FROM THE RECTOR
What We Take Away
We have begun again. Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of Lent. As the day unfolded, and as the collective weight of the liturgies had their effect, I found myself feeling more and more and more vulnerable. By the time we reached the rail for the ashes of mortality and the bread of new life at the 7:30pm service, I was on the verge of tears.
In my experience this season of Lent has a way of doing that. It’s the disciplines that we inhabit. It’s the chants and hymns that pull us into a new place. It’s the space that we recreate. It’s the deep silences that we keep.
Last week Cynthia Li wrote a beautiful article about the interior process of Lent. Yesterday I found myself in wonder at same process, this time with the work of this community. Dozens of All Soulsians had been preparing many ways for us to enter into this journey––musicians, sacristans, artists, liturgists, preachers, scholars.
And while some of the actions we take can feel overly penitent––as we speak instead of sing, as sticks replace blooms, as brightness and color is removed––the intent is not punishment. Deprivation perhaps, but not punishment.
For centuries the Church has come to the wisdom that removing familiarity, intentionally refraining from certain words or chords or colors can help us enter a different space, a space of reflection, examination and preparation.
It is my experience that by delving into this spare and restrained time, not simply on our own, but also in a communal way, we can find clarity, openness, and a most precious gift in our always-on, instantaneous culture: space.
By stripping away what is not necessary and can even be distracting, we can bring clarity to our beliefs, our hopes, and our actions. With little to get in the way, if we are courageous enough, we can open ourselves to the Holy. In the repetition of chant and the depth of silence, we can find within the stillness for which we yearn.
Even if it’s only for five weeks, by intentionally taking away things we love––icons of the Good Shepherd and shouts of praise to the Lord––we have the possibility to create the space to be made new once more.
Welcome to Lent.
Thanks Be to God
In our Sunday services, we engage in a variety of activities together: praise, hearing and reflecting on God’s word, asking for God’s help or forgiveness, and thanking God for blessings. This last activity is so important that our Book of Common Prayer requires a great prayer of thanks be sung or spoken over the table at every Eucharist. Yet, to further enhance our thanks-giving, especially its communal dimension, we at All Souls have found it suitable to insert something into our Sunday services that is not indicated in the prayer book: “Thanksgivings of the Community,” a time for people to share things for which they are particularly thankful that day.
As a way of acclaiming the community’s joy at these instances of grace, we have for a long time sung a short response with the words “God grant them many years.” Recently, though, the All Souls staff has been noticing two things about this piece of music. First, the words seem a bit of an odd fit for thanksgivings that are not birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. Second, the piece doesn’t always seem to provoke robust singing from the congregation.
With this week’s shift into the season of Lent offering everyone the opportunity to try out new faith practices, we thought it would be a good moment to collectively experiment with a new piece, which I will teach in church on Sunday. The words are simple: “Thank you, Lord, I just want to thank you, Lord.” We hope not only that these words might more fully encompass the broad range of things people share, but also that the piece might help us give new shape and energy to our collective expression of gladness.
Snack + Stories
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, has written and spoken about “Weavers.” The idea is people––in lots of small ways showing up and offering deep hospitality. Most doing it in their natural course of life. Sound familiar? Yep – I recognize All Souls in this description also. A key to the Weavers idea is community and often that is a piece of our fabric that is lacking due to time and other commitments. Somehow community seems like an extra. But we crave this community and it is often something we look for – both for ourselves and our families.
This craving for community was one of the main reasons we decided to offer a different kind of formation this Lent: Family formation. We are calling it “Snack + Stories” and it is designed to be a time on Sunday mornings that you can connect with your kids through a story and continue that connection with fellow parents at All Souls.
Snack + Stories will be on March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29th in the Common Room during the Formation Hour (10:15am – 11:10am). Similar to the Lenten “Soup and Stories,” this program is designed for families. All children from infants to 5th grade are invited. It will include a time for parents and kids to hear a story together and share a snack. There will be time for parents and kids (in two groups) to discuss the story and share their own stories. Parents will also have some time to discuss a weekly practice of prayer that they can use with their family the following week.
If you have any questions, please email Whitney Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to filling in this piece of fabric with you this Lent. Come and join us!
Soup + Story
One group left!
Soup + Story is our Lenten home group series. For the five weeks in Lent, we will gather in parishioner’s home all over the East Bay to share stories of our faith journeys and to eat dinner together. Look through the groups available and choose a group based on geography and accessibility, then sign-up for a group either in the back of the church on sign-up sheets, or online (click here). This year’s theme is prayer, and each week we’ll try on new practices of prayer. Additionally this year, we’ll spend the final session discussing and reflecting together on this Living Waters project. Don’t miss out!
Have you wondered about the Episcopal church? Wonder no more! For the six Sundays in Lent, starting March 1, on Sunday evenings from 7-9pm, we’ll host this introductory course. In it we’ll explore the whys, hows, and whats of the Episcopal church. If you are looking to get Baptized, Confirmed, Received, or Reaffirmed in the church, this is the course for you. Or, if you’re just looking to learn more about this Episcopal tradition, this is also the course for you. Written by our own Stephan Quarles and Emily Hansen Curran with help from a fellow Episcopalian, Andrew Lee, this course is meant to deepen our faith, our practice, and our relationships. All are welcome.
See Emily, email@example.com, for more information.
New Adult Formation Class
This Lent, head to the Parish Hall during Formation Hour (between the 9 & 11:15 services) for a class called Sacrificial Reflections. In this course, we will think together about the very troubled and troubling topic of sacrifice in the Christian tradition. The first session, “Reflecting on Sacrifice” will examine some of the ways that Christians have imagined sacrifice, biblically and theologically. The second, “Reflections of Sacrifice,” will center on what it might mean to be living reflections of a healthy, life-giving view of sacrifice in the Christian context. In the third session we’ll turn our attention to the eucharist and explore ways in which our celebrations are related to sacrifice. And the fourth we’ll tie it all together.
This class will meet March 1, 8, 15, and 22 and will be taught by Dr. Scott MacDougall, The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, and The Rev. Phil Brochard.
Celebration of New Ministry
Join the folks at Church of the Resurrection in Pleasant Hill on March 21st at 6:30pm for their Celebration of New Ministry for The Rev. Liz Tichenor. For those not familiar with it, this is a celebration of all the congregation has been and is becoming, and it’s also the time when Liz+ will be formally installed as the rector. It’ll be a party! All are most welcome. Clergy friends, it’d be wonderful if you vested and joined—please bring a red stole. Church of the Resurrection is at 399 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill. There is ample parking in our lot and across the street in the medical center. The church is also about a 10 minute drive from Pleasant Hill Bart.
Living Waters Capital Campaign Informational Coffee
Join us for these small group gatherings where we will communicate information regarding the Living Waters capital campaign with time for questions, comments and sharing. Various times and dates will be available between March 21 and April 26. Signups will be available at church, starting March 8, and by mail/phone invitation.
“Have you ever wondered what the kids do when they leave the church after the Gospel? Perhaps you have wondered why they leave? Or even where do they go? Every Sunday at the 9am and 11:15am services, children who wish, join two leaders and go downstairs to the Chapel of the Nativity. This time is focused on the children’s formation and is usually centered around the Gospel story for the day, the church season, or an observance. The time is opened with a prayer and then the topic for the day is introduced with a story. After the story, the children spend time reflecting on the story with questions and often some work to help them explore some of their wonderings. During the month of February, we are spending time exploring aspects of prayer – in anticipation of entering Lent on February 26th – Ash Wednesday. We are reading the following stories: “In God’s Name” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; “Thank you, God for Everything” by August Gold; “God’s Dream” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams; and “All the World” by Liz Garton Scanlon.
Children’s Chapel time is designed to give kids a chance to experience ritual at the fingertips, listen to the stories in their own language, and explore the greater questions with the peers.
Do you have questions about children’s chapel or perhaps you feel a calling to this important ministry? Ask Whitney Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join All Souls’ Caring for Creation team
* Planning Adult Forum Series: Thursdays, 7pm, Feb 27 & Mar 5, at All Souls.
* Teach-In: “Faithful Action for Climate Justice,” 9-4, March 4, Jesuit School of Theology.
Contact Paloma Pavel (email@example.com) to confirm attendance, reserve lunch, and plan to carpool.
Summer Book Club
The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book to read this summer for Summer Book Group. Summer Book Group takes place from June to August. The parish selects one book to read through nomination and voting and then comes together each week during the summer to discuss the book. Books may be fiction or non-fiction, but we’re hoping for books that brought you into some encounter with God.
Nomination forms and a box for submissions are available at the back of the chapel and in the narthex outside the main worship space. Or submit your nomination online here!
Nominations are due by Sunday, March 15.
Summer Camps at the Bishop’s Ranch
If you are looking for an adventure for your family this summer or for your kids, registration has opened at the Bishop’s Ranch for camps! Check out the link below to see what opportunities await. https://www.bishopsranch.org/events/camps/