Dear St. Luke’s Family,

As cases of the coronavirus begin to be present in the Houston area, it is even more important that we all take precautions to ensure our health and safety. At St. Luke’s, we take this situation very seriously, and we encourage you to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and other public health leaders to take the following steps:

  • Please stay home if you are feeling ill. Any sneezing and coughing will raise the concerns of others. Remember that in worship, there may be people who are of higher risk than you are. Our worship services are live-streamed at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/livestream/.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you do cough or sneeze, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

At St. Luke’s, we will continue with worship and other activities as usual but will practice the following modifications

  • Encourage the elbow bump in lieu of the handshake as we greet one another.
  • Temporarily forgo the “passing of the peace” in our contemporary service.
  • Move to individual plastic cups in trays in our services that celebrate Holy Communion, rather than receiving elements by intinction. We will continue to emphasize appropriate sanitary practices in receiving and serving communion.
  • Place additional hand sanitizer dispensers in accessible spots around the church.
  • Increase our cleaning and sterilization of surfaces in the public spaces.
  • Take extra precautions in our children’s and student ministries, retraining volunteers and staff in extra hand hygiene, food safety, and other practices.

Because the situation with this is changing, we will continue to assess if other changes are necessary and will keep you informed any way we can. Of course, we join you in praying for all of those affected by this virus, knowing that God is at work in every circumstance.

A PERSONAL PRAYER
Dear God,

It seems like lots of uncertainty around us. So many people who need prayers. Today, I pray…

  • For those whose health is compromised by the coronavirus, or so many other issues that affect their health.
  • For those who suffer from the economic impact of the virus, in travel or manufacturing or hospitality or energy or so many other industries.
  • For healthcare workers and first responders and other public servants who put themselves in harm’s way for us.
  • For our leaders of the world, our country, our state, our city, as they seek to help manage this challenge.

And beyond all of that, so many others all around the world who are struggling. I pray…

  • For those who live in places of conflict and war.
  • For those where hunger and drought are ever-present.
  • For those who lack medical care at all.
  • For our Christian sisters and brothers who are persecuted for their faith.
  • For those of other faiths who are persecuted.
  • For those who live with mental illness.
  • For those who are homeless.
  • For those who face domestic abuse.
  • For those who live with food insecurity right here in our city.

God, it can be overwhelming. But I know that you tell us over and over again not to be afraid, that you hold us securely in the palm of your hand. Show me how to trust in you. My own problems and concerns seem so small when I open my eyes to those of others. As I examine my heart this Lenten season, help me to repent and turn away from my concern with self, and turn my heart, hands, and prayers toward the concerns of others.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This week, we continue our sermon series for Lent, “In the Garden,” examining the powerful events on Thursday night, particularly the anguish Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane comes from a phrase meaning “place of the olive press.” It was here that olives were pressed into oil. It is here that the world and Jesus’ mission press down on him as he cries out to his God in agony. Perhaps you have been pressed down, crying out to your God. If so, Jesus won’t desert you. I hope you will plan to be present for this series. This Sunday, March 8, we will look at Jesus’ prayer in the garden in a sermon “The Submission.”

This Sunday evening, March 8, at 7:00 in the Sanctuary, Britain’s internationally-acclaimed vocal ensemble VOCES8 returns to Houston and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for an evening of exquisite music in this program entitled “Choral Dances.” Tickets are $40, $20 for students. Get tickets in advance here.

Our Scripture+Shared Bible study during Lent continues this week. The six-week lesson series is titled Best. Sermon. Ever., a study of The Sermon on the Mount. Scripture+Shared is delivered over the Scripture+Shared app (not the St. Luke’s app), or on your computer. You can start anytime, and follow along for six weeks. Find a friend and do it together, or use it for your small group study. Download the Scripture+Shared app here, or download study materials here.

During Lent, we have many opportunities for prayer and reflection. Every Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. is our Prayer and Healing Service. Every Thursday at 12:05 in the Chapel is Lenten Music for Meditation and Reflection. Please check out all the Lenten opportunities here.

Our 2019 impact report is out for your review. What did God do through St. Luke’s in 2019, because of your investment of time, money, and prayers? These booklets are at the connection center and other places around the church, or you can download it here.

Did you miss the message, “The Supper” on March 1? Watch it here.

PRAYER CALENDAR
Sunday, March 8
Our Father in Heaven, we offer praise and thanksgiving for all of the ways you have established St. Luke’s over the last 75 years. In 1966, you blessed us with the dedication of a statue of Jesus, John Wesley, and Francis Asbury that still stands on our Westheimer Campus today. You have given us a beautiful remembrance of our Lord and Savior, the founder of the Methodist Faith, and the First Bishop of America. As we enjoy the statue, let us remember the dedication of those who have gone before us to establish our faith, and we ask that you, Lord, would continue to guide and bless the Methodist Church of today. Help us to always seek you in the trials and tribulations of the world so that our Methodist faith will grow and the denomination will remain steadfast and united in your love. Amen.

Monday, March 9
Our Father, help us to understand life in its proper relationship and grant that we may come to know what is important and what is unimportant. We ask our prayer in the name of the one whose life we seek to imitate, Jesus Christ. Amen. Archived prayer by Walter Underwood

Tuesday, March 10
Dear God, I come to you in gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of a servant church. In this our 75th year, I pray that you will continue to lead us toward service to each other and to those in the community who need our love and support. As we embrace your love for us may we experience the joy of passing that love on to others. Amen.

Wednesday, March 11
Heavenly Father, during this season of Lent, we pray that you would guide us to take time to meet with you in prayer and to simply rest in your presence. With all that goes on in our daily lives, help us to be still and know that you are God. Amen.

Thursday, March 12
Dear Heavenly Father, We are so grateful for the St. Luke’s Lay Hospital Visitors and the comfort and caring spirit they bring to those in need. We ask that you would continue to bless their visits and to give them the strength and energy they need as they faithfully show love and compassion as your hands and feet here on earth. Amen. Prayer by Laurie Kereluk, St. Luke’s Choir

Friday, March 13
Heavenly Father, we come to you today in a time of confession. Please let the Holy Spirit show us anything in our life that is not pleasing to you. Point out our attitudes that are wrong and our secret sin that we keep hidden from the world. Cleanse us and renew our spirit so that we may follow you wholeheartedly without barriers or distractions. Amen.

Saturday, March 14
Father, we ask that you would break into our lives… with a new challenge, with a new understanding, with a new perception. Help us to be vividly aware, and grateful for, your watch care over us. Help us to be challenged by the teachings and the life of Jesus, that we might want to be better people. And help us find the confidence that comes when we know about your victory, your ultimate victory, over everything, even over death. We thank you, Father, for your watch care, for your challenge, and for your victory which you so graciously share with us. We pray in the name of the one who taught us all of this, Christ our Lord. Amen. Archived Prayer by Jim Moore