FROM THE RECTOR
Love Must Act
This past week one of our seminarians, Will Bryant, reminded me of one of the central tenets of the Episcopal Order of the Holy Cross. Written by their founder, James Otis Huntington, it has served as a mantra for me since remembering it. It goes like this,
Love must act, as light must shine, and fire must burn.
I believe that this resonates deeply with me because it speaks concisely to the essential truth of Christian community. The epistles of John teach us that the heart of God is love, and in the Fourth Gospel, when Jesus is giving his students the final and most important commandment, it is that they are to love each other. Or, as our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry often says, “If it isn’t love, it isn’t from God.”
And if love is our essential characteristic or stance or virtue, then it is only known through action. For as fire must burn to be fire, and light must shine to be light, then love must act to be love. And you are.
I have the sense that I am not alone in confessing that I find it frighteningly easy to be swept up in the tsunami of charts and graphs and indicators. It’s not that they aren’t important––they are critical, as they are guideposts to the actions we need to take now to avoid future disaster, whether they be orders to shelter in place to flatten the curve, wartime acts to produce masks and other protective equipment, or legislation to give people money to pay rent and buy food.
And. It is too easy for me to remain there, paralyzed by the fear of that might be. And when I do this I can easily ignore the similarly critical acts of love––selfless, generous, generative love––that are abundant around us. The nurses, physicians and other medical personnel that are putting themselves in harm’s ways every hour of every day to care for the ill and the dying. The young adults in the Bay Area and around the world that are shopping for elders that they may or may not have known before this crisis.
There are other acts that may get missed as well. Smaller, but exquisite acts of people acting out of love. Like when All Soulsian Jen Dary and her kids record the reading of children’s books so that parents can grab a few minutes to cook breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or when All Soulsian Calvin Payne-Taylor starts a Compline service a couple times of week so that people can join in prayer, together. Or when 38 All Soulsians agree to lead Connection Groups for literally hundreds and hundreds of people, stitching our community together so that our communal fabric can hold us. Or when Jim Feeley and Jocelyn Bergen, and our dedicated and crazy skilled staff come together on a few days notice to stream our worship so that we can sign and pray and preach and laugh and love God and each other.
You get the picture. I can tell you that I do. Love must act. And we are.
And it’s part of why, inexplicably and without warning, in this last week I have fallen in love with All Souls Parish all over again. Because in the midst of the fear and confusion and suffering, you have reminded me that like a fire must burn and a light must shine, love must act.
As most of you could have guessed by now, the calendar for the next few weeks and only-God-knows-how-much-longer is much different than we had expected. Here are some things to note going forward. All All Souls group meetings have been moved to a virtual platform, including Soup + Story groups, Emmaus Groups, the Catechumenate, Reading Between the Lines, the All Ministry Meetings, and all individual ministry team meetings. All outside groups, such as AA, AL-ANON, Chora Nova, etc. are not meeting at All Souls during this time. And, for those of you who had signed up for the Capital Campaign Enrichment groups, please note that they are currently postponed––more information to come on that very soon.
For those of you have never used online meeting spaces and who wish to set up a Zoom or Google Hangout for your group meeting, please contact Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Annie (email@example.com) to do this. And, now, more than ever, we will rely on our parish calendar (found here) for a lot of information. For example, if you are looking to find out not only when a meeting might be held, but how to access the Zoom call, click on the event on the calendar I just posted and check the “Description” to find out the URL to the Zoom or Google Hangout call.
And, as a service to us all, here are a few notes about virtual call etiquette. The first thing, which I learned the hard way, is to mute your mic when you are not speaking. Even if you’re alone, there are always ambient noises happening in the background that could frustrate the audio of the call for others. The second thing is to be aware of your surroundings while on the call (if you can help it) for example, make sure you are in a well lit room so that others can see you. Third, if you don’t have a camera hooked up to your call, make sure to say something like “this is Emily” each time before you start to speak so that if they can’t see your face they at least know who is talking. Fourth, try to stay focused while on a call––try not to check email or multi-task on your cell phone, etc.
Each week as we live into this new way of being we are adding new components of our parish life. This week there are a couple to announce. One is that our Adult Formation classes will be held via a zoom link that you can find on our calendar on our website or on this Virtual Formation page on our website, which shows the different streams that we will be holding. They will start at 9:30a each Sunday and go for roughly 45 minutes. This Sunday the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers will teach about the role of sacrifice in the liturgy, continuing the teaching of Dr. Scott MacDougall from a few weeks ago.
Also, Whitney Wilson will be leading Children’s Chapel at 9:30am on Sundays. If you would like to have your child take part in Children’s Chapel please email Whitney and she will share the link with you as we will not be sharing that link online.
Our weekly bible study, Reading Between the Lines, will also be meeting. To take part in that guided bible study that looks ahead to next week’s passages, go to our parish calendar or the Virtual Formation page on our site and click on that link.
More to come as the weeks continue, and we find new ways to learn, worship, pray, give, and serve.
I wrote this poem just before all our lives took this drastic turn. It makes me laugh, reading it now, how I was writing about how everything can change in an instant: and then it did. I want to share it with you as a reminder that we have the opportunity to experience Christ’s presence, here, now, in this time of uncertainty. Everything around us has slowed or stopped: what is left? What is real to us, now? Where can we find reassurance and even joy? I find it in scripture, in prayer, in poetry, and in you all.
lent poem #3
the day has not yet
peeked over the horizon.
the children sleep.
his truck has quietly
drifted from the driveway.
i’ve been up for hours
about things that seem
planning that next event,
getting documents signed,
a very ambitious book proposal.
and then this poem said
listen to the cars and the kitchen timer,
that one unbelievably loud bird,
the hoarse wind.
whispered a story about the children
when they were smaller
and i used to watch them nap
full of gratitude for every small breath.
cancelled my plans for the day:
you will find me
at that little cafe on stockton
drinking my third latte
and drawing on napkins.
we’re not getting anywhere.
not you, not me, not the rich
in their castles.
today i’m going to recklessly
call people just to say
i love you
even if it’s awkward,
even if i should have another
are so much greater
than the volume of my inbox.
the children are still
resting their heads on their forearms
and my breakfast is getting cold
because this poem
is rioting all over the page
ripping holes in the paper
just to say
this poem draws my eyes
to the lightening sky
reminding me that
Dear All Soulsians,
It seems, over the last week or so, that every day has new challenges which cause us to flex in new and uncharted ways. And so it is with church and what it means to be in community with one another. As a result, we have divided the church roster into geographically based small groups by household that we are calling Connection Groups.
None of us have a clear picture of what is going to happen next with this virus, nor can we predict the extent of its damage and pain. But, one thing feels certain: our need for each other is a matter of when and not if. So, we created these groups with the intent of providing a place where we can check-in with each other and take care of each other. The goal of these groups is three-fold: pastoral, practical, and formational. First, these groups exist so that can pray with each other and encourage each other (there are four prayer practices listed in this booklet from Soup + Story this year that could be a helpful tool in praying for each other in this season); second, so that we can help each other where there is tangible need (getting something from a store when others cannot, supplying each other with disinfectant, etc.); and third, these groups exist so that we can continue to grow––as iron sharpens iron––through the trials that are to come.
The idea is that each group would check in with each other a couple of times per week (or more if desired) so that if things change quickly for anyone, they have folks checking in on them. My hope is that most of you have heard of these by now or that you have received an email from your group leader informing you of your group. If that is not the case, please reach out to me to let me know and I will get you in a group! We can’t make church together in the same ways we used to (for now), but I ask that you would consider joining one of these groups as a new way we can make church together and take care of each other. See you on a screen soon 🙂
Til we meet again!
Dear All Souls Family,
Saying, “Goodbye,” is never easy. Saying, “Goodbye,” in the midst of a pandemic seems to be impossible to do. This week has compounded the feelings of uncertainty and the lack of desire to say, “Goodbye, All Souls.” Gathering together with this community, socially distanced or not, has been a gift to my family for these past five years. We have taught classes, gained degrees, trained and been trained as a Stephen Minister, watched Maxwell be baptized, been held through Holly’s surgeries and recovery, and made a variety of lasting friendships.
Holly, Maxwell, and I will be moving back to Central Illinois to be closer to family this weekend (3/21/2020). We are looking forward to finding a space to breath, slow down, and generally reconnect to one another and our larger family, especially now in light of social distancing and some intense few years in Berkeley.
We hold to the gift that All Souls has been to us during these years and know that this place will continue to be a gift to the greater community and world.
Please keep in touch through phone calls or emails, both are available on the Directory.
Maxwell, Holly, and Stephan
Sunday Live Streaming News
The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning. Please note that it will read “Coming Soon” on the page until about 10:20a (PST) on Sunday morning, when the live stream will begin.
Adult Formation News
Our Adult Formations Class, Sacrificial Reflections, will resume on Sunday morning via live stream on Zoom. Click here to access the class Sunday morning at 9:30a PST.
Children & Family News
Instead of catching up during coffee hour, we’d like to include updates from you and your families each week as we navigate our new reality! Please email Jen Dary (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a short update about how you’re all faring (3 sentences or so) and an optional photo by 5pm on Thursdays. We’ll include them all in that week’s Pathfinder, a good way to keep in touch outside of social media. Reminder: technically, the Pathfinder is open to the public via our website, so share your information with that in mind!