A Message From Pastor Tom

October 28, 2021
What a great Sunday of worship we experienced at St. Lukes UMC. We celebrated the kick-off to the 2022
Stewardship Campaign Celebrate”. More importantly, we celebrated the greatest strength of St. Lukes United
Methodist Church, the laity. It was evident that St. Lukes is blessed with gifted and talented persons willing to share
their faith in a variety of ways.

As the Lead Pastor, I must admit that maneuvering and leading the church through the pandemic was one of the
hardest seasons of ministry. I believed that if we could just get through the latest wave of yet another variant, things
might return to the familiar. Little did I know that the season after COVID would be even more challenging.

The greatest challenge all churches are facing, even St. Lukes, is the return to in-person worship. Yes, we celebrated
that the church never closed. Talented staff helped us create an online worship experience within hours. We
celebrated that the church is the people, not the building. We created different and exciting ways to grow in Christ and
make a difference.

We now enter a new season of St. Lukes. This is perhaps the hardest and most difficult, the return to in-person
worship. Again, because of the pandemic, online worship enabled congregations the ability to encounter God and stay
connected to one another during a season. In my humble opinion, online worship does not and cannot take the place of
in-person worship.

The writer of Hebrews speaks very plainly and boldly that we should not neglect our meeting together. Gathering for
worship is a vital part of our faith and can never be viewed as an optional or occasional activity. We are embodied
souls, male and female, created in Gods image. We are not just pixels, screennames, or headshots, we are human
beings. We are designed to see, hear, taste, touch and feel our way through the world God created.

The Bible teaches that the church is Christs body on earth. Each believer is a different part. We are not independent of
each other rather we are interdependent on each other. When we gather for in-person worship we can encourage and
support one another. We must never forget that we are a spiritual family. There is no substitute for gathering, singing,
celebrating baptisms, communion and praying together.

Yes, we should celebrate new technology that allows the church to reach new people with new methods. We rejoice
that when families are away on vacation or experience sickness, they can join the worshipping body online. We
acknowledge that online worship expands our mission field beyond Midland, Texas.

The pandemic has been a transformational moment for our world, community, and churches. Long before we heard the
word Covid-19church attendance was in decline. We now have an opportunity to examine our own lives and ask,
how is with our souls?If youre like me, when my soul is often weary, dry and hurting, the gathered church is the place
where I find renewal.

See You Sunday,

Pastor Tom