Epiphany greetings to each of you and those you love. My wife Jami and I look forward to meeting you in person soon and want you to know that you have been in our thoughts and prayers now for some time. As the last few weeks have seen the calendar year winding down and the Church year beginning, there is usually that flurry of activity leading up to Christmas that our secular culture brings upon us that stands in tension with our Advent virtues of patiently and expectantly waiting upon the Lord. And now the greatest Gift has been celebrated once more in our churches and in our hearts. Still…the twelve days of Christmas pass so quickly, and we are now nigh upon Epiphany. Even in these short days of the Christmas season we move from the babe in the manger of Luke’s Gospel to the Word became Flesh of John’s, from Saints Stephen and John to Holy Innocents and Holy Name. The church’s celebrations from Advent to Christmas and now Epiphany are many and compressed into such a short time! I hope you have found time for yourselves and your families to celebrate and be with one another. I also hope that you will continue to hold that still quiet moment, that pregnant pause at the conclusion of Silent Night, in your hearts and in your being as you ponder the continuing gift of Jesus.

So too, I recognize that the people of Saint Andrew’s have been in the midst of these seasonal celebrations in your own way. Just on the eve of the new Church year, you celebrated your shared ministry with Martin+ and Eve as you said ‘goodbye’ and wished them well. The mutual gift-giving of shared ministry with them will no doubt bear fruit for many years to come.

Without missing a beat, your church leadership have leaned into their increased responsibilities these last couple of months in many ways. Not only have they overseen the day-to-day operations of the church, but they also made provision for supply clergy for this brief prelude to transition and worked quickly to extend the call to me to be your interim priest. Please continue to keep your leadership in prayer and offer what support you can to them during this time of transition. I also want to extend my thanksgivings to you for the wonderful gift you have already given me this Christmas season that has allowed for me to conclude my ministry well and say ‘goodbye’ to the people of St. David Emmanuel, Shoreline. I ask that you continue to keep them in prayer as their transition continues. (And a special mention also, for Canon Ed, Rev. Dr. Judith, Rev. Jeff, Rev. Terry, and the newly Rev. Pam for your willingness to serve the people of St. Andrew’s during this time.) And… You are also preparing to welcome me as your interim priest as you begin the profile work and eventual search for your next rector. A busy time for you indeed!

My hope and prayer for each of us as we ponder and pray about the gifts we have re- ceived and for the gifts we are bringing to Jesus this Epiphany season is this: that we can carry forward the expectancy, patience, hopefulness, love, joy, and gratitude of these Advent and Christmas seasons with gentleness towards ourselves and one another so that God’s peace and purpose may guide the people of Saint Andrew’s home to ‘our country’ by another road. While the road may seem unfamiliar to us, we can trust in St. Paul’s words that we ‘walk by faith and not by sight’. I look forward to journeying this road alongside you.

Epiphany Blessings, Tom+

A message to St. Andrew’s – from the Rev. Tom Ortung