On Saturday, we gathered at the Sungs' to hear from the South Asia Director of Justice Ventures International (JVI), one of Incarnation's outreach partners. He told the remarkable story of his life, moving from engineering to church planting and pastoring to PhD student in both South Asia and the U.S., always with his eyes open to the severe injustices in his home country (sex trafficking, bonded labor, and exploitations of the very poor) and a longing to be a part of undoing them. He was at a crossroads in his career and studies, and asked God if it was possible to find a path that would use all parts of him: his engineering, problem-solving brain; his pastoral heart and love for the church; and his longing to address injustice. God answered that question in his current role for JVI, work that he is clearly, uniquely equipped to do.
It was a beautiful, moving evening in many ways: interesting people who care about the world, delicious food (of course; Grant was involved), powerful stories of injustice and restoration, and a rich time of prayer. But as I've reflected, I think one of the gifts of the time was not only learning more about the work of JVI, but learning about it in the context of one person's call to that work. I continue to muse on the boldness of his question — God, is there a path for my life that uses all of me? There is a famous essay by Fredreick Buechner about calling that includes these lines: "The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. . . . The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (I wrote more about Buechner a few weeks ago.)
Sometimes I am simply dumbfounded that God has chosen to build his kingdom through people. Through "the worst of sinners" like Sunday's sermon discussed. Through dramatic bold types like Paul and quiet humble types like Timothy. Through each one of us, every moment of our lives, every part of our story, every small task we set our minds and hands to do. God is building his kingdom slowly, often invisibly, through each one of us, and nothing is wasted.
I'd invite you to spend a bit of time contemplating whether there are aspects of your personality, gifts, experience, interests, desires, or story that are largely dormant right now. Perhaps you could bring those to God and ask how he might reawaken them. Maybe in your job (but jobs are just one small part of our call), maybe at church, maybe in a particular relationship, or maybe somewhere yet to be discovered. As we pray every week: "And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord."
Fall small groups will begin in October. Fall small groups will simply share a meal, catch up on each others' weeks and lives, and pray a short prayer liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer: Evening Prayer at dinner, Morning Prayer or Midday Prayer at breakfast/brunch/lunch. Our hope is that these groups will offer simple midweek refreshment and allow opportunities to build relationships with others in the Incarnation community over a meal and prayer. We also hope these groups will offer an easy, natural opportunity to welcome other people into that community. Do you have friends or neighbors or coworkers who might appreciate friendship and a weekday meal, who perhaps are curious to see how some Christians pray (scripted prayer is often much less intimidating than spontaneous prayer)? These table groups offer an easy way to practice hospitality toward those outside our church and create space for "belonging before belief." Signups will open next week; stay tuned!
We'll have a potluck and parish meeting after church Sunday; prepare to stay!
Reading helpers at Randolph: A former Incarnation member recently connected us to a literacy program called the Life Enrichment Center (LEC). We connected LEC to the principal of Randolph Elementary to trial an after-school literacy program this fall at Randolph. Students who would benefit from the program are selected by their teachers and paired with a volunteer to read to one another from 3-3:30pm on the first Tuesday of the month at Randolph. This is SUCH a simple, low-commitment opportunity (30 minutes/month) to serve the students and families of Randolph Elementary! LEC will train all volunteers, and the program will begin in October. If you are interested in volunteering as a reading helper, please let me know by Sept 18!
As always, please reach out to me or Katie for a walk, prayer, coffee, or chat!