From the Rector
On the Spruce Street Steps
In the last few weeks Joan Blair, a longtime All Soulsian, posted a classic picture from 1979. On the Spruce Street steps stand three rows of acolytes, in cassocks and cottas that look remarkably like the ones that still hang in our acolyte room today. In this picture you’ll see Blairs and Burchams, Lavertys and Sieberts. It was incredible to see those teenagers on those steps, distilled in that moment from over 40 years ago. Those All Soulsians are now living far and wide, but they remain connected to one another and this place despite time and distance.
One of the gifts of being in one place, the corner of Cedar and Spruce, for a good amount of time (117 years and counting), is a connection across time. How many places in your life are still available for you to visit and connect to? Your childhood home? A school you attended? An office you’ve worked in? Part of what can make Christian community so profound are these relationships of kinship that are mediated by a particular place over years, even decades and centuries. All Souls Parish is one of those places. And I can’t help but think of that picture when I look at another picture, this one taken on the Spruce Street steps this past Christmas Eve.
Here I’d like to share a more personal reflection. This past Christmas Eve was a challenging one in several ways. The Omicron surge was just beginning, the situation felt like it was shifting by the hour, with folks being exposed to Covid. Then, in the 8pm service we experienced a cascade of audio problems, which compromised our stream to those worshipping at home. It was a hard night.
And then we came out to the sidewalk and stairs following the service, and something beautiful happened. For the first time in months our youth got to see each other. And then some of our collegiates, home from the holidays, got to check in about what college is like in a time of pandemic. And then several of our young adults reminisced and talked about making their way in this strange world (with a particular concentration of them in Brooklyn, New York right now).
It was just amazing to be able to see these remarkable people, connected to one another again, laughing and telling stories. And I realized that this is one of the gifts of staying in one place for awhile, something that I am incredibly grateful to be able to do. By being here I’ve been able to bear witness to the comings and goings, the fullness of life in one place, with this particular group of people. It is an incredible gift.
So today I simply want to give thanks. For the moments of connective grace that have held so many children of God for so long, for the moments I’ve seen on those steps, and for the hope of the ones yet to come.
Theater of the Sacred Soul
New Year’s Day Reading at All Souls celebrates Love and Redemption
Theatre of the Sacred Soul comes together on January 1st every year for its annual staged reading, welcoming in both veteran and new participants as we celebrate the continuation of the 12 days of Christmas and the arrival of the New Year.This year’s reading was W.H. Auden’s For the Time Being, A Christmas Oratorio, written between the years 1939-1940 as war raged in Europe, immediately prior to the entry of the United States. England’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had just resigned under pressure for his gross inability to lead the country against the systematic invasion of Germany, and had been replaced by Winston Churchill, who though unpopular, offered the only chance of salvation beyond peace talks with Hitler. Chamberlain and other leaders including Joseph Kennedy had approached Germany to negotiate a peace treaty, continuing to meet in secret, illegally, even after Chamberlain left his role as Prime Minister.
Hope was all but gone as “darkness and snow descended” on the land. …”Nothing can save us that is possible: We who must die demand a miracle.” – And the miracle happens in the heralding of a child that is about to be born, first by Gabriel (played by Mary Rees), and then by The Star of the Nativity (Kay Dreher).
The Christmas journey unfolds in wartime England, introduced by the Chorus, who as one voice move from hopelessness and fear into wonderment, possibility and finally transformation made possible by love and brotherhood.
While the play, written in a combination of verse and prose, allows for ‘a cast of millions’, we in fact had about 13. This allowed every member of the cast to step out of the masses and take on one or more roles. And though written when England was ravaged by the invasion of Nazi Germany, we could as easily have been placed in the time and place we currently live in.
The climactic part of the piece was marked by the “Meditation of Simeon”, followed by Herod’s soliloquy in “The Massacre of the Innocents”. Simeon (Renae Breitenstein), has seen the birth of the child and therefore finds himself back in ‘the Garden’ so that a peoples might be born again into Love. Herod (Scott MacDougall), on the other hand, sits on his ‘throne’ puzzled and impatient with a public who lack reason, who don’t appreciate all that he has done to see that order is maintained. Both Renae and Scott were wonderful in their illumination of the conflict between the calling of the soul, and the control of a privileged government who lack caring or understanding of their people.
Renae Breitenstein (Herod, Desert Voice, Narrator); Emily Benner (Intuition); Kay Dreher (Feeling, Narrator, Star of the Nativity, Desert Voice); Hallie Frazer (Sensation, Mary, Soldier, Narrator); Suzanne Siebert (Thought, Shepherd, Soldier, Narrator); Mary Rees (Gabriel, Shepherd, Narrator); Nanette Deetz (Wise Man, Narrator); Kenyon Hall (Joseph, Soldier); Caroline Putnam (Wise Man, Rachel, Desert Voice, Narrator); Ruth Richards (Soldier, Narrator); Scott MacDougall (Wise Man, Herod); Julie Holcomb (Sheperd, Desert Voice);
by Hallie Frazer
Reflection on the New Year
“Oh, won’t it be wonderful when we get back to normal?”
Will there ever be a “normal” again. Do we really want one? Life will never be the same, but let us not be sorrowful, let us be full of joy for the challenge, new paths we shall discover, new ways of looking at our daily lives, our daily tasks.
Throw off the chaff… focus on the wheat. Father Phil’s sermon last Sunday hit the nail on the head. With time on our hands, we have been able to rid ourselves of those unnecessary parts of our lives and find better paths to seek the important.
We have found new ways to come together, and we shall be continually finding more. The final lines of Amanda Gorman’s poem, “New Day’s Lyric” ring so true for us. “For wherever we come together, we will forever overcome.”
–Christina Robinson and Margaret Sparks
New Day’s Lyric
by Amanda Gorman
May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
We steadily vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.
This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.
What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;
Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.
Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.
We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgot nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.
Save the Dates
January 23, Put together welcome baskets for Jordan Court residents after the 11:15 service
January 30, Annual Meeting
Join us at 9am, in-person, outdoor service in the courtyard. This service will move indoors if the weather is below 40 degrees at 8:15a, if the AQI is over 150, or if there is rain.
Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are required.Then join us outdoors at 5p Sunday Night Service for a Eucharistic Service.
Due to the CDC mask mandate, masks are required for all large indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. This also applies to when you visit the church offices during the week. Thank you!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Adult Formation Classes
We have three classes being offered this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org to join that Zoom call.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 10:10a. This Bible Study meets in the Chapel downstairs or on Zoom. Contact Daniel Prechtel, email@example.com to join that Zoom call.
The Body of Christ: Worship as Healing, taught by Cynthia Li, MD, with Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers in the Parish Hall or on zoom (click here). How do we, as a faith community, respond to this world in flux? And how do we begin to experience the healing God offers through Christ during these dynamic times? In this class, we will examine how healing happens, and how Christian worship practices can activate healing in the heart, mind, and body. We will explore Scripture, new science, principles of integrative medicine, and embodied practices.
Children & Family News
Sunday School on Sunday mornings is cancelled/postponed for this week until this surge has passed and we can more safely (and with a more robust team of teachers) meet. Keep an eye out for the Pathfinder and/or the Children & Family newsletter for those updates.
The same goes for Youth Group for now.
Other News & Notes
Jordan Court Welcome Baskets, postponed one week
Due to some delays in getting some of the content of the baskets for the new Jordan Court residents, we’re postponing putting them together until 1/23, after the 11:15 service in the Parish Hall.
You can still make a pledge to All Souls for the 2022 year! Head over to the Stewardship Season 2021 page on our website for more information about how to give and to find the electronic pledge card.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (email@example.com). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Check out Season 5, episode 4 of the Soulcast with our special guest, Jamie Apgar.
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.
This week we learned the news that Pat Wortner, longtime parishioner, died overnight sometime between Monday and Tuesday. Due to the surge in Covid cases, the family is planning for the memorial to be held sometime in February or March. We’ll keep you updated as we learn the final date.
If you haven’t yet returned your Advent wreath forms, please do so that we can distribute them for next year’s Advent season. You can just bring them to the church with you and drop them off on a counter in the Narthex.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Chalice)
We’re looking to build up a store of reusable chalices so that we can stop using disposable chalices each week for the Eucharist. If you have a few small vessels around your house that you’d like to donate, please bring them and leave them on the back Narthex counter. You can watch this episode of the Soulcast to get a better idea of what we have in mind.