From the Associate Rector
Happy Earth Day, All Soulsians!
After Holy Week, I felt a deep hunger for the kind of sabbath that only comes (for me at least) by being outdoors in nature, away from technology, and in the company of ancient trees, trusted people, and Mother Earth.
So, I went camping with a friend. We hiked, paddled in the Bay, lounged around, and cooked over an open fire. It was just what I needed. I emerged from the woods in touch with myself, in touch with my Creator, and grateful for the beauty that the Earth had shown me.
I love going camping or hiking with this particular friend for lots of reasons, but one of them is that both of us are more or less recent arrivals in California, so taking a break to admire a mediocre view or an especially large fern is equally enjoyable for the both of us; we’re rarely underwhelmed by anything that California has to offer. On our hike, I think we stopped to look at ferns at least 20 times. It was awesome. I decided during this trip that ferns are my favorite plant. Ferns are some of the oldest plants in the world, and they exist in all kinds of different climates, and some ferns can live up to 100 years.
In my Fresher Start call this morning, Bishop Marc Andrus posed this question to us: how do we proclaim the gospel to all of creation? In the course of the conversation, we gradually shifted to the question: how has creation proclaimed the good news to us?
For me, right now, it’s the ferns.
Ferns are incredibly resilient, adaptable to many different climates, and can survive without a lot of direct sunlight.
This to me is what I need to hear about the gospel right now.
The gospel, ancient as it is, is still a story that speaks. It’s one of the oldest stories in the world, it’s adaptable and shows up in many different times and places, able to survive in many different climates, and it persists even when we neglect it, even when we refuse to shine light on it.
The good news of Jesus Christ still speaks. Even in a world ravaged by disease, fraught with conflict, and where innocent lives are lost at the hands of their fellow humans; the gospel still speaks. And even when we don’t get it right, even when we neglect it, the story itself is still powerful enough to change the world.
This is what gives me hope. This is how creation preached to me over the last few weeks. I wonder, this Earth Day, how is creation preaching to you?
Good Friday Reflections
A Reflection by Eric Legrand
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John 19 1-3 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face.
Had him flogged…and striking him on the face.
In many ways it is difficult for me to think of how this short brutal story intersects with my life experience. When it comes to my body, I have had a very pleasant 48 years, physically speaking. My life has been free of violence or even chronic pain.
However, the story of his flogging, mocking and being struck on the face allows me to understand the incarnation. And I understand it most when he is struck on the face. When I think about the soldiers striking Jesus’ face, I think of my sister, Adrienne’s, face. My sister, who was 5 years younger than me, died almost 14 years ago at the age of 29 after a long struggle with the genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis type 2, that caused tumors to grow throughout her nervous system. The condition struck her body by delivering blow after crippling blow. It paralyized her face repeatedly. First motion in one cheek, then part of the tongue, then part of the lips, and then more of the cheek and eyelids. It shut down her ability to hear, one ear at first, then the second and then all hearing. It shut down her ability to walk, killing nerve by nerve that controlled her legs. The cruel genetic mutation struck her again and again over many years.
Adrienne died shortly after Julie’s and my wedding in 2007. And one of the few pictures I have of Adrienne and me on that day of her and me looking each other in the face. I am standing and leaning down to her chair to hold her hand. We see each other and love is visible through the difficulty of pain. These faces, which we had known all of our lives. The face that had received so many paralyzing strikes.
I imagine Jesus’ face like Adrienne’s. The image of Jesus’ flogging, mocking and striking on the face helps me better understand the incarnation mystery. And picturing my sister’s stricken face alongside his helps me taste, smell and touch our fleshly Lord.
A Reflection by Colette Plum
To Listen, Click Here:
John 18:15–18, 25–27
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
When my daughter, Francesca, was in the third grade, I spent a good part of my mornings dropping her and her sister off at school. It was quite the journey, involving a public bus, two subway lines and a bit of a walk. In those days, we lived in China, and our girls attended an international school with a community much like our Bay Area schools, which on the surface celebrate difference and strive for inclusivity. Our daily ritual was to arrive early enough to read in a cozy chair in Francesca’s sunny classroom. Sometimes we would work together on a puzzle or game with a handful of other early arrivals.
One morning, I stepped away from Francesca and her two Korean friends, occupied with a puzzle, to search for a book for us to read together. I was just within earshot when I overheard one girl say, slowly, with a hushed voice but great certainty, “She is not your mother.” I froze and felt a shift within me to an almost primal alertness. I listened closer, but there was nothing more. When I turned I saw Francesca, head bowed in stillness, hunting through scattered pieces of a puzzle. The room was silent, and Francesca’s two friends, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder across the table from her, realized I had heard, and watched me, awaiting my reaction.
My daughters are Chinese; their father and I are not. We are a conspicuously trans-national and trans-racial family, and in our China lives, we lived day-to-day as objects of curiosity in a culture where families do not look as mismatched as our own, and where a global system of white supremacy creates a bias favoring white families — an unspoken ranking in PTA meetings and on the playground, that offered the white European, North American and Australian families a special standing with their peers over the Asian and African families. The school’s language of instruction was English, so native speakers of English also held an advantage, especially over recently arrived English-language learners.
But here we are, in this sunny classroom. Francesca, a dark haired, English-speaking, Chinese American girl, with her tall, blond, white mother. She is not your mother. What else could Francesca do, but remain silent in this moment? Plenty of things, perhaps, but at what cost, and requiring what courage? To deny the allegation and claim me as her mother risked separating herself further from the friend group at the table who had uttered this declaration. To deny me as her mother would not only out her prior status as an orphan, but would also be a renunciation of the relative privilege she had since acquired — her proximity to whiteness.
And what of me in this moment? I was deeply shaken by the power of one child to silence the table with her certainty that Francesca and I do not belong to one another. These words pierced the heart of what had become my core purpose and identity. But my daughter is not a motherless child. I found a voice where Francesca could not, “Not all mothers look like their children; I am Francesca’s mother.”
How many times since our return to the U.S. have my daughters been told in a myriad of ways “She is not your mother”? How often, along with other brown and black girls, have they been told, “This is not your country,” “This is not your playground,” “This is not your school,” “This is not your dance party,” “This is not your job,” “This is not your meeting,” “This is not your church”? How many times have they had to position themselves close to whiteness, to renounce their heritage and inheritance, not just to gain access to what might otherwise be denied them, but to feel safe, secure and protected where others might fear for their very livelihoods or lives?
My heart aches for Peter when I picture him, alone outside that gate, loving his Lord and awaiting news of His fate. The terror must have been bone deep as he warmed himself at that fire. I wonder if we should give Peter a pass on our judgement and appreciate what is at stake for those who sit on that border between othering and belonging. For Peter, there was so much at stake, perhaps his very life. Let’s not imagine that his denial of Christ was easy, or that in those dark hours he knew where, if anywhere, and with whom he belonged.
From the Junior Warden
Spring Cleaning April 2021
The morning began with Jill Churchman, Pew Patrol Leader, and Jeannie Koops-Elson, Queen of the Keys, arriving at dawn at All Souls Episcopal Parish to unpack cleaning supplies and paraphernalia, preparing to welcome Spring Cleaners.
The first Spring Cleaner, Ross Laverty, arrived. Eschewing pew patrol, he went straight to work on the copper panels in the sanctuary doors in the Narthex. The next arrival, Joe Morganti, immediately came under Jill’s sway and began the daunting task of fishing out debris from the portals in the pew racks—a two hour job done with surgical precision.
The Dynamic Duo of Lenore and Dean appeared next. Dean, armed with a bottle of Murphy’s soap, viciously attacked the grime on the pews. Lenore wielded a mean vacuum, apprehending all the hidden dust bunnies. Anne Cockle arrived next, determined to lend a hand, as usual. Not a single kneeler avoided her quick eye, and each one finally succumbed to a thorough 409 baptism. Nydia MacGregor, Pew Polisher, shined and polished, and shined and polished, until the pews absolutely gleamed. The cooperative and clever Captain Chris Bailey worked hard yet never broke a sweat in his dapper, button down collar, long sleeved white dress shirt. Melissa Devereaux, also on pew patrol, whisked her cosmic dusting cloth over all the Hymnals and the Books of Common prayer, and wielded her dusting wand with aplomb, performing her magic in the ever-brightening pews.
Renae Breitenstein, First Lady of Hospitality, had done pre-cleaning the prior Thursday, discerning what needed to remain and what needed to go from the Narthex. And her pal, Diane Haavik, had done a thorough dusting the window ledges. So all was pre-cleaned before Cara Jobson, and her two hardworking daughters, Sandy and Lucy, arrived. The Jobson Three teamed up to clean the glass doors and some of the colored glass windows in the Narthex, both inside and out. Lucy also shook the dust from the blue pew pads (which no one seems to realize are available) and dusted the stair railing. Sandy took a toothbrush to the threshold and made it shine. After six hours of hard labor (2 X 3), the Jobsons set up the chairs for lunch.
Hidden away upstairs near the Crow’s Nest was a collaborative group of one Sacristan and two Artists: Cathy Thompson, Michelle Barger and Jeannie Koops-Elson. Extensive cooperation was needed to avoid jettisoning anything that might be sacrosanct to a sacristan or absolutely necessary to an artist. So harmony ruled and the common area for these two groups became a haven of collaboration and a source of much to recycle.
At 11:00 am, with her little pink wagon in tow, the Marvelous Margaret Sparks arrived with lunch: sandwiches, fruit salad, chips, heavenly deviled eggs, chocolate chip cookies, and drinks. At long last, the lunch bell bonged, and the first crew sat down to eat and visit in the courtyard (distanced, of course.)
The first 2nd shift crew member, Bob Holum, arrived early, eager to enjoy Margaret’s delicious lunch. Priscilla Camp also arrived along with Kieran King to finish the job the first shift had begun. Anne Cockle, unwilling to leave her task unfinished, extended her tour of duty into the 2nd shift. Priscilla, the lawyerly librarian, adorned in a fashionable blue apron, went straight to work returning all the newly cleaned hymnals and Books of Common Prayer to their rightful places in the pew racks.
Being Top Brass, Kieran and Bob agreed to finish the Copper polishing job on the wooden doors to the sanctuary that Ross had begun. And, then . . . . they took on the copper front doors—a job only a therapist and an artist could accomplish. Oh goodness. At first, we could see into the Copper Doors as through a glass darkly. But now . . . . we see face to face! Who needs a mirror? You may want to wear sunglasses upon entering the Narthex.
Thus ended a grand day of fellowship and hard work—22 crew members in all.
We are grateful for each one who came to do the work of caring for our common church home. May it remain dust free until regathering one day soon.
We have more work to do, but we have a wonderful great beginning in our Spring Cleaning Jamboree.
Kaki Logan, Junior Warden 2021
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person (masked and holding a 4’ distance between you and anyone outside of your pod or family). Attendance is limited for outdoor services, so please sign-up here! Please remember to bring your own chair and chalice!
Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Additionally, you can try out live streaming our 11:15 service to a Zoom call, so that you can participate in church with fellow parishioners. Click here to get into the 11:15 Zoom call, and please send us a note this week about your experience with this new mode of virtual church!
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline (Night Time Prayers): 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78630294068?pwd=cmdoenJYRWUwR2J6QkhxSHNsakt0UT09
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
7:30am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Kate Murphy to join that Zoom call.
10:10am Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel to join that Zoom call.
The Resurrection at 10:10am on Zoom with the Rev. Michael Lemaire.
The Resurrection is a central part of the Christian faith both that Jesus was resurrected but that we as Christians share in the resurrection. For me this has been something I have believed, affirmed in the creeds, but have actually spent little time exploring. How do we understand the resurrection today? What did the people of Jesus’s time believe about life after death? What did his disciples mean by the resurrection and how best can we understand their experience? How does the understanding of the resurrection evolve both in Paul and later through the different Gospels?
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
In-person, outdoor Children’s Formation takes place on Sundays in the Courtyard at 10:10am!
Youth group meets this Sunday, April 25th, at 3:00pm in the courtyard. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at email@example.com to be added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Soulcast: Our Weekly Video Announcements
Check out Season 3: Episode 8 of the Soulcast!
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Still Seeking All Soulsians with Communications Skills
We are reaching out to the All Souls community for marketing, communications, technical and design talent to build a team of skilled individuals on whom the communications team can call to support their efforts. If you have any (or many) of the skills listed below and some time to bring them to bear, please sign-up here.
- Graphic design
- Email marketing
- Web design and development
- Content management
- Social media
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at email@example.com.