Dear Friends,

Last week, after a few weeks away, the doors for the library and my office returned. The same doors, but now with broad, clear windows. Many of you asked about them during their absence, and I'm pleased to share the reason for this change with the whole parish.

Our new windows are for exactly what windows do best; transparency.

The spaces we walk through are not inert. Each of them tells a story and nudges us to live and move in a particular way. Our garden has a high wall and pillared gate, but once inside, the benches and nooks invite you to linger. Our tall red Gothic churchdoors create a spacious entryway, and then our narthex (entry room) makes you pause and wonder curiously what is around the corner.

Our architecture affects us a little the first day, and then over months and years and a lifetime it can shape us profoundly, becoming part of our identity that we take back out into the world.

  Two Gardens: St. Andrew's, and Tao Feng Shan Lutheran Retreat, Hong Kong

I hope that as longtimers and newcomers come to the offices or library, or walk by on their way to church, our new windows give a greater sense of openness and access. As people come for pastoral or ministry meetings, I hope they will have a sense of spaciousness, freedom, and the safety of visibility.

The one worry I've heard from a couple of folks is about the once-in-a-while desire for visibility privacy in pastoral conversations. To me the important point is differentiating between privacy and secrecy. Privacy is a voluntary choice to draw sharing-boundaries for the health of all. And I'm confident that even with windows in our doors we can be creative enough to achieve privacy when it is desired. Secrecy is a fearful response, hiding what we're anxious to not have discovered. In Christ, we have no need for fearful secrecy.

All we are, all we have done, all we carry, is known already to the heart of God. Some of that causes God to rejoice, some causes God sadness, and God loves us fully just the same. In acknowledging this, we're freed to also look honestly at our selves and step into redemption with God.

Can a couple of windows really help nudge us toward that way of being? I trust that they actually can. As we prepare again for the coming of Jesus into our lives, we've got one more way to let the light in. One more way to see each other and be together as we get to know Jesus. I'll take all of those chances I can get.

With You For The Advent,