A Message from Pastor Stephen
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven … a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
“The one who sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully. . . . God who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10)
This fall, as a parish, we’re immersing ourselves in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. The words are familiar: “A time to be born, a time to die,” and so on. But just as I was rereading this passage today, I noticed something I hadn’t before.
Pete Seeger’s famous folk setting has the line, “A time to plant, a time to reap.” That’s what we might expect: planting, followed by the harvest. But the actual text doesn’t speak of reaping. It uses a word that means “uproot” or “pluck up.” In other words, we’re not talking about the cozy cycle of sowing and reaping. We’re talking about unexpected disaster, like when an enemy uproots your carefully planted crop.
Much of the last two years has felt like that. Much about our lives has been uprooted. Some of that disruption has been tragic. Some of it has perhaps been long overdue. We certainly aren’t locked in a cozy cycle of the expected.
Our church life has had its share of uprooting. While many of our programs and activities have continued through the pandemic, almost all of them have changed in some way. Looking back at the weekly News and Notes from 2019 feels like a trip to another reality.
- Yet in this time of disruption we are also experiencing new seeds being planted for the future. Over the past year Incarnation has seen:
- New digital ministries, from an upgraded website to the birth of the Zoom Squad and new capabilities for livestreaming our services.
- New members joining us, some without even ever having worshiped here in person.
- A tremendous outpouring of generosity in last year’s pledge campaign, saving us from having to reduce staff hours in a time of great economic uncertainty.
- More generosity as we came together during Eastertide for a special campaign to become a green-energy congregation by reroofing Farlander Hall and adding solar.
- New beginnings in children’s ministries, with the call of Karin Dutra as Children’s Ministry Leader and the upcoming launch of our Children’s Chapel program.
There is still more happening. Local artist Ralph Carlson is hard at work on our new baptismal font, created from a valley oak tree burned in the Tubbs Fire, and scheduled to be consecrated (along with our solar panels) at Bishop Megan’s visit on November 14. Our Property Development Task Force is preparing for congregational conversations about how our beautiful campus can best serve our mission in the years and decades to come. Our Spiritual Formation Committee is planning a series of monthly all-ages congregational gatherings to sustain us in fellowship and learning through the 2021-22 program year. And of course, meanwhile our Open Table ministry continues to feed hungry folks every Sunday morning, our choirs lead us in song (virtually or otherwise), our altar guild and liturgical ministers make indoor and outdoor worship happen, and our members act as the hands and heart of Jesus in countless acts of service every single day.
In short, even during a time of disruption—or maybe because we’re in a time of disruption— there is so much to be excited about for Incarnation’s future. Our call to share the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ right here in the heart of Sonoma County has not changed. We are planting seeds.
Will you join me in making a pledge to commit a percentage of your income to Incarnation’s mission for 2022?
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that God takes the seeds we sow in faith and multiplies them. I believe the seeds we plant this year will bring forth a rich harvest for God’s kingdom in the days and years to come. Meanwhile, we celebrate God’s presence with us in Jesus Christ every single day, in good times and hard times, in season and out of season.
In Christ’s love,