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Letter from Amy: Nov 15, 2023

Dear friends,

Sunday was a difficult day. Difficult passages with images of darkened days, shut doors, and extinguished lamps. Difficult news to share. Difficult burdens that many of you were carrying. And the difficult discovery that our processional cross had gone missing (we had suspected so, but were holding out hope against hope). While we may never know for sure, we have good reason to believe it was taken from outside the van two Sundays ago while we were finishing loading.

The loss of that cross seemed trivial on Sunday compared to all the other difficult things happening in the life of our community, the broader church, and the world. Even so, I was gutted. Our former rector, Liz Gray, had given us the Ethiopian cross top, and it had seen us through worship in living rooms, sanctuaries, parking lots, and schools. Tom Pienaar had fashioned it into a beautiful wooden processional cross. So many of you had carried that cross to lead us into worship, and all of us had sent our problems and difficulties to it every Sunday.

And now, it's gone. And I am really sad about that.

But in a small way, the loss of the processional cross has invited me to practice believing in the unseen reality of God's kingdom even when a visible sign is gone. That's a practice I need on difficult days and weeks, a practice I even preached about Sunday.

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.

And this is good news, because we're about to follow him to yet another unusual worship space. (I believe that brings our count up to 7.) Drew Elementary recently let us know that we cannot worship there on three upcoming Sundays so that their custodians can take a break for the holidays — a policy we fully support. Those upcoming Sundays are November 26 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving), December 24 (Christmas Eve), and December 31 (New Year's Eve).

However, it's very hard to find worship space on holiday weekends in South Arlington, and our usual backup, the sanctuary at Greenbrier Baptist, is full. So we'll be returning to our pandemic #canopychurch roots and worshipping on the lawn outside at Greenbrier. If the weather necessitates it, we'll rent a large tent with walls and heaters to keep us warm and dry. We'll have use of indoor restrooms through an accessible building entrance. And we're dreaming up ways to invite the neighbors.

I invite you to embrace these Sundays as a unique opportunity to live into our name: incarnation. We will bear witness to the reality that Christ is present in unexpected places. And we will practice trusting that reality, with or without a processional cross.


Coming up...

  • This Sunday is normal: see you at 10am at Drew!

  • WE WILL NOT WORSHIP AT DREW ELEMENTARY ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26! Instead, we will worship outside Greenbrier Baptist at 10am. Dress for the weather, grab your coffee, and bring a lawn chair or blanket. November 26 is Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of our liturgical year before we begin the calendar anew at Advent. Our kids always lead this service, and it feels especially fitting to worship outdoors, surrounded by reminders of God's kingship over all creation.

  • The bishop will visit on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec 3. He will confirm/receive/reaffirm people at that time. I wrote about confirmation two weeks ago (scroll about halfway down) for those who are curious what it all means. If you have recently returned to the church, are experiencing inward spiritual renewal, or are going through a significant life transition, this can be a wonderful opportunity to be strengthened in the Spirit for the journey. The bishop's visit will also include a Saint Nicholas outreach event and an Advent retreat on Saturday, Dec 2 — stay tuned for details!

It's a gift to be your pastor on the way of the cross. If you have questions, concerns, prayer needs, or just a desire to chat, please reach out! I love hearing from you.




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