It has been such a blessing to be with you at St. Luke’s this year as your full-time Pastoral Intern. I have been at St. Luke’s for just over 4 months now and have already learned a lot about the divine and my own pastoral identity by getting to know all of you. One of my favorite things about St. Luke’s is your willingness to try new things. In many places, “How Its Always Been Done” reigns supreme, but that is not the case here. St. Luke’s is open and creative, and perhaps most important for a nervous intern, forgiving of those moments when things do not go exactly as envisioned.
In my first blog address to you, I said that I was looking forward to being at St. Luke’s because it is a place where I could bring my whole self. I love that I can preach sermons from a queer point of view (like calling Jacob a Twink), that I can share parts of my own story and experiences in Ferguson with you, and that I can do things like write queer Bible studies for children. These things still feel risky to me because they are the sorts of things that would never be accepted in many places and so I still need practice in being brave and doing them. But you all have responded to each moment with so much support and care.
St. Luke’s has given me opportunities to learn more about leading worship. During the season of Advent especially I had the opportunity to see worship plans go from brainstorming sessions months earlier into actual tangible gathered worship together. With the support of the rest of the staff I got to try out a lot of new things during the midweek Advent services, including writing three completely new liturgies and leading some chanting during Evening Prayer. In these Midweek services we intentionally wove together the work we have been doing in anti-racism with our evening worship, connecting Advent to prophetic voices of the past and present in our city while envisioning and hoping for a more just future together. The opportunity and challenge of leading worship at St. Luke’s helps me to see more clearly the ways that what we do together in worship is connected to the wider outside world.
When people ask about what worship is like at St. Luke’s, one of the things that I tell them is to picture a full liturgy layered over the top of the sights and sounds of a full daycare. I love the ways that children are an essential part of the ministry we do together and the ways this shows up in the choices we make about how we structure worship and our space. I see God most clearly when toddlers are clamoring to get closer to the altar or preschoolers are gazing with tender curiosity at the baby Jesus in the Christmas manger. This excitement reflects the untamed nature of the God who created us in Her image. As I get to know each member here more deeply, from our longtime members to the freshly baptized teeny ones, I also get to know God in new ways. I am so grateful for the way that each of you show me more about who God is by sharing yourself with me.
From Pastoral Intern Elle Dowd