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Letter from Amy: April 17, 2024

The Three Marys, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1910. We used this image on Sunday to contemplate John's instruction to "walk in the light"

I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s. (1 John 2:1-3, The Message)

Dear Incarnation,

On Sunday, we continued our sermon series on the book of 1 John. I shared that the word in 1 John 2:1, most often translated "advocate" or "counselor," quite literally means "called to one's side." For that reason, I appreciate Eugene Peterson's creative translation of the term: "Priest-Friend."

I love imagining Jesus as our Priest-Friend. And I have a fleshed-out imagination for that role because of the priest-friends in my own life; particularly our former rector, Liz Gray. Liz and I planted this church along with another priest-friend, Morgan Reed (who since planted Corpus Christi Anglican). For many years, Liz was my friend, co-laborer, mentor, and pastor; in other words, my priest-friend who helped lead me to God.

Scripture tells us that we are all a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9), not just those of us who wear collars. We all now carry on the priestly ministry of Jesus. And that means we can all be priest-friends to one another, called to each others' side, helping each other into the presence of our Great High Priest-Friend, Jesus. I invite you to imagine how God might be calling you to fulfill this vocation in your ordinary life; who around you who might need a priest-friend to accompany them into God's presence? And who have been the priest-friends in your own life? Thank God for these faithful friends.

I am thinking often of Liz Gray these days, because Sunday marks two years since her final Sunday as rector, on Good Shepherd Sunday. Since then, you've been stuck with me! Some of you knew Liz well, and you probably miss her almost as much as I do. Some of you only overlapped briefly with her tenure. And many of you have never met her!

Yet all of us continue to be blessed by the seeds that Liz sowed into this church: her playful willingness to "try stuff" without fear of failure; her insistence on collaborative leadership and high participation; her ability to see and call forth untapped gifts in others; her courage in the face of change; her deep compassion for people who feel far from God; her intolerance for the churchy barriers that keep them away; and her love for the messiest and scrappiest expressions of Christian community.

As I read, think, and pray through the discernment feedback collected over the past six weeks, one theme that is emerging is that, in the most essential ways, Incarnation is what it has always been. We have been through many changes in our 6 years as a church. Things look different. Beloved people have come and gone. But the same DNA is still evident among us, perhaps more strongly now than ever. All those scrappy little seeds that Liz sowed are growing, flourishing, and bearing fruit among us.

When I framed the discernment questions, I said that we were "striking while the iron is cold," praying about who we are and who God is calling us to be while there is no pressing crisis or decision in front of us. So it feels fitting that one outcome of this discernment is simply discovering that we are who we say and hope we are.

I'll be sharing more about our discernment process at the May 5 parish meeting, along with important updates about our finances. I hope you'll plan to stay; it's also Rogation Sunday, Potluck Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, and Jared Noetzel's birthday — lots to celebrate!

With love,



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