Thanks so much for the gift of time away, especially on a Sunday. It has been over a year since my last Sunday away, and I underestimated both how refreshing it would be and how much I'd miss worshiping with you all! I returned home Sunday night full of gratitude: for our incredible team of volunteers and staff; for our relaxed and reverent worship; for our warm, welcoming, ever-adaptable, all-hands-on-deck community. It's such a gift to be your pastor.
And there's so much I'm looking forward to in the next few weeks:
This Sunday, Russell Vick will join us as our preacher. Russell is a curate (priest-in-training) at our parent church, Restoration Anglican, and they are generous to share him with us this weekend! Katie met Russell last fall at the New Wineskins conference; I had coffee with him a few weeks later on the Pike; and, well, we both think he's pretty great. I'm delighted to welcome him as our preacher. You can read a reflection he wrote for our diocesan newsletter on being biracial and Anglican here.
This Saturday at 2pm, there will be a service to honor Bishop John Guernsey and Meg Guernsey. You are all invited, and you can RSVP here. Bishop John commissioned Incarnation as a new mission. He ordained me, Liz Gray, Katie, and David Griffin. And he has shepherded us through the many challenges and changes of the past few years. I am deeply grateful for his ministry. There is also an opportunity to give a financial gift in gratitude for his ministry; our vestry has committed $500 toward this fund, and anyone is invited to contribute as an expression of thanksgiving. Individual gifts can be made online at https://www.anglicandoma.org/donate (select Bishop's Retirement Fund) or via text (text "BRF" and the dollar amount to 910-248-4036).
The following Sunday, Feb 5, is Candelmas, the day we remember the presentation of Jesus in the temple. This is one of my favorite stories in all of scripture; I am so moved by the quiet, lifelong, faithful waiting of the elderly Anna and Simon. This is also the day we bless the church's candles for the coming year. And to top it off, it's also World Mission Sunday — especially fitting on this day when we celebrate "a light to enlighten the nations" (Luke 2:34). We'll sing in different languages, pray a special litany, and finish the morning with a global potluck — please bring a favorite dish from around the world to share!
But in the midst of all these happy things, we still live in a violent world — a world of ongoing wars, of mass shootings, of so much pain. I have turned often to David Taylor's contemporary collects (prayers) when I feel overwhelmed by the week's headlines, particularly this collection of Prayers for a Violent World. In light of recent mass shootings, I share his prayer below and invite you to pray with me:
A Prayer After a Mass Shooting
O Lord, you who abhor those who murder the innocent, be not deaf to our bitter cries, we pray, and do not abandon us to our pain this day. Hear our raging words of protest, O God of Jacob, heed our groans for justice and meet us in this lowly and desperate place. Awake, Lord! Rouse yourself! Deliver us from evil, for your name’s sake! We pray this so that we might witness your might to save and your power to heal. We pray this in the name of our Fortress and Refuge. Amen.
With you in all the beauty and brokenness of our world,