From the Rector
Invited to Enter In
I could swear that this past Sunday was our Annual Meeting. Right. It was. Which wouldn’t be so unbelievable, except that in less than a week from today, we begin again with our Lenten journey to Easter.
This Sunday we climb the mountain for the Transfiguration. On Tuesday, we gather to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras with pancakes, jambalaya and much, much more. Then on Wednesday—morning, noon and night—we come together to mark the beginning of a turn, marked by ashes and sharing a meal around a table.
Each year, in our rite on Ash Wednesday, the presider offers this invitation, “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
And so, every year we are invited. And every year, many of us spend this week wondering, how will I respond? This year at All Souls, for this time of turning around, we will be looking to translate this invitation into practice in our daily living. One way we will be doing this is through the creation of Sacred Hearths. In her article later in this Pathfinder, Liz will be explaining more about what this will look like, but our intent is to offer resources to set aside a space in your home for prayer, meditation and reflection. On Tuesday night, starting at 5:30 pm in the Church (dinner starts at 6:00 pm in the Parish Hall), there will be stations with various elements to create these hearths, with weekly elements that can be added to it.
Then on Wednesday morning, we will be gathering for our Ash Wednesday services at 7:00 am in the Chapel, 12 noon in the Church and 7:30 pm in the Church. And for the second year, a group from All Souls Parish will be headed to downtown Berkeley to offer what we have called, “Ashes on the Way.” Gathering at the Downtown Berkeley BART station, several members of All Souls will be offering ashes, prayers cards, and their presence to those headed out that day.
On Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings this Lent there will be courses to help reflect upon how our practices can more fully reflect our beliefs. For our Lenten Series this year, I am really excited that we will be joined by author, priest, and professor, the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie. Suzanne has been a retreat leader across the country for decades and is a visiting professor at CDSP this semester. After we begin our Wednesday evenings in Lent with a Taizé service on February 17th, Suzanne will lead us in her course, “Entering the Seasons of the Soul” for the next four weeks using the liturgical year, art, scripture, and practice. And on Sunday mornings, as you’ll see below, in addition to our Scriptural study, Jesse Tichenor will be leading us in restorative practices of living with the Creation, and the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers will lead us in re-entering our promises made at baptism.
Each year, as we prepare ourselves for the Mystery that pervades our lives, we are invited to practice new ways of living a resurrective life. As Ash Wednesday approaches, take time to consider this invitation. Set space aside. Enter in. And prepare to be changed.
From the Associate Rector
Building a Sacred Heart(h)
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus nestles this gem – part tender, part challenge – into his Sermon on the Mount. We often use it as a lens to help us reflect on our practices with money. But as I look towards Lent, fast approaching, I’ve been pondering how we direct the treasure of our time. Back in December, I received a Christmas card from some dear friends. On the back of their lovely photo was a printed letter, in which they shared some of the highlights and big news items of 2015. Towards the end, they got particularly real: “We also note that we spent a lot of time aimlessly reading the internet, cleaning up after the cats, and loading and unloading the dishwasher.” It wasn’t self-deprecating so much as just plain honest.
Their self-awareness has had me thinking. How much do I give my treasured time to the rabbit holes of internet clickbait? Or to the addictive scrolling of my magical handheld rectangle? The problem is not the internet or the smartphone, I think, but what my friends rightly point out: when it’s aimless. It becomes deadening when these practices come to drive me, rather choosing myself where to place the treasure of my time, my attention, my focus.
In turning towards Lent again, we receive the space of a season to focus this attention and ask these questions together. This year we’ll be experimenting with a new practice: creating what we’re calling a Sacred Hearth at home. Maybe you already have something like this, and maybe this will be brand new, outside your comfort zone. Either way, or somewhere in between, I invite you to give it a try.
So, just what is a Sacred Hearth? Good question. I imagine it will take as many forms as there are homes gathered into All Souls.
At a conceptual level, building a Sacred Heart(h) is about recognizing what’s in our heart, what’s on our heart, where we want to direct our love. It’s about looking towards all that is sacred, naming all that is holy in our lives. And then it’s about gathering there — to pray, to remember, to look forward, to be together. Because we do gather – across time and space, whether as individuals or as families or as housemates, because we’re all trying to walk this way together. We gather through Lent to warm ourselves, as around a hearth, transfixed by the flame. Rather than being hypnotized by the blue glow of a screen, or by idle consumption, or fill in the blank, we look for this shared and dancing light.
This is a choice that I want to make. I say so out loud, publicly, because it seems that some accountability in these endeavors can help. This decision is a hard one to choose, and one that I – and we – actually have to make over and over again if we want to reshape our lives in this way.
On a practical level, our hope is that your Sacred Hearth will be simple and beautiful. Part home altar, part tabernacle, part collection of the mundane holy. Come on Tuesday at 5:30, just a little before we gather for pancakes and jambalaya, to begin creating a starter kit to bring home. This practice is intended for toddlers and teenagers and nonagenarians and millenials and anyone else who’s ready to give it a try. We will have some of the basic elements – purple textiles to ground the space, candles, materials to make crosses, icons and images for reflection, and some simple prompts to guide your practice at home. Much of what you need is already there though, and we’ll help you find it. Each week through Lent, we will offer ways and things to help deepen and expand this space.
My hope is that trying on the practice of creating and living with a Sacred Hearth will bring us more fully into the holiness of Lent. With this sacred space and this season, we can try on new patterns, new rhythms, new priorities. We do this not out of a sense of shame, misery, punishment, but born from the desire to reorder, setting aside the distractions that deaden us, honing our compass on Life, on the Holy.
New Formation Classes
We have one more round of current formation classes on February 7, “Growing Up in Christ” (with Susanna Singer in the Parish Hall) and “Living Wholeheartedly with Your Money” (with Jamie Nelson and Caroline McCall in the Common Room). The focus in “Growing Up in Christ” will be faith development in the teen years. You need not have attended previously to come this week.
Our Lenten session of classes begin February 14 and continue through March 13:
Practices of Stewardship of the Earth – Jesse Tichenor; Common Room.
“Be fruitful and multiply.” Check! “Subdue the earth.” Check! (Well, we’ve certainly put in a valiant effort). “Be a good steward of the garden.” Hmmm, perhaps a growing edge. But it’s kind of hip these days, right? Excellent – let’s do it! Now what does it really mean in practice? Honestly, what good can one person do in the face of challenges like global climate change, mass extinction, toxic aquifers, and trillion dollar industries married to business as usual? (Spoiler: A lot!) What rituals can sustain us in facing these challenges, without burning out, numbing out, or pretending all we need to change is our light bulbs? (Come give them a try!) How can effective stewardship of Creation bring us closer to God, our neighbors, our values, and our dreams? Through scripture and prayer, song and dance, reflection and sharing, this all-ages course will explore a multitude of practices to help us live boldly and playfully into our call as Christians to care for our common home.
We Will, with God’s Help – Ruth Meyers; Parish Hall
Our Lenten journey to the cross and empty tomb leads us to renew our baptismal covenant at the Easter Vigil. During this 5-week series, we will explore the promises we make at baptism, and ask how these promises shape our lives as Christians. What does it mean for us to renounce evil and turn to Jesus Christ? What is the significance of our creedal affirmation of belief in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How do we, with God’s help, live as Christians in the world today? How does our community of faith at All Souls help Christians young and old grow into the Christian faith and life?
Lectionary Bible Study: Bible Workbench – Parish House Garden Room
A lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups, the material invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives.
Fun with the Phoenixes
The Phoenixes, our 20’s and 30’s group, has lots going on these days! Last Sunday 14 of us gathered for lunch at Crepevine, and there was clear consensus that we need to repeat it soon.
Back by popular demand during Lent will be our Brunch and Bible studies, and also a bonus Taizé service. The Bible studies will be based on the following week’s readings. We will provide some food, but feel free to bring additional snacks and/or drinks if you wish.
Saturday February 27, 10:00 – 11:30 am: Brunch and Bible Study in the Parish House (across the parking lot from the church)
Friday March 4, 7:00 – 8:30 pm: Taizé Service (a time of beautiful meditative music, short prayers, time for silence and reflection, based on the tradition of the Taizé community in France) followed by munchies and conversation in the All Souls chapel (along Cedar St.)
Saturday March 12, 10:00 – 11:30 am: Brunch and Bible Study in the Parish House.
In addition to notices here and in the Blue Sheet, we also have a google email group for the Phoenixes. If you aren’t already on it and would like to be added so you’ll receive emails with more details about what’s coming up, just email Erica Clites.
We Do Not Walk Alone: A Resource for Suicide Prevention
On February 28th, All Souls will host We Do Not Walk Alone: A Resource for Suicide Prevention. All youth and those who love them are welcome. Join us in the Parish Hall from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. James Kirkham, Supervisor at Seneca Family of Agencies, and Alicia Hooton, Executive Director of Crisis Services at Seneca Family of Agencies, will lead this suicide assessment and prevention training. Contact Jess Powell for more information.
The Joy of Cooking
Our children like coffee hour! One might think, upon seeing their faces after the service, that it’s their favorite part of church. Some of the children bake cookies and proudly show them off to friends and adults. We adults bake cookies, too, and muffins, and Emily Benner’s delicious persimmon bars. So far this year, in addition to Emily, contributors include Bonnie Bishop, Priscilla Camp, Erica Clites, Sarah Crawford, Rebecca Eros, Madeline Feeley, Mandy Johnson, Emily Lyon, Martha Perdue, Elena Ramirez, Cathy Thompson, and Jennifer Ying. We need four contributions every Sunday. If you’d like to be part of this happy ministry, send me an email. Thank you.
– Mardie Becker
Touchstone Crosses for Lent
Two years ago 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 and Parish Hall before or after services on Sunday to spend a few minutes crafting some crosses!
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. If you still have palms from last year, bring them for the fire! Tuesday, February 9 — making Sacred Hearths at 5:30, dinner at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $10 adults / $5 kids / $25 max per family.
Begin your pilgrimage through a Holy Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 10. Services are at 7:00 am in the chapel and 12:00 pm and 7:30 pm in the sanctuary.
Join us at 6:30 pm on Wednesday evenings during Lent for a soup supper and our Lenten Series. We’ll begin with a Taizé service on February 17 and continue with “Entering the Seasons of the Soul” for the next four weeks using the liturgical year, art, scripture, and practice, led by the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie. If you are able to help provide soup or bread for one of the suppers, please contact Jeannie Koops-Elson or sign up here.