“The community of believers was one in heart and mind. The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all.” Acts 4:32-33
Dear St. Lukers,
The Scripture should sound familiar in tone if you have joined us online in worship or study. It’s similar in theme to our Scripture from the last two weeks, Acts 2:42. There are several similar verses throughout the book of Acts, repeating again and again the essential focus and disciplines of the early church. This focus combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, helped their eyewitness testimony to resurrection spread through their neighborhood, community, city, state and eventually to the world, just as Jesus promised. It was the perfection equation…
- Laser focus and discipline as individuals +
- Strategic common practices +
- One singular purpose of sharing eyewitness testimony of Jesus and resurrection love =
- People being transformed and joining as followers of The Way
Awakening Disciples to Reveal the Kingdom – Revealing the Kingdom to Awaken Disciples.
The Holy Spirit is moving to fulfill God’s purpose for St. Luke’s. Forced to stop in this quarantine time, many have become laser focused and disciplined in a deeper relationship with God and one another. Unfettered by the distraction of busyness, many have returned to those essentials of the early church practices:
- WORSHIP attending every Sunday and on Wednesday nights for prayer vigils
- STUDY of Scripture through joining an online spiritual formation study or covenant group, or practicing Lectio Divina and centering prayer in Breathing Space
- TABLE SHARING with family or ensuring others had meals, joining in communion online
- SERVICE through financial generosity, mask making, food distribution, checking in on each other
These practices have awakened something in many of you – a new or deeper connection to community and the Divine. The focus of our community has released the power of the Holy Spirit and has engaged people, broken down the fear and hurt of “church” for people, pulled back the barrier people have to reveal Kingdom grace and radical love. On Sunday, twenty people gathered online for “Discover St. Luke’s,” including one family from Texas who hasn’t even moved here yet.
Holy Spirit power, Resurrection love – we are eyewitness to the rebirth of the church in the midst of ashes. What a time to be alive!
Which means two very important things as we move forward:
1. As a collective community – How we reopen is vitally important. We have to be smart, safe and think not only of ourselves but one another, and our growing witness in the community.
a. How we will reopen speaks to our witness as follower of Jesus
b. How we will reopen speaks to our witness to the General Rules of Methodists as we seek to:
- Do no Harm
- Do Good
- Attend to the Ordinances of God
c. How we will re-open speaks to the power of Christ centered love lived in our core values which are not words for when we are face–to–face, but values deeply held by each of us individually and corporately in the world
By clicking here you can view the reopening recommendations offered to us from our Bishop and the Florida United Methodist Church Conference Task Force (Thanks to St. Lukers Katy Slack and Jim Atchison for speaking into this work). Our St. Luke’s Task Force is working with this new information and your answers to the survey sent out Monday as a part of our research. If you haven’t already taken the survey, please click here to share your responses before the survey closes on Friday at 5:00 p.m.
2. As an individual believer and St. Luker – How you keep your personal disciplines will be vitally important. How will you covenant to keep the laser focused disciplines which have held you, grounded you and comforted you during this time? Will you give attention and priority to these routines as you move back into the world of distractions, busyness, and schedules? Because the witness of St. Luke’s is empowered by the Holy Spirit, but draws on all of us focused in our common ministry and purpose.
This Sunday we will focus on this question and invite you to participate in the Covenant Renewal Service John Wesley wrote in 1755. You will hear from the book of Acts, our clergy and lay leadership, with a special thanks and tribute to all of the essential workers in our city.
See you then because now more than ever, for the witness of Christ in the world, St. Luke’s is just not the same without U.
Grace and Peace,