FROM THE RECTOR
Isaiah and Joel Were Right
This past week the words of 16 year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden reverberated around the world. Speaking to world leaders at the United Nations, she was unsparing in her indictment of those who wield power for the common good and of our collective lack of substantive action in heading off the catastrophic effects of climate chaos.
In her brief yet powerful statement she was strident, articulate, clear, and uncompromising. Whether her public shaming of the leaders of the collected nations will lead to concerted action remains to be seen, but as a cry to action, it was a clarion call. As the effects of her words continue to ripple around the world in these last few days I’ve been thinking that once again the prophets Isaiah and Joel are right.
It was Isaiah who in chapter 11, in the midst of a messianic poem, prophesies that a “child shall lead them.” In the midst of the imagery of reversals—predators like bears and lions grazing alongside cows—the people of Israel will be led not by an adult, but by a child. And then a subsequent prophet, Joel, describes a vision in the second (or third depending on the translation) chapter of that book. Joel’s vision, later picked up by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, is that,
I (God) shall pour out my spirit on all humanity,
your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old people shall dream dreams,
and your young people see visions.
It has made me wonder this week if what Isaiah and Joel discerned is a truth about the ways that change takes place in our world. It seems to be true for many movements of social change—for Civil Rights, for Free Speech, more recently with Black Lives Matter—that young people are at the forefront, casting a vision, prophesying as to where the Spirit might be pouring out at that moment in our common life.
What is it about coming of age, about being young, that allows one to see the world differently? Is it because you are less likely to have been worn down by disappointments, small and large? Is it because you aren’t as invested in the status quo, and therefore more willing to see it changed? Is it because you are beginning to be given responsibility and so clearly see the gap between how the world is and how it should be?
It could, of course, be all of those things. And it could take all those things, because if there’s one skill that we as humans have mastered, it’s our ability to stay the same. To keep doing what we’ve done, usually because at one point in time it worked for someone.
And yet study after study continues to show that we are headed for disastrous conditions if we do not heed the calls of the young leaders like Greta Thunberg and enact significant change. To be sure, people of all ages have been sounding the alarm for decades now. It’s just that few have had the temerity to speak with such force and passion.
It appears to me that the Spirit is indeed being poured out, and that once again it is the young who are witnessing to the world as God desires it to be. The question remains, as it always does, if the rest of the world will pay attention.
From our Parish Administrative Assistant
Oh, All Soulsians. I don’t know how I can sum up in a Pathfinder article just how much I’ve loved being your Administrative Assistant these last two years. Taking this job was a literal answer to prayers on both sides, and believe me when I say it took a lot of prayer on my part to determine that leaving this position is the best step for me and my family right now.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many of you face-to-face, and if I haven’t, I’ve probably typed your name into a ROTA at some point. You can confirm this with the staff: I mention on almost a weekly basis how floored I am by the commitment of the parishioners here to keep this whole circus running smoothly. Without you all, All Souls would not exist. Your willingness to jump in, volunteer, step up, and do what needs to be done is inspirational. I’m not trying to be cheesy; I’m really and truly amazed at how each of you contributes to this place. I’ve learned so much about community from this parish! What for me started as a desperation to pay bills with my spouse in seminary turned into one of the most enjoyable work experiences I’ve had.
I’m so appreciative of your grace while I learned how to do my job well. Thank you for forgiving bulletin errors, mis-ordered forks, and the fact that my baby-brain has recently led me to answer the phone with “Good morning…this is…the church?” Thank you for laughing and crying with me over the plumbing in the Parish House, for helping me to raise two babies in the office, for your kind words and cookies on rough days when the internet won’t cooperate, for commiserating with me over the printer…on second thought, we won’t talk about the printer. Thank you for welcoming me and teaching me, for changing lightbulbs and batteries, for making this a job that I’ve delighted to come to and am torn up to leave. In short, thank you for ALL THE THINGS!
And as long as my spouse doesn’t get ordained too quickly, I’ll still pop in now and then! If the printer spontaneously combusts, please call me and we’ll roast marshmallows over it. Until that happy day, I cherish the time I’ve been able to spend with you dear people at All Souls. May God continue to richly deepen and grow this community!
Coming up in Adult Formation
The Life of David, with the Rev. Michael Lemaire
King David is one of the most fully drawn characters of the Bible yet our understanding of him is often limited to a couple of famous vignettes. David has many roles as King, Father, Lover, Husband, Warrior, and Messianic Precursor and yet his story is full of human flaws and contradictions. This class will explore David’s story through scriptures that go beyond the well-known stories of Goliath and Bathsheba. Along the way, we will explore the questions of why David is so beloved, how Jesus is understood through the story of David, and what we can take away from the David story today.
The Silence of Taizé, with the Rev. Dr. Peggy Patterson
Are you longing for a chance to experience the Deep Silence of Taizé and the prayerful beauty of Taizé Chants? You can become a member of a small Taizé community for four Sundays in October (6, 13, 20, 27). Come during Formation Hour, 10:15-11:10 a.m., in the Common Room downstairs (near the Chapel). I look forward to being with you in this mini-retreat each Sunday morning. We will also learn more about Taizé, see a video of Life at Taizé, and talk about the life of prayer which the Brothers offer in Burgundy. Augustine said: “Our souls are restless till they rest in thee.” I look forward to seeing those who feel called into a community of silence, music and prayer.
Even when Laura, Phil+ and I are preparing the agenda for the upcoming Vestry meeting, and it seems like it might be a light meeting (after the 3 hour meeting last month in August), when we all gather together in the Common Room on that Wednesday night, I am reminded of the abundance of ministry and service being done around All Souls virtually 24/7! At our last vestry meeting on September 18, the agenda looked straightforward; chaplain’s reflection led by Matt McGinley, time for conversation with our postulant Ethan Lowery, a visit from Kirk Miller with an update on the architectural design of the Parish House, the typical Rector’s Report from Father Phil, then closing out with our three chaplains leading us in prayer. However, things are never as simple as they seem.
It was a joy to reconnect with Ethan and hear about his transformations through various ministry opportunities, including being a chaplain at Bishop’s Ranch for their youth program, as well as completing his Clinical Pastoral Education training at a hospital in Austin, Texas. Ethan began attending All Souls about 6 or 7 years ago when he was in the Episcopal Service Corps. We have missed his kind energy and wicked intelligence! One of the highest honors of being a part of the Vestry is being able to follow aspirants like Ethan and many others through their ordination process. The Vestry passed Ethan through to the next step of recommending him for candidacy with a resounding “ay!”
Then it was time for a slideshow from Kirk Miller with even more architectural updates since the Formation Hour presentation he and the Parish House Project Group gave a few weeks ago. Our conversation mostly focused on the Portal, or welcome sign arch which would connect the church building to the new building. We are seeking to strike a balance between what needs to be decided on now and what we can work on funding for and design logistics on, as construction proceeds. Overall, we were quite pleased and appreciative of the work Kirk has put into hearing our dreams and concerns and making adjustments wherever possible.
Finally, Father Phil wrapped the meeting up with his Rector’s Report. As if the Parish Retreat the weekend before, and the visit of the brothers from Taize the next weekend were not enough to keep us on our toes, ministry is alive and well at All Souls! The Capital Campaign committee is getting their footing and preparing to welcome our consultant, Marc Rieke, from the Pacific Northwest to All Souls on October 7. One of the many reasons which I am proud to call myself an All Soulsian is because it seems that in everything we do, we seek to keep in mind that we are making things right with our history, present and future. As the Capital Campaign committee begins, there is talk of how we will tithe 10% of what we raise to make reparations for the Ohlone land we are building upon. A group from All Souls is already starting to do that work.
Once again, I am in awe of the dedication, enthusiasm and compassion of this church community. Never a dull moment—thanks be to God!
Take & give care,
STEWARDSHIP LAUNCH BRUNCH
Please join us this Sunday at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall for our annual Stewardship Launch Brunch. There will be a delicious spread of food, the Stewardship Team will be sharing out about where we are now financially and where we hope to be going, and collectively, we’ll be talking with one another about what matters most. Sunday School will still be in session, and childcare for babies and toddlers will be available in the nursery, as always. Come, one and all!
BLESS THIS MESS: DIGGING INTO PARENTING AND FAITH
Conversation with the author + playdate and potluck
Please sign up here by September 30th, so we can be sure to have sufficient childcare!
Parents, mark your calendars! On Saturday, October 5th, 4:00 – 6:30 pm, we’ll be coming together for a special event. Rev. Molly Baskette is the senior pastor at First Congregational Church, just on the other side of the Cal Campus. She is also the co-author of a brand new book — Bless this Mess: A modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World. In it, Molly tackles the thorny questions of parenting we all wrestle with at one time or another, from the perspective of a progressive Christian. Alongside this perspective, her co-author Dr. Ellen O’Donnell offers her wisdom as a child psychologist, helping us to understand more of what is going on developmentally at these different stages, and what might actually be helpful to our children.
So! We’ll have childcare on the playground from 4-5:15, while the parents have time to hear from Molly and crack open this rich topic together. Her book will also be available to purchase if you don’t yet have it. Then we’ll enjoy a laid-back potluck together.
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS & BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS
Sunday, October 6
All pets welcome! Stuffed animals, too! Bring your favorite beasts to either the 7:30 or 11:15 services. The main Blessing of the Animals will be after the 11:15 service, around 12:30, in the courtyard. All are welcome… but please keep predators leashed.