FROM THE ASSOCIATE RECTOR
A Quiet, Steady Presence
Prayer: it’s hard to name what happens, let alone explain why it works — at least if we’re avoiding simplistic, pat answers. It doesn’t easily jive with some of our 21st Century sensibilities, our commitment to rational, science-backed data, or even just our desire to understand how life unfold around us. And yet, prayer core to who we are, and how we live together as members of the Body of Christ.
This summer while I was on sabbatical, we spent several weeks in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. As a matter of providence and/or serendipity, some of our best friends from college have settled there as well. We came to visit them, play with our now two-year-old goddaughter, and meet her brand new sister. Given the newborn in the house, her father’s parents were visiting as well, folks we hadn’t seen since our friends’ wedding seven years earlier. We are not in touch with our friend’s parents, though we hear news of each other from time to time. It was on our last day together after two weeks of sharing life and meals together each day that his mother pulled me aside. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she was glad to see how well our family was doing. She explained that she had been praying for us since our son died nearly five years ago, and that she was praying for us still.
I was completely taken aback. This woman didn’t know us, not really. She only knew that her son loved us, and that we loved him. That connection was more than enough for her to pray. More than that, though, I was taken aback by the realization, right in that instant, that this woman’s prayers had mattered. I didn’t know about them at the time or through those years, and yet they had shifted something. I trusted that I had received that love and care and hope, and that somehow they had helped to make more life possible for us.
This kind of prayer is part of who we are, and part of how we are called to live. We pray for people we know well, for people we’ve only barely met, and for people who we will never see. I cannot tell you how it works, or even what prayer working might look like. But I trust that it changes us all — the ones praying, the recipients of the prayer, and the ones caught in the mysterious mix of it all.
It’s part of what we do as a community, too, as one of the practices that binds us together. If you’re not sure where to start or how to live more deeply into this practice, you might consider joining one of the quieter ministries of All Souls: what has for many years been called the Prayer Chain. I’m lead to believe that this name came to be because it once was actually a chain, where prayer requests were passed from one person to the next, before the advent of email. We’re changing the name to Prayer Partners, in the hopes of it being clearer that this is not a telephone tree or a chain letter kind of operation, but rather just a way that we come alongside one another when prayers are needed. It’s incredibly simple: when you are experiencing something for which you would like prayers — a surgery, a crisis, grief or an approaching death, some other concern or transition, and so on — you can email me, asking that the request be sent on to the Prayer Partners. I then send it on to a list of All Soulsians who have committed themselves to holding up these prayers. It’s that simple. Prayer Partners do not meet in person, nor do they pledge to any particular form of prayer — just praying, however you will, wherever you are, when the request comes. It is separate from the prayers read aloud on Sunday morning, though sometimes we pray for people in both ways. If you would like to join the list of Prayer Partners, please let me know.
I invite you to consider how you encounter and engage prayer – both the practice of offering it, and also the gift of receiving it, of being held and changed by it. I don’t fully understand prayer, but I trust that it transforms our lives together, and I’m grateful for the ways we step into this mystery together.
It is with very heavy hearts that we share that Christopher Putnam died last Saturday. Christopher blessed us richly for a dozen years as our Associate for Liturgy and Music, and his impact on our community still resounds every time we gather. Caroline has asked that people refrain from sending flowers or food, but welcomes your prayers and cards. Please mark your calendars for his memorial service here at All Souls on November 3rd at 1:00 pm, when we will come to give thanks the life of this remarkable human being, sing our hearts out, and celebrate our hope in the resurrection.
From our Seminarian
Hello All Soulsians! What a joy it is to be starting as your seminarian. I am a second year MDiv student at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), just up the hill! I come from the Diocese of Iowa where I am a postulant for Holy Orders. In the Diocese of Iowa I served on the One World One Church Committee as the Episcopal Relief and Development liaison and Millennium Development Goals mini-grant coordinator. I also served on the Young Adult Ministry Development Taskforce. As a member of the young adult ministry I was blessed to travel with other young adults on two life-changing trips to visit our companion dioceses of Swaziland, Africa and Brechin, Scotland. This past summer I was a deputy to General Convention.
In my sending parish I was able to learn about many different aspects of the parish because we were all hands on deck much of the time. I worked with the altar guild and with building upkeep, was on the vestry, taught Godly Play and youth group, helped with a food pantry and community garden, and cooked for community meals.
My undergraduate degree is from Wartburg College and is in Elementary education. I taught first grade for several years in different school districts. My passion of inclusion for all students has carried over to my ministry as well.
Even though I have lived in Iowa my entire life and I do miss the snow in the winter there are some parts of me that are not the typical Iowan. I love the mountains and backpacking in the high country of the Sierra Nevada brings me great joy. My favorite comfort foods are Indian dals with rice and I say soda not pop.
I look forward to meeting you all and learning more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus here at All Souls.
Save the Date
October 7th at 10:15: Stewardship Launch Brunch
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
All pets welcome! Stuffed animals, too! Bring your favorite beasts to either the 7:30 or 11:15 am services. The main Blessing of the Animals will be after the 11:15 service, around 12:30 pm, in the courtyard. All are welcome… but please keep predators leashed. Also note that this is a rather full Sunday, with the Stewardship Launch Brunch happening the same morning. As much as some of our animal friends might enjoy sharing brunch with us, please wait to bring them until the 11:15 service, or consider coming to the 9:00 service and brunch, and them running home to get your pet the later blessing to follow. Thank you!