L'Arche is an inclusive community of people with and without intellectual disabilities, with two homes right in our South Arlington neighborhood. Incarnation is fortunate to have a vital connection to this community through Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm, who has been part of the L'Arche family for many years. L'Arche members have attended Incarnation services and events, and Incarnation members have attended L'Arche events. Since the pandemic, many of you have also provided face masks, birthday cards, and even a birthday cake to L'Arche homes whose members are high-risk.
Incarnation is proud to support the work of L'Arche with our prayers and finances (in fact, we'll pray for L'Arche on Sunday!). And this Sunday offers an opportunity to get to know this special community better at its Virtual Open House from 2-3pm. I'll (Amy) be there and would love to see others!
There are many reasons I love the ministry of L'Arche, but two particularly challenge and encourage me in my own faith. The first is L'Arche's emphasis on inclusion, challenging me to pray about how our own community could be more inclusive of people with disabilities. How might we make our church more accessible, more inclusive, more welcoming? What new opportunities does online worship offer? I'd love your thoughts and prayers as we strive to make Incarnation a house of prayer for all people.
Another aspect of L'Arche I appreciate is its emphasis on celebration. If you spend any time at all in contact with L'Arche, you will quickly see how the community takes time to share each other's joys in simple celebrations. How might we build simple rhythms of celebration into our own busy lives? How might we make space in which to share in others' joy?
Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite Christian writers, and his experience living in a L'Arche community deeply shaped his theology. He wrote this:
"Learn the discipline of being surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old, there is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road. But don't be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain."