When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” John 21: 9-10, NRSV
This is my last letter from Liz - and it is with a FULL heart that I sit down to write it.
Last Sunday (May 1), Amy preached from John 21. My favorite part was when she pointed out that Jesus invited his disciples to breakfast, and he suggested they brought their fish; however, he already had some grilling on the fire he had made. Jesus was READY for them, but he also invited them to contribute. He makes a gracious invitation to join in by bringing what they had (which he had in fact helped them catch); this is so typical of Jesus' extraordinary invitation to each one of us. He gives us gifts, he teaches us how to use them, he invites us to join in with him - he involves us. He almost seems to need us. And in one way he does, he allows himself to make space for us: we get to add our fish to the fire.
Being a Jesus-follower is a daily adventure. Sometimes we know what we have to bring. For me, so much of the time I have no idea what I am bringing, or even why I've been invited. BUT I do know that being invited 6 years ago to be part of the early days of Incarnation has been such a wonderful gift. Knowing each of you has brought richness and joy to my life. And working with the amazing colleagues I have had over these years has been so good: Morgan, Beth, Katie, Josie, Emily and Amy; such thoughtful, wise, funny, loving, beautiful, kind people. But also each beloved person who has served on vestry. Each delightful person who has read, served communion, made coffee, preached, prayed, sung, played an instrument or simply worshipped. Each and every one of us bringing our fish to the fire and being given space to grill it. Making a snackluck* of outstanding quality. Such joy.
And now, Simon and I have to step into a new chapter. On Sunday, May 8 I will relinquish my role as 'rector' - but joyfully step into my new one of 'member'. We are unlikely to be present much on Sundays in the next few months, but I cannot tell you how much it means that I have been allowed, nay - WELCOMED, as a member**. Simon and I will head into the unknown confident that we have behind us, loving us, supporting us friends and a community who will pray for us as we find our feet again in a new setting.
Thank you for reading these letters. Thank you for loving us both so well.
And now - with huge joy, I hand over to Amy as your new Rector. She has been such a vital 'essence' of Incarnation from the start. She has been my friend, my guide, my counsel - and I am so grateful that Jesus has invited her to this new role. Please love her well, care for her, make sure she rests and refreshes. Make sure you tell her when her words have encouraged you. Listen carefully to her guidance and advice. God has appointed her to this position, and he has done so with Incarnation's best interests at heart! In the years ahead, Amy and Incarnation will grow in unexpected ways as you all together seek out God's will for South Arlington and beyond. Simon and I will be praying for you all and hope to be back to visit! After all, we are both members. :)
With gratitude to Jesus who makes space on his grill for all our fish.
Your pastor and friend,
* snackluck = the best of Incarnation feasting. A snackluck is no mere potluck - it is joy on a plate.
**note: it's worth noting that Amy Rowe and David Griffin are also already both members of Incarnation - they just became members before they became clergy... it is a small symbol of differentiation with minimal practical impact (though clergy don't vote for vestry etc - those are laity elections).