FROM THE RECTOR
A Conversation, Long-Overdue
Every Sunday we offer Thanksgivings to God for the movement of the Spirit in our lives. And in those patterns of birthdays and anniversaries, years of sobriety and commemorations of those whom we love but see no longer, I always look forward to the Sunday around the birthdays of two of our parishioners, Gloria Bayne and Margaret Sparks.
Gloria and Margaret have known each other for years. Years as in decades. Decades as in over a half-century. I’ll stop there. And each year, as a testament to their enduring friendship, they get up in front of our congregation and offer thanks for another year of life, especially since one of them is two years older than the other.
Over the years that Margaret and Gloria have known each other they have shared many things — they each have three children who are paired up in age, for a time they lived within a few blocks of each other, they’ve been pillars of Episcopal churches together for scores of years. But in all that time, they didn’t really discuss one element of their lives — their race.
Gloria grew up in Texas as a black person; Margaret grew up in Indiana as a white person. Time, opportunity and circumstance brought them together in the East Bay in the 1960s and despite the events of that decade and the decades since, they didn’t talk about race as part of their relationship. Yes, they had careers, and marriages, and smaller, then larger children. And. The topic of race never seemed to be a large part of what they talked about. Until recently.
Given the nature of the dominant American culture, and its unwillingness to understand and own up to the legacy of this nation’s original sin of racism, this is not surprising. At the least, talking about race has been seen as impolite or unnecessary by the dominant culture, and at the worst, openly discussing the effects of racism has been often seen as subversive and destructive. This taboo around race has left us alienated one from another, and even from ourselves. Margaret and Gloria weren’t willing to let that stand.
As a result of their conversations and through delving into their childhoods, their families of origin, and the contexts in which they grew up, they came to know themselves and each other more deeply. It started as a desire to hear each other’s stories and to learn how each other’s racial identity has impacted who they have become. This took place, and even more: these two friends have decided to share the fruits of their conversations with all of us. And it begins this Sunday.
I hope that you will be able to join Margaret and Gloria and a couple of other guests in their long-overdue conversation this Sunday, March 19th at 12:45 pm in our Parish Hall. Being the unbelievably hospitable people that they are, they have insisted on providing a light lunch.
With your participation in their conversation, I hope that you and I will be able to learn from these remarkable women. And even more, I hope that that we will each have the courage to take part in our own long-overdue conversation with someone we know about race and identity.
Come this Sunday to listen to these faithful women, full of heart. Then go, and do likewise.
Job Opening: Lead Child Care Worker
One of the wonderful things about All Souls these days is the great abundance of babies and little kids. This is a very lively time in our community! While children are most welcome in our worship services, for some babies and toddlers, it works better and is more fun to spend some time in the nursery on Sunday mornings. We are currently in a search for a new Lead Child Care Worker to serve in this area of our ministry. While the job is not open to parishioners, (you would never get to worship!) we hope that you will help spread the word to friends or neighbors who may be a good fit.
The ideal person would be a fun, reliable, loving, and experienced caregiver. Do you know someone who is warm, curious, and finds joy in building relationships with babies and toddlers? Who would enjoy having time with fabulous little people as part of their weekly rhythm? Who is ready to get on the floor, bring a good sense of humor, and support these little ones in exploring the world? If someone jumps to mind, please send them our way! The full job description is available online here, and questions can be directed to Liz Tichenor. The priority deadline for applications is March 26.
Preparing for Easter
Creating Our Paschal Candle
Here at All Souls we have a marvelous tradition of melting down our old altar candles each year to make the next year’s Paschal Candle, which is first lit on the Easter Vigil, the Saturday night before Easter, and then lit through the year at services for baptisms and funerals. Our candle-making tradition was started a few years ago when Father Phil and parishioner Kelly Marston came up with the idea to make the candle ourselves instead of purchasing one, and Phil asked me to decorate the candle with a theme of bursting pomegranates representing the new life of the resurrection. (Images of candle decorations through the years can be seen on the All Souls website in the Visual Arts section.
I love so many aspects of this project at All Souls: the fact that we make the candle out of our already blessed and well-used altar candles from the entire year previous; that the candle is 100% beeswax which I always recall when singing or hearing the lines in the Exultet chant opening the Easter Vigil service, asking God to bless the candle, “the work of your servants, the bees”; and that we apply custom artwork on the candle so it is uniquely ours at All Souls and changes year to year, reminding us of the seasons passing.
But perhaps my favorite moment of the church year is the lighting of the Paschal Candle in the new fire at the Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday. In the early evening darkness in our courtyard, the fire is lit, and the candle held over it to light, which the acolytes use to light their tapers, and to then share with all gathered who pass the flame from hand-held candle to candle, while we sing “within our darkest night, you kindle the fire that never dies away.” Processing into the church with only the Paschal Candle flame and our lit candles to guide us is a spectacular visual illustration of the light of Christ dispelling the darkness, and an experience I encourage everyone to experience if they can.
Making the actual candle itself is a big job and we’d like to share it among people, and my personal hope is to teach others to make it in the future. The candle making will happen on Saturday, March 25 in the kitchen in the Parish House, starting around 9:00 am. It takes 10 hours total and involves a lot of melting and waiting — perfect opportunities for Lenten meditation! Please contact Jocelyn Bergen for more information, and if you would like to participate or stop by for a demonstration.
Stations of the Cross at All Souls
The devotion known as the Way of the Cross is an ancient custom originating in the observances of pilgrims to Jerusalem, offering their prayers at a series of places in that city traditionally associated with our Lord’s passion and death. A modern-day practice within our churches takes the form of fourteen Stations represented by a series of markers, often with an associated pictorial representation of the event being commemorated.
For the past ten years, All Souls has created custom-made, artistic interpretations of the Stations for display around our nave. These installations are in place temporarily during Lent and Holy Week, and offer worshippers an opportunity to reflect on the traditional Stations while pondering an extra layer of artistic interpretation offered from a contemporary viewpoint.
This year, parishioners are invited to participate in the creation of each of the fourteen Stations by sharing images that resonate for them when reflecting on the stages of Christ’s Passion. Perhaps it’s a moment in nature, an event, a design encountered on your daily commute, or a detail in a painting that comes to mind. We envision this as a practice which continues and builds throughout Lent, with visual reflections offering another point of access into Christ’s journey.
Please send your images in high resolution format to Jocelyn Bergen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Michelle Barger (email@example.com). Please let us know the Station you have in mind along with your submission.
For your reference, the Stations are listed below, including words and phrases which the Arts at All Souls group have found useful in guiding the creation of previous Stations of the Cross installations.
Station 1 Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Fear, anticipation, anxiety, prelude
Station 2 Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
Sorrow/deep sadness; struggle, alone, alienation
Station 3 Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
Fear, hatred, revenge, power, exclusion, bigotry, control
Station 4 Jesus is denied by Peter
Betrayal, denial, weakness, anxiety, sorrow, regret, Peter: self-protection
Station 5 Jesus is judged by Pilate
Resignation, dignity; legalism, policy
Station 6 Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
Station 7 Jesus takes up his cross
His journey, not what was done to him; taking control, ownership, accountability; met his destiny
Station 8 Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross
Compassion, community, support, unselfishness, outsider coming in/being pulled in
Station 9 Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Love, femininity, compassion, mourning, motherhood
Station 10 Jesus is crucified
Eradication, fulfillment of promise, finality, cruelty, torture
Station 11 Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief
Salvation, forgiveness, hope, promise
Station 12 Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
Love, continuation, projection, new generations, passing torch
Station 13 Jesus dies on the cross
Finality, despair, grief, aftermath, finite, hopelessness, darkness
Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb
Love, honored, rest, respect, sorrow, cold
Arts at All Souls presents!
This Sunday! Stay after the 11:15 am service for lunch and a play: “A Long-Overdue Conversation between Two Friends (One, Rally: Creating Communities of Sanctuary for AllWhite, and The Other, Black)” presented by our very own Margaret Sparks and Gloria Bayne.
Rally: Creating Communities of Sanctuary for All
Saturday, March 18 at 3:00 pm, Martin Luther King Jr, Civic Center Park, Berkeley.
Join faith leaders and activists as we urge our elected officials to honor sanctuary for all people, regardless of immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion.
-Jesse Arreguin, Mayor, City of Berkeley
-Rev. John Fife, Co-founder of the Sanctuary movement
-Rev. James Lawson, Jr., Civil Rights Leader
-Rev. Phillip Lawson, Civil Rights Leader
-Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration activist
-Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy, President, Pacific School of Religion
This rally will conclude a Borders and Identity conference, hosted by Pacific School of Religion and Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion – CLGS.
Interfaith Immigration Vigil
Join us at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond for the monthly interfaith immigration vigil. We’ll gather with song, prayer, sacred story, and make our presence known as loudly as we can for our sisters and brothers being detained. Contact Margaret Sparks for carpooling information. The immigration vigil is usually held the first Saturday of every month. However, in April it will take place on Sunday, April 2, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm with a Passover Seder.