From The Rector
This Week We Remember
There are a number of ways that we as humans remember. Sometimes we use photographs to remember special times in our lives: weddings, trips, graduations. Other times we remember by writing down powerful moments in our diaries, reflecting on them for years to come. Often we tell stories, so that people who weren’t there can experience the shock, the surprise, the disappointment, or the joy of what took place.
This coming week at All Souls, this Holy Week, we will be using all of these ways to remember—and more. Thanks to an adventurous 4th century Spanish nun named Egeria, we have accounts of some of the early rites and ways of remembrance of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. In her diary she describes processions on Palm Sunday, rituals around Maundy Thursday, the Cross on Good Friday, and Easter breaking once more.
For centuries Christians have been re-forming as a Body and re-membering as disciples by walking these steps, telling these stories, taking these actions, gazing upon these images—all so that we can come close to the foundational event of our faith. Last night, the final night of our Lenten Series on forgiveness, the Rev. Michael Lemaire, reminded us why we walk this way in Holy Week when he said, “We do this to remember who really are, what really matters, and how we are to live.”
On Palm Sunday at 7:30am, 9:00am, and 11:15am we remember that acts of witness are political by nature—not partisan, but political. Political in that we make known the ways that God would have us live. Maundy Thursday at 12:00noon and 7:30pm we embody intimate acts of compassion, remember that final meal and promise, then head into the night, attempting to “watch and pray.”
Good Friday our remembering takes several forms. At 9:00am and at 7:30pm, we pray the solemn liturgy of the day, with veneration of the Cross and with Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament in the evening. From 12:00noon to 3:00pm, parishioners of All Souls will reflect on the Characters of the Cross through poetry, reflections, music and silence. And, for the second year, our children will engage with Holy Week from 4p to 5p through Godly Play stories, foot-washing and art.
All of this re-membering helps us to prepare for the Great Mystery. On Saturday evening, as night is falling, we will gather in the courtyard around the fire, move inside to hear the stories of God’s presence with us, encircle the font to baptize, stream out of the doors to sing to the saints, and re-enter for the first Eucharist of Easter. That holy night is strange, powerful, demanding and joyful. It is singular and stunning.
The next morning, bright and early, our Easter Sunday begins. At 7:30am in our Chapel, at 9:00am in the Church, and at 11:15am in the Church. (with incense and baptism at 11:15am) There will be flowers, and trumpet and Alleluias, oh my. After the 9:00am service and before the 11:15am service, at 10:15 or so, the children will be hunting for eggs in the courtyard, coffee, tea and goodies will be shared, and Easter joy just might abound.
This week is like no other, for it is one when we can immerse ourselves: to gather, watch, kindle and sing. It is a time and a space to remember who are really are, what really matters and how we are to live. Join in this procession, one that may start in the courtyard, but truly stretches back centuries in the past and will for centuries to come.
From The Senior Warden
When was the last time you felt drawn deeply into community? What were some of the factors that made that happen? These were some of the questions that sparked conversation during one of the meetings of the PPG (Programmatic Proposal Group) on Deep Hospitality. Chaired by Danielle Gabriel, our group has been tasked with outlining specific actions and steps to “develop deep hospitality that invites discernment with others and provides opportunities to know who and whose we are”.
For the last three months, we have engaged in deep reflections and spirited conversations about what it is that brings people to All Souls, in which ways and through which channels do people get drawn into community and ministry, what are the pathways that create and strengthen our relationships with each other, and very importantly, what are the barriers, limitations or challenges that people encounter on the path.
By looking at what has been, and what could be, we have come to value and reaffirm the open-hearted spirit of our community, while recognising the need and the potential to give more of ourselves, both individually and communally, to create a truly inclusive, welcoming and deeply connected body. As we pondered on our experiences and discerned new ideas, activities, structures, etc. our work has focused on promoting adaptive changes that have the potential to create significant shifts in our cultures of invitation, welcome and spiritual kinship. Stay tuned in the coming months for the report and what is to come in this area of our Parish life.
The Gospel continuously calls us to share the Good News of God in Jesus, to live these News as a body, to welcome the stranger and walk alongside one another.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
– Toni Martinez Borgfeldt
Reflections on the Stations of the Cross
For this year’s interpretation of the Stations of the Cross, the Arts at All Souls group chose to view Christ’s Passion through the lens of Selma during a troubling time in our nation’s history, 50 years ago. We invited African American members of the parish to join us in this collaborative group journey, one full of listening, sharing and reflecting as we combed through the often very challenging and stark images. I asked Hallie Frazer and Marsha Thomas-Thompson to reflect on their experiences from this process.
— Michelle Barger, Chair for Arts at All Souls
The actions that happened in and around Selma are part of our collective history as a nation. How has your understanding of these points in time changed having gone through the process of seeing them through Christ’s Passion?
Hallie: My inspiration for this project dates way back to my youth, growing up in the 60’s in Bellport, a small village on the Great South Bay of Eastern Long Island. Reminiscent of Peyton Place, there were literally two sides of the railroad track, which lay on either side of Sunrise Highway: the South being the good side and the North, being the degenerate neighborhoods, housing the poor whites, Puerto Ricans and Black populations. With the bussing legislation of the 60’s, we were all bussed into the same Junior and Senior High School, where we all got to see how the other half lived. It was not surprising, that with the growth of the drug culture in the schools and the effects it had on the impoverished neighborhoods, the stakes experienced by the poorer families were insurmountable and the biases even more pointed. These families were unable to pull their kids out of hard times as their more privileged counterparts in South Bellport were. As race riots began spreading across the country, Bellport was inevitably affected, and our High School was closed for almost two weeks. I remember confrontations with African American kids who had been my friends, but who, along with myself, were frightened and confused and trying to weather the storm.
Christ Episcopal Church, where I grew up, was a hot-bed of change and questioning. Our rector Fr. Frank Spitzer was young and charismatic. He preached peace and change through peaceful protest and Church action. He welcomed the first Black family to move into South Bellport into our congregation, and rallied the youth and progressive families behind the fight for civil rights and peace. He played the jazz trombone alongside high school youth. A gusty wind swept through Bellport “proper” and beyond, confronting much of what divided us, and helping to heal many of the wounds. His tragic death in May of 1971, soon after Easter, shook the community, especially the youth, in ways we will never forget. The new rector was the Rev. Herbert Thompson, a young Black priest, accepting his first call. His love and leadership were instrumental in healing a fractured community. He would later become the Bishop of Southern Ohio, known for his bold stance against racism and discrimination of all kinds.
Marsha: I was born and raised in Boston. I had been well-accepted in my community, and had lots of girlfriends from different backgrounds – Italian, Irish, Caribbean, and Jewish. There was a portion of African Americans in the north who had come to feel some distance from their brother and sister community in the south. Through talk shows on television and radio, we started listening and taking in what was happening. We were horrified at seeing the things that we were seeing. Now Boston had its racism, but it wasn’t until the actions in the south became so visible that a curtain was pulled back in the north. White people came out from under cover, and I never heard such a shocking barrage of insults and name calling. African Americans always knew we were of two cultures, but now the lines were clearly drawn. I used to ride the T regularly with no problem, and my family regularly picnicked on the Esplanade. It couldn’t help but make me wonder now about my fellow community.
In thinking about seeing this period in history through the lens of the Passion of Christ, I could see a great faith and deep trust in God and the church by the African American community in the south. Christ’s journey gave them great courage – they were steeped in it. Even we in the north felt it. I feel like it helped to unify the northern and southern black community – because God understood and shared in our pain.
What did you learn, or want to share, about the collaborative process of working through the selection of photographs for the Stations?
Marsha: First of all, I want to say that this process was very enlightening for me. Years ago, it was all so emotional, and this project brought back some of those feelings. Yet I also feel distanced from that time, and I now have compassion for what my older generation had gone through. During the project, the phrase “Father, they know not what they do” kept coming into my thoughts.
I so appreciated Gloria Bayne and Gloria Fleming being a part of it. We are all from different backgrounds, yet all part of the African Diaspora. I enter Episcopal Church as a sister in Christ, yet also as a woman of the African Diaspora. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America and it still is. There’s a part of me that is still very sad about that. Yet all of us working together, in the body of Christ, really does help to soften you. You realize how much Christ suffered.
Hallie: Since it was my vision to create this project, I expected, initially, to be the one who would put the presentation together; however, the Committee became so invested, that it became a project in common. In fact, this has been the first Committee-wide project upon which we have all collaborated, everyone sharing their expertise. Our newest member, Lynne Turner, is not only an artist and computer guru in her own right, but worked with the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in the ‘60s. Lynne created high-resolution individual and composite photos, cropping as necessary and passed them on to Jocelyn Bergen who designed and mounted the final images and graphics which comprised each Station. Jocelyn also designed 2 beautiful booklets: the first one, a devotional companion to the series, and the second, coming out this week, including quotes which the Committee collectively assembled. Michelle Barger, with her discerning curatorial eye and organizational skill in fielding a host of impassioned contributors and bringing out the best in co-visioning and creating, kept the stream flowing. Fr. Horace Griffin, our initial springboard, stayed in contact despite the fact that he is formally on-sabbatical at the moment. And of course Marsha Thomas-Thompson and the Glorias Fleming and Bayne, were our on-site resource. Gloria Fleming added another dimension to our discussion through her recollection of music from the Movement.
Is there an image for a Station in particular that speaks to you more than others? Why?
Marsha: There’s an image that keeps coming back to me: a beaten woman falling into the arms of marchers (Amelia Boyton Robinson beaten unconscious by state troopers on Bloody Sunday). Every time I see this it takes me back to an art history class where I was so shaken by a classic painting of the “Deposition of Christ.” Mary has fainted – her body mirroring Christ’s broken and deposed body. She has given herself over to the deep grief. It still reverberates.
I like that the central figure in the photograph is a woman. I think of the women in Christ’s life. Meeting Mary on the road – right after he rose – and giving her the authority and responsibility to share with the others the telling of his rising, allows me to view Christ fully in his divinity and humanity. With this, he fulfills his destiny as a revolutionary figure and liberator, setting us free from the patriarchy of the oppressor.
Hallie: So many of the images have been real touchstones for me, realizing that the incidents at and leading up to Selma happened a mere 50 years ago. Perpetrators and victims are still alive. The poison is still there. What hit home most to me was the image taken of the burning cross….a religious symbol: a cross within a circle…a “Christian” group with crusader crosses on their chest “cleansing” the impure. This, I realized, is akin to what Christ went through for us. We, in this society, and even at All Souls, without realizing it, protect ourselves from realities which are ‘distasteful’, ‘politically incorrect’, or simply too graphic to handle. Our hand in contributing to this, whether by direct participation, ignorance, evasion, or voyeuristic “entertainment” is something we really need to confront as individuals and citizens of the world.
New Classes Beginning!
A new session of Adult Formation classes begins on April 12th! Look forward to these three offerings in the 10:10 hour on Sundays, running simultaneously with classes for children and youth.
All Souls for Beginners – The Rev. Phil Brochard
Designed especially as an introduction to people new to All Souls, this course explores how we make church together (both as a parish and as Episcopalians): our place in Christian history and polity, our view of scripture and its interpretation, the role of sermons and music in liturgy, our creeds and communal prayers, the importance of the Eucharist, the meaning of membership and the importance of giving, and much more.
Worship and Mission: Is There a Connection? – The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers
This class will explore 2 models for the relationship of worship and mission: a Möbius strip and a spinning top. We’ll focus on Sunday worship, from the gathering of the assembly, through proclamation of Scripture, prayer for the world, and celebration of the communion meal, to the assembly’s going forth to continue participating in God’s mission in the world. The class will give participants opportunity to read and discuss Missional Worship, Worshipful Mission: Gathering as God’s People, Going Out in God’s Name, a new book by All Souls assisting priest Ruth Meyers.
Bible Workbench – Facilitators: Stephen Southern, Reed Loy, Jennifer Boehler, Sharon Roberts, and others
A lectionary-based Bible study practice designed for small groups. The Bible Workbench material invites us to explore scripture in a broader context; learning to see how the texts relate to what is going on in the world, and to our own lives.
Continuing the Feast Brunch, March 29
On Sunday, let’s continue the feast of the table and the Palm Sunday celebration with a festive brunch between services. There will be no formation classes for children or adults, so take advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections. Brunch will be between the 9am and 11:15 services in the Parish Hall. Bring fruit salad, pastries, or other brunch food to turn coffee hour into a real feast!
Equipping the Beloved Community May 2 at St. Matthew’s, San Mateo
On Saturday, May 2, St. Matthew’s, San Mateo and the Peninsula Deanery will host the next Equipping the Beloved Community event with the theme “What we need is HERE.” Author, pastor, and social entrepreneur Tim Soerens, and 22nd District Assembly Member Kevin Mullin will lead a dialogue about living faithfully and justly in the San Francisco Bay Area. View the full list of workshops available for this great lay formation opportunity at http://www.diocal.org/etbc. Registration links are available there. Contact Julia McCray-Goldsmith with questions.
Holy Week at All Souls