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Letter from Amy: March 6, 2024


Martyr, Abraham Rattner, 1944

Dear Incarnation,


Lent is an embodied season. We begin with ashes on the forehead and the reminder that our bodies are mortal. We attempt spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, and giving that often expose our bodily hungers and frailties. We engage our senses through darkness, kneeling, palm waving, shouts of hosanna!, foot-washing, and silence.


Lent pulls our bodies into the great drama of the world's salvation — a drama carried out in the human body of Jesus Christ. And this particular Lent in our church's life seems to have many reminders of our bodily frailty. As a congregation, we are carrying many losses and longings for our bodies, and the bodies of those we love, to be made well.


We experienced those longings acutely last week when our beloved curate, Russell, was hospitalized for meningitis. Thank you to everyone who jumped into action — praying, visiting the hospital, unloading the van, setting up the sanctuary, leading Sunday music, taking on admin tasks, and offering other practical help. You are an amazing embodiment of Christian community, and I am humbled to be your pastor. Please continue to pray for Russell's complete healing and restoration in body, mind, and soul.


Russell has become a beloved family member here at Incarnation, as well as a key member of our staff team. We miss him, and we depend on him! So I also ask for your patience as we reshuffle our staff responsibilities in his absence.


Two Sundays ago, Russell preached on the difficult passage of the binding of Isaac. He said this:


"Is God really good? Does God really want what's best for the world? Does God really want what's best for me? Is God really worth following? These questions are not philosophical ponderings or abstract theological musings; these questions are deeply human and are interwoven within our nature. They are deep-seated, real questions that demand deep-seated, real answers. To grapple with these questions is to grapple with the heart of the gospel. And the way we answer these questions will affect how we choose to live."


Lent is a time to grapple with those questions. To bring the full weight of our doubt, disappointment, and anger with God into his presence. And there, to encounter his response to us in his own body on the cross.


We have a few opportunities to grapple with these questions over the coming days and weeks:


Healing Eucharist TOMORROW


We have an opportunity to seek healing this Thursday night at our quarterly Healing Eucharist. This service is an opportunity to receive God's gentle care for any kind of healing (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental). We all need healing or know someone who does. And we all need spaces where we can simply rest and receive from God. The Healing Eucharist is just such a space. The service itself will last an hour or less, but I'll remain in the sanctuary afterward to offer prayer to anyone who desires it, for as long as it takes. Tomorrow, Thursday, March 7, at 7pm at Greenbrier Baptist. Come, be, receive.


Lent Offering


Each year, we collect a special offering throughout the season of Lent — an opportunity to practice the spiritual discipline of giving together. This year's offering recipient is Rock Recovery, which provides affordable eating disorder therapy and support groups to help people find real freedom. Our Outreach Team recommended Rock Recovery as our Lent offering recipient for several reasons:

  • Although Rock Recovery is a faith-based organization, they serve people from a variety of backgrounds, including those who have little or no contact with Christianity.

  • Particularly during the Lenten season of fasting, Rock Recovery affirms the goodness and beauty of our physical bodies and hungers while raising awareness of the risk of disordered eating and the help available.


The Executive Director of Rock Recovery, Christie Dondero will visit this Sunday for prayer and an outreach lunch at Pupatella — please plan to join us and learn more about their work!


Give to our Lent offering for Rock Recovery here.


Rescheduled Lent Retreat


Our Lent retreat has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 16, and will be led by the Rev. Dr. Erin Clifford-Riese. Erin's doctoral research studied the resilient faith practices of a community of Christians living in poverty in a Nairobi slum, and has turned her findings into a retreat titled “We Rejoice in Our Sufferings: Learning from the Witness of the African Church."  (And don't let "doctoral research" scare you off — this will be contemplative, not academic!)


I'm delighted to be able to learn from our global brothers and sisters. I hope you will come and invite a friend. Saturday, March 16, 9am-12pm at the Radkas' house in Arlington Ridge (near Pentagon City). You can RSVP here.


***


I'm overflowing with gratitude for all of you this week, and I am praying for you and the many needs you are carrying. I hope to see you Sunday, if not before.


Warmly,

Amy

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