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Letter from Amy: March 20, 2024

Our new processional cross with the Risen Christ (and a glimpse into my dining room)

Dear Incarnation,

I wrote to you in November that our processional cross had gone missing, probably stolen from outside the van during a potluck. That cross' pole had been made by Tom Pienaar (who is soon moving to Geneva); its Ethiopian top had been a gift from our former rector, Liz Gray (who moved to London in 2022); its previous wooden base had been fashioned by her husband, Simon Gray, using a repurposed box from the children's Atrium. Every inch of that cross was marked by the stories and handiwork of beloved people who have helped make Incarnation the community that it is. And it had served as a visible sign of Jesus' presence and power among us in living rooms, sanctuaries, Zoom, parking lots, and schools. It was irreplaceable.

But losing an irreplaceable object also reminded us of what is true: God is still with us even when a visible sign is gone. Back in November, I wrote: "Christ is still our crucified king. He is still bearing all our problems, all our difficulties, all the devil's works, and all our hopes by his cross and resurrection. And we are still a community following him on the way of the cross, whether or not we have a visible sign before our eyes." That is true whether we have a handmade processional cross, or a cross salvaged from a church basement and velcroed to the back wall (our current solution).

Throughout this discernment period, one of the recurring themes I've heard from many of you is the way Incarnation holds the tension between permanence and pilgrimage. One person said, "When we're in a place, we go all in" — meaning that wherever we find ourselves, for however long, we make that place as beautiful and accessible and hospitable as possible so that God's presence among us can be made visible to others.

And we do that in our scrappy Incarnation way; using what we've got, crowdsourcing from the community, repurposing things a thousand ways, and rolling with whatever may come — as the Depression-era slogan says, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." This approach is borne of resource constraints; money is tight around here! But it has also shaped us into a more interdependent community, looking to each other to creatively help us meet needs, resist consumerism, and care for creation.

This is all a very long way of burying the lede! We're going all in again and introducing a new processional cross this Sunday. This one isn't handmade (by us) and doesn't carry the same depth of personal memory and story as the old one — nothing possibly could. Instead, we bought this cross used on Ebay from a shop that rescues old liturgical supplies from congregations that have long since closed their doors. It features a Risen Christ, clothed in glory, with nail marks in his hands.

This cross does carry memory and story (and has the dings and scratches to show for it), just not ours; not yet. Instead, we join our worship with people we have never met, people for whom this cross was once a visible sign, but many of whom are now in the presence of the one signified, the Risen Christ himself. It's a different kind of interdependent community, one that spans geography and time.

We will follow this cross into the sanctuary on Sunday as we wave our palms and cry "hosanna." We will veil it on Maundy Thursday when we strip the altar. It will remain covered in black cloth on Good Friday as we worship in a darkened sanctuary. And it will lead us into worship on Easter Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection. May all the visible signs of this week — palms, water, basins, bread, wine, black cloth, bells, flowers and more — help us more fully know and worship the Risen Christ who is truly in our midst. And when Christ is with us, he goes all in!

You can find details about all our Holy Week services on the website. I hope you will join us!




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