FROM THE RECTOR
Keep Showing Up
Throughout this Christmas season––the Eve, the Day, and the Sunday following, one of the unexpected gifts has been seeing people who now live far away return to the corner of Cedar and Spruce to worship.
After some reflection I have come to realize that for me this is an unforeseen benefit of a long(ish) pastorate. I’ve now been serving as the Rector of All Souls for over eleven years (surprisingly, this is double the average pastorate in the United States), and as a result have the joy of seeing people who have moved to other parts of the United States come back again.
Just this past week and a half there were the half-dozen young adults from All Souls who are living in Brooklyn and Manhattan, a family who moved to Seattle seven years ago (their child whom we baptized as a baby seems quite a bit larger), a couple who more recently moved to Florida, and a former staff member who chose to spend her last Sunday in the Bay Area singing and praying with us. And, like most Christmases, there were many people who still live in the area who came that holy night to re-connect.
What I realized over the course of these conversations was that this reconnection with God, mediated through All Souls Parish, is made possible because we keep showing up. Some of the more powerful encounters that I’ve had over the years I’ve been here have been with people who were married here 60 years ago, or someone whose life was changed as a young person here 40 years ago. It’s almost like salmon that return to the native waters to spawn, this instinctual drive to come back to this space and these people.
And it’s only possible because week after week we continue to show up. In the words of one of our baptismal promises, Sunday after Sunday we, “continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” This consistent practice offers people a place to land when they are grieving, a people to celebrate with in joy, and a parish to practice with when they are ready to return.
Just this past Advent, a couple that had attended All Souls over ten years ago felt a pull of the Spirit to practice again. Because we are showing up on Sundays to learn and to worship, they were able to return––even if the times on Sundays have changed, and many of the faces are new.
As we turn to a new year, a year with tremendous potential energy in many different directions, I believe that this faithful persistence will be even more critical. One of the temptations that we face, at a time that feels defined by polarization and reactivity, is to withdraw. To retreat to perceived safety, to hole up out of an understandable desire for self-preservation.
And. The gift that I witnessed this past Christmas was how many people were able to return and come close because we keep showing up. Showing up to pray with each other, to sing together, to give to others, to listen to one another, to forgive each other, to search for the Extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. So as we begin a new year, come what may, let’s keep showing up, together.
Adult Formation class
The Body of Christ: Health and Healing in the New Year
Most of us live with our minds/consciousness thousands of miles away from our bodies. Yet as a container for Spirit, are our bodies not a direct expression of the Christ essence? Why was it important for God to be embodied in human form, and what lessons might we learn from Jesus by example? What does it mean experientially for the body to be a temple, or for us to be the light of the world?
In this 3-week class, beginning January 5, 2020, Father Phil and parishioner Dr. Cynthia Li, MD, will explore these questions through stories, Scripture, contemporary science, and ancient healing arts. We will also introduce simple embodied practices to open ourselves to the healing power of the God who is everywhere, the God who heals hearts and minds, and also bodies.
– Cynthia Li
Welcoming New Members
Marshall Worsham- I am a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at Berkeley. I enjoy hiking and reading, and I grew up in the Episcopal church in Georgia. My partner, Caroline, and I returned to the Bay Area in 2018 after a couple of years in Taiwan.
Caroline Worsham- I’m a proud Colorado native and love the outdoors. I work with a small consulting firm that advises philanthropies, universities, and companies on how to improve education programs and workforce pipelines. I grew up Presbyterian, but came to prefer the Episcopalian approach and got confirmed in the Episcopal church in 2015.
Sarah and Kevin Orner are excited to join the All Souls community. Sarah works in communications and grant writing for a non-profit. Sarah grew up in Daytona Beach, FL, and spent time in several different faith traditions. Kevin is a postdoctoral researcher in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is investigating urine-derived fertilizers. Kevin grew up in a Lutheran church in Minneapolis, MN. In the past two years, Kevin and Sarah have lived in Monteverde, Costa Rica and Tampa, Florida. In their spare time, they enjoy reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
Christmas at All Souls
Christmas at All Souls has a different feel at the 4p, the 8p, the midnight mass, and Christmas morning, but each service offered a glimpse into God with us and was full of wonder. Here are some images of those celebrations.
Shepherds and Angels gather to tell the Nativity Story
The final tableau
Distributing stars all around the nave
Finally…. Silent Night
The period for vestry nomination is underway! Rules: 1. A nomination should not be made without the nominee’s knowledge and approval. 2. A nominee must be a current pledging member, and 3. S/he must have two years at ASP as an active member. The nomination box is on the back counter in the Narthex.
If you are interested in joining a small group here at church, Emmaus Groups might be just the thing. Emmaus Groups are spiritual journeying groups that meet every-other-week for 16 week “semesters”. These groups started this past fall when we had one group of married couples and two groups of women meeting. This winter the married couples group is continuing but is full (we could start another if enough couples wanted to meet!), then there is a men’s group that will pick back up (they met as a pilot group for the first time last spring), and finally the women’s groups that have been meeting have some folks staying and some leaving, which leaves a lot of space for either new groups (single-gender or mixed-gender) to start or for folks to be added to the existing groups. If any of this sounds interesting, get in touch with Emily Hansen Curran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will work to get you into a group that makes sense for you. Deadline to join for this coming semester is January 19th.
Annual Meeting – Save the Date, January 26th!
Please come together for our Annual Meeting: a time to hear about the budget, to listen to stories from this past year and many years past, and elect our new leadership. Please bring food to share! Childcare will be available on the courtyard; Sunday School does not meet this day.
Messy Vespers at St. Alban’s (see below)