FROM THE RECTOR
Trust, Verify, and Trust Again
Several years ago, we asked the Rev. Paul Fromberg to create an icon of the Good Shepherd for our icon cross. One of the challenges he faced was that there wasn’t a cruciform icon of the Good Shepherd in Christian iconography, so Paul had to create it whole cloth.
As he did this, Paul drew on several sources of scripture, a few of which we will hear this Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, especially John 10. In this description of the Good Shepherd Jesus talks about what happens when the ordinary shepherd does not care for the sheep, that the wolf comes and snatches the sheep and scatters them. One of things that I remember most in Paul’s creation of the icon was his really wanting to get the wolf right, particularly its single-minded focus on the sheep.
I was thinking about the look in the wolf’s eye recently when I came to learn that some of you have been emailed by a person (or people) attempting to impersonate me. What has been happening is the people attempting to scam money create a false email address and email people pretending to be me. This has happened a few times before, but for the first time they took the effort to download one of my pictures from the website to attempt to increase their authenticity. Diabolical. It has left me feeling angry and frustrated. Because it puts people from All Souls in a vulnerable position and steals from them. And, because besides alerting the parish and others that this is happening and telling everyone to not give them any money, there is very little I can do to stop them.
On a practical level, know that I have not ever, and do not plan on ever asking for money through email. I may send you an email for a phone conversation, or a text to meet in person (hopefully some day soon), but I won’t ask for gift cards or other financial assistance via email or text. And when we do ask for funds at All Souls those funds come to All Souls and then we write checks to the people or organizations that we are supporting. Also, make sure that when you are sending me an email that it is to my actual email address, which is my first name at allsoulsparish.org.
Now I’d like to consider a more fundamental aspect to this criminal activity, which is the breach of trust. In my life as a priest I have found trust to be essential. When I teach or consult I often have said that trust is the currency of leadership. And so it makes it even more dispiriting that these scammers are attempting to abuse this intimate, critical component of the relationship that we share, all in order to gain quick cash off of your generosity.
When we are taken by someone, say a con (or confidence) artist, a natural response is pull in tight, like a sea anemone. I understand this reaction firsthand, because it is one that I have felt in years past whenever someone has taken advantage of my generosity. And, I have found that I do not want to live from this place of fear and distrust. Do my best to verify that what I am being told is true? Absolutely. And then attempt to give again and do what I can to trust the human in front of me.
As for those who are attempting to abuse the trust that you might have in me or others here at All Souls, you might consider this: ignore them entirely, or if you wish, tell them that you don’t give money from emails and that you’ll be praying for their mortal souls.
Caminos in the Times of Covid
Every year around this time, I find myself reflecting on the journey ahead. For the past five summers, I’ve been blessed to walk the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. This summer, I won’t be walking the Camino across the Spanish countryside, but instead of feeling heartbroken that I’ve been robbed of that precious time with God, I’m touched by a deeper grace than I could have ever imagined—the Camino has come to me, to my home and the streets of Berkeley, amidst a global pandemic, of all times.
To be clear, I’m not walking twenty miles a day as I would be in Spain, but this time of sheltering-in-place has created similar conditions to pay better attention to the interior life. Life is distilled, the places we visit and our activities less varied. I’m noticing the same spiritual movements emerge that always seem to show up while I’m walking the Camino.
First, there’s the anxiety: What email did I forget to send before leaving? Who will pick me up at the airport? Of course now, in our current context, the anxieties feel more pressing, more real—what if my parents get sick? How will my students’ families manage to get by after being laid off? When will this all end? At some point on every Camino, my anxieties exhaust themselves, and I let go of the expectation that the experience has to go a certain way. Inevitably, God breaks through—often in moments when I’ve literally lost the path, or my boots are stolen, or the heat is too much to bear. It’s then that God and I have a long, loving look at what hurts and what I most deeply long for. I experience an intimacy with God in these moments of solitude that is seldom as potent anywhere else in my life.
It amazes me, then, that for all the grief and change that sheltering-in-place has brought with it, there have been countless invitations to draw closer to God, in ways that are perhaps even more intimate than being on the Camino. I’m not sitting on a hillside overlooking Pamplona, the sound of nuns singing heard faintly in the background—I’m at my desk this time, breaking down after too many Zoom calls, admitting to God that I don’t have more to give.
I’m learning what I relearn every Camino: that the days get sanctified, the sweetness and anxiety, the delight and the grief—all of it, when I let go of the expectation that God has to show up in my life in a particular way, or that I have to show up as a particular, better version of me for God. When I stop trying so hard to control it all, I am relentlessly surprised by the way God longs to reach every part of who I am, even and especially the parts I’d frankly prefer God not to look at.
It’s never linear, the Camino, and neither is the journey of living through a pandemic. There are hard days that feel like being at square one and I catch myself acting out the most difficult parts of my parents (bless us all) I swore I’d never become, or I’m breathless and stopping every ten seconds on a hill I sprinted up just the other day. And then there are days like this morning, where I can’t stop noticing the brightness of flowers along Cedar street, or the delight of a cross-eyed cat looking at me (I think), or the sweetness of a speaker box strapped to a bike playing jazz music, a father and daughter out for a ride at 10am on a school day.
The invitation during this pandemic, as ever, is to trust that all of it lives with God. Instead of resisting the new normal, we can lean in to what’s here.
— Annie Rovzar
Church Membership While Sheltering in Place
As some of you may know a few years ago Phil and I wrote a set of Membership Expectations. We wrote them so that folks would have a shared understanding of what it means to be part of this community. You have probably heard these before as Phil uses them as a framework for the announcements at church every Sunday. They are that we worship together, serve together, eat together, pray together, give together, and learn together.
In a season of online worship and no in-person gatherings, however, what does it look like to be a member here?
I think it depends on where you are right now. For some of you, just getting through a day––the grocery story, disinfecting things, keeping your sanity––is enough. Leaning into the community of All Souls for support, a listening ear, and prayer is about all you can manage right now. For those in that boat, please know that is an okay place to be. Being part of a community means that you participate in different seasons in different ways, sometimes as a supporter and sometimes as someone who needs support. If you are in need of support right now, please know that is a way to participate in this community life. Let your concerns be known to your Connection Group or to the staff and we will all do our best to walk with you in this season. But, for others of you this is a season of rest and perhaps even a little boredom as you are stuck inside your home. Also, for many of you in this camp, the ways that you were serving at All Souls are in hiatus, such as being a Chalice Bearer, Sacristan, Lector or Intercessor, Usher, Greeter, Bread Baker, etc. I’d love to suggest you consider taking this time to consider joining into this church family in a new way.
Tune in on Sundays to the Facebook Live stream. Tune in to a morning or evening prayer.
Attend a Zoom Adult Formation class.
Use the Stations of the Resurrection booklet and talk about it with others in the community. Attend morning and/or evening prayer. Connect with your Connection Group and hold your group in prayer throughout the week. Share your griefs, pain, and struggles with your group so that you can be held in prayer.
Well, so, this one is much more difficult and requires perhaps the greatest amount of creativity at this time. But the heart of eating together is communing together, so, meet with your Connection Group regularly and share. Send in a video of you/your family to the church coffee hour (we’ll do these once per quarter). Check out the All Soulsians Facebook group. Make sure your name is in the Online Directory (see Mardie Becker if you want to be added!). Stay tuned after the Sunday service to the new All Souls After Hours.
Get in on the sandwich project. Ask the staff about a family in need right now and help them out. Stay connected with your Connection Group and help when needs arise. Donate an extra bike to the Here/There camp.
There are a lot of ways to give monetarily to All Souls, the foremost method being just sending in checks directory from your bank. But, you can also use our new online and mobile giving platform! From your phone, go to your app store and download the Give+ app, search for our church, and you’re in! To give online, go to our new, updated online giving page here.
But, and I think this is the heart of this piece, the other ways to give to All Souls right now is by joining one of our many teams. These teams, while often understated, are the driving force behind all the work that this church does. Moreover, the work of many of these teams has not stopped just because we are sheltered in place! There’s Adult Formation, Finance, Stewardship, Children & Family, Youth, Justice & Peace, Evangelism, and many more.
If you are looking for ways you can serve this community at this time, consider being part of the teams of folks who are re-visioning the ways that we continue making church together and living into God’s kingdom here and now.
— Emily Hansen Curran
Streaming News and Notes
Sunday Live Streaming News
The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am (and every Sunday afterwards, as needed) via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. If you have not used Zoom before––it is pretty user friendly in that I send you an invitation that you can log-in to at the appointed time. You can log-in with video so we can see each other’s faces or on your phone so we can hear each other. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Whitney Wilson at email@example.com if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
Morning and Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for Tuesday/Thursday Morning Prayer, to take place every Tuesday/Thursday at 8:30 am PST: https://zoom.us/j/283425127
Here is the link for Monday night BCP Compline, to take place each Monday at 8:30pm PST: https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649
Here is the link for Wednesday night NZP Night Prayer, to take place each Wednesday at 8pm PST: https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Technical Help”. Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
‘Caring for Creation: Hope & Action for Climate Justice’ Continues this Sunday
This Sunday is the third and final session of our Spring 2020 series ‘Caring for Creation: Hope & Action for Climate Justice’. Kayleen Asbo will speak on ‘Embracing Our Eco-spiritual Roots for Climate Action’. From her website: ‘Dr. Asbo is an acclaimed cultural historian, musician, writer, and teacher, who passionately weaves together myth, psychology, history, and the arts with experiential learning’. This session will offer historical stories from our own wisdom tradition and eco-spiritual roots, with inspiring art and music from Hildegard, Francis, and Julian.
Summer Book Groups
Last call for summer book group nominations! If you have ideas for a good book to read and discuss this summer with fellow parishioners, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30.