Dear St. Lukers,
As I write this Weekly Update, it’s Tuesday. (We could throw a mini party right now wherever you are that I had the chance to actually write this so early in the week.) I wanted to write it in this very moment because right outside my window for the last hour there has been a line of cars waiting for the Supporting HEARTS food distribution. In the midst of the waiting, there has been the sound of noise makers and laughter. Now an hour after the line has disappeared, there is a mix of St. Luke’s partners (members) and new St. Lukers from the community sitting in a socially distant circle of camping chairs, sharing, building one another up and laughing together. As I sit from the quiet space of my office, working on ministry goals and objectives for 2021, I recognize this moment I am witnessing is proof of the purpose of why our church exists – to reveal God’s Kingdom of Love.
This weekend is Valentine’s Day, another beautiful holiday we have over commercialized with a worldly take on romantic love proved through gifts of jewelry, chocolates, and flowers (which, by the way, my sweet valentine John, I am not against any of these!). However, the history of Valentine’s Day was not about romantic love, but the saints known as Valentini, many of whom were martyred as early as the third century, for revealing miracles of God’s healing powers to help prove God to converts. These miracles and conversions of people to the Christian faith led to these saints being beheaded or killed. Probably not the romantic story you wanted for Valentine’s Day; however, it is the story of faithful people willing to risk anything to share the story of God’s love, a love so powerful it brings healing and transforms lives. This is in essence what happens outside my office windows every Tuesday, or in these halls every morning and evening that our 12–step groups gather for encouragement and support, or throughout the week when children and youth are gathering to learn how important their lives are in God’s story. Valentine’s Day is not just about the love we have toward our significant other, but the love we have for others that finds its meaning and depth in the story of God’s love in Christ.
Sunday we will conclude our six–week overview of God’s story as we use the new testament story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and the building of the church as our entry into Lent. We will focus on the ever-popular Scripture from John 3:16-17 to remember that the story that began with creation ends in its final revelation with the word LOVE.
Great news – Orange County’s 14-day rolling average COVID-19 positivity rate is 8% and we feel confident in being able to resume on-campus worship. (Did you know we have had on-campus discipleship, mission, and care ministries on-campus this entire time?) This week in addition to virtual worship, we resume on-campus worship for both the 9:15 a.m. Contemporary service in Founder’s Hall and the 11:15 a.m. Traditional/blended service in the Sanctuary. You can register here to attend in person. Children will be dismissed midway through the service for their own special time of learning about this theme of revelation and love (register children using the same link).
Worship time changes may be new for some St. Lukers so I remind all of us, that in the context of the love of Christ, each of us may have to give a little in order for us to:
1) Reengage those who we have missed in worship
2) Continue to reach a virtual audience who cannot worship with us in person (we are limited to one online service at a time and need time to prepare streaming equipment between services)
3) Reach new people who may need different entry points into the life of St Luke’s than those of us who have been engaged for years
These are big tasks to accomplish and it calls for us all to be flexible. Remember, if you can’t join us to participate in worship at 9:15 or 11:15, these worship services are available on Facebook (no account required) immediately after the service as well as on YouTube and St. Luke’s website within 24 hours. We will assess our effectiveness in these three goals over the season and adapt accordingly. Each opportunity we have to try something gives us more understanding of what helps us most effectively fulfill God’s purpose, mission, and vision. We thank you for your patience and ability to help us learn.
Wednesday, February 17 is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of our Lenten Journey with the sign of ashes, reminding us how much we need a Savior. We will have worship on Facebook LIVE and on-campus in the Sanctuary at 7:00 p.m. You can register here to attend on campus. This Lent we will continue to dive into the love story of Jesus as we hear him prophetically speaking to his death throughout the gospels, helping the disciples understand what it takes to be followers into Jerusalem. Together, we will move through Lent through The Hero’s Journey, understanding the vows of our baptism as the ways we participate in the story of Holy week with Jesus. We will continue to dive deep as we LEARN on Wednesdays with Pastor Bill and the clergy team; ENGAGE the Hero’s journey in worship, LISTEN as we connect with one another in Life together groups around discussion based on the story and then ECHO the story in very particular ways of mission engagement around food insecurity. Plan now and mark your calendars for this special Lenten journey.
May this Valentine’s weekend overwhelm you with love, most importantly the love of God who through Christ, invites you into the greatest love story ever told. May you reveal this love to those you know, and those you don’t as you let your lives be a part of telling this story to everyone you meet.
Until Sunday –