2220 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California 94709

All Souls Welcome.
Visitors Expected!


Phil Brochard headshot2

O Come All Ye…

It is December 22nd. There are two days left until Christmas Eve so I will keep this short. Wherever this letter finds you, whether deep in snow or basking in sun, and no matter the tasks remaining, Christmas cards or cookies, a last minute gift, or renegotiating family dynamics, my hope is that by the time we reach Saturday and Sunday, you and I will be able to be. Simply to be, present.

The layers of accrued traditions and unhelpful expectations at this time of the year can turn this time of waiting into a harried, stress-filled slog. Even the most grounded among us can feel swept away in the frenzy of feast and cheer and all the trimmings. Or just not ready to celebrate because of pain or uncertainty or sorrow. All of this is why I’m hoping that we can allow for the space within us to come close this weekend.

To this end, the carol that has been running through my head recently is, O Come All Ye Faithful. Now I realize that there are some expectations that come with those lyrics, like joy and triumph. But even if you aren’t feeling that this Christmas, my prayer is that you will be able show up wherever you are, ready to enter the story. The story, in Madeline L’Engle’s words, of the Glorious Impossible.

Because whether you will be worshipping at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, or in a soaring cathedral, or a simple storefront church, or on the corner of Cedar and Spruce, what we are asked to do at Christmas is to come, to show up. To come ready to open up, ready to bring as much of ourselves as we can, ready, even, to adore.

So, come. Come to sing next to someone you’ve never met.

Come to hear this story in a way you’ve never heard before.

Come to feast around a table that feeds everyone who looks for sustenance.

Come to light a candle in the darkness, and watch as the candlelight of hundreds illumines the world around us.

Come to worship God, born within us and in our midst, once more.



Sneak Preview

A Nativity Story Mannequin Challenge

From a wee baby on up through energetic kids, wise youth, and committed adults, many people have been working hard getting ready to bring this wonderful story to life again. We slowed down a bit at the beginning of our dress rehearsal this afternoon to take on the mannequin challenge… enjoy! The full performance of the Nativity Story will be at the 4:00 pm service on Christmas Eve.

From the Associate for Youth Ministries

jess_powellWait for it

There’s a song in the musical Hamilton titled “Wait for it.” Aaron Burr sings it and explains something that Hamilton, and possibly those watching the show or listening to the soundtrack, wonder after listening to Burr: why he waits and doesn’t just act. He sings, “If there’s a reason…then I’m willing to wait for it.”

We are near the end of our own period of waiting. Advent is almost over. Jesus is almost here. In Advent, we live in a paradox. We’re waiting for Jesus, but he is already here! He was born more than 2,000 years ago (approximately 2,016, to be specific). So, what are we waiting for?

Burr waits for the reason or reasons why the woman he loves chose him, why he’s still alive when so many (including those who loved him) have died, and why Hamilton “seems to thrive when so few survive.” We’re waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

Burr’s attitude sometimes gets him in trouble. Hamilton’s attitude sometimes serves him well. Other times, having Burr’s patience could certainly serve him well. For details, you can listen to the show’s music or look it up!

During Advent, we are called to wait with patience like Burr. But we’re called to do so actively. Burr says, “I’m not falling behind or running late. I’m not standing still; I’m lying in wait.” We are to be alert and awake.

We’re called to get ready for the birth of Jesus. We’re going to celebrate God’s transformation into a squawking, messy, holy, and presumably adorable baby in just a few short days. We’ve been preparing for weeks in prayer and song. What else do you need to do to be ready?

I don’t mean wrapping those last few gifts, cleaning the house, or packing for vacations and travels. Here, in our All Souls community, we prepare in other ways. We’ve been doing our research through our readings every Sunday. As impatient and perhaps impulsive as Hamilton was, even he did his research before diving into action as a lawyer. What else do you want to make time for to help you celebrate Jesus’ birthday?

Aaron Burr might have waited too long occasionally, but he did have something Hamilton often lacked: patience. Perhaps we can combine the attitudes of both men by actively waiting. We can prepare the way of the Lord. Maybe your patience is growing thin as Christmas morning draws near. As Aaron Burr sings, “Wait for it.” Remember the person you’re waiting for. We’re almost there.



Welcoming New Members

nicolsIn early December, we welcomed many new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from them.
Hi — we are Molly and Terry Nicol. We recently moved to Berkeley from Philadelphia, where we met, were married and lived together for ten years. Terry’s work brought us to the Bay Area; he works in renewable energy for Wells Fargo while I am a Literacy Coach at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland. We have a three year-old daughter named Nora and will be welcoming a second daughter in April 2017. One day while walking by All Souls, I was reminded of my childhood parish in my hometown of St. Louis, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which was a significant influence in my life growing up. I was active in the church choir and Youth Group and served as an acolyte and Emmanuel’s community helped sustain and guide me, even after leaving St. Louis. In fact, my childhood pastor traveled to Philadelphia to preside over our wedding service. Terry and I have been excited to find such a strong and open community, reminiscent of Emmanuel, in which to raise our children. Terry enjoys spending time with his family, podcasts, competitive economic board games and hiking/biking. Nora enjoys Play Doh, giving her friends hugs, gymnastics and any variety of Goldfish crackers. I enjoy cooking, running and seeking out the best cup of coffee. We look forward to meeting more parishioners and growing as members of the church.
– Molly, Terry and Nora Nicol


One of the ways we welcome the many, many people who will visit All Souls at Christmas is by offering abundant hospitality in the receptions that follow each service. As you make cookies and other treats in the coming days, can you double your recipe and set some aside to bring to church? Can you pick up an extra bottle of cider or wine? Or, can you lend a hand pulling it all together on Christmas Eve and Day? Please sign up here so the Hospitality Team can breathe easy knowing that we’re all going to help make this happen together.


Who will you invite to come close this year? Learn about what each service is like here.

Christmas Eve:
4 pm: Festive Eucharist with Children’s Nativity Story
8 pm: Carols and Candlelight
10:30 pm: Midnight Mass

Christmas Day:
10 am: Festive Eucharist

Christmas Day Bonus

Because Christmas is a Sunday this year, we’re adding some extra fun: an Amazing Christmas Sweater Contest with a truly breathtaking (and appropriately fabulous) prize, and an Advent Calendar Viewing. Come in your most delightful/ridiculous/awe inspiring Christmas wear. Kids are most welcome to stay in their pajamas. Your clergy and staff will be decked out pretty impressively, if we do say so ourselves. And if you’ve been coloring your Advent Calendar, bring it to share!