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Letter from Amy: July 10, 2024



Dear Incarnation,


Sunday just felt filled to the brim with joyful moments of hospitality . . .


  • Russell taught the kids to play harmonicas before church in Wild Wonder and then invited them to help lead our opening hymn. I'm not sure I've ever heard such a rousing rendition of This is My Father's World, and I loved how it demonstrated our inclusive music ethos. (I think he also taught them a worship song about taco sauce and fiery bowels . . . parents, you're welcome!?)


  • David's sermon was so good! I loved the challenge to recognize ourselves as the "other" to whom Jesus is speaking. And he concluded by inviting Bruce and Sito from L'Arche (our July outreach partners) to share a story about loving their neighbors. Bruce told us about the clock he purchased for the house to replace the broken one — a simple act of generosity and hospitality so that everyone at the dinner table could keep time together.


  • Several Incarnation kids went out of their way to make some visiting children feel at home in an unfamiliar church. They created lists of people to meet, made dozens of introductions, and then quizzed the newcomers afterward. This resulted in many new friends for the visiting kids — "too many to name," as their parent wrote to us afterward.


Harmonicas, clocks, and strangers becoming friends — just the ordinary stuff of hospitality. It was a joy to witness it all. Thank you!


Summer always stretches our hospitality muscles. Our children's programs take a break and we welcome all the kids into the service. Kids' bodies are made for movement and their voices are designed to be heard — evolutionary traits that are sometimes at odds with desires for contemplation and silence. Sometimes, despite parents' many "shhhh!"s and "sit down!"s, it gets noisy at church.


But noisy (as well as wiggly, distracted, sleepy, anxious, irritable, bored . . . ) can still be worshipful. Jesus knows we are human. And he meets us all exactly as we are, week after week, in our humanity.


I recently read a poem about Jesus' compassion for our humanness that really moved me. The poem is written in response to a Rembrandt etching of Jesus preaching, and I've included both below:



Christ Preaching

by Keene Carter


Rembrandt, etching


I forgive the absent boy. He’s happy.

I forgive the downcast faces when

I speak. I know it’s difficult to look

Into the eyes of someone telling you

You matter: shame turns you away because

You know you don’t. And I forgive the yarn.

My words keep no hands warm.


                                                Listen. That

Is all. And while you’re at the sink, or on

The way to murder, pause the jealous thought

Where death has made a rivalry of equals.

Think how you are like the things you hate,

And, met by similarity, smile. This blind man

Here has looked and found the source of air.

And that boy there, bored? He will never die.


***


That last line catches in my throat every time. Imagine Jesus drawing our attention to every single person in the Drew cafeteria — maybe especially to those whom we find most irritating or distracting or inscrutable or hard to forgive  — and saying, "that boy [girl, man, woman, neighbor, enemy, other] there, bored? He will never die."


It's a beautiful reminder of the eternal value of each human soul. Sometimes we lose touch with that reality because of harm we have experienced at the hands of others. Tonight, we will partner with the Rev. Bill Haley of Coracle to offer a healing Eucharist service together. The focus of this service is healing for those who have been wounded by the church, although anyone seeking healing of any kind is welcome to attend and will have an opportunity to receive prayer. I wrote more about this service in my letter a few weeks ago.


I hope you will consider attending tonight, or inviting a friend who might benefit from this space. And I pray that all who come will share the experience of "the blind man" in the poem: to find "the source of air" in the presence of Jesus. We'll gather at 7pm tonight in the sanctuary of Greenbrier Baptist, 5401 7th Rd S.


Where are you finding "the source of air"? I'd love to hear from you.


With love,

Amy

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