What a glorious fall retreat! Sunshine, canoes, hayrides, dumpling-wrapping, meat-smoking, Tataki Zome (hammering foliage into cloth), hiking, foraging, music-making (Russell plays harmonica?!) and more . . . it was simply wonderful to relax, pray, and play together.
We spent time on Saturday morning reflecting on the Lord's Prayer. But over the course of the day, our prayers for "thy kingdom come" took on unexpected meaning as the news from Gaza began to unfold: hostages taken, civilians murdered, rockets fired, swift retaliation, and a declaration of war. Suddenly the world looked very different than it had the day before.
It's easy to imagine God's kingdom coming and God's will being done on earth when we're all laughing together on a hayride through sun-dappled fall leaves. It's much harder when we see fresh horrors of human cruelty every time we check the news.
But this is the world into which God's kingdom is already breaking. Our God does not shrink back from the horrors of human cruelty, but willingly steps into it in the incarnate Jesus. Katie Foran reminded me of this reality just this week, when she sent me a photo of a crucifix that she'd seen on her recent trip to Slovenia (trips to Slovenia count as "excused absences" from the church retreat!): The Crucified of Piran. It's a stunning, heartbreakingly human Jesus, such a powerful reminder of God's with-us-ness in our human vulnerability.
We can lament with the assurance that God is with us in our grief and fear. And we can continue to pray for his now-and-not-yet kingdom to come in all the places that it seems most out of reach.
At midday prayer we included this collect in our prayers for the conflict in Israel; perhaps you will find it helpful too:
A Collect for the Human Family (p. 659, Book of Common Prayer)
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In other news:
- Please plan to stay for the parish meeting on Sunday immediately after the service!
- Vestry voting is open! If you are a member of Incarnation, you should have received a ballot by email. Please contact Emily if you didn't receive it: email@example.com
Between Saint Francis Day and the fall retreat last week, my heart is just about bursting with joy at the privilege of being your pastor and fellow disciple. I'm looking forward to being with all of you again this Sunday as we come together in prayer and worship of our incarnate King.