From the Associate Rector
God’s Holy Darkness
Good books for children’s ministry are hard to come by. From over-simplification of Biblical stories, to all white depictions of Biblical characters, to overly preachy messaging, there are a lot of pitfalls into which parents and children’s ministers can fall. I’m happy to say, however, that this is improving year by year. This past year I heard about a few new books that I wanted to check out for All Souls; one of which is called God’s Holy Darkness by Sharei Green and Beckah Selznick with illustrations by Nikki Faison.
Since ordering the book, I think I’ve read it at least half a dozen times. It’s beautifully illustrated in a folk art style, and the words, while simple, draw readers into the mystery of the loving works that God does under the cover of darkness. Most importantly, this book is meant to disrupt the association of light with good and dark with bad, and upend the binary of light vs. dark that has historically extrapolated into white vs. black.
In a note to caregivers in the back of the book, the authors say this:
“God’s Holy Darkness features beloved Bible stories. Sometimes, we know stories so well, we forget to listen to them. This book challenges us to hear those stories in a new way. To hear the stories of the beauty and holiness and goodness of Blackness and darkness and night.”
I can’t think of a more beloved Biblical story than the story of Jesus’ birth, which is why I decided to use the premise of God’s Holy Darkness to frame the way we tell the nativity story with our pageant on Christmas Eve. This is not because I want to take anything away from the story that we all love so much, but because I have found the story to be much richer and more meaningful after I slowed down and allowed myself to enter into the beautiful darkness and deep night of the story.
It’s not a miracle that Jesus enters the world in the utter darkness and stillness of the night because that darkness needed to be made light. It’s a miracle that Jesus enters the world in the utter darkness and stillness of the night because God chooses darkness and night just as much as She chooses lightness and day to show us Her love and presence in our lives.
I welcome one and all to come to the pageant at the Christmas Eve service at 4:00pm and to be inspired by the words of God’s Holy Darkness. (As well as the Biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth from the Gospels According to Luke and Matthew.) If you’d like to participate in the pageant, we have a rehearsal/costume fitting this Sunday at 10:10, as well as a rehearsal at 3:15 on Christmas Eve. Please reach out to me for more information, or just show up!
Christmas Day Frivolity!
As you may know, Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year, which can only mean one thing: we will be at the church for one service at 10:00am, decked out in our most spectacular Christmas Garb, and you are invited to join us! Embroidered vest? Yes. Santa hat? Yes. Christmas pajamas? Yes. Elf shoes? Yes. Light-up sweater? Yes. Christmas socks? Yes. Suspender, ties, scarves, jewelry, etc. If you’ve got it, we wanna see it.
Berkeley Food Pantry
Save the Dates
December 24, Christmas Eve services (4p, 8p, and 10:30p)
December 25, Christmas Day, 10a
Join us for worship this week:
Join us for worship this week:
- 9am, in-person, indoors
- 11:15am, in-person, indoors. (click here to access the live stream)
- 5p, the Sunday Night Service, in-person, indoors, in the Chapel.
You can access the live stream through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
If you miss a Sunday, you can always catch the sermon on our homepage or as a podcast, anywhere you listen to podcasts!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218.
Adult Formation Classes
There are two class offerings this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Click here to join by Zoom, or join them in-person in the Common Room.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:15a. Click here to join by Zoom (Meeting ID: 811 8105 6561. Passcode: 516358), or join them in-person in Phil’s old office, (now called the Shadrach Room).
Coming Up in Adult Formation:
Join our Adult Formation Program in January (Sundays at 10:15, January 8, 15, and 22) with two classes:
Dr. Scott MacDougall “Contending with Evil and Suffering”
This three-session course will struggle with the realities of evil and suffering in a world made by a good and loving Creator who declares it to be “very good.” How can we reconcile all of this? We’ll look at some of the ways Christians have tried to do so over time and consider our own views of these questions, as well.
- January 8: Evil. What is evil? Where does it come from? How does facing the reality of evil affect Christian faith and life?
- January 15: Suffering. Why is there suffering? How are suffering, sin, and death connected, if they are connected? Why would a good God allow suffering? What does Jesus’ suffering on the cross say to us about the role of suffering in Christian discipleship?
- January 22: Meaning. Revisiting some of the questions raised by the first two sessions, we’ll conclude by asked whether meaning can be made out of evil or suffering. If so, what sort of meaning? How can we live Christianly in the face of evil, suffering, and death?
This class will be offered in person and on zoom (click here for Zoom link).
The Very Rev. Dr. Peggy Patterson “Seasons of Faith in Solitude” (offered in-person only)
Are you ready to enter the Season of Epiphany exploring an unexpected blessing…the blessing of Solitude as we enter the third year of the Pandemic? This is the question a recent author, Elizabeth Orens, asked in the Christian Century. In this new year, this Season of Epiphany, how can we cultivate an inner spiritual life with God? How can we live into our own baptism as Jesus did, experience God’s guiding light as the Wise Ones did? And experience our own Epiphany,…opening our hearts to God’s deep presence within us? You are invited to join an Epiphany Community for three Sundays in January to explore the ways God is calling you anew ….
- January 8: What is Solitude? How is it different from loneliness, isolation, despair? How do you experience being alone? Hear from two parishioners ( Tom Varghese and Elena Ramirez) who will share their Spiritual Journeys with God and their search for Faith through Seasons of Solitude.
- January 15: Most of us live alone at some time in our lives. How are our spiritual longings affected by our Seasons of Solitude, especially deep grief, divorce, empty nesting, health crises, loss of a child? In these times, how can we cultivate an inner spiritual life with God, inviting God to be our companion on our most difficult journeys.
- January 22: As we follow Jesus into the desert after his Baptism during Epiphany, how does silence, Prayerful Solitude, and facing temptation help us to feel enfolded by God’s love? These Seasons of Solitude offer the quiet to experience the presence of God.
All three weeks will include various introductions and experiences of Prayer which might enrich your Seasons of Solitude: Centering Prayer, Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, The Evening Examen, Compline, Taize Chant, Prayer with Beads: The Anglican Rosary, Walking Meditation in the Labyrinth, Acts of Mercy, Reading the Mystics, especially Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen. We will even have our very own Bethlehem olive wood Anglican Rosaries to begin our Prayerful practice. Start the New Year with a Season of Prayerful Solitude.
Children, Youth, and Family News
Sunday School Christmas Pageant Preparations have begun! Join us for a pageant rehearsal this Sunday at 10:10 and on Christmas Eve at 3:15. We will meet in the downstairs Sunday School Classroom. The pageant will take place at the 4:00pm service on Christmas Eve.
Youth Group Youth Group continues this Sunday, from 7-8:30pm in the Parish Hall, we will be decorating cookies and building gingerbread houses, so wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty!
Confirm Not Conform Continues this Sunday at 10:10am in Maggie’s Office.
Email Maggie for more information about Children, Youth and Family Ministries at All Souls.
Other News & Notes
There will be receptions following all three services on Christmas Eve. If you’re able, please bring some drinks, snacks, or cookies to share!
If you are looking to set up your pledge for 2023, you may still do so by clicking on this form. There is also a super easy way to give to All Souls––for either a one-time donation or for your ongoing pledge––that is through an app called Vanco Mobile (what used to be called GivePlus). You can find this app through the app store on your phone. Once downloaded, search for All Souls Episcopal Parish and you’re in! If you’d prefer not to download the app, you can just as easily give online through our personalized online donation page by clicking here.
Can we still reach you at the address and email listed in the church directory? If the answer is no, it is time for a refresh! Or has your family changed a bit since your last picture in the directory? If so, please send your updated photos and info to Mardie Becker at email@example.com.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org or just fill out this form (which goes directly to Cathy).