Beloved in Christ,
Part of the preaching process is deciding what sermons one will not preach. I spent a good deal of time pondering last Sunday’s gospel – the Feeding of the 5000 according to Matthew. What follows is what I decided would be a better Pathfinder resource than sermon.
This is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four gospels, so we can deduce it was very significant to the early Christians. I was reminded that this story was often read at their Eucharist, some think more often than the story of the Last Supper.
What this tells us is that for early Christians, Eucharist was about thanksgiving, abundance and discipleship: Thanksgiving for all that we receive; the abundance of God’s grace working through people and a small basket of food––satiating thousands with twelve baskets left over; and the discipleship we are called to when Jesus tells us to feed them ourselves. Jesus took the disciples’ offerings of five loaves of bread and two fish, and looking up to heaven, “. . . blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”
Our hopes for sending out home communion have been postponed for the time being. Some of us were deeply disappointed by this turn of events. (Disappointment seems to be the word of the pandemic, and disappointment is an especially difficult feeling to process and make peace with.) So I’ve been wondering––how can we heed Jesus’ command now, and deal with our disappointment at the same time?
Back when I was a brand-new youth minister who had never been part of an organized youth group, I discovered mindfulness as a way to kindle appreciation, thanksgiving and praise. One evening we shared the mindful eating of an orange––seeing the beauty of the bright color and lovely shape, taking time to smell the peel, feeling the textures of skin, pith, pulp, and, of course, tasting the juicy, sweet fruit. The time and attention turned a simple snack into a delightful feast. We laughed with joy as the juice dripped down our chins. In a very real sense we were making Eucharist––giving thanks and acknowledging abundance in communion with one another.
In this time of disappointment and frustration, I suspect Jesus is asking us to take note of what we do have. We have food. We have time to pray––some of us have more time than we have had before. We have an opportunity to expand our lives of gratitude and praise. What if we were to feed ourselves with prayer and praise in a new way? What if we could find a way to involve our other senses (besides the seeing and hearing of live stream worship) to include taste and touch and smell in our prayer? What if we can be fully present to the meal that is already set before us?
The Church has a long tradition of the Agape Feast––the love feast. Some churches have one on Maundy Thursday. Some groups have them to celebrate a closing meal of a Bible Study or the last session of an ongoing class. The Feast in Godly Play can be called an Agape Feast. I think that in a very real way, most soup suppers and potluck suppers are Agape Feasts––meals where we bring offerings of our food to share with one another, give thanks, break bread and share God’s abundant love.
So, what if we were to take the time to give thanks, break bread, and delight in God’s abundant love and extravagant Grace? What if we took time and energy to make a meal an Agape Feast, even if, like me, you are living alone. We can set a pretty table, prepare a favorite dish, pick fresh veggies from the garden (or the market), pour a glass of a special beverage, and invite others to join us online––at least for the opening liturgy. I have prepared one you can use––or write your own! You can find the one I wrote here.
Parish Retreat 2020
This year’s Parish Retreat is going to be different than any year we have had before. What is clear is that we will retreat, together, in some capacity on the weekend we had slated: September 18-20th. What is not clear is how we will do this, and there are a few options before us. The three options available are listed in the form below. Please, please, please, fill out this form by next Thursday (8/13) to let us know what you would be interested in doing so we know how to plan.
Looking forward to this time with you all,
Youth Immersion Trip
As many of you remember, we helped out last year with Youth Spirit Artworks Tiny Home Village. Well, this past week, the youth of this parish teamed up with some youth from Christ Church in Alameda and did a little more work to get the space ready for the youth to move in! In total, we painted 30 planter boxes that will help provide food for the kids living in the Tiny Home Village, and we painted many, many pickets with prayers and blessings, which will become the fence lining the perimeter of the Tiny Home Village in Oakland.
This was also the first in-person youth event we have done since the pandemic, which produced a good amount of anxiety, but the youth did a great job of staying distanced, keeping on masks, and we were outside the entire time. It made me hopeful that there can be more of this in the very near future.
All Souls Redwood Art
Our liturgical calendar tells us we are in the middle of the long green stretch between Pentecost and Advent that is often called “ordinary time.” In Godly Play we call it a green, growing time. Waking up to the headlines each morning, this feels more like extraordinary time, and like maybe our ribbon of time got stuck in a knot.
But sure enough, we are finding ways to get through and even grow—we are working to recognize and unravel the thread of racism woven into our personal and collective fabrics; we are making community and supporting each other in new ways; we’re learning to bake and garden and homeschool. So here’s another opportunity grow something new together…
We are going to collectively create a new piece of art for ordinary time for the reredos wall above our musicians in the quire. This is a chance to exercise your creativity (or put a kid to work on a project!) and grow something with your community. Using a favorite local redwood as our framework, over the next many weeks we will to bring it to life by greening it with animal foliage. (Yes, animal foliage sounds impossible, but follow the instructions below to see how!)
- Download and print animals of your choice here. You can make as many as you want; we need lots!
- Gather your art supplies & fill in your animals with paint, crayons, markers, pencils, collaged paper or something we haven’t even thought of. Think all shades of green!
3. Cut out your animals. (Pro-tip: If you flip over your animal and work on the back side, you don’t have to be so careful about staying in the lines! This is especially handy if you are collaging.)
4. Pop your green animals into an envelope and mail back to church (2220 Cedar St. Berkeley, CA 94709) or swing by and drop them into the mailbox near the chapel door.
5. On Sundays during the livestream, watch our redwood tree grow and try to spot your creations.
If you would like to participate but don’t have any art supplies on hand, reach out here for a paper collage kit. Or if you can’t get your hands on some stamps & envelope right now to mail yours in, let us know and we will work out a pick up.
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.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
This Sunday we’re hosting the third of four classes on Wendell Berry’s Watch With Me. In Sunday’s class we’ll explore why Ptolemy Proudfoot carries the name he does, remembering that Claudius Ptolemy — rough contemporary of the writers of the Gospels— is called the inventor of geography. Jane Vandenburgh will help guide this discussion. This book is only 208 pp in its entirety, and the stories provide a quick, comic, even romping read.
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89163654939?pwd=SlorREQzTVVyMGwzM0ZQYlZKeGxQQT09
Meeting ID: 891 6365 4939
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. 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.
If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website. The All Souls Website has been updated to include some new information and resources(including the links for all the storybook videos) for families. Here is the link: http://www.allsoulsparish.org/children-youth-and-families/childrens-virtual-formation-during-covid/
All Souls After Hours
This week after the service, Dr. Jamie Apgar will host another round of the All Souls Jukebox! Send in your requests to him via email prior to Sunday at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649?pwd=d0Z4c1RHeld0QllOLzdlS1IxK3FKZz09. For safety, the password needed to join the call is 329903.
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.
Check out Episode 16 of the Soulcast!
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: email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049