July 17, 2014
From the Rector
Bittersweet Goodbyes, Unexpected Opportunities
In last week’s Pathfinder I announced an exciting development for All Souls Parish, that the Rev. Liz Tichenor has accepted a call to be our next Associate Rector. This news was greeted with much excitement at our services on Sunday, July 6th. Since Kristin’s announcement in March, we have been preparing for this transition and it is a great relief and joy to know who will be joining us next to reveal the Kingdom of God.
But wait, there’s more. Because, as you know, on Sunday, June 29th, our Associate for Youth and Parish Life, Sara Gunter, announced to the parish that she has been called to the Bishop’s Staff in the Diocese of West Virginia as the Director of Youth Ministries for the diocese. This is very exciting news for Sara, as she has been hoping to serve in a diocesan position like this since she was in high school. It is bittersweet for us, though, for even as we know that Sara’s gifts and passion will be well suited for this opportunity, we will miss her greatly at All Souls. Sara will be with us for another month, preparing with youth and parish life leaders for the coming program year, leading our high school immersion trip to Standing Rock, South Dakota. We will wish her Godspeed on Sunday, August 17th.
There is no doubt that the departures of Kristin and Sara, separated by a few weeks, present some challenges for us as a parish. We are saying goodbye to two talented, grace-filled ministers of the Gospel. They have led us in new directions and have been the steady anchor for several areas of our common life at All Souls.
And, in an unexpected way, their close departures have also allowed us a rare opportunity to look at the overall present and envisioned staffing needs of this congregation, and to recruit staff for both of these positions accordingly. To that end, on Wednesday, July 2nd a group of leaders that represented diverse areas of the congregation gathered in the Common Room to see what a re-imagined staff might look like.
We had in hand (thanks to Kristin and Sara) the tasks that made up their current positions and the estimated hours that it took for them to accomplish those tasks in a week. We color-coded those tasks according to ministry area, cut them up into pieces, and broke into two teams. Each team was asked to re-assemble the pieces into two coherent positions, making sure that no position was more than full time. In what I attribute to the movement of the Spirit, the two groups came back with identical reconstructions. Our path forward was clear.
So it is that, after calling Liz to be our Associate Rector, we are now calling an Associate for Children and Youth. As Associate Rector, Liz will have responsibility for Pastoral Care, Communications, Newcomers and other aspects of Parish Life. She will also have oversight for Children, Youth and their families and will be working closely with and guiding our new Associate for Children and Youth. The Associate for Children and Youth will work hand in hand with our teams for Children and Families as well as Youth and Families, organizing our Sunday Schools, Children’s Chapel, Youth Group and events, Confirmation, Immersion trips and the proverbial much, much more.
This call has already gone out far and wide and, as crazy as it may sound, we are hoping that we will be able to invite someone to join us in our common life by mid-September. The Search Team that has served us so well in the calling of Liz has agreed to stay together, now joined by several of our youth in this work. What I ask again of this parish, is the concerted, regular work of prayer.
Please pray for Kristin, Bryan, Zach and Jasper as they ready for their next step, and for Sara and she prepares for hers. Pray for Liz, Jesse, and Alice as they take leave from their colleagues and friends at Camp Galilee and make their way back to Berkeley. Pray for the person yet to join us as we follow God’s vision. And pray for All Souls Parish that we may listen carefully, discern prayerfully, and act courageously.
From the Associate for Liturgy and Music
The traditional response to “The Lord be with you.” is “And with thy spirit.” This is the language of Rite I, retained from every single Book of Common Prayer dating back to the mid 1500s, and translated from the Latin “Et cum spiritu tuo.” When liturgical revisions began in the 1960s and 70s, the first response to the desire for contemporary language seemed simple: “And with your spirit.”
But the intent of that liturgical greeting moved the new language to “And also with you.” In time, that simple exchange has changed the liturgical relation of the clergy and the people by using a more “horizontal” wording, in which the priest is not held at arm’s length by the people, reminding us that we all stand on the same level before God. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church has reverted as of Advent 2011 to the direct translation from Latin, allowing for virtually none of the flexibility that is a hallmark of the practice in the Anglican tradition.
We all know from experience how difficult mandated change can be. Even after a couple of years with the new – and more faithful to the original – Nicene Creed, many of us still stumble over the changes. That doesn’t make them wrong, or bad, but there is a long learning curve sometimes. Even small things can distract from the real intent of a phrase: we are currently using a revised version of Form III of the Prayers of the People from the Prayer Book, which begins “Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.” Well, our common understanding is that capital-C “Catholic” is used to refer to the Roman Catholic Church, while small-c “catholic” is the universal church, not just that in the Roman church. It was called to our attention as an inconsistency after we had used it for a couple of weeks, and we changed from “Catholic” to “catholic” to accurately reflect our understanding of the phrase.
There are other changes in our liturgy that happen all but invisibly. Last Sunday, we sang “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” as our entrance hymn. Each line of the original ends “Soldiers of the cross.” By changing the final line to “Children of the Lord,” we addressed two issues: the militarism of the original, and also the mixture of a story from the Hebrew scriptures with a piece of Christian triumphalism. By simply printing the changed version of the words, nary an eyebrow was raised. Similarly, our clergy sometimes exercise a bit of personal prerogative when Jesus’ words at the Last Supper say “…given for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins…”. That many is rendered as “all” in the supplemental prayers we often use, published as Enriching Our Worship, which we can take as an invitation to change that word in the Eucharistic Prayer.
There’s one of these where we allow the old and new to overlap, and in referring to the Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy Lord”), I reach the real point. The second half, the Benedictus, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.” It’s important to realize that the “he” referred to there is, quite specifically, referring to Jesus, quoting the language of the crowds on Palm Sunday. True, that phrase is from Psalm 118:26, clearly a pre-Christian reference to the righteous person who approaches through the Temple gates. Our liturgical use, though, refers to both Palm Sunday, as well as Jesus’ referring to himself and his return in Matthew 23:39. At the same time, a common revision is to change “blessed is he” to “blest is the One” in that context. In most of our settings, we actually print both versions, giving permission to the members of the assembly to engage in whichever way is most comfortable and meaningful for them.
Language is, we all know, an evolving medium. The language of 1979 was not that of 2014. Sometimes we address our concerns by the introduction of new, expansive-language texts; other times we make changes within the existing texts. See where you notice some of those changes. Do they help or hinder your worship? Even rhythm can matter: the new, official form of address is “God be with you.”, and while that is a direct shift from “The Lord be with you,” the rhythm is changed. That first, small “The” makes a difference to the sound of the phrase, if not its meaning; consequently, we have preferred “May God be with you,”, adding that invitational “May” to soften the introduction. That’s a shift from even 1998.
Traditional, contemporary; prosaic, poetic; however we go about it, the words we use shape our worship in ways large and small. And in shaping our worship, as we are fond of saying, “worship shapes believing,” meaning that the way we express ourselves on Sunday mornings actually shapes the people we are through the entire week. Let’s be conscious of what we say and how we say it, and see what you notice, both at Sunday worship and as that worship echoes in the rest of our lives.
From our Seminarian
Finding my Foundations in the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (The Anglican Church in Hong Kong)
I was born into a family of huggers. Good wholesome hugs. No one getting smothered, but also none of that hugging-at-handshake-distance business. For that we use a handshake. My close friends expect hugs from me, and I’ve been known to give one or two during the Peace in church. The wonderful people of Hong Kong do not hug. I’ve been told that they do in fact hug their spouses, in private, but of course I cannot vouch for this. By my third week in Hong Kong I felt a distinct sense of loss regarding this situation. Did I want to share a hug? Yes. But more than that, I found that I wanted to share the very idea, the custom, of hugging; to encourage the people around me to enjoy each other’s warm embraces.
There’s a joke we share in my New Hampshire family. On a winter’s day a chilly mother says to her frolicking son, “I’m cold. Put a coat on.” …Does the boy want a coat? Does he need a coat? Did anyone in Hong Kong want or need my hugs just because I was missing them?
I wrote earlier about the unity I felt during my first week in Hong Kong when I joined my new Chinese brothers and sisters in the Eucharist. But unity inherently requires diversity or there would be nothing meaningful to unite. It was inevitable, as it is for all of us, that I had to turn from the hope of the Eucharistic body and blood to the confusion of human bodies all around me. Seemingly small things like the lack of hugs, guests eating first at meals instead of hosts, chopsticks as the normal utensil, and the two-handed ritual of giving and receiving business cards all pointed to the larger reality that the people of Hong Kong were formed by a history and cultural story I knew almost nothing about. I had a lot to learn, and was learning subtly in every interaction I had, whether formal or informal.
The physical and emotional energy this required was enormous. Despite the abundant and constantly gracious hospitality I received, I was often exhausted at the end of the day. Beginning during my second weekend in Hong Kong I gave in to the temptation for escapism from this learning effort. Over the course of five days I watched not one, not two, but ten online movies, alone in my air conditioned room. These movies were a clear sign that I was neglecting the meaningfulness of my daily experiences because my spirit was overwhelmed. I am grateful that in the midst of this, my Eucharistic community kept tending to my body and blood.
I was invited to preach during the week of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and in my reflection and prayer for that sermon I imagined the disciples being still caught with wonder over Jesus’ ascension when suddenly the Holy Spirit washed over them and they began speaking in tongues. What foundation would they have needed in order that all these wild new experiences could lead to their growth, instead of simply breaking them and sending them running into escapism? Despite their seeming confusion when Jesus was teaching them all throughout the gospels, they clearly demonstrate at the moment of Pentecost a foundation of faithfulness that allows them to glorify God by embracing wild newness. This reflection recalled me, while living nearly as far from the place of my birth as it is possible to travel, to tend my own foundations.
I thought of my friends, particularly my new Hong Kong friends who would kindly teach me the same Cantonese word 10 or 20 times in day. I thought of my family’s encouragement even in the midst of their missing me. I thought of the many movements of prayer that give me strength and hope; at meals, in the Eucharist, and especially when waking to meet each day and when lying down to close each day in sleep. And I rededicated myself, as I have had to do many times, to living from these good foundations. By God’s grace, they were all as real and firm in Hong Kong as in the safety of my own home.
From this foundation I could turn outward again to my new experiences. Whereas my personal excitement and energy had sustained me for only the first week and a half in Hong Kong, my foundation in prayer, family, and friends kept me growing for the next three and a half weeks, and right onto my plane flight home. I became quite comfortable with chopsticks, sometimes not even noticing the forks which were sometimes provided. I gained appreciation for the slow and thoughtful exchange of cards and of gifts (though I can’t say I mastered this). I watched a few more movies online, but for relaxation and rejuvenation rather than escape. And then there were the hugs.
As I leaned into my relationships instead of away from them, I made the kind of friends with whom I could share both the ups and downs my story, my visit to Hong Kong. I shared about the hug of peace and they shared with me about the culture of touch in China. As you might imagine, the people of Hong Kong are not pining for hugs any more than they are pining for forks. But after our mutual sharing, a few of my friends were bold enough and loving enough that without my even asking I found my Peace handshakes transformed suddenly to hugs. What a smile those brought to my face, and what a laugh of joy sprang from my lips!
Many of the things I hold dear, and miss when they are gone, and concern myself about “on behalf of others” are in the end only regional or cultural customs. These customs shape my self and my communities, they pass on values and even create a language for expressing love, and it is right to cherish them as a part of my identity. But when I have been challenged, in Hong Kong and at other times, my customs are simply not strong enough to be the foundation of my identity. My best foundation, upon which customs can be tenderly learned, shared, and even let go, is in the love of God and love of neighbor that I know and keep remembering through Christ. The Eucharist surprised me on my first day in Hong Kong, and the Eucharistic community sustained me in the journey. By the sustenance of this foundation I know that the friendships I developed there will continue as a source of joy in the body of Christ, and I’m looking forward to all the cross-cultural “Hugs of Peace” that are to come.
Giving Tree Gift Appeal Update
Thank You Donors!
The Stewardship Committee is very happy to announce that we’ve successfully met our Giving Tree Campaign goal of raising $30,000, allowing us to make full use of a wonderfully generous anonymous donor’s gift of $15,000 as a “2 for 1” matching gift. Together, these gifts bring in a bit more than $45,000 to help bridge the gap in this year’s budget.
We are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who gave. We wouldn’t be able to do all the fantastic things All Souls does without your support. With deepest gratitude,
–Fr Phil Brochard, Mark Anderson, Nancy Austin, Sherry Markwart, Katie McGonigal, Malcolm Plant,David Rolf