Week Eight Chaplain Mary Luti to Open Preaching Series with Call for Tenderness


In her blog, “Sicut Locutus Est,” Mary Luti wrote that she was tired of moralizing sermons that exhort her to do something.

“Sometimes I just want help gazing at Jesus,” she wrote in her post, “Who Is the God Who Wants Me to Do It?” “Sometimes I am converted simply by a preacher making me feel in my flesh the ineffable beauty of the vast accomplished grace around me, the bewildering shame and glory of a love that loves me anyway.”

Luti, who is the Week Eight chaplain at Chautauqua, recalled as she wrote, “as an old, funny, faithful guy sitting in the pew behind me once muttered, after yet another moralizing harangue from the pulpit, ‘I think I know by now what God wants me to do. What I really want to know is, who is the God who wants me to do it?’ ”

Luti will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday Ecumenical Service of Worship and Sermon in the Amphitheater. Her sermon title is “The Power of Tenderness: Rejoice with Me.” She will speak about her faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday Vespers in the Hall of Philosophy.

“I don’t always need to be exhorted. But I always need an encounter. I always need a door,” Luti wrote. “And your sermon could be that door if it’s not slammed shut with moralizing and demand. So give me some inspiration, illumination, pathos, identification, awe, contemplation, adoration, love, gratitude and praise every now and then. Please.”

Luti will offer inspiration and illumination at the 9:15 a.m. Ecumenical Services, Monday through Friday in the Amp. Her titles include “The Power of Pardon: Easter for Judas,” “The Power of Humility: The One-Down God,” “The Power of Patience: Therefore, Beloved,” “The Power of Presence: No One Is Alone,” and “The Power of Blessing: God Bless You.”    

Luti is a pastor and teacher ordained in the United Church of Christ, retired as a seminary educator and administrator.

After many years as a member of a Roman Catholic women’s community, with assignments in Rome, Madrid and Mexico City, Luti returned to Boston, and earned a doctorate in theology in the Jesuit faculty of Boston College.

From 1984 to 1998, she taught the history of Christian life and thought at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts (now Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School). During this period, she also served as director of the school’s Center for the Ministry of the Laity and as associate dean for academic programs.

After serving two years as a consultant for congregational development at South Church, UCC, in Springfield, Massachusetts, she was called in 2000 to serve as senior minister of the historic First Church in Cambridge, Congregational UCC, in Harvard Square, the 16th minister and the sole woman pastor in the community’s 382 years.

She returned to Andover Newton in 2008 as visiting professor of worship and preaching, and was appointed the first director of the newly inaugurated Wilson Chapel. She was recognized with the outstanding teaching award of the United Church of Christ at its 2011 General Synod.

Luti is the author of Teresa of Avila’s Way, a volume in the series, “The Way of the Christian Mystics,” and numerous other publications on topics of the Christian life and practice.

She is a founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups formed after 9/11, whose mission is to provide a replicable grassroots platform for greater understanding, respect and reconciliation among women of the Abrahamic faiths.

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The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.