Reflection on Last Week’s Sermon
Faith Like a Steering Wheel
I’ve been thinking about Michael’s sermon from last Sunday. Maybe you are too. He teased us with that seminary word “theodicy”—The question about If God is all knowing, all loving, all powerful, why do bad things happen to good people? But then Michael doesn’t answer the question. Or does he?
We, in our deep concern for ourselves, often change that question to be something more personal: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to me or to someone I love?”
But Michael goes on to say that the essence of this gospel story in Mark is about different questions: Why are we afraid? Have we no faith? Who is this Jesus (that even the wind and sea obey him?)
The point of the story, he says, is not that Jesus keeps the disciples safe by calming the sea and the wind. Instead the point is that Jesus is in the boat with the disciples. Jesus is not on the shore watching and waiting for us to cry out—Instead, he is with us and shares our fate. And this fate is that we are all living—until we die. Even Jesus and the disciples die. So the point is not that Jesus will swoop in to save us from storms. Instead, Jesus promises to be with us. Always.
Our faith, Michael says, should not be like a spare tire— an appendage to fill the gaps when trouble comes. Instead our faith should be like a steering wheel to help us navigate this life. We often enjoy our “idols” until trouble strikes. Then, in desperation, we cry out to God.
“Why are you afraid?” Jesus asks the disciples. Why are we afraid? Rather than to disparage our legitimate human emotions, Michael interprets the question to be: “Why are we so timid in our faith? If we know that God is within, why are we not more bold? If we deeply understand that God lives within us—and, of course—within all people, and is even “shot through all creation,” perhaps we would approach our lives differently, more boldly.
Sixteenth century mystic, Teresa of Avila, makes this same point about God living within us, in her classic work, Interior Castle. In a small devotional translation of Teresa’s text,2 Mirabai Starr offers this summation of Teresa’s work.
“Our souls are made of the clearest crystal, multifaceted and mysterious . . . . the most beautiful place in all creation. A palace. The dwelling place and the refuge and the Temple of the Prince of Peace. . . . Imagine that each of these crystalline facets is a different chamber, leading inward toward the central chamber where the Beloved, . . . lies waiting for us. Each chamber is a leap of growth along the spiritual path. Every step carries us a step closer. Our only desire becomes to swiftly navigate our way home . . . . [We] simply close our eyes and go within. Slip into the center of our souls. This is where the Beloved is. This is where the Beloved has been all along. The only place in the universe the Beloved wants to be. Inside us.”
So back to Michael’s seminary question of theodicy: Why does God not always swoop in to whisk away our troubles when we call out? Jesus certainly entreats us to pray. But perhaps this question slightly misses the mark. Perhaps it is the wrong question. Perhaps a better question goes something like this:
If God lives within me, and God lives within every human being, and if God fills all things in Creation, How then, should I live my life?
- Apologies to Michael Lemaire for any misrepresentation of his sermon!
- Starr, Mirabai. Saint Terest of Avila Passionate Mystic. Sounds True. Boulder, CO. 2007.
-Kaki Logan, Junior Warden
From the Vestry
June Meeting Summary
In our June vestry meeting we discussed a number of topics surrounding Joran Court, listened to a parish update from Maggie and discussed our roles as vestry liaisons to various parish ministries.
As is evident looking at Jordan Court, construction continues each passing day and week and we move closer to new offices for our parish and affordable housing for senior citizens. Although the majority of the construction decisions have already been made the vestry was asked to make some minor decisions about finishing of the courtyard planters and the selecting a garage door opening system that would allow parishioners and guests visiting the parish offices to park in the building garage.
Additionally, we continued reporting out on our roles as vestry liaisons to out respective ministries. We collectively also agreed to serve ushers for a couple Sundays over the next few months. Our usher ministry has been depleted and is need of volunteers.
In Phil’s absence Maggie provided us an associate rectors report. Maggie reported that she is actively working on thinking about programming for our children’s and youth programs. Both groups have had many activities move online due to COVID-19 and Maggie is looking forward to more in person activities now that COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted.
Maggie also reported that our online streaming services have had a broad reach touching viewers outside of CA in some cases. She also reports that we have a number of new faces that have attended our services in the past few months, and she held a gathering at her house to kickoff regathering of the young adults.
Across the church, we continue to see great progress in Jordan Court and in the regathering of our church. There is much to be thankful for.
Upcoming Parish Campout at Big Sur!
Join the All Souls community for a relaxed weekend of fellowship and fun!
If you haven’t been to All Souls @ Big Sur before, please join the community for this special time—you won’t be disappointed! (If you know, you know!) This is a beloved weekend when we make church just by being together, sheltering under the big trees, splashing in the river, playing at the beach. There is conversation and laughter and quiet. It’s glorious.
We will gather at the Big Sur river under the tall redwoods of Santa Lucia Chapel & Campground, a mission of All Saints Parish in Carmel. The group campsite has running water and toilets (but no showers), picnic tables, a group barbecue area and a large campfire circle. A communal dinner will be prepared for all (by all!) on Saturday night, but otherwise meals are individual responsibility. The weekend will be framed with Evening and Morning prayer, and an informal Sunday Eucharist in the outdoor chapel. There is a family-friendly beach at the campsite, and there are ocean beaches and great hiking within driving distance for those who want to venture out.
If you are a novice camper, are traveling with small kids, or don’t have a lot of camping supplies, this is a great way to do camping-lite! You will be surrounded by a whole community of gear, food to share, and helping hands (to hold the kid, play Uno, kick the ball, coach the S’mores, light the fire, help with the tent, provide a can opener…).
Cost: $40 per person for the weekend (children under 5 stay for free; $125 max per family)
Sign up HERE
All Souls Returns to the Ballpark!
We’ve had a lot of fun and camaraderie over the years at our annual All Souls group trip to an A’s game. This great tradition became yet another casualty of the pandemic last year, and until quite recently it looked like it would not be possible this season either. But I’m very pleased to report that we CAN return to the ballpark in 2021.
We are organizing a group to the A’s vs. TEX game on Friday Sept. 10 at 6:37pm.
Like many things we are returning to this summer, this version of the All Souls baseball night is a little different than we’re used to.
(1) Tailgate gatherings in the parking lot as we always used to do are NOT allowed in 2021. Our response is to invite you to a “BYO tailgate gathering in the stands” before the game. We’re asking folks to bring some food for your own consumption, and for sharing if you are so inclined, and show up at our seats starting at 5:15p, or as early as you are able. The A’s allow fans to bring their own food into the stadium as long as it fits in a soft bag no larger than 16x16x8. For bevs: factory sealed containers, 1 liter or less, of non-alcoholic liquids allowed.
(2) We’re not able to hold a block of seats with a small deposit as we have in the past. There is still a group discount, but tickets have to be purchased in order to secure a block of seats. So right now, before you forget, send me an email (email@example.com) letting me know that you want to join us on Sept 10 and how many tickets you want. Please let me know by July 12 if you’re planning to come. Then of course you need to put it on your calendar!
Looking forward to seeing you at the ballpark,
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am in the courtyard, in-person (holding a 6’ distance between you and anyone outside of your pod or family). Please remember to bring your own chair (if possible) and chalice!
Or (and!) join us in person (masked!) or online for the 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. If you’d like to attend in person, don’t forget to bring your own chalice!
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join us in person in the church, or online!
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://us02web.zoom.us/j/84737698405?pwd=dlh2OXZmblBYTU5hTEw5TGJXUVZNZz09
Meeting ID: 847 3769 8405
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.
If you’d like to attend this class in person, it will meet downstairs in the chapel at 10:10am.
Summer Book Group for Adults Please join us for summer book group at All Souls! Starting in June, we will be discussing The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. You may attend in person or by Zoom. The reading and discussion session is: June 13 (Intro through Chapter 3, p. 65), June 20 (Chapter 4 through Chapter 6, p. 165), June 27 (Chapter 7 through Chapter 8, p. 219), and July 11 (Chapter 9 through 10, p. 288).
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.
New Racial & Social Justice Library
During the last year, All Souls has had a deep desire to share the truth about the church and our role in the history of racism. By sharing our experiences, and participating in the course called Sacred Ground, many have found life-changing ways to practice the way of Jesus and to repair the breach in our country.
There are some incredible, challenging books on racism and social justice being published right now, and we have set up a way to share these treasures among our congregation. In the narthex as you enter the sanctuary, you will find several shelves of new and used books. Please take one, keep it, pass it on, or return it. Add one or as many of your own if you see fit.
Children, Family & Youth News
Family Hike this Sunday, June, 27th at 3:00pm! We’ll meet in Tilden Park at the Lake Anza Parking lot at 3:00, and take off for our hike at about 3:15. Hope you can join us!
Children’s Book Clubs meet on Sundays at 10:10 in the courtyard. Older kids will be reading Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga, week by week, and younger kids will read short stories. If you’d like to receive updates about this, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Youth group has concluded their regular meetings for this year, but stay tuned for information about special summer events! 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 17 of the Soulcast!
People needed to “Make Church Happen”
Consider joining the Usher and or Greeters teams!
During the week the musicians practice and the sacristans ensure the altar linens and other things necessary for the service are in order for the service. They arrive early on Sunday and set up for the service. These preparations enhance our experience of Church. When we arrive on Sunday morning there are people who greet us, hand us a bulletin, and make note of newcomers then distribute wine and juice during the service. They answer our questions, help us with a chair and place to sit. They welcome us and want us to feel at home.
Does this sounds like something you’d like to do? If so, contact Renae Breitenstein.
Lectoring & Intercession on Sunday Mornings
If you are interested in becoming a Lector or Intercessor (the folks who read the bible passages and lead the prayers during the Sunday morning services), come to our Lector & Intercessor training next Sunday, June 13th between the 9 & 11:15 services. Dr. Scott MacDougall will lead a short training for anyone interested. For more information, see Emily, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday Morning Tech Help
If you are technically inclined and looking for a way to help out on Sundays, we can use the help! Mostly we’re looking for a sound tech or two, and perhaps another person or two to learn how to operate the camera. All roles come with training and great company :). See Emily for more info, email@example.com.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephen Ministry Leader Madeline Feely (email@example.com). Our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
In the before times, bringing a can of vegetables or a jar of peanut butter to church was the practice of many, and every few weeks all this would add up to three or four bags of groceries that I would deliver to the Berkeley Food Pantry. Obviously when in-person church services stopped, so did the influx of food. All Souls Parish made quick and creative adjustments; without missing a beat, folks had signed up to put a bag on their porch every other week for a driver to pick up and bring to the pantry. There were perhaps two dozen households contributing, and four or five drivers so that on any given Friday, between five and 10 bags of groceries were delivered to the pantry. More than a year later, we need wider participation. Drivers have had to make adjustments , and perhaps having the same folks providing the groceries every other week is not sustainable. Please consider offering a bag of groceries for pick up every other week, and/or sign up for any every other week driving shift to pick up from 5 or so households. Contact Cathy Goshorn, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Contemplative Pride Service at Good Shepherd, Berkeley