Dear St. Lukers,
I pray this finds you both well in health, and restless in heart. The days and nights of this week have exposed the hurt and fear our black siblings face each day and the resilience of spirit to keep moving they have had to exercise and bear, with far too few allies, for far too long. I pray for the pain of our black community and ache to want to fix it all tomorrow. But I know I cannot do this work alone. This is the harder work of partnership, community, configured differently than it ever has been before. I pray for all of those on both sides of the front lines and pray somehow we, the church of Jesus Christ’s Just love will find ways to build a bridge of change to meet in the middle where justice and love meet.
Developing Core Strength
Your core muscles are a complex series of small and large muscles extending from your abs to help produce stability and movement in every aspect of movement of your body. They keep your body steady and grounded, transfer movement and force from one extremity to another, and initiate the movement of the body. These muscles when strengthened and developed, allow for the flexibility, strength and stride of the entire body to be engaged in full motion.
Replace the word “muscles” with “values” and replace the human body with the Body of Christ and the same principles stand. St. Luke’s Core Values work as a complex series of muscles that ground this church in the Love of Jesus Christ. That force is then transferred from one ministry to another and from individual to individual initiating the movement of love into the world through St. Luke’s…which is YOU.
The pandemic, a stalled economy, broken systems, racism exposed, the public outcry of enough is enough, the dividing of our community calls for the church to initiate a movement of Christ’s love into the world in order to reveal the Kingdom of God’s Just love. This movement requires those core muscles of ACCEPTANCE, HOSPITALITY, COMMUNITY, DISCIPLESHIP, and SERVICE to be activated, fired up, exercised in ways that stretch and make us feel their burn. As we strengthen these core muscles, we notice all the smaller muscles that have been ignored in order to transfer the force of Christ’s love in a way that creates CHANGE.
It’s time, St. Lukers, for a new workout regimen of mind, heart, soul, and body. We need to develop and strengthen these core value muscles by educating ourselves about racism, sitting in conversations that are hard but help us clear out the flab of niceties to really see and hear one another’s stories to honor, value and allow them to change our hearts and perspective. We need new exercises that will help transfer the force of our work beyond filling in the gap of education or economics to initiate movement toward city and county officials, law enforcement, and leaders to reach out our hands and to support, advocate, and even resource change in relationships, systems, and structures.
We need new exercises of deep breathing, emotional healing, and soul tending, as individuals and as a congregation who sees and values each person in our congregation and community. We need these exercises to prepare us to move our bodies into this community to sit and listen, talk and see, put our hands and feet to work, walking alongside, carrying the load and grasping hands across community lines, government lines, neighborhood lines, law enforcements lines, whatever lines or walls, we have made, in order to build a supportive bridge that leads to change. Whatever lines.
Some fitness movements you can start right now:
- Activate with your clergy and leaders in the Walk of Mourning alongside our black siblings of faith and their congregations tomorrow (Friday) morning beginning at Camping World Stadium at 9:00 a.m. A car caravan will leave from St. Luke’s front parking lot at 8:00 a.m. Please wear black and let’s pray, read Scripture, grieve, and mourn together the black lives lost.
- Worship online Sundays at 9:30 a.m. as we begin our new worship series, “Developing Core Strength.” Participate in worship, consider reaching out to other St. Lukers and start house watch parties. Then either stay on after for discussion with a pastor or join in your own groups with a conversation starter resource we will make available.
- Educate yourself in new book studies we will launch in the coming week. Watch for registration information early next week.
- Sign the letter of confession and action regarding race written by the UMCNextFL movement for inclusion.
- Join us on Facebook Live Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m. throughout this worship series for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in prayer devoted to praying for change, justice, and just peace for our city, it’s neighborhoods, leaders and residents.
It may not seem much to some; it may seem too much to others, but it’s exercise, it’s movement. Join your church family in acts to strengthen and stretch our values in new ways, in a new time, so we create a new tomorrow with one another.
Grace and Peace,