This Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent, sometimes called Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete is Latin for "Rejoice"). The candle in the Advent wreath is rose rather than purple, signaling a lightening of the heavy Advent themes and an emphasis on the joy of awaiting Jesus' coming. Katie will continue our series on the Four Last Things (listen here) by preaching on heaven — a fittingly joyful topic.
But on this side of heaven, our joy is never quite complete; it is always mingled with losses yet unhealed and longings yet unfulfilled. CS Lewis has written that joy is "always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still about to be" — and in this way, he writes, "all joy emphasizes our pilgrim status."
As pilgrims in this life, we always hold joy and longing together. Advent makes this particularly clear, an entire season spent dwelling in the tension between the joy of God's First Coming, and the longing for the renewal of all things at his Second.
And so this weekend, before we light our joy candle and ponder heaven, we will first take time to acknowledge our longings and losses, the many changes our lives have endured over the past year or more. On Saturday morning, the Rev. Erin Bair will guide us through an Advent mini-retreat exploring change, loss, lament, and hope (9:30am-12pm at the Sungs; sign up here). This mini-retreat is for anyone who has experienced change in recent years; which is to say, it's for everyone.
Erin is a fellow priest, faithful rector, Columbia Pike resident, spiritual director, and dear friend. If you like my preaching, you can thank Erin — she often serves as a wise sounding board during my sermon writing process, and her insights always make my preaching more pastoral and hopeful. I invited Erin to lead this mini-retreat for us because I'd seen her present this content before and found it deeply helpful and refreshing. I encourage you to carve out a quiet morning and come! Sign up here.
On Sunday, our Treasurer Ben Goebel will offer Q&A immediately after the service for any questions about the budget updates we sent out via email last week. If you didn't receive the email, please let me know!
Also on Sunday, Jenny Goebel (strong Goebel fam representation this Sunday!) will lead a child safety training in the Art Room after the service; lunch is included. This training is required of all staff, vestry, and children's volunteers, but is recommended for everyone in our community. Email Jenny to RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also also on Sunday, Johanna Montague will hold a brief rehearsal for any kids interested in participating in a nativity mini-pageant on Christmas Eve. Look for her after the service!
Learn more about our Advent offering recipient, Partners in Al Hol, Syria, and give generously this season!
Our evening prayer small groups will resume in the new year. The feedback on these has been wonderful: just a simple, refreshing midweek meal and time of prayer. If you're interested in hosting or learning more, email Katie: email@example.com
We'll receive new members on January 8. If you're interested in exploring membership at Incarnation, send me an email!
I say it all the time because it's true: it's such a gift to be your pastor. Please reach out with any questions, concerns, prayers or needs.