Letter from Amy: Aug 3, 2022


Our beloved community on Liz's final Sunday! I particularly love that this photo is taken from behind the communion table: "Christ is the host and we are his guests," as we say in the Kenyan liturgy.

Dear friends,


This week, I'm writing with an invitation to reflect.


Ever since we moved into Randolph Elementary on that sleet-drenched first Sunday in January, I knew I wanted to create a time of reflection for our church in late summer — in the slower (warmer!) rhythms of Ordinary Time — after some of the dust of the year’s many transitions began to settle. We’ve experienced a lot of change as a church this year, and all change brings some amount of loss and therefore grief. But change also brings surprising joy and fresh possibilities. Taking time to prayerfully reflect helps us notice those griefs and joys and to discern God’s presence in them.


One particularly helpful tool for this kind of reflection is the Examen, a prayer I’ve prayed in various forms over the years. The Examen was developed by Saint Ignatius as a simple prayer practice to help notice God’s presence and discern his direction in our lives. (I find this article a helpful guide.)


So this year, I’ve tried creating a sort of church-wide Examen, a series of questions designed to help us pause and reflect on our life together in this church. Because this is our first year (Incarnation mantra: just try stuff!), I suspect we will learn and change a few things — but I hope some form of this reflection will become a regular practice for us each year during Ordinary Time.


I am praying that this reflection will be a refreshing opportunity for you to notice what meaningful relationships and habits are taking root through your participation in our church — or where you are longing for something more or different. Your responses will be so helpful to me in identifying the good things God is already doing among us and in praying for the direction and future of our church.


There are two ways to complete this reflection: online or paper.


Online: All responses in the online form are optional and anonymous, though there is a place to include your name if you would like. I’ve pasted the questions below so you can see them in advance, reflect over time, and estimate the time needed to complete the form. Participate in the Incarnation Annual Reflection online HERE


Paper: These reflection questions are also available as a printable PDF (print at home, or pick up a printed copy at church Sundays in August). You may prefer to take this paper copy to a favorite outdoor spot or coffee shop and hand-write your responses; that's always my preferred mode of contemplation. If you choose the paper option, please send me a scan or photo of your responses, or hand them to me on a Sunday. Obviously, this is not an anonymous submission, but your responses will be kept completely confidential. Download the Incarnation Annual Reflection as a PDF HERE or pickup on Sunday.


However you choose to complete the reflection, could you please submit your responses to me by Monday, September 5 (Labor Day)?


Participate in the Incarnation Annual Reflection online HERE.

Download the Incarnation Annual Reflection as a PDF HERE.


Thank you!


With love and so much gratitude,

Amy


p.s. My answer to that last question? Definitely otter.


 

The Incarnation Annual Reflection

Sunday Worship


Give thanks: bring to mind Sunday worship services at Incarnation over the past year. Does a day or moment stand out to you as particularly good, beautiful, joyful? Pause to thank God for that moment, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in the Sunday service?

(This might include music, sermon, any part of the liturgy [a phrase, gesture, section, etc], the presence or participation of people in the worship, or anything else.)


Where does God seem most distant to you in the Sunday service? Where is it hard to connect? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for Sunday worship at Incarnation?

Community Life


Give thanks: bring to mind the community at Incarnation over the past year. (Consider: new or deepening relationships, group chats, hikes, meals, helping one another, praying together, inclusion, etc.) Does a particular aspect of our community stand out to you as particularly good, beautiful, joyful? Pause to thank God, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in the community of Incarnation?


Where has God seemed most distant to you in the Incarnation community? Where is it hard to connect? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for the community at Incarnation?


Volunteering


Give thanks: bring to mind a volunteer role or task that you experienced over the past year that was particularly good and joyful. Pause to thank God for that moment, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in volunteering at Incarnation? (This might be a specific volunteer role, or some aspect of volunteering in general.)


Are there aspects of volunteering on Sundays that have made it difficult to connect with God? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for volunteering at Incarnation?


Outreach


Give thanks: bring to mind outreach at Incarnation over the past year. (Consider: special outreach offerings; prayer for outreach partners; serving Restoration Immigration Legal Aid, Columbia Gardens neighbors, Randolph families; international trips and visitors; etc.) Does a particular aspect of our outreach stand out to you as particularly good, beautiful, joyful? Pause to thank God, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in Incarnation’s outreach?


Where has God seemed most distant to you in Incarnation’s outreach efforts? Where is it hard to connect? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for outreach at Incarnation?


Children


Give thanks: bring to mind children’s participation at Incarnation over the past year. Does a day or moment stand out to you as particularly good, beautiful, joyful? Pause to thank God for that moment, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in the children of Incarnation? (E.g., baptisms, Wild Wonder, Atrium, child-led services, prayers and songs for children, children’s play, conversations with children, observations of children, or anything else that comes to mind)


Are there any aspects of children’s participation that have made it feel more difficult to connect with God? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for the children of Incarnation?


Small Groups


Give thanks: bring to mind small groups at Incarnation over the past year. Does a particular small group experience stand out to you as particularly good, beautiful, joyful? Pause to thank God for that experience, and then please share below if you are willing.


Where has God felt most present to you in small groups at Incarnation?


Where has God seemed most distant to you in small groups? Where is it hard to connect? (You may or may not understand why it feels difficult, but simply to notice.)


Keeping this reflection in mind, as you look toward the future, what is one hope you have for small groups at Incarnation?


Personal


As you reflect, where do you see spiritual growth in yourself over the past year (particularly, if relevant, as a result of your participation in Incarnation)? Give thanks to God, and then please share below. (It can feel awkward to share positive things about ourselves, but it is good and appropriate to celebrate God’s work in us with others, so I encourage you to take a bold step and share!)


Where are you longing for spiritual growth or change in the coming year? (This does not need to be Incarnation-related!) Please share below if you feel comfortable.


Overall


What is one word you would use to describe the past year at Incarnation? (No explanation needed; just a word is fine!)


What is one word you would use to describe your hope for the next year at Incarnation? (No explanation needed; just a word is fine!)


Just for fun: if Incarnation were a color, what color would it be? (No explanation needed!)


More fun: If Incarnation were an animal, what animal would it be? (No explanation needed!)