Love Everyone, always
June 18, 2021 (Year One, Month 3, Week 1, Day 1)
My Dear Siblings in Christ:
Lots to share today. But let me begin with this…
Today is a bit bittersweet for me. Had my mother been alive today, she would have turned 90 years old. She died at age 55 and never met her daughter in law, or any of her grandchildren or now even, her great grandchildren. Thinking about that makes me somewhat sad. And I suppose that’s normal. But I am also aware of something she used to say when things would get her down which given all of her ailments, was surprisingly infrequently: And yet, life goes on. The energy and wonder of my grandchildren reminds of that truth every time I see them. Life is experience and exploration, challenge and effort, setback and victory. And such is the case corporately as well.
For the past 15 months in this congregation, life has been weird. Although one would think that doing something for 15 months would create a sense of comfort if not habit, I have to tell you, I will never get used to preaching to an empty room. Nor will I ever have comfort in delivering a devotion into my phone. Somehow, knowing members have been out there listening was a bit of a comfort, but still it’s just not the same… And yet, life goes on.
We have persevered, and have found ways to do church and be church together, despite being apart. We have collected thousands of pounds of foodstuffs and shared tens of thousands of dollars with those less fortunate than ourselves. We have worshipped regularly and faithfully. Most of us have worn our masks and received vaccinations so that we as a community might move past all the precautions. And today, brothers and sisters, that time has come! Several changes are being made reflecting the shifting state regulations! All of this is in our Council President, Dr. Brent Brown’s letter, printed for you below.
There will still be some necessary precautions, but largely, we are free! I hope you’ll join us for worship when you feel comfortable doing so. We all miss you!
During this past year or so, one of the most frustrating elements for me has been having to put the brakes on our mission activities. Mission work may not, on the surface of things, seem central to the life of the church, but it is my conviction that in the absence of a well defined and exuberant mission emphasis, the church will die. Indeed, the experience of protestantism around the world bears that out. Here at Incarnation, we’ve been holding off on some exciting things, waiting for the pandemic to come to an end. But now, we can begin to get excited again. Things are happening!
1) Soon we shall be able to attend to the street children in Cameroon to whom we’ve been ministering alongside Fr. Alfonso, Sr. Mariu, Sr. Elisabeth, Sr. Adaline and Sophie at the Foyer de l’Esperance. With border closures, and the prevalence of disease, we’ve been unable to go, but soon. Please keep the girls in your prayers. We’ve done our best to assist Sophie (our seminary student over there) and the Sisters continue to support them, but the children have suffered terribly throughout the pandemic. And there are always people around just waiting to exploit vulnerable children. We are going to help stop that!
2) Mexico house builds that took place in Chula Vista were a creative way to keep that ministry going, but soon we’ll be building a home yet again for a family in need, traveling into Mexico and working side by side with the family. I shall never forget the holy privilege of baptizing a child on the doorstep of his new home.
3) The Anchor church project conversations are well underway. This project gives us all an opportunity to share in the blessings with which we’ve been blessed, with a congregation close by that is suffering and at risk of closure. In other words, we are living the parable of the Good Samaritan, and choosing to help, even when others might walk by. This project will give us life, it will offer life to the congregation of Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church in Lake Elsinore, and more importantly is providing a much needed new paradigm for the Pacifica Synod and ELCA, as we all seek to be the people God would have us be.
4) Some of the events of these past months have initiated very important conversations around the world, in our country and church, and in our own congregation. These conversations essentially revolve around issues of justice and love. Our family is mixed race, so I can attest to the challenges that can bring. People are singled out just because of the color of their skin. We need to talk about that. I have had the privilege of serving individuals in same sex relationships and I can tell you that they often suffer terrible discrimination and prejudice. We need to talk about that. It is my prayer that we as a community will become a beacon going forward, shouting out to the world, in word and deed, that we are a community dedicated to loving one another better. Not condemning or criticizing or politicizing. Just a call to love, beginning with a groundswell of love to all God’s people. All of God’s people. The lot of us.
Yup, this past 15 months have been difficult! It has been hard for us all. And yet, life goes on. And in the “going on,” there is hope!
God bless you all sisters and brothers! I hope to see you in church soon, and I look forward to serving together with you again!
From our Church Council President, Dr. Brent Brown COVID19 Precautions last updated 6/18/21
· Please, if able, get vaccinated. · We will continue to have one weekly worship service, Sunday mornings at 8:30. · Worship returns to FULL CAPACITY, with no weekly online sign-up. · Sunday’s worship service will occur on campus and will be simultaneously live-streamed online on YouTube and our website. The replay/recording will be available online immediately following worship to view at your leisure. · Livestreamed services will continue with the same degree of excellence for the foreseeable future. · Masks are no longer required for vaccinated persons age 12 and above. · Social distancing is no longer required. · Small groups will be allowed on campus with the approval of council and ministry staff.
The Experience We are gradually returning to normal. · If you have experienced any COVID19 symptoms in the last 10 days or have had recent contact with an ill person with COVID19, especially if unvaccinated, please stay home. · Hand sanitization will be available at every entry point. · Deep cleaning will be done every Sunday. · Vaccinated worship leaders and congregants can sing and speak without wearing masks. · Pre-wrapped communion elements will be placed on a table in the narthex. · Children under 12 are permitted at the service if they wear a face covering at discretion of adult supervision. Children under 2 are exempt from above rules, and can attend at discretion of parents. · Giving will continue online through our website or through the mail. There will be a box near the entrance to the sanctuary to drop in offering. Offering plates will not be passed during the service.
James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
LINK is BACK
LINK (6th-12th grades) will meet on Sundays June 13 & 27 and July 18 & 25 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. We have service projects, games, fellowship, and fun planned for you all. Meet in the courtyard. Bring a jacket. Wear a mask. And be ready for a fun time!
ILC Youth Golf Tournament Our first fundraiser for the ELCA youth gathering is a golf tournament on August 8th. Get your neighbors, relatives, and friends to participate for a day of fun in the fairways. Let me know if you'd like to help that day.
This past week, our newest Stephen Minister trainees completed their training and will be commissioned in the Fall. They are: Jacque Whitaker, Ron Irick, Michele MacCollum, and Jennifer Barker. We thank God for their gifts, and we ask God to work through them to bring help, hope, and healing to those in need. If you are going through a particularly difficult period and would like to pursue the idea of meeting with a Stephen Minister on a regular basis, please call Deacon Mindy or one of the Pastors.
Hygiene Supplies Needed! Interfaith is low on hygiene supplies, shampoo, deodorant, bar soap. There is also a need for new or gently used blankets. Thank you for your consistent generosity!
Food Drop off for Interfaith Community Services Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, volunteers are in the parking lot to move groceries and take all the donations to ICS.