From the Rector
What Will We Manifest?
In this column in years past you might have read about the work of the 20th century social theorist Rene Girard. In 2019 I referenced his groundbreaking work on mimetic (or mirrored) violence when Governor Gavin Newsom suspended capital punishment in this state. And then, a couple of years ago I reflected on his work after the United States assassinated Major General Qassim Suleimani of Iran, an act that reverberates to this day.
Simply put, Girard recognized in human history a pattern of retributive violence, one that he understood could only be broken when one party to the mimetic violence refuses to fight fire with fire. And later in his life he saw in the Christ event a singular response, a third way to encounter the violence of the world, by refusing to return it.
I have Girard’s work on my heart today as we remember the events of January 6th, 2021, the storming of the United States Capitol as our legislators were attempting to ratify the free and fair election of Joseph Biden as President. There have been many sobering reflections on that day––of the remorse of some of the rioters, the trauma that many of the police officers and members of Congress continue to carry, and of the precarity of the democratic practices of this nation. What I am reflecting on today is of a more intimate nature, that of our hearts.
Many aspects of remembering the storming of the Capitol have me deeply troubled, and chief among them is a growing collective feeling that we don’t belong one to another. To be sure this has been building for a couple of decades, but this past year has seemed to accelerate these feelings. What I find so dispiriting is the sense from many across the spectrum that when we don’t feel like the other person belongs to us because of class or race or political party, most any means is now necessary to fight the people on the other side of the divide. This is witnessed in our politicians in ways small and large—members of Congress are unwilling to take the elevator with each other on the way to vote, or even have used social media memes that imitate the murder of their colleagues.
To be clear, seeking justice and naming difficult truths is essential to our collective well-being. Jesus did this regularly. But he also told parables like the Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which the enemy ends up being the one who shows mercy. I have few illusions that this coming year, and the ones that follow, will be easy. And that there will be people who do things that will frustrate and even infuriate us. But what we hold onto in our hearts will be critical to the people we will become.
So let us be wary friends, of where the shadows of our hearts lead us. Because it is easy to fall prey to the spirits of retribution and disavowal. But if we are to continue to engage in the work of the polis, the area of our collective lives where we work out the common good, for the good of our nation and of our community and of our hearts, my prayer is that we will do so following Jesus’ Third Way. If mercy and sacrifice are not on our hearts in the days to come I’m afraid that the revelations of January 6th will be manifested once again.
From the Vestry
The Vestry gathered in person on Tuesday, December 14 in a welcomed face-to-face, albeit masked, session in the run-up to Christmas. The evening started with a spiritual reflection on Mary’s Magnificat by Tim Ereneta, which set the tone for a thoughtful and productive evening.
The Vestry reviewed and approved the 2022 budget. During the related discussion it was mentioned that there was a significant increase in pledged income received for 2021 near the end of the year, thanks to the remarkable efforts of Stewardship campaign led by Richard Lynch. The Vestry expressed it gratitude to the congregation for its generous support.
Nate Conable joined the meeting to lead us through a presentation regarding the use of All Souls apartments in Jordan Court. Nate presented four options for the Vestry’s consideration. The Vestry engaged in thoughtful dialogue and decided that the All Souls’ apartments would be used to continue our commitment to “low cost” housing and as a direct and discernable benefit to our parish.
In his rector’s report, Fr. Phil updated the vestry on the calendar for Advent and Christmas. He indicated that the check list for apartment readiness for Jordan Court is looking good for a mid-January move-in date for residents. (ed. note, now early February because of the rains) Fr. Phil also shared the good news regarding the staff: Maggie on parental leave (Welcome baby McEwen), Jamie departing to move on to an exciting future, and Emily is officially now a Postulant!
The Vestry nominating committee reported that they have a stellar list of nominees for the 2022 class and that they have also procured six Deanery nominees. We are blessed to have such a committed and talented community to carry us forward in faith.
Save the Dates
January 16, Put together welcome baskets for Jordan Court residents after the 11:15 service
January 30, Annual Meeting
Join us at 9am, in-person, indoors, masks optional required. We will be baptizing at the 9a this Sunday (on the feast of Jesus’ baptism), so we will be indoors.
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 an Epiphany Party complete with cake and a chalk blessing for your home.
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 two classes being offered this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, email@example.com to join that Zoom call.
- Contagion and Connection: Exploring Illness, Care, and Community through Leviticus’ Story of the Metzora and the Priest in the Parish Hall or on Zoom (click here).
- The book of Leviticus tells us about the metzora, a person with a skin condition (often mis-translated as leprosy) who was considered to have some kind of contagion and was sent outside the Israelites’ desert encampment. During his time outside the camp, this person was visited weekly by the priest, a role that could be considered a prototype of a modern professional caregiver. While the outside-the-camp region may have been isolating and lonely, it may also have been a location for surprising connections and even for holiness. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this story has particular resonance for contemporary readers of the Bible. Through a combination of presentation, text study, and discussion, we’ll explore these sections of Leviticus through the lens of our own lives and experiences. Rabbi Jo Hirschmann is a chaplain and pastoral educator who serves as the director of Clinical Pastoral Education for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. With Nancy Wiener, she is a co-author of Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care, from which this session is adapted.
New Adult Formation Classes
Join us in January for two classes on Health and Healing with Rabbi Jo Hirschmann on January 9 and Rev. Ruth Meyers and Dr. Cynthia Li on January 16. Both classes start at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall or on Zoom (click here)
Next week: January 16: 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 will resume between the 9 & 11:15 services this Sunday, January 9th. For now, we’ll be split into two different age groups (preK-3rd grade & another group for 4th-5th graders). That afternoon, the Nicol family will also host our next family hike in Tilden at 3p at Huckleberry Preserve in Oakland. Meet-up at the Huckleberry Parking lot (here).
Other News & Notes
Vestry Nominations are Open
The nomination process has begun for new members for Vestry, Convention and Deanery. If anyone would like to self-nominate or to nominate someone (provided they check with the person first) please email Kaki Logan, Kaki.firstname.lastname@example.org . The new members will be selected at the All Souls Annual Meeting on January 30th.
You may have missed In-Gathering Sunday last Sunday, but 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 (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Check out Season 5, episode 3 of the Soulcast with our special guest, Michael Lewis.
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 email@example.com.
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.