Dear St. Luke’s Family,
After conversations with health officials in the medical center and city regarding COVID-19, St. Luke’s will move to Livestream only worship for the next two weeks, March 15 and March 22. At that point, we will reevaluate, and make decisions about moving forward. Both contemporary and traditional services will be Livestreamed at their usual times. We hope you will register your attendance on the site, and participate as fully as you can in the worship. https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/livestream/.
Sunday School classes will not meet. Unless there is another notice, all other groups, ministries, or services will not meet for the next two weeks. However, small groups of twenty or fewer people who would like to continue to meet may choose to do so, but group leaders should contact the church and their own members to let them know. Student Ministry invites students to join them on Facebook Live and Instagram at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. Our building will remain open, and while some of our staff will work from home, there will be people to help you at the church if you need anything. Our custodians will continue to continually clean the building, and the Chapel will remain open for prayer. St. Luke’s Day School will be closed along with HISD, and Luke’s Place, Kingdom Kids, and After School programming will not be in session for these next two weeks.
After a number of conference calls with medical officials and faith leaders from around the city, we are going to join together in this effort. The hope is that through early social distancing practices (canceling events with large crowds), we can slow the spread of the virus. This will give time for our hospitals to handle the cases that are presented over a period of time, rather than in one large rush. Experience has demonstrated with other epidemics that early intervention can significantly reduce the total number of cases, as it slows the compounding effect of the virus. The health professionals have explained that for social distancing to work, it is necessary for it to begin early, even when it seems overly cautious or even silly. Specifically, it is large crowds that present the greatest problem for the spread of the disease.
This is one of those times that we want to come together as a city and all work in concert to help to save the lives of the most vulnerable among us. For most of us, we don’t make this decision out of fear for ourselves, as we do not have compromised immune systems. But we join in this effort out of love for others – we don’t want to participate in any way in unknowingly carrying this virus and giving it to someone for whom it will be a serious problem. We recognize that there is a negative impact that comes with these decisions as well. Many people count on the church for childcare and many other things, and we believe that the work we do in gathering for worship, study, and spiritual support is important. We know that for the city as a whole, there is a negative economic impact that goes with this social distancing approach. If you face economic or other challenges because of this citywide distancing, please contact us and we will see how we can help. Of course, we encourage everyone to surround this important effort with prayer. For this approach to work, we all have to join in it together, and just as we did with Hurricane Harvey and all the other challenges our city has faced, we will link arms (touch elbows) and face this side by side.
Oh yes, and make sure and follow James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts.. 😊”
A PERSONAL PRAYER
Wow, what a mess. And it feels like it is only just beginning for our city, nation, world. So many challenges. Health challenges. Economic difficulties. Even people with family and personal challenges compounded by all that is happening around us.
God, I pray that you would speak peace into my heart in the midst of turmoil. When I am annoyed by decisions that are made, replace that with a positive spirit. When I am preoccupied with my own issues, replace it with a focus on others. When I am bound by fear, replace that fear with faith, hope, and love. Give me a faith so strong that it overflows into the lives of others so that they, too, might know the joy of trusting you.
In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This week, in Livestream worship, 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. This week, the sermon is focused on Jesus and Judas, with the title “The Betrayal.”
Our Scripture+Shared Bible study during Lent continues this week. This is one you can do from home! 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.
Did you miss the message, “The Submission” on March 8? Watch it here.
Sunday, March 15
As we navigate through these anxious and uncertain times, we fix our eyes on you, Jesus. God, you promise that you will not leave or forsake us and so we ask for a peace that casts out the fear among us. Be with each of us as the world works together to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Heal those who have been infected and protect those who have compromised immune systems. In all things, we continue to trust in your love and protection, in your name we prayer Lord Jesus Amen
Monday, March 16
Father, we know you are with us. Help us live so we may continue to give you cause to rejoice. Fill our hearts with singing. Quiet our lives with your love. Amen. -Prayer by Paul Woldy, St. Luke’s Choir
Tuesday, March 17
Our Father, we are thankful of every indication of Thy will and Thy way, and we pray that Thou wouldst motivate us to love thee with our mind, to study, to search, to seek, to ask questions, to gain not only knowledge but understanding in order that we may make the life-changing decisions that will fully commit us to our faith. In Christ’s name. Amen. -Archived Prayer by Walter Underwood
Wednesday, March 18
Heavenly Father, today we come to you in prayer on behalf of our loved ones. We pray for healing for those who are ill, for reconciliation for broken relationships, for comfort for those who are grieving, and for divine intervention for those who struggle with addiction. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Thursday, March 19
We thank you, God, for music. For Sunday music: children’s voices in Sunday School; the hymns; the anthems; the organ; the unison of the Doxology, the Apostle’s Creed, and The Lord’s Prayer; the Benediction. For everyday music: the quiet of sunrise; the birdsong; our family’s voices; the padding of our pets’ feet as they greet us; the F-150’s rumble in the lane next to us; the wind gently blowing through the trees. We thank you, God, for music. Help us hear all earth’s music. Amen. -Prayer by Wanda Fowler, St. Luke’s Choir
Friday, March 20
Heavenly Father, today we come to you to make our hearts known to you. We lift up to you specific requests for ourselves, our church, and our family. In authenticity and vulnerability, we pray. Amen.
Saturday, March 21
Heavenly Father, we come to you in prayer oftentimes with a long list, and we neglect to take time to listen to you. We pray, Lord, that today as we rest silently, you would speak to us. Place your words on our hearts. Amen.