Dear People of St. Luke's,
First, a comment on some public matters taking up a lot of news time these days, then a turn to answering the question, "How do I find God's purpose for my life?"
Two matters have grabbed headlines in the past week as I write this. The first is the reaction in largely Muslim countries to a provocative short film that insulted Mohammed. Second was the story about photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless on a vacation. The first gloss I'd offer on the latter is that part of our culture seems stuck at the emotional level of a 10 year old boy discovering naughty magazines; maybe that's all that needs to be said on that matter, other than the insulting and demeaning nature of such things. On the film and resultant riots in Muslim countries one off-the-top observation is that we have a real clash of values: free speech in America, a reverence for Mohammed in Islamic countries which is of the highest order, above other values.
On both though I'd like to say one thing further about how we respond as Christians. Just because we are permitted to do certain things as Americans/Westerners doesn't mean we should do them. Christians understand that following Jesus means willingly curtailing, limiting what we might want to do. In our baptism service we affirm that we will uphold the dignity of all human beings. One way to do that is to respect others' religious beliefs. Every world religion, and certainly the Christian faith, teach the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In various teachings Jesus upholds our love of family and friends, our neighbors, and our enemies: everyone. A philosopher much later in history suggested that to live a moral life we should evaluate each act of ours: what if everyone does the same thing?
Next: Purpose of Life
On Sunday September 23rd in my sermon I asked people to fill out pieces of paper with the questions they want to ask God. Some of those papers that came back in the offering plate-people offering their questions as part of their lives of faith-were folded over many times into small squares; those I burned without reading. Others though were folded according to my instructions, that permitted me to read them. In other contexts over this fall I hope to address many of them.
One question asked over and over again was "How can I know God's will for me, my purpose, the path I should take?" That is, of course, the million dollar question, isn't it?
Here are some of my understandings about finding out in your own individual lives what directions to take. Both Joyce Scheyer and I are available for individual conversation around this; we have some lay people in our congregation who also might be a good fit for you to have this conversation with as well.
The first answer that comes immediately is suited to someone facing a major decision-a college student wrestling with the decision of a major and future career, an older adult in the midst of major life change, such as finding a new job, or now having all children out of the house living elsewhere, or the death of a loved one. What shape might God want me to consider for my life in this next stage? Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister and writer with ties to the Episcopal Church as well, asks: "Where do your deepest passions meet the world's greatest need?"
Entering a recovery program for substance abuse, addressing domestic violence or abuse, entering into a major health treatment such as chemo/radiation for cancer are all in the ballpark of these life changing events certainly...getting better, stronger.
Most of us most of the time though are living routine lives. I hope it doesn't seem like an easy out, but my next thought is to turn to the Great Commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. St. Augustine, whose thought has shaped so much of our theological thinking, said "Love God and do what you will."
Some of us are called to careers that are specifically 'God-focused.' Being a clergy person is in some ways easier to know about purpose and what to do than being a lay person living in the midst of the world. The neon-sign like stories in the Bible seem at first impression to be filled with such folks. Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, the twelve disciples, the lives of many of the saints such as Francis all tug us in the direction of seemingly extraordinary, life-shattering and rebuilding decisions.
Less flashy but clearly testified to lives in the Bible and in the history of our faith are those who seek God in the midst of their routine and 'ordinary' lives. Jesus affirms in his encounters with a Roman soldier, a housewife in Samaria, in visiting Peter's house, and Martha and Mary's house, and many other settings, that it is in the routines where our lives as faithful people are lived.
Maybe someone reading this is being called to the priesthood or some other major life-changing decision-chucking it all and becoming a medical missionary or a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders. It happens.
Most though have been living lives of love and responsibility all along, and God has been with you. The routine has integrity: God's plan for your life is what you are living RIGHT NOW...a parent, a worker surrounded by other people who like you merit respect and dignity and love, a volunteer for a great cause, and so on.
What people are asking for in terms of purpose of life in this last circumstance is a greater connection to God, a sense of companionship and aid in the 'ordinary.' So what to do?
Pray. It's not just for kids at bed time. Start by finding 10 minutes a day when you can be in private, uninterrupted, sit in a comfortable chair, and talk with God. You don't need flowery church language; talk to God as you would another person. Say hello; thank God for the good things; ask God to forgive you for anything you've done wrong; ask for God's help for others and for yourself.
Think about it: if you want to know something about a project at work, you ask the boss. If you want to find the peanut butter in an unfamiliar grocery store, you ask an employee. If you want to know what God wants you to be doing in your life-pray. And you might make some time to listen as well to what God might say back. Then be attentive to your life's unfolding in even the small details when you are going about your living, listening for opportunities, proddings, doors opening or closing.
The last piece I'll offer here is that it shouldn't surprise you if you find that you need to change some part of your life. God creates, recreates, forgives, seeks reconciliation, yearns to help hurts. If you pray you are inviting that same Spirit into your life to help you sort out not only the great stuff you are doing, but also that which diminishes, feeds on fear, anger, hate, anxiety. Those are things to turn away from...ask God to help with that, and God will do so.
Peace to you all,
Saturday Late Afternoon Worship Alternative
Starting on October 13th we will have a third worship service, a weekly 4:30 p.m. Eucharist.
Here's what I hope for, who will attend:
This is an emerging service-one whose shape and dynamics will be defined as we go along. Most often the service will be in the church proper, but sometimes it might be in Dutton Hall. We will have initially a flute player and pianist providing music, and some of the songs we sing will be different than ones we sing on Sunday mornings.
- People who have to work on Sunday mornings.
- Families affected by seasonal sports that conflict with Sunday mornings.
- New individuals and families.
- Families with children with special needs. Those children are welcome equally at the Sunday morning services. However, those who attend the Saturday 4:30 service will know that we will have special musical instruments, roles, and aids for children with varying levels of abilities. Some noise and informality will be a given.
This service may very well be the start or end to a youth event scheduled on that day, for middle or high school aged members.
At this point finally I want to be clear: this service is not intended to 'steal from' or water down the services on Sunday morning. My hope and expectation at this point is that if individuals and families who have been attending Sunday a.m. can do so, then they will be there, especially for Sunday School. My hope is to increase the participation in the whole life of St. Luke's. Right now, at the start of the program year, we have around 195 people (all ages and roles) between the 8 and 10 a.m. services. If we maintain that number and add the Saturday service, my hope is that we will have 220-250 people attending between the three services.
Want to offer help/support for the service? Lay leadership needed. Contact Grant.
Confirmation Classes Begin Sept. 30
We are forming separate groups for 1) traditional confirmation class for 9th graders, 2) a 'quest ' class for 10th-12th graders including spirituality in the interfaith and Episcopal context, and 3) inquirers class for all adults wishing to be confirmed, received, or baptized this year. All meet from 11:30-12:15 in Gordon room (briefly all together and then in age groups). Sign up in foyer.
Leadership Development Institute - Oct. 3rd
*Free Webcast on Teambuilding,Oct. 3, in the Gordon Room
*6:30 PM- Dinner Provided
*Youth & Adults Welcome
RSVP for dinner to Rev. Joyce. Funded by our grant from the Church Home Society.
Dont Miss "ctC- Crib to Couch" - Weds.
Drop in on Wednesday mornings from 10-11 am for fellowship and optional book study. Our book choice offers brief meditations for each day that are calming, creation-friendly, and compellingly simple. Copies of the book, Hope as Old As Fire by Bishop Steven Charleston, are available for loan during the workshop or for purchase for $10 to take home. [Evening gatherings can be added on demand.]
New St. Luke's Theme Chapel for Combined
Church School- October 7
Children and youth are invited to a special time to learn about healing ministry and St. Luke. Come to Dutton Hall at 10 AM for prayer, singing, hands-on practice and time for asking questions about faith and healing. Adults and teens are welcome as presenters or shepherds for small groups of children. We will join our families for communion.
Youth Event -Fall Lock In- Oct. 7th
Youth in Grades 7 - 12 are invited to a Fall Lock in at St. John's in Hingham. Set up at 7 PM, Party begins at 9 PM.
This will be a fun-filled night and a chance to meet some new friends. Admission fee of $20 will be covered by St. Luke's Youth Grant. Contact Rev. Joyce for more info. Deadline for registration is October 3rd.
Read the New Testament
Grant is offering an opportunity for anyone interested in the structure and guidance to read the entire New Testament this program year. Our approach will share face to face meetings and discussions with electronic-based conversation and street-mail mailings, maybe even a phone conference from time to time.
Currently five people are interested. Please let Grant know if you want to join the discussion. It will start mid-October.
Gift Basket Assembly Time
A personal note from Cheryl O'Grady-
As many of you are aware, I have spent most of the last five months in Denver helping to care for my daughter and her family as she has undergone surgery and chemotherapy for an aggressive form of breast cancer. I am now scheduled to return on October 15 as she will have reconstruction surgery on October 17. I will be in Denver three to four weeks. Doing the math, we see that I will not be able to be here to share in the preparation for, nor, the excitement of our Harvest Fair. I want to contribute and help the basket offering for our fair become a reality. The gift baskets have grown in reputation and are now part of the personality of the fair. Therefore, I offer this plan!
October 1-5 : Assembly week! Note-- If we all can give a total of five hours each, this project will be done easily! Again, this part only works if materials are at church on time!
Most days I can arrive between 10:30- 11:00, depending on the need to stop for more filler items or food product. I stay through the evening, come when you can.
October 6-8: Columbus Weekend- No formal scheduling, but, time available if needed.
October 9: SHRINK WRAP EVENING! 7PM until finished! All hands on deck! Teams of two work together (everyone can do this!) to wrap all baskets. (This part usually takes two to three hours with full staff.) Once completed the decorating volunteers can get the job done during the next two days.
October 10-11: Decorate and label baskets. This is a fun part of the process as the finished products can be admired and appreciated. Once shown, everyone can create decorative and beautiful baskets. Bring your hands and enjoy! Do you have nice penmanship (I do Not!)? Pat Karsch has overseen the ticketing process these many years. Can you help her transform our work notes into inviting description cards for customers to view?
October 12: Price baskets and move to dedicated storage area until the fair. Can you come in the morning to help put the baskets into size order for pricing and help move to storage. 4-5 people would be great!
November 2-3: FAIR WEEKEND! As I have noted, I will not be able to attend the fair this year. We will need volunteers to set up the display on Friday and work the day of the fair. I will go over all that needs to be done with Alice Beal. Please contact her to schedule your time.
Bonus - There is an upside to this schedule! We do not have to work around Halloween and All Saints Day this year! This schedule also allows more people to participate knowing that their contribution would be done weeks before the fair. Just think of all the extra things that could be sewn, made or baked with that extra time!
My sincere thanks to our Chairwomen, Susanna Dietz and Maureen Keys for their help in regrouping, to Joyce Lukacik & 3rd/4th grade Sunday School for sacrificing their class space, to Rev. Grant for agreeing to anything that would help us, to Martha in the office for getting the word out, and to all our St. Luke's family for a willingness to get the job done!
Scituate Food Pantry- Tuesdays in October
St. Luke's is responsible to have one member at the Food Pantry every Tuesday in October. Please sign up in the narthex.
Here are 7 other ways you can help: 1) Give as much as you can. 2) Watch for sales in supermarkets 3) Give basic, non-perishable items (canned soups, vegetables,tuna,fruit,chili, spam etc, dry pasta, cereal, pancake mix, instant coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cake or muffin mixes, peanut butter, jelly, condiments etc. 4) Do NOT give out-dated items 5) Volunteer thru any church in Scituate 6) Give paper and plastic bags 7) Give monetary donations or gift cards
Harvest Fair - November 3rd, 10 am - 3 pm
We need everyone to help with their time, treasure and talents. Our immediate needs are for people to step forward to help chair or co-chair a number of tables. We need a chairperson for the Craft Table, the White and Gray Elephant Table, the Kitchen and co-chairs for those tables and the Pet Table, Basket Table and Bake Tables. If you are able to step forward and take on one of these challenges, we also have people to assist you with answering questions and help. Please contact Fair Co-chairs Maureen Keys (545-1348) or Susanna Dietz (545-6109). Thank you for all that you do for St. Luke's!
Death with Dignity- Oct. 19th
On the state of Massachusetts ballot this coming November will be an initiative to allow physicians to prescribe a life-ending cocktail of drugs to terminal patients who are in great pain and without hope of improvement of condition-and who are able to take the medication themselves, not have it administered by others. Such a law is controversial for good reasons. It exists in Washington State and Oregon now.
This measure should not be confused at all with the decisions we are already permitted to make at the end of our or other person's life-to stop curative treatments when no cure is possible, to withhold extraordinary life-supporting measures (ventilator, feeding tube), and allow death to occur with all the needed comfort possible. Hospice is one service that supports this quality of life ending.
St. Luke's is joining First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on First Parish Rd for a screening of the movie "How to Die in Oregon" on Friday, Oct. 19th, at First Parish Church, at 7 p.m. with discussion following. We hope to have hospice workers and other health care professionals present.
Fall Regional Youth Days- Oct. 20
The Diocesan Office of Youth Ministry invites all middle& high school youth & adult mentors to a day of team building, games, challenges and fun at St. Peter's Church, Buzzards Bay. Cost free with lunch provided!
See the sign up sheets in the narthex. Adults are also needed to chaperone and drive. For more info, see Rev. Joyce.
Annual Scavenger Hunt for Food Pantry
Save the Date of October 28th for the annual Scavenger Hunt coordinated by the Youth Outreach Team. More details are coming about this traditional activity for children 2nd grade and above. Adult drivers and group chaperones will be needed after the 10 am service on this day. Sign up soon in the narthex.
Calling All Veterans - November 11
Calling all veterans to join in a workshop with our children. Please contact Rev. Joyce now if you want to share part of your military story with our church school. We will plan a program to include brief interviews, crafts and prayers.
Parents are reminded that all children must be supervised by an adult within their sight at all times while on the church playground. The far gate is chained and locked to prevent toddlers from escaping into the flow of traffic. The gate combination is available to adults only. Also please enjoy the new blue baby swing that was kindly installed by the Wednesday morning Spirituality Group. The swing is in honor of this summer's Baptisms.
The schedule has been completed. Copies are available on the table in the narthex. Please take one and make note of the date of your assignment. We appreciate your generosity and cooperation in making Coffee Hour a success. Any questions- contact Darlene Foley, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Festival of Russian Sacred Choral Music
November 10 at St. James Episcopal Church, 1991 Mass. Ave., Cambridge,MA.
Have you always loved the rich sonorities and spiritual depth of Russian Orthodox choral music? Now is your chance to COME SING IT YOURSELF! Be part of the Russian Festival Choir....practice is at 9 AM, Concert at 3 PM. For more details, see the flyer on the table in the narthex.
Save the Date- Sunday, Nov. 18th
Bowl-athon for South Shore Deanery Mission Project
Grades 3 and up