The Church of the Incarnation is an inclusive community of faith, following Jesus Christ as a parish of The Episcopal Church. We are a downtown urban church. We recognize that Christ has no body now on earth but ours, and we are committed to carrying out Christ’s charge to love one another through service, worship and prayer. Our abiding values are those expressed in our Baptismal Covenant with Jesus Christ, and those values guide us in our life of faith.
We believe that Christ calls us to strive for justice and peace among all people while respecting the dignity of every human being. While we are partners in God’s work throughout the world, we are called in particular to respond to the needs for both bodily and spiritual nourishment of the community where we live, work, and worship.
The Episcopal Church is a member of the global Anglican Communion which has a common root in the Church of England. Anglican churches follow a middle path between the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant denominations. The Episcopal Church includes diocese in the United States, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador and Taiwan.
Imagine you’re living in about the year 500, in Syria. You’re a new Christian who’s just received baptism and is coming to communion for the first time, and your bishop teaches you to hold out your hands, receive the bread, and pray this prayer:
“I carry you, living God incarnate in the bread. You have confined yourself in a fiery coal within my fleshly palms. You are holy, God incarnate in my hands in a fiery coal. Lord, make me worthy to taste the food of your body as a taste of your life.”(more…)
Exactly ten weeks from today, right here in this space, you and I will be gathered together to experience what might best be called a liturgical whiplash.
It happens every year. It’s the liturgy for Palm Sunday. We gather outside, bless palms, and march around singing exuberantly. We hail Jesus as he makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It’s great fun. We get into the church building, finish the hymn, and then all of a sudden it all comes to a screeching halt. We hear this prayer: “Almighty God, your most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified.” The adoration of the crowds shifts to the suffering of the cross. From that moment the whole tone of the liturgy shifts. The gospel for the day is the story of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion, and we’re catapulted into Holy Week. (more…)
Every Sunday beautiful flowers adorn our altar, arrangements created by our Altar Guild. If you would like the opportunity to contribute to our flower fund in thanksgiving for, in memory of, or in honor of a loved one, you may sign up for a specific Sunday, make a donation of $50 to the flower fund, and the name(s) of those you wish to honor will be printed in the bulletin for that Sunday. This is a lovely way to both support our flower ministry and remember or honor a loved one.
There are two ways to sign up for altar flowers:
Write your name on the flower chart in Farlander Hall and mail your check to the office or place in the collection plate. Make sure to write “flower donation” in the memo field. Send an email to the address below and say who your donation is for.
What do we do in church and why do we do it? Episcopal 101 is a quick, fun introduction to the Episcopal Church and our worship, held in the church after the 9:15 and 11:15 services each first Sunday of the month, beginning January 6. Meet at the front of the church, 10 minutes after the end of the service. Bring your questions!
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6 this year. At services on this day, we remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. We turn away from sin and toward practices of simplicity, prayer, and service that prepare us to meet the joy of Easter. The Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes will be held at 8:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. All are welcome.
Two things. It takes the wisdom of scripture and tradition. And it takes an open, seeking heart.
Consider the magi. We sometimes call them the three kings, which is a lovely tradition, although the scripture story neither calls them kings nor says precisely how many of them there were. It simply calls them magoi, a word that basically means something like the English word “mages”—people who studied the stars and ancient lore. Anyway, consider the magi. Their astrological observations lead them to believe something important is happening in Judea. And so they set off on pilgrimage. These magi are the quintessential seekers. They don’t have the scriptures, but they have a seeking heart. They know, they just know, there is someone out there. Their hearts are longing and burning for him. They don’t quite know where they’ll find him, but they have an inkling about the right direction to start. So they load up the best of all their treasures and start their quest. And their intuitions carry them far, all the way to Jerusalem, six short miles from Bethlehem. But then they need something more. They can’t quite make it all the way to Jesus on their own. They have to stop for directions. They need the wisdom of the scripture and tradition of Israel to get them all the way there. (more…)
Martin Luther said, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul, it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” Every Advent and Christmas I look forward to hearing again music that speaks to my soul. Sometimes it is the melody, sometimes it is the lyrics, and sometimes it is both music and lyrics that help me to see a new connection between humanity and the love of God. I am not a musician and I cannot read music. So, I am in awe of people who can take what looks like hieroglyphics to me and make the symbols into a loving prayer that reaches spiritual places beyond the spoken word. (more…)
Church is a place where we ask the big questions. Whether we’re brand new to church or we’ve been in a pew for decades, there are times when we’re called to explore faith and what it means. Starting Monday, February 25, Stephen Shaver and Linelle Lane will be leading a five-week series on Monday nights from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. This is a course for anyone 16 and up, whether beginners on the Christian path or longtime disciples. We’ll talk about our images and understandings of God, scripture, Jesus, prayer, and more. This course will serve as preparation if you’re thinking of being baptized this Easter, or if you’ve already been baptized and would like to recommit to your faith by going through one of the rites known as confirmation or reaffirmation. To learn more or sign up, please email Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cantiamo, an a cappella vocal ensemble directed by Carol Menke, is attracting a growing number of listeners for its Evensong services in local churches. Originating in Anglican ritual, Evensong combines chant, hymns, Renaissance polyphony, and modern choral works with Biblical readings and prayers. The intent is to provide listeners with a peaceful hour of music and meditation at day’s end.
Numina and The Church of the Incarnation offer Evensong quarterly throughout the year.
Music by Humphrey Clucas, Edward Bairstow, Healey Willan, Nicolas Custer, J. P. Sweelinck, and more.
This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.
That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn—
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.
When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed & pride the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.
That’s a poem by Madeleine L’Engle, author of the famous children’s book A Wrinkle in Time, a writer for children and adults and, incidentally, an Episcopalian. She wrote it in 1973, during a Christmas marked by the appearance of a major comet—but aside from that, almost everything in the poem sounds like it could have been written today. (more…)
“O higher than the cherubim, more glorious than the cherubim, lead their praises, Alleluia! Thou bearer of the eternal Word, most gracious, magnify the Lord, Alleluia!”
That’s from a hymn called “Ye watchers and ye holy ones.” We sing it a lot when the scriptures of the day talk about angels and saints. The verses imagine all the ranks of heaven joined to praise God. But one verse is dedicated just to one person, the one called “higher than the cherubim” and “more glorious than the cherubim,” the one who was the “bearer of the eternal Word.” It’s Mary, mother of God. (more…)
One of the books my daughter and I sometimes read before bed is a 1930s children’s classic. It’s the story of construction worker Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel Mary Ann. Together they dig out all kinds of big projects from canals to skyscraper cellars. One page shows them carving a pass through a tall mountain range. They pull down the high ground and fill in the low ground and smooth out the earth to make a wide, level highway for cars to go through. (more…)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Who do you say I am?
During hard times, when people want to be helpful and they really do not know what to do, they will often come up with a saying in the hope that it might make things a little better for us. My mother used to say, “And this too, shall pass.” It was to remind me that all experiences, good and bad, have their time and place and will not last forever. I once heard someone say, “Stop telling God how big your problems are and start telling your problems how big your God is.” This, I find, is a good reminder for those times when one feels especially overwhelmed by life’s difficulties. Another saying I heard recently is to remember Grace over Drama. G-O-D. It helps us to remember to pause, center, and focus on God’s grace rather than give into the emotional turmoil of the moment. (more…)
As a teenager in the 1990s I spent a few years identifying with a particular kind of evangelical Christian subculture. My youth group friends and I wore bracelets with the initials WWJD on them, for “What Would Jesus Do?,” and shopped at Christian bookstores for CDs by popular Christian bands with names like Jars of Clay and the Newsboys. None of these references will probably make sense to you unless you happened to come up through the same subculture. But they functioned as markers of identity. (more…)
It’s almost too easy, really. Hearing this gospel story the week before the end of our annual pledge campaign. This is one of the classic so-called stewardship texts, isn’t it? This poor widow has put in more than everyone else, for she has put in everything; all she had to live on. Now I’m supposed to say: go and do likewise. Increase your pledge! Classic stewardship sermon, and I can go sit down—which is good, because sermons are supposed to be short during the pledge campaign so there’s time for the testimonials later. (more…)