From the Rector
This Sunday we will be up the mountain once more. Every year, for this last Sunday after the Epiphany, we find ourselves up a mountain with a core group of the disciples, nearly blinded by the radiance of Jesus’ transfiguring. And every year this signals to us the journey ahead: Lent and Easter.
It is from the tops of mountains that we can see the landscape in front us. And often, by surveying what lies ahead, we can chart our path. It is no different for us as we approach this Lenten wilderness with open hearts. This does not mean that we will know of every twist and turn––that cannot be known even with great perspective––but it does mean that if we take some time for reflection before entering this time of “turning around” we have the possibility of participating in meaningful change.
Fasting, prayer, and acts of mercy are the ancient practices of this season of preparation for the Great Mystery. Countless Christians over millennia have come close to All That Is through personal and communal spiritual exercises. Yet some of the more popular notions of Lenten practices often remain on the surface of deeper possibilities. Refraining from chocolate or red meat have meaning only when they are paired with an intention to reveal the root from which those hungers emanate.
As you consider what you might take on or give up this Lent, spend some time in these next few days reflecting on what might be getting in the way of your connection with God. The end to all of these means is a closer, more real relationship with the Holy. What do you need to encounter, confront, or engage that will bring you closer to the love of God, yourself and your neighbor? What practices will support that? Is there a difficult or challenging relationship that is in need of reconciliation? Is there a part of your heart that has become hardened? Are you distanced or divorced from the sources of generosity, patience, forgiveness, or joy?
Some of the more remarkable findings in recent years are those of neuroscience. What some studies are revealing is that the ancient practices of metanoia, the changing of the mind that we engage in Lent, are essential to the ways that the brain changes. As we consistently practice, so we change.
The gift and the challenge of Jesus’ way is that each Christian is free to engage it as they wish. Sometimes we engage with great purpose, other times we skirt the edges, afraid to fully offer ourselves. Regardless of past experience, it is my sincere belief that Christ bids us to begin again. The question is how we will do it.
Last year many of us found the simplicity of the Restoration Project to be helpful. The pattern they have suggested is this: 20 minutes of prayer a day, 1 hour of communal worship a week, 1 hour of direct service a week. Simple, but clear articulations of the core practices of our faith. In the weeks to come, should it be of use, we will be offering specific and direct ways to live this out.
As you contemplate the practices you will take on for the forty days of Lent (and hopefully beyond), consider the words of the Ammas and Abbas of the deserts in the early centuries of Christianity: pray as you will, not as you won’t. Engage the patterns in your life that have been fruitful. Further them, deepen them. This does not mean that it will be an easy way forward, in truth the wilderness demands much of us. But beginning with the ways that lead to life will make it more likely that you will follow them in your path to come closer to the Source of Life.
It is my prayer that this Lent each of us as pilgrims, and all of us a Body, will work our way through the wilderness, supporting one another, leaning into Spirit, in all knowing what it means to be a follower of the One who is Light and Life.
The Lenten Practice of Virtue(s)
How will you mark Lent this year? In past years Fr. Phil has offered us an alternative to seeing the season as one of denial – the common question being “what are you giving up for Lent?” Instead, Phil has suggested that there is value in seeing Lent as a time of development – a time to adopt practices that will bring you close to God in new or different ways. So, again I ask, how will you mark Lent this year? How will your Lenten practice bring you closer to Christ? How will your practice contribute to your growth as a Christian? This coming Lent, on Sunday mornings from February 22 to March 15, I will be leading an adult formation class in which we will look to virtue ethics as one source of practice(s) that can move us toward our desired life with Christ.
Virtue ethics is a discipline that traces its roots to Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. It is grounded in the assumption that an individual’s actions are the result of that individual’s character and values, and that the actions themselves contribute to the further development of character. The central question in virtue ethics is “who am I becoming?” Thus character and actions dynamically inform one another and, over time, move us toward human flourishing or away from it. From the perspective of virtue ethics, being ethical (or virtuous) depends on the practice of virtue in every action we take; every action is a moral action through which an individual develops character, either for the better, or not. The cultivation of virtues, or good habits of character, occurs through and is manifest in everyday action and interaction.
What does this have to do with your Lenten practice? In the upcoming class we will consider the specific virtues of patience, justice, fidelity, and prudence. We will reflect on scriptural expressions of each virtue and explore means of practicing and thus developing the virtues through our everyday lives. You may decide to adopt these practices just for the season of Lent, or they may become an important part of your Christian identity and life across seasons.
I hope you will join me for this Lenten exploration of virtue.
– Caroline McCall
The Heart of the Matter: Forgiveness
When I was training to become a chaplain, it is was an accepted truth that whatever issue you needed to work on would present itself in the form a person. Time and again, I encountered individuals whose lives pressed me more deeply into my learning. For me this was proof that the Spirit of God was at work bringing various people together at just the right moment. It is in the spirit of that training that I received the request from the Sunday formation committee to “teach something about forgiveness during Lent.” Since it was still before Christmas, I readily agreed. It was months away and I figured “something” would come to me.
However, after Epiphany as Lent starting to appear on the horizon, I began asking more questions in the secret hope of uncovering the misunderstanding about my personal story that had led people to the false belief that I had some kind insight to offer about forgiveness. “Why did you choose me and why forgiveness?” “Oh, I don’t know, we just thought you seemed like the right person to ask to teach about forgiveness.” No guile, no long explanation, no rueful admission that the person they really wanted had been too expensive or unavailable – just a feeling. Was this the kind of “feeling” that is the prompting of the Spirit? Was forgiveness being placed in front of me for a reason? Was this God’s way of saying, “I thought it would be good for you and me to spend some time in the wilderness this Lent.”
So this year, I was asked to do the series again but this time in the evening so people who missed it the last time can attend. I feel less daunted having been through the material once so look forward to revisiting the topic with the perspective of another year of life and ministry. For those who attended last time, the series will be an expanded version (five classes instead of four) of the program I did during the Adult Formation hour last year. Some of the material will be the same but some will be new and I like to think we are different people now and so even the original material will seem different. I am thinking of the following titles for each of the five classes:
What is forgiveable?
How do I ask for forgiveness?
Forgiveness at the end of life
I will use a combination of scripture, personal stories, video and audio recordings, as well as the gathering of experience and wisdom as a community to tease apart, bounce around, twist and play with the topic of forgiveness. Interested in joining me again or for the first time?
– The Rev. Michael Lemaire
This verse from Psalm 141:2 tells us that incense and prayer have been linked as part of our religious heritage since Old Testament days. As Anglicans, our sacramental worship is sensual, engaging all of our senses as we draw near to God. We encounter one another and the Holy One through sight, touch, taste, and sound… but less often, through smell. While most elements of our liturgy engage with only one sense at a time, incense provides a visual element as well as a heightened awareness of the specialness of the scent of where we have come to worship.
We will be introducing incense on a few more Sundays through the year – and only at the 11:15 service – so as to allow those with sensitivities to attend earlier services without being affected by the smoke.
At All Souls, we have customarily used incense just four times per year, including just two Sunday mornings – Pentecost and All Saints. We hope you will find it a source of joy and meaning to have incense added at the beginning and end of Epiphany, and on all the Sundays of Easter.
Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras Pancake & Jambalaya Dinner
Take a cue from our rector and join in the fun! Come on out to have breakfast for dinner, or the best jambalaya in town. Celebrate the last night before Lent and get your Mardi Gras beads. Light the holy fire in the courtyard and step into Lent with your All Souls family. Tuesday, February 17, 6pm. Tickets are $10 adults / $5 kids / $25 max per family.
Family Playdate this Saturday!
Come together this Saturday, February 14th, 3 – 5pm, for a low-key playdate at Codornices Park. It’s at 1201 Euclid Ave., right across from the Rose Garden. If you haven’t been there before, it’s a great park for everyone from babies to toddlers to more adventurous big kids (or adults!) who want to take on the thrill of the giant slide! Bring some snacks to share, and enjoy connecting other families at All Souls. You can get in touch with Jeannie Koops-Elson with any questions.
Lent is 40 days and ends with a big celebration. It takes 40 days to brew beer and it helps make a big celebration. Coincidence? We think not. Join us to to brew another batch of parish ale, something special for Easter. Sunday, February 15 @ 5pm in the All Souls kitchen. Bring a favorite beer to share; we’ll bring in pizza. Puns will surely abound.
Begin your pilgrimage through a Holy Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 18. Services are at 7am in the chapel and 12pm and 7:30pm in the sanctuary.
Touchstone Crosses for Lent
Last year we started a new tradition of shaping crosses out of clay with our hands, firing them in the Shrove Tuesday fire, and picking them out of the ashes on Ash Wednesday to carry with us as touchstones of our spiritual practice through Lent. Stop by the table in the courtyard before or after service today to spend a few minutes crafting some crosses!
We want your selfie!
If you consider yourself “active” at All Souls, and would like to be in the 2015 Parish Directory, please send all info to us and include current address, email(s), phone numbers, and children’s names. If we already have your info from last year, just send updates. Please Indicate any info NOT to be published. This year we would like you to send a family or personal photo—high resolution, with your faces clearly seen—we want to use this to get to know each other! or ask someone to take one for you. Send to Joy by March 15th.
Loaves and Fishes
Loaves and Fishes is a way to connect with All Souls community in a smaller, more intimate group by sharing meals together in parishioners’ homes. There are three coming up in February:
2/14, RSVP to Gloria Bayne
2/21, RSVP to Toni Borgfeldt
2/28, RSVP to Caroline McCall
Get the All Souls App!
We now have our very own smartphone app called Evergive. It’s a great way to stay in touch – receive information about upcoming events, links to the Pathfinder, and real-time news that can be otherwise difficult to disseminate quickly, and lets you be in touch with other parishioners who have the app. The app also includes a platform for mobile giving as an easy way to make one-time donations. Because there is a fee associated with the convenience of giving this way, we encourage you to fulfill your pledges and offer other recurring gifts through the other avenues for giving, like check or automatic online transfers.
Just go to the app store on your phone, download Evergive, input the community code “souls,” and then choose a password. You can also go to this website and enter your cell phone number to receive a text message to download the app.