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Pastoral Letter: Jan 11, 2022

A winter spiral made by the Hamlins in Bangkok several years ago (using a marble rather than candles) - clergy moms think alike!

When my kids were very young, we sometimes made a "winter spiral": we'd mix up a stodgy salt dough (yes, I said stodgy - thank you Liz Gray and Paul Hollywood), work it into a lumpy coil, and then press indentations into it. After baking the dough, we'd fill the indentations with candles and light them through the long days of winter.

This spiral was a simple way for little (and big!) hands to trace the inward and outward movements of the winter season, movements that correspond roughly to Advent and Epiphany in our liturgical calendar. We spiral inward through Advent: days shorten, light fades, longing intensifies, cold weather moves us indoors and under wraps, and our attention focuses on the intimate story of Christ's birth. And then we spiral outward again through Christmas and Epiphany: days lengthen, light grows, the new year dawns, and we slowly shed our layers and leave our houses and re-engage the wider world, hearing the stories of Jesus' ministry stretching outward to the margins of society and the ends of the earth.

We are all spiraling inward and outward during this time of year, as individuals and as a church community. But these natural seasonal movements are both intensified and disrupted by the ongoing pandemic. We know how weary everyone is, and so we are constantly listening and thinking and praying about how to support one another as we navigate these spirals.

Moving Inward

The highly-contagious omicron variant and our overwhelmed medical system mean that many are spiraling inward for a season: masking more frequently, isolating, avoiding crowds. As a church, we recognize the variety of risk factors that everyone is weighing when making decisions about church participation. We are here to listen, pray, and support you as we navigate the pandemic together. A few ways we are trying to accommodate the "inward spiral":

  • We have pre-consecrated communion elements available for those who choose to worship from home for a season. Contact me or Liz to schedule pickup/dropoff.

  • One of our weekly small groups is moving entirely to Zoom (led by me, Trent, and Nicole Gagnon - Weds at 7:30pm). ALL groups are taking precautions and keeping open lines of communication amongst members. Learn more and signup.

  • Week by week, we're tweaking the Sunday Zoom experience and brainstorming creative ways to stay connected with those worshiping from home. Send us your ideas!

  • Midday prayer continues on Zoom every Tuesday & Thursday. Join from the Virtual Worship page.

  • Liz and I are always available for a walk, phone call, or Zoom to check in, chat, and pray with you.

Moving Outward

Despite the omicron surge, there is still LOTS of outward movement happening at Incarnation!

  • The Christmas offering brought in nearly $3700 for Lutheran Social Services Afghan Allies. Thank you for your generous gifts!

  • We're joining Arlington County for the MLK Day of Service at Barcroft Park on Jan 17 from 9-10:15am. Wear clothes that can get dirty and shoes that can get wet as we clean up the stream and park together. Meet at the upper fields at Barcroft (4200 S Four Mile Run Dr) Monday morning - hope to see you there!

  • Randolph was delighted by last month's coat drive (which somehow managed to raise 5 extra coats, all of which went to good homes. Loaves and fishes!). As we settle in at Randolph, we are enjoying getting to know their custodians (Denisse and Guillermo) and social worker (Megan) who are so vital to students' well-being during this pandemic. We are excited about what we will learn and how we might partner with this community in the future.

  • Our beloved Hamlins (Katie, Darin, Brendan, Asher, and Elisa) have accepted a post in Rwanda after a very long discernment process. We are excited to send them out and support them in their call. They write: "We've accepted a call to serve with the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Darin will be using his background in program quality and institutional strengthening to support the social development work of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Katie is looking forward to perhaps being attached to a congregation in Kigali and/or teaching at the East African Christian College or perhaps doing something completely different. We're aiming for a January 2023 departure but have several months of preparation and fundraising ahead." You can support the Hamlins directly through SAMS - and I encourage you to chat with them after church sometime soon to learn more.

  • Megan and I had an amazing time visiting partners in West Asia. If you missed last month's event sharing stories from our trip, but want to hear more, let me know - we'd love to talk your ear off about it.

I'm so grateful for this generous community that seeks to love its neighbors. Stay tuned for more ways to love and serve in the weeks ahead.

Want to chat about outreach, pandemic concerns, West Asian stories, salt dough spirals...anything? Send me an email or text!

With love,



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