This past Sunday, I announced that we will continue worshiping at Drew Elementary this fall instead of returning to Randolph Elementary. Thank you to everyone who completed our recent survey. The responses were overwhelmingly in favor of staying at Drew. This wasn't a surprise — I've been hearing requests to stay since our first Sunday there! — but it was helpful to see your preferences so clearly expressed.
You love the natural light, the beautiful courtyard, the ease of potlucks, the ample parking, the character of the neighborhood, the simplicity of setup/teardown (no laborious zigzag ramp), the disability access, and the proximity to 395. What I appreciated most about your responses was how often they focused on the needs of others, particularly the experience of visitors. Thank you for being so mindful of those outside our community; it is a gift to be your pastor.
Vestry considered your responses and the experience of the staff as we prayed and considered where God was leading us and decided together to remain at Drew. As part of that meeting, we reflected on Exodus 13:17-22, the story of God's guiding his people through the wilderness by cloud and fire. Several aspects from that passage stood out to us. First, that God led his people on a more circuitous, less direct route for reasons that they could not yet discern. That has certainly been our experience as a church! And second, that the people took the bones of Joseph with them as they departed; they carried the story and relics of their old life into the unknown new life to which God was calling them. Or in the language of Sunday's sermon, they carried the reminders of their old orientation into their disorientation while they waited for God to reveal their new orientation.
How might we carry our "bones" with us as we settle into this next season at Drew? I invite you to pray, ponder, and reach out to me with your thoughts. One way to do that is through our Incarnation Annual Reflection, which you can pick up on Sundays or complete online.
Drew is a new place for us. It is our church's first departure from our original target area at the western end of Columbia Pike — a location that was part of our earliest planning and dreaming about this church. For the first time in Incarnation's life, we'll be worshiping regularly in a neighborhood with a different history and makeup, even a different zip code. This may not seem like a big deal, and in many ways, it isn't. We're a pilgrim church and God has clearly led us to a new place, simple as that.
But geography matters. Places matter. The named places in Sunday's children's psalm* — Isle of Wight, Doyle's Outpost, Florida, Cooperstown, Mexico, Nana's house — testify to that reality. The story of God's people throughout scripture testifies to that reality. God uses the physical places we live, work, and worship to form us as his people. How will Incarnation be formed by this new place in Drew Elementary, in the heart of the Green Valley neighborhood? How will this place help form us to be good neighbors and bearers of the kingdom in each of the places we live and work throughout the week? I'm curious and expectant and grateful for our shared pilgrimage.
I'm looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday — please bring something to share for the potluck! After that, I'll head out of town for a few weeks' vacation from August 7-20. Thank you for the privilege of time away and rest. Katie will capably hold down the fort in my absence, and will be available for pastoral needs (and everything else).
* By popular demand, I present to you the Incarnation Children's Version of Psalm 96:11-13, which I read on Sunday:
Let’s hear it from birds, clouds, sun, blue jays, mosquitoes, and stars, With plants, seashells, bears, foxes, paintings, flowers, and food joining in, And a huge round of applause from dolphins, rainbow fish, jellyfish, germs, sharks, mermaids, and microplankton.
Let spiders, fire ants, beetles, mice, caterpillars, bees, rabbits, and chihuahuas turn cartwheels, Let blue whales, fish, giant squid, octopus, and megalodon come dance. Put every cactus, greenbrier, rose, evergreen, marigold, redwood, and moss in the choir —
Every living thing that grows in Mexico, Nana’s house, Doyle’s Outpost, Ligonier Camp, Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s old house, Destin Florida, the Hyatt, the Isle of Wight, and The Well ice cream shop in Michigan.
We’ll have an extravaganza —
like a birthday party with dad, cats, and Harry Potter
like a tea party with Emmy
like a party in Cooperstown
like a party with our friends and family with lots of singing and dancing and eating
like a large party with the whole family — dead and alive — and our closest friends with laser tag, pizza, and a fun house
with dessert and ice cream and donuts and balloons
with a unicorn piñata and a mermaid cake that tastes like rose water with a hint of blueberry
— that kind of celebration before God as he comes,
As he comes to set everything right on earth, Set everything right, treat everyone fair.