Money. What is it Good for?

Jesus had a lot to say about money. It is present in his parables: the Pearl of Great Price (Mt. 13), the Treasure in the Field (Mt. 13), the Talents (Mt. 25), the Workers in the Vineyard (Mt. 20), among others. With great love for a rich, young man, Jesus told him to sell what he had and to give to it to the poor. (Mt. 10) Some of his most memorable teaching was about money, as in the Widow’s Mite (Mk. 12) or this coming week’s Gospel, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mt. 22)

It’s not that Jesus didn’t have anything to do with money – it’s clear that his life and work were sustained by the giving of others, especially of the women who were disciples with him. Rather, it’s that he wanted for all who follow him to understand that money can be life-giving instead of merely serving as a tool of suffering.

From conversations with many in this parish family I know that some of us are struggling to make it from one month to the next. Others are burdened by debt. Some are adjusting to the income of retirement. Several are breaking out into working for themselves, unclear about what the next six months will look like. Those with positions that feel stable are nevertheless concerned about what may lie ahead. All of us seem to be wrestling with that same question that Jesus taught often about: what should I do with what I have?

This past week in my sermon I shared a practice of giving that Sarah and I hold. And as part of the sermon I shared the salary that All Souls offers me and the amount that Sarah and I give to the parish. Now, unlike many in our society, my salary is a known figure: as a practice, in our budget we publish all that it takes for All Souls Parish to function, from what we pay for energy and water, to our Sunday School supplies, to the staff that give their time and attention to support and guide the ministries of this congregation. And still, I felt very vulnerable in publicly stating what I receive as compensation and what Sarah and I give to All Souls. In each of the three services there was a palpable change in attention when I came to that part of the sermon. That day and in the days that have followed, I have found myself wondering – why?

My sense is that it is in part because of the myriad conflicting messages about money in our culture. Oftentimes they are subtle messages from the media and from advertising that we absorb, telling us of a reality (accurate or not) around us. Messages about money like: you need lots of it, or that there’s never enough of it, or that you are worth more if you have more, or that you are worth less if you are have less, or that it is the only form of security in life, or that money talks and other things walk.

But one of the more powerful messages we receive about money is to not directly talk about it. That talking about money, publicly, is impolite or rude at best and dangerous at worst. And while I understand some of the concerns that are behind this, it seems to just further obscure our ability to know what money is really worth. Which, simply put, is whatever it is used for. As Dan Acland once reminded me, “money only has value when it is spent.”

Our cultural taboo around talking about money was certainly not a practice of Jesus. In fact, again, this is one of the areas in which he spent a great deal of his attention, which leads me to believe that this isn’t just an issue for us, now, but was in the 1st century and has been as long as we have traded for the necessities of life.

It is why I find such startling clarity in another of Jesus’ teachings, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Mt. 6:21) As I read it, it is not a statement of condemnation, but of truth. When we are convicted by it, it is because we become aware of the place where our virtues don’t align with our value. And as uncomfortable or disturbing that this may be, on a personal, corporate or societal level, these are some of the more critical conversations that we can have.

So I invite you, as we explore our personal and communal relationship to money and to giving, to really enter into this as a time for exploration, learning and discernment. Listen or read the reflections of parishioners of All Souls each Sunday. Take part in Professor Brad Burroughs’ upcoming class, “Gospel Economics.” Spend time in prayer and conversation with those whom you trust, asking the hard questions. My belief is that we will be met with challenging but life-giving responses.

Throughout this time, my hope for all of us is that by truly engaging the questions we will indeed find where our heart lies and that our money will follow.


From the Associate for Liturgy and Music

She’s Baaaack!

Who, you may well ask? Why, it’s my friend and colleague, Ana Hernández, returning for a second year to celebrate our very own festival weekend of All Saints and All Souls! Ana is best known here as the composer of the “Open My Heart” chant that we have taken so much into our common prayer life. She joined us last year for the same celebration, and we instantly started plotting to bring her back for a return appearance. We are sharing the wealth a bit too, and Ana is bringing her gifts to the wider community in some very special ways:

Friday, October 31, 7:00 pm: All Hallow’s Eve
Kate Munger, founder of the Threshold Choir, a very special organization that provides a focused musical presence for patients on the edge of death, will be joined by Ana for an evening of “Singing about the Dark Time, Going Within, and Honoring the Dead.” We are excited to host this evening of beauty and spirit as an alternative to the general revelry of Hallowe’en. Cost is a “generous, affordable, and personally significant donation.” Space is limited, so please email to reserve your place.

Saturday, November 1: All Saints Day and Vigil of All Souls
All ages welcome for all of these activities!
3:30 pm – Building the Ofrenda and Telling our Stories
Gather in the Parish Hall to fold paper marigolds, make picture frames, and build our Ofrenda where we place pictures and other mementos to remember the dead from our own lives. Last year this time of special preparation, fellowship and storytelling about those we remember was a profound experience.
4:45 pm – Potluck Supper: Break bread as we make preparations for the Vigil liturgy.
5:30 pm – Vigil of All the Souls: The church will be bathed in candlelight and music as we make our own pilgrimage to remember those who have gone before. The reading of the names of those of have died in the last year is a central focus of this brief liturgy, bringing all those on our hearts to be present in prayer and song. The evening will conclude by 6:30 pm, early enough for our youngest parishioners to make this a part of their spiritual journey.
(Ana will be leading a workshop earlier on Saturday at St. Clare’s, Pleasanton. Please email me directly to learn more.)

Sunday, November 2: All Saints Sunday and our own “Feast of Title” for the Parish
Our usual schedule of Sunday liturgies at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:15 will be among the most festive of the year. The later services will feature Ana leading us in song as a community and collaborating with our own musicians.

Please join us for some or all of the weekend’s events. You will learn more than you expected, and in “praying twice” through music, you will encounter God through new, deep, and surprising ways!

In Thanksgiving for the Life of Barbara Donald

Barbara Donald, a parishioner at All Souls for more than 60 years, gracefully passed away in the evening of October 11. She was surrounded by all her daughters and sister, most of her grandchildren and many other loved ones. They spent the afternoon singing, praying, reading her favorite poems, and sharing stories of her. The family is tentatively planning a service in December, with more information to follow soon.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Cohen Bray House to continue her legacy. If you would like to share your pictures, stories and memories, her family encourages you to: 640 Creston Rd. Berkeley, CA 94708 or email to

It’s Good to Be Home

Stewardship Thoughts

Why do I belong to the All Souls family? There are far too many reasons to cover in two minutes! First among these reasons are the many and varied gifts of Sunday morning services: the intimacy of the chapel at the 7:30 service, the delightful musical offerings at the later services, and the chance to engage as church without feeling rushed.

A wonderful addition this year has been the Monthly Ministry Meetings designed to bring people together, share their visions for the future and work toward those goals all together. This gathering has been a real boon toward integrating the work we do at All Souls. The church is filled with interaction, stimulating ideas and relaxed good humor on those Monday evenings as we savor that common thread of understanding and appreciation that holds us all together.

And, of course there is the opportunity during the 10:10 formation hour each week to explore in depth our spiritual lives, our parish community work, and most or all, our role in serving the world beyond our doors. These classes have been an extraordinary element toward creating a “spiritual one stop shop” for each of us!

Far surpassing all of the above is the warmth and love that I feel in the All Souls community. When John died almost six years ago, it was impossible for me to envision that the empty hole in my heart and the stimulation for my mind could ever be filled. But, upon my first Sunday return to church, the wordless hugs that I received told me I was back home again among those who knew me and were prepared to offer me the love and intellectual sustenance I so desperately sought. It was good to be home.

Every Tuesday morning I work at the Berkeley Public Library Book Store. I am a sucker for inexpensive books and last week I picked up this little book for 50 cents just because of its title, The Theory of Everything: an integral vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality. That’s my kind of thinking… everything is connected to everything else. And my everything starts right here at All Souls.
– Margaret Sparks

Wholehearted Giving: Stewardship Celebration Dinner

October 26, 5:30-7:30p

At the retreat recently, many of us engaged in powerful conversations about transformation in our lives and about how we have experienced love at All Souls. Savoring the abundance of our life together, we will explore what it means to give back with our whole hearts. The extra-fabulous potluck and rich conversation with friends new and old always makes this evening feel like a great dinner party. There will be music, prizes, reflections on another vibrant year of life in our parish community, and an inspiring look ahead. Please join us for this special event! Sign up online here, via email to, or at the coffee hour station in the narthex on Sunday.

Who will win a homemade pie a month for the whole year?


Trailheads this Sunday!
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir

The All Souls walking group the Trailheads meets occasionally on a Sunday afternoon for a walk/hike in Berkeley, often a route in Tilden Park. All are welcome, the hikes are gentle out-and-back routes so that All Soulsians of all ages can participate and walk a comfortable pace and distance. Our next hike is this Sunday, October 19, meeting at 2pm at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park. We hike in any weather, rain or shine. The health benefits of walking are well known; walking improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces stress and boosts your immune system. Walking is also a great way to get to know other members of All Souls. Our hikes have no agenda other than walking and talking and getting to know one another, although there is nothing to stop us from having a vigorous debate about the lectionary or the sermon of the day. We hope you will join us this Sunday or on a future Trailheads event.

All Souls Online!
Did you know that there are several different avenues to learn more about what’s happening at All Souls and connect more with one another online? On Facebook, you can visit and “like” our page, named: “All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, CA.” This page is our public face to the wider world and is the place to find announcements about upcoming events, photos, and interesting opportunities in the church at large. This is also a great place to find announcements to share on your as an invitation to your friends. We also have a closed group called “All Soulsians,” which is a great place for making plans with the community, asking questions about something misplaced, or sharing interesting tidbits with the community. All are welcome in the group, but you must request to be added. Stay tuned for All Souls on Instagram as well, coming soon!

Our website is a great resource as well! Take some time to explore it to learn more about the many ministries and opportunities here, see what’s coming up soon, listen to past sermons, donate online, see photos of recent events, and more!

Feeding the 5000
On Saturday, October 18th, there will be an event in Oakland known as Feeding the 5000.
No miracles here but there will be the use of gleaned foodstuffs (grown to sell but for some reason not sent to market, mostly surface blemishes) to create a chowder/stew that will feed 5,000 people on Saturday, October 18th, in downtown Oakland.

We are seeking your help in finding people to prepare and cook the food to be served. This is a big project at the St. Vincent dePaul Dining Room in Oakland on 23rd Street, between MLK and San Pablo. Work is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will consist of preparing under-spec fruits and vegetables for consumption on Saturday. The event leader, Tristan Stuart, is well known in England but this is his first-ever event in the USA. In a country where 40% of all food grown never makes to the tables where humans eat, where some 20 million people are underfed, the event will raise awareness of the problem and hopefully move this very rich country in the right direction on this issue.

We’d love to have helpers from All Souls’ help in the food prep: Friday, October 17, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Questions and rides can be arranged through Arthur Boone at 510/910-6451 or at