From the Rector
A Home for Christmas
Often in our popular culture we have framed Christmas as a holiday of homecoming––the student from college, the soldier from war. And I understand why. Christmas, of all of the Christian feast days, is the most embedded in our culture in ways that are related to but not essential to the religious meaning of the day. Gift giving, tree decorating, cookie baking, feasting with family, all can be delicious and heart-warming practices, but they really are adjacent to the Christian celebration of God-made-human. (and don’t get me started on the night burglar dressed in the colors of a soda company who operates an elven sweatshop in the Arctic)
Believe me, I get the emotional pull of the return to hearth and home for Christmas. Every year, though, it makes me wonder. What of those of us who can’t come home for Christmas? Of those who have to work that day in hospitals or at power plants? Of those who are incarcerated, who cannot travel, or who cannot leave their living spaces? In order to be Christmas must it begin with “O come all ye faithful…?” Does it have to have the Eucharist and have Silent Night sung in near-darkness? It has me wondering, what does it mean to celebrate Christmas, anyway?
For certain it takes the form of worship all the ways we will at All Souls on Christmas Eve this year: a telling of the Nativity story at 4pm with Communion (and Silent Night in near-darkness), lots of Carols and Candlelight at 8pm with Communion (and Silent Night in near-darkness), and strings, incense, Christmas Proclamation and Communion at 10:30pm (and Silent Night in near-darkness). And then, because Christmas is on a Sunday, and you can’t have enough Jesus and Christmas Carols, on Sunday morning at 10am we will be celebrating the Christ Mass (with spectacular Christmas attire).
For those who will are traveling to be with family and friends this Christmas, I hope that you will find a church to celebrate one of the great Mysteries of the Christian faith. Then, when you come back tell us all about what it was like. If you can’t find a church where you are, I’ll invite you to stream the midnight mass with us, as the 10:30pm service at All Souls will be streamed on Facebook and on our website. Hear the story once more, sing and pray with us on Christmas Eve.
And if that isn’t possible, my sense is that the home that is available to all of us this Christmas takes place in the heart. If you can’t gather at the corner of Cedar and Spruce, or find a Christian church where you’ll be, or stream our midnight mass, find a bible, on your magic rectangle or in a book. Find your way to Luke’s Gospel, the 2nd chapter. Light a candle or dims the lights. Read the story of a young couple slowly making their way to relative’s house, far from home. And open yourself up to the truth that God makes God’s home with us, in us. You might even want to sing about it.
No matter where you find yourself this weekend, at home or away, my hope is that you well be able to enter the story of God-With-Us and be changed by it. And, wherever you are, my prayers will be with you. Merry Christmas.
From the Vestry
December Meeting(s) Summary
December had a full agenda for the vestry, so full that we held two meetings within the same week to resolve several issues before year-end.
The first meeting, on December 13th , began with a spiritual reflection on the role of silence in our lives, a valuable reminder given the flurry of activity at the church and in our role as the vestry. We then discussed two important items emerging from the Finance Committee, one to resolve an operating deficit in 2022 and the second to look at an anticipated operating deficit in 2023. Because these items had just been forwarded from the Finance Committee the night before, leadership felt it was prudent to allow the Vestry time to deliberate on the items and take action at a special meeting after church on Sunday, December 18th .
In the follow-on meeting, the Vestry did approve the adding $25,000 in investment income from past earnings to address the 2022 budget shortfall. For the 2023 budget, which is projected to have a operating deficit of $85,000, the Vestry approved a plan to prospectively fund the deficit from several sources: reducing expenses; seeking outside grants; recognizing income from the Jordan Court apartment; pledges from new members; and, as a backstop, investment income from the Jordan fund. Going forward, the Finance Committee will also use a conservative projection of investment income as part of its regular budget process.
In another important action, Patrick Tahara and Martin Ortega from the property committee brought a subcommittee report on the selection of contractors for the Living Waters campaign. The subcommittee had reviewed 15 initial proposals, and then selected four finalists for interviews and further submission. Of the four in the final rounds, the subcommittee recommended WCI as the contractor, based on their prior experience and their pricing proposal. The firm has agreed to enter pre- construction at no cost and further budget actions will return for Vestry approval. The Vestry approved the recommendation.
The Vestry also heard a report from Lewis Maldonado, who leads the Isaiah Project, which is evaluating organizations to partner with for the distribution of grants from the Living Waters’ “tithe”. Lewis reported on the work of the Project and the listening sessions that were held after two church services to gain input from the parish on areas of interest. Lewis brought the recommendation from the Project team that we focus on four sectors: children and youth empowerment; housing; Native American lands restoration; and environmental justice. The Vestry approved these areas, and the Project now turns to identifying potential organizations within these sectors to focus on.
We also had discussions of two current ministries, the Justice and Peace ministry and worship. Justice and Peace has had a vibrant and active ministry across several areas, including environmental justice, immigration, racial justice, foster youth and the many efforts to feed our community. These efforts suffered somewhat during the pandemic, because many of them involve in-person, offsite activities which either stalled during COVID or had reduced participation. The Vestry agreed that more regular communication will help revitalize these efforts as we move forward. We also discussed the nominating process for the new bishop of our diocese and our views on what we would look for in the bishop. Father Phil gave a very encouraging update on Advent services, which have seen very high attendance, including at the midweek Taize services. Finally, the Vestry voted to approve clergy housing allowances for the coming year, and we closed the meeting in prayer.
From Adult Formation
Conversation on Climate Justice with Paloma Pavel
Join us for a special Adult Formation offering on January 1st when Paloma will share with us some of her many experiences from her three-month Fulbright in Norway and her attendance as part of the Episcopal Church delegation led by DioCal’s own Bishop Marc Andrus to the United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt (COP 27) in November. Norway is ranked as the number one global democracy in the world. What can we learn? Slides and videos will accompany reflections with both Paloma Pavel and Richard Page who also participated in Fulbright time in Oslo.
The metaphor of “Pilgrimage” and transformation will provide a framework for harvesting learning in both contexts. These images will be illustrated with footage from St Catherine’s at Mt. Sinai – the oldest monastery on planet earth. Local opportunities for engaging in climate justice in the New Year will include: “Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community.”
Join us in the Parish Hall between the services on January 1 at 10 am for stories of hope and possibility igniting us to action in the New Year.
Save the Dates
- December 24, Christmas Eve services (4p, 8p, and 10:30p. There will be incense at the 10:30p service and that is the only service that will be live streamed.)
- 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
There is no Wednesday Eucharist this week, December 28th.
Adult Formation Classes
There are no class offerings this Sunday.
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
Christmas Pageant! All children interested in participating in the Christmas Pageant should report to the downstairs Sunday School room at 3:15pm on Christmas Eve to get a costume and practice. All are welcome to participate in the pageant, even if you haven’t attended a previous rehearsal.
Sunday School will resume January 8th at 10:10am with a four-week unit on music led by Toni Martinez Borgfeldt and Jenn Ying!
Youth Group will resume January 8th at 7:00pm in the Parish Hall.
Confirm Not Conform will resume on January 8th at 10:10am.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com or just fill out this form (which goes directly to Cathy).