FIRST A CHRISTMAS WELCOME AND THANKS
A hearty Merry Christmas to you, the people of Incarnation Church! Merry Christmas and welcome to visitors, those making homecomings and especially those who are new to Incarnation Church! Thanks to Incarnation staff, school, and parish for their outstanding and joyful service to Jesus and us! The last day of school
on Dec. 17 found a wonderful preview of the Christmas joy we will celebrate until January 9, as staff and students alike looked “Christmassy.” There were
several Santa’s, elves, reindeer and countless other reminders of this joyful and magical season. Parish staff has been geared up for weeks as their melodious Christmas spirit proved to be a blessing for the Leisure Club, who welcomed staff for a Christmas program. Under the direction of Kevin, our director of Music and Liturgy, the staff put on a creative and well done musical program, complete with a rare appearance of Frosty the Snowman! Thanks again to staff of school and parish for your joyful dedication to Jesus in the people of Incarnation Church and visitors!

Stewardship of Treasure
Thanks to the people of God at Incarnation! Christmas Kindness was a success again this year! Christmas Kindness leaders and participants inspire us to keep service to the poor a primary focus, as Jesus did from the time of his lowly birth throughout the course of his entire ministry. Thanks to those who are able to contribute generously to Incarnation Church throughout the year and especially during Christmas. This will further our mission to Incarnate Christ in our community and serve Jesus in wonderful ways!

Christmas Season Homilies
Speaking of welcome to all, “Welcome” is my homily theme this Christmas Season. Recall that for the three weeks of the Christmas Season, I like to focus on one
theme and preach the different feasts in light of it. Of course, becoming a more welcoming parish is one of the significant strategies to accomplish the goals of our parish strategic plan. Those who know me know that I try to make welcoming a primary value. It is a joy to welcome people before every Mass, regardless of whether I am presiding. Also, I continue to try to learn people’s names. I say, with seriousness, that it may take me twelve times asking your name. However, I’ll get it eventually. I also say, “If you cause trouble, I’m more likely to get your name faster!” Therefore, if you are in the good habit of praying with the Sunday readings before or after Sunday Mass, this Christmas season, look at those scriptures in light of “welcome” and see what good ideas the Spirit generates, and even more importantly, how the Spirit inspires us to be people of welcome better! Jesus is the welcome of the Father!

The Strategic Plan’s Second Christmas

I made mention of the Incarnation Strategic Plan above. Last year marked the “First Christmas” for Incarnation’s newly born strategic plan. What has
happened in a year? Let me just say “lots!” In addition to improving our culture of welcome, we are taking a hard look at how to improve parishioner
engagement, including PREP and school families. For example, our September stewardship card program took off this year under the direction of
engagement coordinator, Debbie Field. More than ever before, we have additional parishioners encountering Jesus and being Jesus for us as evidenced in new minister counts that are as high as ever. There is a plan to make sure all PREP and School families have an opportunity to consider stewardship through those cards and to know that we want and need them to become more engaged in parish life! Additional examples of the strategic plan in action relate to music and homilies at mass. The recent music survey and subsequent follow up in the bulletin tell of a successful music program with some outstanding feedback that will help us to be even better musically and liturgically .

Homilies are also being improved. Homilists have benefitted from the feedback parishioners offered through randomly distributed homily evaluations. Thanks
to parishioners who have completed one or more of the 216 evaluations received (eighteen evaluations for the twelve homilies evaluated) so far. A strategic planning subcommittee will be polishing the evaluation and feedback procedure.

Incarnating Jesus at Incarnation
More than any other Christmas in the twenty years I have been a pastor, I am excited and inspired by the efforts of the leaders and people of Incarnation Church! As the name of our church declares and as our reason for being and our core values call us to, may we Incarnate Jesus in our community. May we reach out with both hands in service, jump into engagement and lifelong faith formation with both feet, encountering Him and being His presence for others!! Doing so reminds us of what our God began that first Christmas: Through the Spirit, the Father reached out with both hands, sending his son to jump into the world with both feet, Incarnating Godself in the community of the world!
Sincerely and with Our Newborn Savior’s Joy and Love,

Fr. Pat

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