I was in a casual conversation a few days ago with one of our members. We found ourselves discussing all the challenges going on around us – the death of George Floyd, the peaceful protests as well as the violent ones, the Covid-19 virus, the unemployment, the divisions in our country, and all the rest of it. My friend then asked, “What is wrong with us? Is there any hope?” It is the right question for us to ask…

This Sunday, we begin a sermon series, “The Story of God and Us.” Over the next eight weeks, we will be learning to tell the story that is the truest of all stories. It is the story that answers questions like “what is wrong with us?” and “is there any hope.” It is the story that gives us the paradigm for understanding the world around us and seeing beyond the events we encounter to the spiritual truths underneath them. It teaches us why creation is broken and why we, as followers of Jesus, have a hope that is beyond simple optimism. It is the story that right now, certainly more than at any other time in my own forty-year ministry, the world needs to hear.

This week, June 7, we begin with “Creation.” We have put together a workbook to help, and you can download it on the website here or request a print copy by emailing your name and address here. You also might like to discuss the sermon with a friend or your small group with our “Sermon Stretchers” video conversation and discussion questions. I will be speaking each week with one of our pastors to consider questions that might spur your own conversation. You can find the Sermon Stretchers on the www.stlukesmethodist.org/thestoryofGodandus/ page on our website.

A PERSONAL PRAYER

God, sometimes, I just get confused, disoriented by all the things going on around me. It makes me so glad that I have that privilege to just share my heart with you. “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” I watch the world lament, and I lament with it. I watch the world grieve, and I grieve with it. But I am a part of the body of Christ, a people full of hope, people who know that you are at work redeeming your creation. You made me and the rest of us to be good, in your image, and that goodness is still at the core of my being, even distorted as it is by sin. And your promise is that by your power, you will work within me, and all of creation, to restore us. So not that I have already obtained it, “but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Amen.

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE

  • Come join the “Drive-By Goodbye” for the Denhams and Harpers on June 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Meet in the South Parking Lot and join a parade to thank Laura & Bill Denham and Ginny & Thomas Harper for their time at St. Luke’s. Rev. Denham will be retiring from his ministry here at St. Luke’s, and Rev. Harper will be appointed Senior Pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Bryan/College Station. We will miss them and know God will continue to use them in wonderful ways in the years ahead.
  • On June 1, we moved into the “limited group” phase on our Covid-19 “Moving Forward in Faith” guide to regathering in person. Some of our small groups and classes will choose to meet on campus, but the vast majority will still meet virtually. To know more of the specifics, please take a look at the matrix here. It is important to note, however, that we will continue to be cautious, and I want to emphasize that this step does not imply that we can relax our practices that help prevent the spread. Masks and social distancing are required in our building, and we want to join our public health leaders in emphasizing that the most important thing is what each one of us does individually to protect one another.
  • Rev. Michelle Manuel is leading a class called Unlearning: A Course on Racial Justice and the Christian Life. How can we help participate in God’s plan of redemption for all of humanity? Do you find yourself thinking, “I want to speak up, but don’t want to say the wrong thing?” or “I want to help but don’t know how.” Join Rev. Michelle Manuel for a six-week class as we commit to learning and unlearning. All are invited into this brave and safe space in which to explore issues of Race Relations in America. Participants can expect to be fully welcomed, loved, and challenged. The Sunday class is already full, but a second session is open on Mondays 2:30-4:00 p.m. For more information, go here.
  • Please take a look at our COVID-19 response webpage here.
  • If you are an adult looking for a bible study or small group, here is the place to look. You can still be a part of the Pastor’s Bible Study After Hours on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. – just sign up on the adult groups page. We will be studying Acts 19-21 next week.
  • If you are looking for ministry with children during the distance loving time, just click here.
  • If you are looking for ministry with students during the distance loving time, just click here.
  • Did you miss last Sunday’s Sermon, “The Breath of Life” for Pentecost Sunday and Senior Sunday? Watch it here.

PRAYER CALENDAR
Sunday, June 7
Father, before I could even respond, you chose me. You claimed me as yours. You began your work of salvation in my life. You had forgiven me already. Thank you, Lord! Amen.

Monday, June 8 
Dear Lord, please let us remember that one of our purposes in life is to share the love we receive from You with others. Let our actions demonstrate our faith in You, and let Your light shine through us so we can make a difference in your Kingdom. Amen.

Tuesday, June 9
Father God, thank you for the grace, light, and truth You have bestowed in us. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we praise You and lift up our brothers and sisters to You. With grateful hearts for your amazing creation, we pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Wednesday, June 10
Heavenly Father, thank You for never giving up on us even when You know our many weaknesses. When we stumble or fall, we feel Your love waiting to restore and strengthen us. Be with us and lead us in the work You are calling us to do. Guide us as we continue to move forward in faith. Amen.

Thursday, June 11
Dear God, we thank you for all caregivers known and unknown to us. Be with them and their care recipients. Bless each according to their needs and grant them your grace, love, and mercy. Give them strength, stamina, patience, and time to rest from the constant demand upon them. Guide and protect them during the Coronavirus ordeal. Amen.

Friday, June 12
Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by your Word and not my feelings. Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Amen.   

Saturday, June 13 
Heavenly Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit would cleanse me, washing away my anxieties and fears. Wash away my selfish pursuits, misguided priorities, and lack of self-restraint. Help me to remember that no matter what, I am yours. Amen.