From the Rector
Laying Down One’s Life
Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of one of the least known of the apostles, Saint Matthias. Known primarily for replacing Judas as one of the twelve apostles after Judas’ death, little else is said in scripture about Matthias’ life. All we know is that he met the criteria laid out in Acts 1, that it be someone who had been with them since the baptism of John up until Jesus “was taken up from us.” Check.
Without much more to go on, my sense is that the framers of this feast day were searching for texts that point to an exemplary life of faith. Psalm 15 gives us a litany of behaviors, “there is no guile on their tongue, they do no evil to their friend, nor heap contempt on their neighbor.” The reading from Philippians talks of the steadfastness that we must exhibit. All good and true, but in yesterday’s worship, we were looking for a place for these words to meet the particularity of our lives.
And we found it in the passage of John’s Gospel prescribed for this feast, John 15:1, 6-16. Located in the extended “farewell discourse” of the Last Supper, this portion focuses on the way we are supposed to live with each other, based on the way that Jesus lived with those around him.
We found our particularity in the words of verse 13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” When I asked about a time when someone had laid down their life––offered it for someone else––the stories of real-life sacrificial love were profound. Parents forgoing opportunities for their children. Children standing up for their parents. Siblings opening up their already stretched homes at a time of crisis. The depth of love, of placing one’s life for another, was nearly overwhelming.
And it was an especially poignant witness for me personally at this time of great challenge. As we emerge from shelter in place, I have a sense that one of our greatest limitations right now is our diminished imagination of how we might love each other, how we might lay our lives down for one another.
These stories of sacrificial love reminded me that there are myriad ways to lay down our lives for each other. They can be grand in scale, taking a family member into your home, and it can also be more intimate, by standing alongside someone when few others will.
But our lives are shot through with the opportunities to be willing to set our lives down alongside another. And though they require courage and willingness to risk, from what I heard in our celebration of St. Matthias yesterday, the effects of these acts of love for another are the ones that reverberate for generations to come.
Walking Through the Wilderness of Lent: Daily Reflections
This year we are exploring metanoia, transformation, by walking through the wilderness of Lent. For some time we have been in the wilderness, and there remain, but this Lent we are choosing to walk through rather than around so that we can turn our lives towards God and deeper into the great mystery that is Easter. To do that, we will provide a prompt for each day of Lent, and along with that, a parishioner’s response to that prompt. We ask that you set aside a time each day to reflect with us, using both the prompt and your fellow parishioner’s reflection for your own reflection. Then, take your reflections into a small group where you can share your thoughts with others.
Here is an excerpt from Day 8, written by Annie Rovzar:
I can remember the distinct anxiety I felt on New Years Eve when a light conversation with my roommates turned to the inevitable reflections on 2020. What important lessons did you learn this past year?
The truth was I didn’t know what I’d learned. Ten months into the pandemic, I felt myself still in the throws of grief, rage, and confusion that made my attempts at trying to make meaning of this global catastrophe feel useless. I wanted to offer some morsel of wisdom to share about myself, the world, God, but when it came time for me to share, all I could offer was that I was getting (maybe) (a little more) comfortable with saying “I don’t know.”
Visit the Lent 2021 page to read the rest of Annie’s reflection, and reflections by other All Soulsians.
From the Vestry
Notes from the February 10 Vestry Meeting
On February 10th, your Vestry met over Zoom for our first full session of the new year, and welcomed our newest members, Shawn Adderly, Nydia MacGregor, Kirk Miller, and Kim Wong.
We began the evening together with Chaplain Tim Ereneta guiding us in a spiritual reflection on Mark 9: 2-9. We explored the Transfiguration, through a personal lens as Tim asked us to think back to a transformative event in our life, how it changed our perspective and what it would have been like if we could never tell anyone about it. The discussions were powerful, as they always are when Tim is serving as chaplain.
As you might expect, the first meeting of the year was focused on setting the stage for the rest of the year. This included approving the 2021 Vestry calendar, discerning the leadership of our body and ministry group liaisons, and brainstorming ideas for new Vestry practices. While this might appear to be a mundane list of “must do” tasks, the conversation was lively and resulted in an OUTSTANDING leadership team for 2021:
Senior Warden: Toni Martinez-Borgfeldt
Junior Warden: Kaki Logan
Chaplains: Nydia MacGregor, Tim Ereneta
Treasurer: Vimila Tharisayi
Clerk: Andrew Willis
From there we moved to Father Phil’s Rector’s Report, which focused primarily on the property/facilities with an update on Jordan Court (If you haven’t driven by to take a peek, you should. The progress is amazing.) And a big shoutout of gratitude to the rugged team who stepped up or knelt down as the case may be, to replace damaged flooring in the preschool after flooding. We also remembered the extraordinary effort of the ASP staff throughout the year and especially in the virtual annual meeting.
Finally, we reflected on our January Vestry retreat where we worked on intercultural development with clergy and vestry from Christ Church, Alameda and St. Columba’s, Kent, WA,
As always, please include the Vestry in your prayers as we include you in ours.
Kieran King, Vestry 2019-2021
From the Deacon
Ashes on the Way/Prayers of the People 2021
In my last Pathfinder article I wrote about Ash Wednesday: I learn something every year and am certain I will this year. I was not wrong.
This Ash Wednesday, while difficult and remarkably different, was the most powerful I have experienced yet. I felt the beginning of Lent arrive with more force than ever before, and the question I’ll be asking myself as a part of my practice this season is “What and who do I need to remember?” That I am dust, yes, but there’s more.
When I showed up at the 8th and Harrison RV camp to bring ashes to folks living there, Yesica Prado met me and walked with me. She introduced me to lots of folks I didn’t know and I offered ashes. Some folks wanted them, many didn’t, but it was good to talk with people and invite them into the ritual.
As we were walking back Yessica reminded me of something. When people become homeless they drop out of rituals and traditions and spaces they usually participate in. They forget what they used to know, what they used to practice. I reflected what I had heard (in different ways) from those we had been talking to: I remember. People told me, not that directly but through many different comments and reactions, that bringing the ashes to the camp reminded people of life outside of it. It reminded people of the traditions we practice and the cycle of the year, whether they wanted to participate or not. And it was a blessing to help people remember, and to demonstrate that we will be there with an invitation to participate. It was a blessing to demonstrate that folks who are unhoused are a part of our community, not separate, not on the sidelines, not forgotten.
For me, I will be remembering all of this this Lent as I make plans for my new ministry “Prayers of the People,” expanding work in the camps with prayer and support. This Ash Wednesday was both a continuation of our Ashes on the Way practice, bringing ashes to those who can’t come to church, and the launch of this new ministry. I am grateful for the learning. Anyone who’s interested in being involved can contact me at email@example.com.
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am on Zoom for what was our outdoor, courtyard worship service. Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline: 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78630294068?pwd=cmdoenJYRWUwR2J6QkhxSHNsakt0UT09
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
7:30am Bible Study
This group of 9-13 regulars is still meeting regularly. We are open for anyone else seeking an early morning Bible study with rotating facilitators. In order to receive the Zoom link sent out each Saturday, just email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.
Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel, email@example.com, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am.
Story With Story taught by Jeannie Koops-Elson and the Rev. Phil Brochard at 10:10 on Zoom (click here to enter the class) on February 21, 28, March 7 & 14.
The Bible is full of passages that seem to resonate with one another. The ancient stories of the people of Israel were the foundational texts of the people recording the stories and letters that became the New Testament. These authors seem to intentionally invoke and echo the older stories as they narrate the life of Jesus Christ and His Way. In this class, we will look at pairs of passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and through close reading and conversation, explore what new richness or understanding we uncover when we lay these stories alongside each other.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
Children’s Chapel meets Sundays via Zoom at 10:10! The theme for Show & Tell this week is the cross. Bring any type of cross you can find in your home. If you can’t find one, make one! If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Kid’s Book Club meets Wednesdays at 4:00pm on Zoom. We’re reading The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson. Hope to see you there!
Youth group will resumes meeting outdoors every other Sunday! Our next meeting will be this Sunday, February 28th, at 4:00pm. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at email@example.com to be added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Lent 2021 Practices
Click here to learn about what we’re up to this Lenten season and to participate with the daily Lenten reflections that our fellow parishioners are writing for us!
Check out Season 3: Episode 2 of the Soulcast!
Community Loom for the Reredos (aka the back wall in the church)
Our community loom for Lent is going to be out at the Spruce St steps all day on Saturday (see picture below). Come on by to spend a little time adding to it! Weaving can be a really lovely contemplative practice— it’s also very easy and forgiving, so no experience needed. We’re hoping this will be a collaborative piece that we build as a community over the weeks of Lent. While you’re here, write a prayer and tie it on our prayer arch. All materials are provided!
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Summer Book Group
During the summer, All Soulsians select a book to read together and devote the 10:10 Sunday adult formation hour to discussing that book. The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book for Summer Book Group. Books may be fiction or nonfiction. After nominations are gathered, we will put nominees up for a parish-wide vote. Beginning in June 2021, all are welcome to join us in discussing the book during formation hour at 10:10 am. Help us pick the book by submitting suggestions either here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: email@example.com for more information.
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.
Alameda County Vaccine Information
If you are over 75, you qualify for vaccination! Click here for more information if you need it.