FROM THE RECTOR
Desire for Union
Once again, we find ourselves at the crossroads of candy hearts and red roses, Valentine’s Day. As the parent of children that are no longer in elementary school, I confess that I now rejoice that for at least this one reason alone, I am thrilled that they are in middle school.
Why, you may ask? Because: Valentine’s Day. As a parent, I just found it really hard to participate in a forced cultural practice that felt like it had little connection to real affection, friendship and love. And, in particular, it is liberating to no longer have to help make valentines.
Some of this feeling of freedom stems from the anxiety that someone might be missed—did every single kid in the class get one? And then, there’s the question of what you do you say to every classmate that is in some way heart-felt? No matter how funny or cute they may be, it simply doesn’t seem possible that mass-produced valentines can actually convey what we see and appreciate about the human beings with whom we share our daily lives.
More confession: I have little interest in the grown-up version of this forced cultural practice. (before you feel too badly for my wife know that it is a shared aversion) With the emphasis on romantic love, and especially on romantic love as expressed by social pressure to purchase and consume, I find little in the day that I want to take part in.
But I also harbor a belief that nearly all of our religious and secular feasts attempt to address a human need. So what, then, is the human need that Valentine’s Day is trying address?
It’s my sense that within many (if not all) humans there is a longing for connectedness. We seem to be built to be social creatures. We long for companionship, for intimacy, for union with other people.
Which, for the record, I’m all for. It’s why I have given so much of my time, attention, and energy to the care of Christian communities. This desire to be connected to each other, to know and be known by others is at the heart of the life of Jesus followers. It’s just that this desire for communion with others is so much deeper and broader than the version of romantic love that is imposed upon this day in mid-February. For my part, I’m interested in the practices we can keep, the stances we can hold, the ways we can study—all things that will lead us past this gloss on the surface and into a deeper life of union.
So, true love? Yes. But a true love that is shared with friends, co-workers, classmates, parents, siblings, children, and even enemies? Even more. Put that on a candy heart and I just might like it. Maybe.
Making Soup + Story
Making Soup: Pour water in a pot, add bones left from other meals and vegetable trimmings rejected from past dishes, bring to a boil. Add dried beans and grains long lying dormant in a dark cabinet, bits of fragrant powders long hidden in tiny bottles, and salt to bring out flavor. Stir. Let it simmer. Always better if it sits for awhile.
Making Story: Find a shelter. Gather together in any number, even two or three. Think back on your memories, built on all the memories of all the generations that have come before. Listen to a simple parable or wisdom story or an account of events from long ago. Look for the common wisdom that supports all those gathered. Stir. Let things bubble. Always better if we sit for awhile.
This year will be the third Lent that our family will join in Soup + Story. In our first year, we (two parents and two teens) had arrived at All Souls just three months before from a different faith community. Beyond celebrating Christmas here, we were unsure of what we wanted from a new church community and what was expected from us. How might we get a real taste of what sharing together, praying together, and being together would be like?
Emily Hansen Curran hinted to us that Soup + Story might be a good path for our family to walk down. A week later we walked in to the cheerful home of an All Souls parishioner. Smiling faces greeted us, none of whom we’d met before. Rows of white soup bowls lined two dining tables, set with cups and spoons. Fifteen or so of us sat in the living room and listened to the parable of the mustard seed, told in such a way that even the small children could understand. All present contributed something to the discussion and shared their own reflections. At the tables, bowls of soup were served and passed down with pieces of bread. Adults sat and visited, kids ran outside to the lawn. In less than two hours we had made connections, which then strengthened throughout Lent as we met to hear more parables. By the time Holy Week arrived, our teens were saying, “Soup + Story is over already? What happens next?”
The next year we joined Soup + Story at another home and met a new circle of folks, including preschoolers and grandparents, to hear the stories from Acts of the Apostles. Deirdre was facilitator this time around, stirring things a bit from week to week to see where connection and meaning might lie, and just letting things bubble for awhile. Then everyone mixed it up over bowls of soup, inside and outside. In a few short weeks the kids complained, “Soup + Story is over already?”
You’ll hear people around here sometimes talk about “making church”. At first the phrase sounds peculiar, like we’re acting something out: playing house or building with LEGO. In the church building it feels safe to let the professionals handle talking about God, while all we have to do is show up. Out in our community, with each other, making church can feel a little scary, liberating and even hilarious as we express our own ideas and questions about what it means to follow Christ. Gathered together in each others’ homes, we worship in the moment as our authentic selves, being present with each other, to listen, to share, to sit for a while.
We say grace. We eat together. Spoon up a mouthful. Break off a piece of bread. Would you please pass the butter?
— Deirdre Nurre & Tim Ereneta
From the Vestry
A Meeting, an Ending, and a Beginning
Our most recent Vestry meeting was held on Sunday, February 3, at 10 a.m. at our Vestry retreat at St. Dorothy’s Rest. Following our usual practice at the retreat, our meeting was included as part of our Sunday morning Eucharist. All 12 members were in attendance, including our four new members: Joe Garrett, Kieran King, Kaki Logan, and Howard Perdue.
Much of our meeting consisted of annual administrative housekeeping. We formally elected our new Vestry officers: Laura Eberly as Senior Warden, and Erin Horne as Junior Warden. (I’d also like to mention that, through a discernment process the prior evening, the Vestry chose three people to serve as Co-Chaplains this year: Priscilla Camp, Kaki Logan, and Matt McGinley. Since the position of Chaplain is not an elected office, our Co-Chaplains did not need to be included in our formal election process.) We adopted our 2019 schedule of Vestry meetings and approved a list of church events in 2019 where alcohol may be served (an annual practice incorporated into the All Souls Alcohol Policy adopted last year).
One substantive matter we discussed pertained to Parish House guests. Prior to this year, Parish House guest agreements had been renewed at one-year intervals, from August to July. Now, as All Souls and SAHA draw closer to breaking ground on the Parish House Project, we discussed how we can best offer hospitality to our guests, taking into account evolving timelines for both funding and construction.
On a personal note, my year as Senior Warden has now ended. The moment our meeting was adjourned was the moment I felt my job was done—and when all the emotions about ending hit me at once! Being Senior Warden this past year has been a tremendous honor and a time of growth and learning for me. I am humbled by the trust Phil placed in me by asking me to take on this role, and I am grateful to all of you for your encouragement and support. I believe it is wise for communities to share positions of responsibility as evenly as possible, to avoid undue burdens on individual community members and to prevent burnout, so I know that the time is right for me to pass on the Senior Warden baton. I also know that Laura will do an excellent job as our new Senior Warden.
Being Senior Warden gave me a better understanding of the challenges and rewards of making church, new confidence as a leader, and a deepened sense of who I am and what I am able to offer our community as a person of faith. None of that goes away as I step down, and all of it will affect how I engage in the life of All Souls from this point forward. I always knew that being Senior Warden would challenge me, but what I didn’t fully appreciate until now is how it would change me. This experience of change, of transformation, can make the opportunity to lead not just a responsibility, but a gift.
— Bob Holum
From Adult Formation
One Parish, One Book 2019
It is time for the Great All Souls Summer Book Club. (Oprah, eat your heart out!) Pick a book, something to stretch our minds and souls, and make out one of the nomination slips in the Narthex or on the table outside the Chapel, and put in the glass jar. Or nominate online here. And then the excitement begins. The Adult Formation Team will then select finalists and sometime in April (date to be announced) the voting begins, and then the Chosen Book will be announced. All summer we will gather Sundays during the Formation Hour (10:10-11:10, dates to be announced) to discuss, share, listen, and enjoy the book chapter by chapter. Come be a part of this adventure, light enough for summertime, deep enough to stir the heart.
This Sunday, after the 11:15 service, in the Parish Hall, we will break out some cake to celebrate and send off our Administrative Assistant, Nettie Pinell, into her maternity leave. We are also collecting an offering for her in order to help with extra costs associated with a new baby. Please see Emily Hansen Curran or Maggie Cooke to make a donation.
CAMP ALL SOULS – SAVE THE DATE!
This summer we are bringing back Camp All Souls, a week-long day camp for kids to adventure, connect, explore, learn, play, create, question and more, all right here at All Souls. This year the camp will be August 12 – 16. It runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and is for kids ages 5 to 11, who have completed kindergarten through fifth grade. Cost is $150, and scholarships are available. Once again, we will be welcoming middle and high school students to help lead the week, as well as adults who want to pitch in – it is a whole community affair! Stay tuned for more details and registration opening soon.
ALL SOULS AT CAL WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Join other All Soulsians in cheering on Cal Women’s Basketball, Sunday February 24th at 2:00 pm vs Arizona. General Admission tickets are a whopping $3 each! No advance purchase required but please RSVP to Don Gates at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the final home game of the season, and a Haas Pavilion curtain call for two remarkable Cal Seniors, Kristine Anigwe and Asha Thomas.
SHROVE TUESDAY/MARDI GRAS PANCAKE & JAMBALAYA DINNER
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, March 5, 6:00pm. Tickets are $10 adults / $5 kids / $25 max per family. This event is a fundraiser for the Youth immersion trip to Duluc, LA this summer! Come support our Youth!
SOUP + STORY
Sign-ups start next week! Soup + Story is a 5-week home group series that we host every year during Lent. Each week we gather in each others’ homes to study the Bible, share our stories, and eat dinner (soup). It’s a great opportunity to get to know other folks, and to be known by other folks in the church. The groups meet on different nights during the week, so you get to pick what night works best for you and/or your family. Sign-ups will start next week in the Welcome Area (the area just in front of the sound booth).