View from the Pew
When faced with eternity, I zone out. God as the Eternal, Forever and Ever, from Age to Age, loses me unless I find an anchor. Some time back, my wife, Angela, and I were at Dawn Patrol Mass (7:30 service). We got to the Our Father, “… for the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory are Yours now and forever. Amen.” “Now … Amen” got my attention. For me to say this, pray this, honestly I have to admit my world is one.
One, not two, meaning that Now is now, not now and then, some difficult to comprehend time or eternal otherness. I can’t treat my day-to-day world as a realm where God’s Kingdom is “not yet” in any sense worth talking about and claim there is my smaller, spiritual world, with church folk and liturgy where the Kingdom is “well, sorta now but really not yet.”
Instead, this Now forces me to look daily into this one world of work, neighborhood, family and friends, local to international politics, an economy that has use for so few – this crowded world, for signs of God’s Reign all around me. And what does it mean to be a sign to others that this is the real world? Whether responding to a client or opposing attorney, working through difficult choices in my family, or coping with a crowded BART train, in each I get to steward my own behavior. Does the Other have any way to look over my shoulder to something larger, better about the world? If Others see Angela and me needing to work out a difference in public, are we acting such that the married space between us becomes icon, pointing to a larger Love? Do I persist by my own choices and actions in claiming that the Real World actually is and always has been God’s. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,” the Psalmist reminds us.
Of course I have been listening each time we renew our baptismal promises. But being reminded every time I get to the end of the Our Father that every “Yes” and every “No” I utter everyday has consequences in this Now – well that’s a commitment with no wiggle room. Which isn’t to say the choice is always obvious or that there is only one choice that affirms this Real World in that moment. Whether planning food (omnivore or vegan or in between?), paying taxes, making decisions about our retirement, buying from Amazon or a local bookseller, making service commitments and keeping them – I make a stab at the right choice, for that time and for what I have to work with.
The Rev. C. W. Taylor authored a one page summary, “Stewardship is the Main Work of the Church” adopted by General Convention in the 1980’s. It has been a guide connecting the dots of my weekday life to my parish life: “Our worshiping working, praying, and giving within the Church provide the support that we and others need to engage in the often difficult and lonely tasks of proclaiming the good news, loving our neighbors, and striving for justice and peace.” That’s why I need all of you at All Souls and all those gathered in Christ, to remind me, support me, and forgive me on this path we share.
If anyone cares to talk about this over coffee or tea, I’m usually leaving the Parish House after the early Bible Workbench session (ends about 9:20). We could walk to Peet’s and back.
From the Senior Warden
The Numbers Part of the Story
Our average Sunday attendance in April (without Easter) was 248, with a 9:00 average of 104 and 11:15 average of 120. This began to look like a trend toward differential attendance at the two principal services, but then in May, with an average attendance of 237, the 9:00 and 11:15 averages were within 1 of each other (106.5 and 105.75 respectively). So we’re yet to develop a lasting trend line for this.
Holy Week was a story in itself, with 98 at Maundy Thursday, a total of 229 at the 4 Good Friday services, 180 at the Easter Vigil, and 523 at the three Easter morning services. The Easter morning totals tend to reflect the ministry breadth of a parish, i.e. the number of individuals who think of the parish as a spiritual resource, whether or not they avail themselves regularly of its worship or other activities. This is another indicator of parish activity volume in that it reflects numbers of individuals, unmasked by averaging.
And the pledged income numbers? Through May, our pledged giving has exceeded expenses for this part of the year, and due to some advance giving at the beginning of the year, some more than 5/12 of the pledged giving for the year has occurred. But the actual pledged giving during the months of April and May slackened somewhat, so we each need to remember to attend to this over the summer months.
Should you be wondering how the foregoing rather positive picture squares with the Giving Tree effort talk about a ‘deficit budget’, the key is the reality that a budget has to be written at the beginning of this year with predicted sources of income, e.g. pledges of individuals, so at the beginning of this budget year, predictable expenses exceeded predictable income. The Giving Tree is an opportunity for us collectively to fine-tune the income side of the budget to balance with expected expenses.
Giving Tree Gift Appeal – Weekly Update
We have been offered a generous $15,000 matching grant. To date, we have already received almost $14,044 toward our goal of $30,000. Our goal is to raise $2 for every $1 from this gift—and we are almost 1/2 of the way there! If you are able to give, please respond today to support our programs, reduce the All Souls budget deficit, and qualify us to receive matching funds. Our HEARTFELT thanks to those who’ve already given. Green Giving Tree Gift Appeal cards are available in the narthex at church.
Education for Ministry
Learn and Discover at All Souls
Did you ever wish you knew the Bible better? Did you ever wonder where some of the traditions of the Church came from? Do you ever wonder who Athanasius was and why a creed he wrote is in the back of the Book of Common Prayer? If this is you, then you might be right for EfM.
EfM is a unique program that equips laypeople for ministry in the Church. In four years I’ve read and studied the Hebrew scriptures, the New Testament, church history, theology, and how to live into my calling. I’ve learned about theological reflection and how to write a collect. But, perhaps most importantly, I did this with a small group of people, searchers just like you. We often speak of experiences changing our lives. I can honestly say my time in EfM has changed my life.
On Thursday, May 15, 2014, I, with eight other laypersons from the Diocese of California, graduated from a 4-year educational program known as Education for Ministry (EfM). Bishop Marc, who just happens to be an EfM graduate and a former EfM Mentor, officiated the service.
Did you know that there’s an EfM group All Souls? Cathy Thompson has been mentoring an EfM group for three years. This year, I’ll join Cathy as a co-mentor. If you’re interested in finding out more about EfM or are interested in joining the EfM group at All Souls, please speak with Cathy or myself or you can visit EfM website.
A Different Kind of Home Cooking
Life in Intentional Community
Have you had fried kimchi with tofu before?
This is what awaited my fellow intentional community residents on one of our Monday dinners. In the midst of potatoes, chicken, salad, and cake, my dish received a warm welcome on the bountiful table of fellowship.
Finding the right ingredients for communal living with friends who share your understanding of “home-cooking” is already hard to do; having an unusual spice that throws off the tried and tested way of being in a community further complicates matters. I consider myself that spice, metaphorically (and literally with the food). And yet, my fellow intentional community friends opened their doors and took a bite of my mediocre Asian home cooking. Maybe I am a watered down kimchi or peppered mac-n-cheese – who knows? Whatever the case, I have been blessed to be in a community in which is more than willing to add another layer of texture to being an intentional community by being inclusive to global ways of being and belonging.
I have been wondering about the “intention” of this intentional community. Is it a training ground for negotiating boundaries? Is it a venue for a “different kind of living?” I guess both are great possibilities. For me, this intentional community is about building Jeong, or special bond, to define it crudely. Rhian and I will be leaving soon for New Jersey. So, we could have just relegated this intentional community into a “fun” experience of meeting friends. But our intentional community friends made this experience into a memorable one that truly forms Jeong, an unforgettable experience that longs for the other. We will bring with us, wherever we go, the memories of shared conversations, meals, prayers, joys, laughter, cries, and consolations.
As the Chinese character for person shows, rén (人) – two sticks holding each other up, I believe that the friendship that this intentional community formed is, and will continue to be, support for each other throughout the years because I learned that the intentionality of this community depends not upon being an individual alone but the necessity of the other in the survival and existence of the self. My existence as Dong Hyeon Jeong has forever been changed? and become less than one, but also doubled (as Bhabha would say) by the unforgettable experiences that this community has imparted to me. For that, I truly thank our intentional community friends and All Souls Parish for this opportunity.
–Dong Hyeon Jeong