April 19, 2012

From the Senior Warden

Loaves and Fishes (or Tofu and Bok Choy)

Every meeting of the vestry begins with time for reflection on scripture. In March, Kelsey Mayo, our vestry Chaplain, had us read and reflect on the story of the “loaves and fishes” found in Mark’s Gospel.  I was most familiar with understanding this as a story of the miracle of creating plenty out of little, abundance out of scarcity. This interpretation renders the story a magical miracle, like turning water into wine.

One of the members of the vestry offered a different understanding of how Jesus was able to “feed these people with bread here in the desert.” In this understanding, Jesus’ act of calling forth all that the disciples have (seven loaves and few fishes) and offering them as food for all motivates everyone in the crowd to look inside their own knapsack and pockets for something to add to the communal meal. Action motivates action. Soon there was more than enough for all – everything the crowd of 4,000 needed was available to them. The miracle here is a practical one of Jesus modeling and motivating the simple act of sharing, sharing something small and watching it become part of something big. I think of this as the “Stone Soup” understanding of this passage.

About 3 nights after the March vestry meeting, I had a dream that I was responsible for putting together a meal, for 19 people. The people waiting for me to produce dinner were from All Souls – a mix of vestry members, long-time parishioners, and people I recognized from the pews on Sunday morning but did not know by name. All that I could find in the house was one pound of tofu and one head of bok choy. I began to get very nervous – how could I feed these hungry people a meal when my refrigerator was empty? After fretting over what I did not have, I realized that my only option was to start cooking with what I already had. After all, people were hungry and we did have some food to eat. As soon as I started cooking, food began to appear – each person found something in his jacket pocket or pulled something out of her purse. The meager meal became a feast.

I shared this dream with a friend, who said “Caroline, that has already been done.” Indeed. But for me the dream vividly enacted a new understanding of what is possible when you take action – even a small action – with an assumption of abundance. The Rev. Jim Richardson told us as he left at the end of the interim. “You have everything that you need, it is already here.” I have thought about this wisdom frequently over the last five years, and I believe it is critical that we as a Parish not only believe this, but act on it. I hope that we will each and all experience God’s abundance not as a magical miracle, but as a motivation to act – to just start cooking. Everything that we need is available to us, we need to liberate it to serve its purpose and our purpose in God’s Kingdom.

—Caroline McCall

From the Associate Rector

Come Walk With Us ~ CROP Walk Berkeley on April 29th

Welcome to Easter!  It’s the season of resurrection, longer days and new life – and what better way for your family to celebrate than to help make this world a better place for those who are most in need? 

Many of us did this through Lent when we saved up money in our net bags for the work of Episcopal Relief & Development (you can still bring those in, we’ll be totaling the money received after this Sunday!). Later this month there’s another great opportunity for the parish, and families with children and youth in particular, to continue this work and enjoy some fresh air, exercise and fellowship at the same time! So…

Will you walk with us? On April 29th All Souls will be participating in the CROP Walk in Berkeley. Registration starts at 1:00 at St. Mary Magdalene Church of the Cross and the walk begins at 1:30. We’ll do a 5K loop from SMMCC and back so we should be done by 3:30 at the latest. CROP Hunger Walks raise money for clean water, food, shelter and jobs around the world.

There are two ways for you to get involved. You can join us in walking and/or fundraising! If you would like to walk please visit the help desk during coffee hour this week to sign up, get a donation envelope and decorate footsteps to be put on the bulletin board in the Narthex. If you cannot walk with us please think and pray about donating to an individual walker by filling out their donation envelope, or by giving to the All Souls walking team by putting a check in the offertory plate with “CROP Walk” in the memo line either this Sunday 4/22 or next Sunday 4/29.

So sign up, write a check, put on your walking shoes, grab the stroller or the Ergo Baby and let’s have some fun and help the least of those among us! 

Yours in God’s peace,

Thought for the Month
Did you know that April 21st is the Feast Day of John Muir and Hudson Stuck? In their honor I offer the collect for their day –

Blessed Creator of the earth and all that inhabits it: We thank you for your prophets John Muir and Hudson Stuck, who rejoiced in your beauty made known in the natural world; and we pray that, inspired by their love of your creation, we may be wise and faithful stewards of the world you have created, that generations to come may also lie down to rest among the pines and rise refreshed for their work; in the Name of the one through whom you make all things new, Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Resource for the Month
Holy Women, Holy Men ~ Celebrating the Saints. I know I’ve rec’d this resource before, but now it’s available as a pdf! It’s a great way to learn about the people that the Episcopal Church holds up as saints among us, as there is a short biography for each person celebrated—including John Muir and Hudson Stuck (see above)! Contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like me to email the document to you.

April 22 – Sunday School
April 29 – Sunday School ~ Joyful Noise! Performs at 10am service ~ CROP Walk
May 5 – Sunday School
May 13 – Sunday School ~ Rule of Life for Families after 10am service ~ Open Door Dinner
May 20 – Sunday School ~ Spiritual Parenting
May 27 – Pentecost! ~ Sunday School

Spiritual Parenting Gathering on May 20th ~ Bullying

Join us this month from Noon to 1pm in the Common Room as we take a look at bullying.  Director for Youth Ministry Sara Gunter and I will co-lead a session on bullying using a documentary about middle school kids and bullying that will be shown to the Youth Groups as part of a larger unit on this issue. We especially invite parents of youth, but the program will be just as important for parents of younger children as this is not an issue that has age limits. See a preview of the film and get more information.

Each month childcare is provided on the playground; see Ed or Letina to sign your kids in, grab some coffee and join us for some parenting fellowship! The All Souls Spiritual Parenting group includes parents of tots to college age young adults and meets every second Sunday of the month. Newcomers are always welcome!

Register NOW for Mt. Cross Day Camp!!!

Mt. Cross Day Camp is our Vacation Bible School and a great way to add faith and fun to your child’s summer! This year camp will run the week of July 9-13.

Join us to explore how it is that Jesus chooses us!  In the Bible, Jesus calls people to follow him one by one, but also forms them into a community of those who know and love Jesus. It’s kind of like the original social network! This summer’s theme explores the dynamic that occurs when the focus switches from our own choices about friendship and community to the choice God made long ago.

The camp is geared toward elementary school aged children, who are ages 6-11, or who will have completed kindergarten prior to enrollment. The cost for the week long program is $125 per child.The camp will be at Shepherd of the Hills Church, 401 Grizzly Peak Blvd., in Berkeley and the program runs from 9 am to 3 pm. Extended Care until 5:30 is available at no extra cost. Scholarships are available upon request.

To request a packet or for more information, please contact The Rev. Kristin Krantz (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 510-848-1755).

It’s Not Summer Without Church Camp!!!
Camp Creates Christian Community! Pick up a brochure for the Diocese of California Summer Camp Programs from the Children & Youth standee in the Narthex. We are blessed with many great opportunities at four different camp locations! Check out summer adventures at St. Dorothy’s Rest, The Bishop’s Ranch, Camp Saint Andrews and Camp Saint Francis and give your child or youth an experience to last a lifetime!!!

Save the Date for Big Sur Camping this Summer
Our annual parish camping weekend this year will be June 22-24. We will once again journey down to the lovely Santa Lucia Campground in Big Sur for a weekend of fellowship, food, and fun by the river and ocean. Look for sign-ups to begin in early May.

Parents in the Park (or the Parish Hall!) Every Tuesday
Join parents with children infant through elementary school age every Tuesday at 3:30 pm as our kids play and we find fellowship and support in each other. Our standard meeting place on days with nice weather is Terrace Park in Albany; on wet and cold days we meet in the Parish Hall. To find out where we will be on a given day or for more information contact Kristin Krantz.

From the Music Department

New Fire, New Water, New Life

Every time I experience Holy Week, for all its familiarity, I find something new. Maybe it’s just hearing a reading proclaimed especially well (or badly, alas!); maybe it’s something more holistic – but there’s always something.

Once in a great while, though, something comes along to completely shift my consciousness, and the following is just such an eye-opener. Ed Silberman, our lead childcare provider, sent the following email to Fr. Phil last year. Phil shared it with me before this year’s Vigil, and I found it a powerful reflection from a non-Christian perspective in shaping my experience of this year’s first liturgy of Easter. I hope you too will find it a welcome addition to your own Easter joy!

Christopher Putnam,
Associate for Liturgy and Music

The Great Vigil Through the Eyes of an Outsider

It was the first time I’d seen the Easter vigil and it was the first time I’ve felt that I really “got” Easter. I’ve always understood it intellectually. But I never understood, on an emotional; level, just how important the Resurrection is for Christians, and how joyful the occasion is for them until Saturday night. I don’t remember when I saw such an out-pouring of joy! Maybe the night Obama was elected, but that was something entirely different. Maybe at certain weddings, but again, not quite the same. Even the pretty pink dresses on the little girls, this isn’t just dress up for a special occasion, it’s an expression of joy, spelled JOY.

I don’t know if what I saw Saturday is typical or if it’s unique to All Souls. The first half of the (unusually long by Christian standards) service was very ordinary except for being in the dark, and having more Old Testament readings than on Sunday mornings. Cynicism-prone as I am, I had to stop myself from thinking “Why did they say this is such a beautiful ceremony? It’s just a regular Episcopal mass, but in the dark.” Then we left the church and marched outside reciting the names of biblical figures, saints, and people who died during the year. I must admit I didn’t understand that this was a memorial reflection (a Yizkor if you know that word) till I thought about it later. I was thinking, “When did Eddie Fisher and Jack La Lane become Christian saints?” I had to resist the giggles. So that didn’t move me, hard as I was trying to let it, simply because I didn’t know what was going on.

Then, after reciting some prayer in the church vestibule, the presider loudly, jubilantly proclaimed “Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!!!” and the doors were opened to a now brightly lit sanctuary newly bedecked with flowers. It was like Dorothy opening the door on Oz. A particularly handsome, very blond deacon was standing there, beaming from ear to ear, holding a painting of the Resurrection (lots of gold!). People pulled bells out their pockets and rang them while the organ, trumpet and chorus played. The rest of the service was “Joy, joy, joy!” and “Christ has Risen, Christ has Risen!” It felt very different from a regular Sunday mass even if many of the words and melodies were the same. It was pure uplift, even for this non-believer, I can only imagine the level of uplift for believers. I found myself thinking, “that was more like theater than religion”. Fortunately my “duh” mechanism clicked in before I said something so naive to my drama major girlfriend. Judaism never gets as theatrical as Christianity (the closest we get is Purim and that’s a very different kettle of fish altogether), even on a regular Sunday, let alone something like this, so it was a real experience, and an eye-opener for this outsider.

—Ed Silberman, from an email sent to a friend after I attended the Easter Vigil last year.

Church Beyond Church Walls

From Learning Community to Christian Community

This article is the first in a series about church beyond church walls. These will focus on All Souls’ contribution to the “Beloved Community” where Christianity is not only practiced in surrounding neighborhoods, but also in collaborative partnership with other Episcopal parishes.

Two years ago, Betsy Dixon experienced what she describes as “Providence.” After a successful career followed by positions on boards of non-profits, Betsy was ready for something more: something engaging and spiritually meaningful. She worked in chaplaincy at Sojourn. She also considered offering her skills in tutoring English. One day as she was coming out of a meeting, Betsy met her friend Este Cantor. Este, a former member and staff at All Souls, is now a priest serving as Vicar at Good Shepherd in Berkeley & Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trinidad in Richmond. 

As Betsy learned from her brief “catch-up” with Este, the Rev. Este and fellow vicar the Rev. Javier Torres had identified a need for English language tutoring to non-English speakers for parishioners attending their Spanish-speaking services. This “providential meeting” turned into a discussion between Betsy and the two vicars about starting a program at the Richmond church and, in September 2010, the first English language class was held at Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trinidad.

The program continues to this day. Rick Sweeney and daughter Gillian also participate in this ministry. About ten students, mostly immigrants, many Spanish speakers from Latin America, as well as a few native Chinese speakers, attend the Saturday classes.

Over the past two years, this language learning class has transformed into a community where students bring food from their native countries, celebrate each other’s birthdays, and pray for those experiencing difficult situations. In addition to learning English and experiencing success in dealing with their newly adopted country, students are learning the meaning of cross-cultural community, helped by their teachers, Betsy, Rick and Gillian, who meet them where they are in life and help them discover – in so many words – the “Christ” in each other. 

“The opportunity to support these people who are bettering their lives and integrating into our culture is very rewarding,” says Rick, “their sincere appreciation and growth warm my heart!”

Betsy relates, “this ministry allows me to be very creative…and I have been accepted, embraced by this community with unconditional love! I mean, they don’t really know me other than I show up on Saturday, and they trust me… one of my older female students came up to me after class one day last fall, put her arms around me and said, ‘I love you, Teacher!’”

When I asked Betsy whether the time she spends with her class disrupts in her busy family life, she explained that her family embraces the fact that, “this is who I am,” calling to mind Dorothy Sayers’ statement:

“Sacrifice is what it looks like to other people, but to that-which-loves I think it does not appear so.  …as soon as your duty becomes your love the self-sacrifice is taken for granted, and, whatever the world calls it, you call it so no longer.”

–Leslie Watson


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