evening worship will kick off a month of GRACE GATHERINGS at 5:30 p.m. each week in August.
• We will gather on August 11 for another “Heart of St. Luke’s” congregation meeting and small group discussion about where our denomination is headed. You can click here to send us your questions ahead of time.
• August 18 we will head to Windermere for a Baptism and Reaffirmation Service of Immersion. Have you been thinking about being baptized for the first time, would you like to reaffirm your baptism in a powerful way? Join us with your outdoor chairs or blankets as we gather by the lake and head to the waters of grace. Click here to RSVP.
• August 25 we will gather for a Blessing of the Animals behind Building C. Bring your pets and lets make sure even our furry friends receive a blessing of grace.
Start a new school year by renewing your commitment in new ways to your faith family. Make sure you mark your calendars for these special events for all ages. Let’s celebrate together as we seek to bless the community by making God’s love come to life through our actions of grace.
See you Sunday – where it’s not St. Luke’s without U!