The final part of my 'History of Incarnation' to date.... 2022 dawns
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; therefore she shall not be moved. God shall help her at the break of day. The nations are in an uproar, and the kingdoms are moved, but God has lifted his voice, and the earth shall melt away. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Psalm 46:4-7 (BCP2019)
Happy Eastertide! Alleluia!
Over the last couple of months I have had such fun pulling together a few of my memories from these first five years of Incarnation's life for this blog. Of course, even as I selected some stories, I smiled wryly over others, diplomatically omitted some more and blushed as I recalled my missteps and oft foolish words. The last five (six) years have been some of the most exciting, challenging and delightful years of my working life. I have wrestled with God, cried through the night, laughed till my sides ached and walked hundreds of miles as I have pondered and prayed. I have sat with you in your stories of pain, trauma and longing, and also those of hope, restoration and the steadfast, faithful, encouraging love of the Lord. I have drunk my fair share of coffee and tea... and other beverages. These have been such rich and stretching years.
Incarnation moments: Weber's art, Palm Sunday procession, musicians, atrium, techies, preaching and a bluebell hike
Incarnation stepped into 2022 with a brave new start - moving our Sunday worship to Randolph Elementary School. Our first service was January 2. Amy wrote beautifully about the rationale for our move here and here. Fundamentally, we were (and are!) excited to be rooting ourselves deep into community. Worshipping in a gym, in a space and building where we can be known locally. Serving the families at the school as needs arise. It's an exciting new season. AUMC have continued to be kindly and generous landlords, and we have been able to retain offices in their building and a van parking space.
Pandemic-wise, these last few months have seen VA gradually emerging from mask mandates and, we so hope, that we can continue to worship with uncovered faces in the months ahead! It is SO good to see people's smiles again.... Small groups mostly have moved to being in-person (though we retained one zoom option last season). Our kids are thriving in their various age-specific groups with Josie and the catechists, hospitality is plentiful under Kaitlin and her team's care (hoorah for coffee and donuts and picnics and feasting!), 'the lads' - David and James - keep our AV running smoothly aided and abetted by Katie F, our prayer teams pray with insight and wonder - often headed by Weber, our musicians have flourished as a collective team - and our choir has grown under Grant's tender care! In so many ways our community is weaving worship, wonder and welcome into all aspects of our life together. I am so excited about the future and where God will lead us all.
Incarnation is a welcoming community that gathers each week to worship, welcome, and wonder together.
And so for this next season, I hope you are working out where you will invest your time wisely at Incarnation:
Sign up now to join a small group
Tell Grant you want to sing in the choir
Ask Amy if you can train to be more effective as you pray for others
Seek out Kaitlin and tell her you love donuts and picnics and you want to help serve with hospitality
Catch Emily and ask how you can volunteer
Have a word with Cory about outreach opportunities
Take a peek at our atrium and ask Josie how you can become a 'catechist'
Not sure which way to go? Ask Amy if you can grab a coffee and pray through where you are growing in this season and how you can be stretched in your walk with Jesus.
Been coming for a while and want to be a member? Fill out this form, we'll have coffee and chat and the next membership opportunity is May 1!
I am so grateful for this community and how you are all engaging with such intentionality and mutual love and respect. So grateful.
And as we look ahead, who knows where God will lead this church in the next year, 5 years, 10 years... but I am confident that He will lead it and that Amy will be a fabulous Rector who will listen carefully to God and to you all: bi-directional listening is such a vital skill for a pastor! Being on a journey with God can be surprising, but it is always the right and best place to be.
Churches are complex. They are full of people who need God's grace. Every member of a community, including pastors, bring their brokenness. And so it is critical that we are constantly vigilant. That we keep short accounts. That we extend grace. That we challenge un-godly behaviours. That we seek peace and healing. Incarnation has always longed to be a trauma-informed church; a place where people can come who are hurting. A place of refuge and restoration. A place where people can encounter Christ in safety. We may not always get it right and so we need to be a listening church. We recently met Preston Hill, a wise and thoughtful theologian who wrote this paper for the Matthew 25 Gathering. We are publishing it on the Safe Community page of our website with his and his co-authors permission. It is such an important document for us all to read. I hope you will do so, and then let us know what you think.
I'm away this coming Sunday (April 24) - many of our family are running the Big Sur marathon - see you all on May 1!