From the Rector
Love Is On the Way
We are coming close. And, amidst the annual frenzy of the most significant annual economic event in the largest economy in the world, we are preparing the space for this Christ Mass. As in, the opportunity to come close to the mystery and scandal of God made fragile flesh in the form of a human. And it couldn’t come at a better time
Recently I’ve had verses of Eleanor Farjeon’s hymn, People Look East, running through my head. Yes, about trimming the hearth and setting the table, for Love the guest is on the way. But I’ve also been sitting with a verse that feels closer to our current moment,
Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.
“Even the hour when wings are frozen God for fledging time has chosen.” Even in this time of fear and isolation and uncertainty, we place our trust that the Christ is born in a small, out of the way village, amidst hardship and trial, and that Christ is also born in us, present in us. If we make room for Christ to be present.
There are many ways to make this room, and we have been practicing several of them at All Souls this season of Advent. We’ve been gathering gifts for people who have need, we’ve been singing, telling stories and holding silence, we’ve been lighting wreaths of candles, we’ve been observing our worlds and creating art from them.
All of this has been in preparation for Christ to dwell in us and with us, which we celebrate at Christmas. Now, truth be told, this time of preparation and adoration could happen just as well on July 27th or February 9th or October 13th. But we long have set space aside during the time of year in this hemisphere when the nights are long and the kindling hope is most needed.
So this year we will again be making space together at All Souls as safely as we can. All of our services will be indoors, with doors and windows wide open (dress warmly) and with masks on. Our 4pm service will have the Nativity story told Godly Play style, with costumes and cast and a newly born baby Jesus. Our 8pm service (which will be streamed on our site and on Facebook) will be a Eucharist with carols and candlelight. And our 10:30pm service (which will also be streamed and on Facebook) will be a choral Eucharist with choir and strings. And on Christmas Day, our 10am service is an intimate one, this year with a baptism in the round.
So come all you faithful, in person or online. Make space for the Christ once more. For Love––the guest, the rose, the bird, the star, the Lord––is on the way.
Advent Booklet Reflection
I wonder how many of you picked up one of the Advent 2021 Weekly Prayer Booklets?
I am glad I did! And the entire Advent Season I have been grateful to Annie and Maggie for crafting such a deeply prayerful booklet of songs, prayers, creative crafts and penetrating questions inviting us to go deeper this year during Advent.
The Advent Prayer Booklet begins with a provocative cover, a photo of a young girl kneeling in awe, as she experiences Mary’s Annunciation in the midst of her unkempt teenaged bedroom…with one bare light bulb representing the Angel Gabriel’s presence. The painting is entitled “Overshadowed”.
On the first Sunday of Advent, I picked up my Advent Prayer Booklet at church. As I opened it at home, I felt it had been created just for me. A Table of Contents for the Four Weeks of Advent gave me a sense of my journey. The cover poem was perfect: “Where there is nothing God comes in.”
As I sat in my favorite meditation chair, I was immediately drawn in by the Introduction: Even though many crafty activities are suggested throughout the Booklet, I was reassured that everyone has” creative potential” because we are all made in God’s image, and created by the Creator God.
After all, Advent is the season of Creativity…Mary is creating a baby! And she and all mothers-to-be must be patient, like an artist waiting for the muse.
I remember my own experience of young motherhood…I was blessed with three children in three and a half years…. So I was both creative and patient…even as I made my own maternity clothes (as Mary must have done), and scavenged for baby furniture at garage sales, and smocked many dresses.
Although the Advent Prayer Booklet is written with children’s activities in mind, I prayed my prayers alone. I read and sang out loud to myself and lighted the Advent Wreath alone, but the Taize chants still rang out: “Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.”
I was the voice in the Wilderness crying: Prepare the way of the Lord.
The Advent Prayer Booklet seemed to have a cumulative effect. Each day, I found a quiet place and read through the entire week’s Advent prayers, especially pondering the reflection questions at the end.
In Advent Week One, I was deeply touched by Ana Herandez’ opening chant. It accompanied me during the entire Advent Season.
“If in your heart you make a manger for his birth,
Then God will once again become a child on earth.”
Each evening I began my prayers with this haunting melody. As I lit the Advent Wreath, these words became a focus of my prayer time. Over and over I returned to the first week’s chant. Like the women mystics of the fifteenth century, I could not let go of that image.God was waiting for ME to create a manger for the Christ Child, for ME to make a manger in my heart so that he could be born again a child on earth!
As I sang and prayed, I also reflected on the penetrating questions at the end of each weekly chapter: Where in my life do I feel wilderness beneath my feet? What am I longing for in my life this Advent? Can I make the uneven ground less rocky? Can I make the rough places in my heart smooth? The Creative Practice for the first week of Advent was to find a way to declutter our lives enough to make room in our hearts for God. What is taking up space in my heart, not allowing the light of the Christ Child to shine through me?
The Second Week of Advent, we are asked not only to create a manger for Jesus’ birth, but to open our hearts to God. We are invited to experience God through our senses and to write a poem about what delighted our senses this week
In the Third Week of Advent, I prayed with the opening song: “Take, oh take me as I am, Summon out what I shall be, Set your seal upon my heart, and live in me.”
Advent Week Three focuses on T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”. We must let go of ego and control in our lives in order to follow the star to the Manger. I asked myself, ” What stands in the way of my trusting in God to lead me there?”
The Fourth Week of Advent is still ahead of me as I write this article for the Pathfinder. But I assure you that I am eager to continue what has been a true Advent Miracle in my life, gifted to us by two great women: Annie and Maggie.
I think I shall use this booklet all the way to Epiphany! And, I shall never forget to tend the manger in my heart.
New Year’s Potluck Dinner & Staged Reading
FOR THE TIME BEING, A Christmas Oratorio
Saturday January 1, 2022
5:00 – 8:30
FOR THE TIME BEING, A Christmas Oratorio
by W.H. Auden, directed by Hallie Frazer
“. . . To those who have seen
The Child, however, dimly, however incredulously
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.”
Everyone is invited to share in Holiday Fare this coming New Year, followed by a 6:30 on-the-spot reading.
Dinner Sign-Up: Margaret Sparks
Reader Sign-Up: Hallie Frazer
Contact information for Margaret and Hallie can be found in the Parish online Directory. Advanced sign up requested.
Since the soul of a ham lies in the hearts of every realized or newly-exposed reader, appreciative audiences are always treasured! Come with voices ready to celebrate, whether as readers or their audience.
Advent Art Display
For those of you who have been following along with the Advent Prayer Booklet and creating pieces of art, we invite you to bring your art/writing (or a picture of what you created if it’s not easily transportable) to display in the Narthex. This temporary Advent art gallery will give us an opportunity to share with one another a piece of our creative journeys.
The nomination process has begun for new members for Vestry, Convention and Deanery. If anyone would like to self-nominate or to nominate someone (provided they check with the person first) please email me. The new members will be selected at the All Souls Annual Meeting on January 30th.
Kaki Logan, and the Nominating Committee of 2021
Save the Dates
December 24, Christmas Eve (services at 4, 8 & 10:30p) all indoors with masks required
January 1, New Year’s Day Choral Dinner + Reading, 5-8:30p
Join us at 9am, in-person, outdoors (masks optional). Or (and!) join us indoors for the 11:15 service or on the live stream at 11:15a, 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. At our 11:15 service, masks are required.
Come back at 5p for our Sunday Night Service.
Due to the CDC mask mandate, masks are required for all large indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. This also applies to when you visit the church offices during the week. Thank you!
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here, or join us in person in the Nave at 9a. Password: 520218. Masks are required for this service as it is indoors.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
We have two classes being offered this Sunday:
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study @ 7:30a. Contact Kate Murphy, email@example.com to join that Zoom call.
- Reading Between the Lines Bible Study at 10:10 in the Chapel (and on Zoom). Contact Daniel Prechtel for the Zoom link, firstname.lastname@example.org
Children & Family News
Christmas Pageant rehearsal has begun! Come out at 10:10a in the courtyard to rehearse. The pageant will take place at the 4p service on Christmas Eve. We’ll resume Sunday School during formation hour in the new year.
Other News & Notes
Christmas-ing the Church
Come “Christmas” the Church! December 19 at 12:45, be a part of transforming the worship space from Advent to Christmas. With several hands it should take less than an hour. No specific past experience needed 🙂 Let Ray Concepcion (email@example.com) know you’re interested.
After an Advent with just greens, Christmas flowers are especially welcome and offer an opportunity for you to recognize a person, an event, or simply blessings received. If you want to contribute to Christmas flowers, please note Christmas flowers on your check for the offering plate. If you want wording other than ‘For blessings received’ in the Christmas bulletins, please contact Maggie Cooke, Giving Secretary, (firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-699-6700) before December 20.
Christmas Eve Reception
We’ll just have one Christmas Eve reception this year, which will take place just after the 8p service in the courtyard, or (if it’s raining) under the covered patio off the Spruce Street entrance. If you’re planning to attend, please bring some cookies or drinks to share!
New Adult Formation Classes
Join us in January for two classes on Health and Healing with Rabbi Jo Hirschmann on January 9 and Rev. Ruth Meyers and Dr. Cynthia Li on January 16. Both classes start at 10:10 am.
- January 9: Contagion and Connection: Exploring Illness, Care, and Community through Leviticus’ Story of the Metzora and the Priest
The book of Leviticus tells us about the metzora, a person with a skin condition (often mis-translated as leprosy) who was considered to have some kind of contagion and was sent outside the Israelites’ desert encampment. During his time outside the camp, this person was visited weekly by the priest, a role that could be considered a prototype of a modern professional caregiver. While the outside-the-camp region may have been isolating and lonely, it may also have been a location for surprising connections and even for holiness. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this story has particular resonance for contemporary readers of the Bible. Through a combination of presentation, text study, and discussion, we’ll explore these sections of Leviticus through the lens of our own lives and experiences.
Rabbi Jo Hirschmann is a chaplain and pastoral educator who serves as the director of Clinical Pastoral Education for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. With Nancy Wiener, she is a co-author of Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care, from which this session is adapted.
- January 16: The Body of Christ: Worship as Healing, taught by Cynthia Li, MD, with Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers. How do we, as a faith community, respond to this world in flux? And how do we begin to experience the healing God offers through Christ during these dynamic times? In this class, we will examine how healing happens, and how Christian worship practices can activate healing in the heart, mind, and body. We will explore Scripture, new science, principles of integrative medicine, and embodied practices. This class will meet on January 16.
You may have missed In-Gathering Sunday last Sunday, but you can still make a pledge to All Souls for the 2022 year! Head over to the Stewardship Season 2021 page on our website for more information about how to give and to find the electronic pledge card.
Stephen Ministry: Christ Caring for People through People
That’s the motto of Stephen Ministry. The Stephen Minister’s role is to bring God’s love into the lives of people who are going through a difficult time or experiencing a crisis. What do Stephen Ministers do? They listen, care, support, encourage, and pray with and for a person who is hurting. And in the midst of this confidential, one-to-one, caring relationship, God’s healing love comes pouring through.
If someone you know is facing a crisis—large or small—and could benefit from the caring presence of a Stephen Minister, talk to Rev Maggie Foote (email@example.com) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
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.
Giving to All Souls via our mobile app
The platform we have been using for mobile app donations is changing from Give+ to Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement. You can find this (Vanco Mobile Faith Engagement) in your app store, and login with the same login you had with Give+. Once logged in, search for “All Souls Episcopal Parish” and it comes right up.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Chalice)
We’re looking to build up a store of reusable chalices so that we can stop using disposable chalices each week for the Eucharist. If you have a few small vessels around your house that you’d like to donate, please bring them and leave them on the back Narthex counter. You can watch this episode of the Soulcast to get a better idea of what we have in mind.
Advent Ingathering Schedule
- December 19: food for the Berkeley food pantry