From the Rector
To Stand with Another
A friend of mine was recently in a grocery store she hadn’t been to before. She just needed a few items before attending a meeting nearby. But she couldn’t easily find them. So she asked an employee, a young woman wearing a headscarf, about the location of an item. The employee led her to the correct aisle and to what my friend wanted to buy.
As the employee began to walk away, my friend hesitated. Then, before her nerve left her, my friend asked the young woman in a headscarf if she could ask her a question. “Sure,” the young woman said, “anything.” My friend then said, “Well, I suppose it isn’t a question so much as there is something that I’d like to say to you. I just want you to know that I’m sorry for the ways that so many Muslims are being treated. I am a Christian and I want you to know that I respect you and your faith and am so sorry for the ways that other Christians have been acting. It’s not right and I’m sorry.”
There was a moment of silence. And the young woman in the headscarf began to tear up. And began to talk about the experiences that she had been having recently, about the insults, the ways that others had been treating her, likely because her headscarf signified her belief as a Muslim. And with tears now rolling down her cheeks she thanked my friend, now no longer a stranger, for approaching her and reaching out to her.
I share this story, one that took place a couple of weeks ago, because we are entering into troubled waters as a country. Following the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, and fueled by the ignorant, fearful and hate-filled words of leaders including Donald Trump, a deep concern that I share with others is that those who are Muslim in our communities will increasingly be targets of violence and aggression.
The tone of our national conversation has devolved to dangerous levels. While I do believe that the center will hold, and that the proposed actions of Mr. Trump (like banning Muslims from entering this country or interring them as we so shamefully did to Japanese-Americans during WWII) will not have sway, I am deeply troubled by the fear, anger and hatred that they sow in our body politic.
With reports of aggressive intimidation from Texas and Philadelphia in the past couple of weeks, and now a hate-filled encounter by someone who calls themselves a Christian in the East Bay this past week, it is time for us as followers of Christ to remind ourselves of one of the fundamental teachings of Jesus, about what it means to be a neighbor.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus is asked just who a neighbor is, he tells the story of a Samaritan, an enemy, who cares for a wounded man by the side of the road. Jesus teaches that it is not enough to care for our family, for those who we know—even the tax collectors do that—as followers of Christ are to care even for those are strangers, those who may differ from us.
To this end, members of All Souls have reached out this week to the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California to see how we might best be in relationship with them. Next Friday afternoon, December 18th, a small group from All Souls will be spending time with them, learning about their center and their practice of Islam. If you are interested in being a part of this group, please email me or talk with Danielle Gabriel or Janet Chisholm this Sunday.
But those we have been in contact with at the center have asked that we take other, smaller, simpler steps towards understanding. They have encouraged us to talk with our Muslim neighbors, to join in the interfaith events that they hold, and yes, to “talk to the woman wearing the hijab in the grocery store.” I share this as a quote because this simple, act of neighborliness has the potential to powerfully change the course for all involved. It did for my friend a few weeks ago, and in the days and weeks to come, may well be a place for God to be found for us all.
The Story behind the Window
The illuminated window behind the altar in the All Souls Chapel of the Holy Nativity was a gift from Horace Collins and Gertrude Margaret Lansing in memory of their son, Robert Pruyn Lansing, who died on January 3, 1922 of streptococcal meningitis. He was seven years old. Their only son and eldest child, Robert had a sister Dorothy Elizabeth who was baptized at All Souls on December 9, 1919.
Two years after Robert’s death, the Lansings had a second daughter, Sylvia, who was baptized at All Souls on July 20, 1924. Robert was cremated, and his ashes were interred at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito.
Robert’s mother was born Gertrude Coen in New South Wales, Australia of Canadian parents. His father, Horace, was born in 1880 in Chillicothe, Ohio and died in 1957 in Berkeley where they made their home. Horace was a member of the Ohio infantry during the Spanish-American conflict of 1898, a conflict that was a result of U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. He was commissioned first lieutenant in the United States signal corps and served two years in Cuba. By 1920 he was a bonds salesman in the Bay Area and ten years later became the manager of a bonds firm.
The window is a reproduction of a well-known fresco painting “The Nativity” dated 1885 by the German artist Carl Mueller. Mueller was the director of the Academy of Art at Dusseldorf and a member of a school of religious painters known as the “Nazarenes.” He studied fresco painting in Italy in 1839 and returned to Germany to create paintings in the church of St. Apollinaire at Remagen. His religious paintings were considered his best work, and he was represented at the Paris Salon of 1853. There are various spellings of Mueller’s name. The original spelling was Karl Müller, but references in American newspapers in the 1940s cite Carl Mueller or Muller, anglicized perhaps because of sensitivity to German names during the war.
The window was originally installed in the old church behind the altar. When the old church was replaced in 1955, the window was cut down to fit in the new chapel and fitted accordingly. Moving and trimming the window was a way to preserve it along with other memorial brass plaques. Technically, it is a combination of stained glass and painting, a common practice at that time. The window serves not only as a memorial to young Robert Lansing but also as a reminder of the history of the All Souls Parish church.
– Lynne Turner
Night on the Streets – Catholic Worker
Throughout Advent, we are gathering gifts for organizations that serve those in need here in the East Bay. This Sunday, December 13th, we will be gathering gifts for Night on the Streets – Catholic Worker, which helps our homeless brothers and sisters on the streets. Please bring:
– sleeping bags
– durable blankets for outside use
– insulated leather gloves
– 9×12 tarps for fending off the rain
Night on the Streets – Catholic Worker goes to great lengths to feed and support people experiencing homelessness in Berkeley. In a typical year, they:
– serve 8500 breakfasts
– serve 9 holiday meals for 1800 people
– serve 4000 warm meals on Soup Nights from Thanksgiving to Easter
– give away 300 Sleeping bags, 400 durable rain ponchos, and 3000 blankets
In addition to meeting these basic needs, Nights on the Street-Catholic Worker seeks to address some of these issues of justice “up-stream,” closer to the source of the problems. They describe the scope of their work below, in their own words. To learn more, visit their website.
These are the numbers for what we do, but our outreach extends beyond this. We protest injustice, such as the School of the America’s at Ft. Benning, Georgia, Guantanmo Bay, and issues of torture.
We advocate for healthcare for neglected populations, helping non-native English speakers and the mentally ill fill out forms for Medicare, Medi-Cal, or Social Security benefits, and we provide countless other health-related and mail and tax services to these neglected populations. We provide a free ambulatory service for blind, elderly, and handicap homeless, driving them to and from the hospital.
We make regular visits to mental hospitals and prisons to transport homeless to make sure they get into supportive housing, drug rehab centers, or paired up with a social worker and health center if they’re going back to the street.
We try to go the extra distance at our weekly meals by providing wholesome foods and vegetables, instead of “empty calories” from cheap sodas and potato chips, to make people healthier to fend off disease and diabetes.
What we often provide are the bare essentials—the blanket, the sleeping bag, a shelter night, but what we try to do is invest these actions with meaning and love, to dignify those we serve.
We serve all of these meals and deliver these items and services with a total operating budget of only $30,000.
In the spirit of Dorothy Day, Night on the Streets-Catholic Worker is an all-volunteer organization with no one taking salary. We have no operating costs—the volunteers themselves assume the operating costs. Our Worker house, utilities, transportation, etc. are all donated from the Catholic Worker volunteers. All money donated goes directly to food, items, and services for the homeless.
New Year’s Day
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe
Our 2016 New Year’s Day reading will be C.S. Lewis’ The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, dramatized by Joseph Robinette. Set in the land of Narnia, this tale faithfully recreates the magic and mystery of Aslan, the great lion, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the exciting, never-to-be-forgotten Narnia. This story of love, faith, courage and giving, with its triumph of good over evil, is a true celebration of life. In order to involve children of all ages (-8 to 80+), we will meet at 4:00 pm for Holiday cheer and potluck, and begin this exciting ‘storytelling’ at 5:30 pm (approximate running time: 80 minutes). RSVP is especially helpful for early role distribution… of which there are many!
Blessings and Love this Holiday Season, Hallie Frazer
Phoenixes Game Night
20s and 30s are invited to a holiday themed game night, December 12th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm on the first floor of the Parish House. Bring your favorite games, snacks and drinks. RSVP to Emily Hertz if you plan to come.
For our evening program on Wednesdays in Advent we are exploring symbols associated with an advent wreath. In the final night of our series on December 16th, we will focus attention on the circle that is part of Advent wreath construction. The Rev. Dr. Daniel Prechtel will lead us in a “Circle of the Spirit” group process, giving us opportunities to reflect on various meanings of the circle as a powerful symbol in our lives. He will also guide us in a spiritual exercise about the people, places, and things that influence and shape our lives—particularly as we move into the religious and secular holiday season. We’ll begin with a soup supper at 6:30 pm and end with Compline at 8:00 pm.
Calling all sheep and angels!
Preparations for our nativity story are well underway, but there is always room for more sheep and angels. If you have a young child, know interested neighbors, or if you’ll have young children visiting for the holidays, they are most welcome to join in the pageant. Sheep are generally toddlers – kindergarteners, and angels are generally preschoolers – first graders. Please email Liz if you have a child who would like to join so we can be sure to have enough costumes. They would need to be at a dress rehearsal on December 23rd, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, and arrive at church at 2:30 pm on December 24th.