FROM THE RECTOR
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live your life outside of a clock? There are still some in our world who live this way, measuring their days and nights by the lights in the sky and the sights and sounds of the earth. But most of us rely on, and are often ruled by, the clock—beginning with the school bell, and partitioning our lives from there on.
One of the many reasons that I am so thankful for the family that I married into is that I am able to spend a good amount of time in an environment still governed by the seasons. When I am with them, I am consistently reminded of time as measured by light, weather, birthing cycles, migration patterns, and planting seasons. Yes, they live a good deal of their lives according to the clock, but with it is with a strong sense of measurement with and in the cycles of which they are a part.
How do you keep time? Is it by the day of the week? By the part of the day? By the hour? The quarter-hour? Or, likely, all of the above depending on what we are doing and the pressures we face to get it done. (I’m always acutely aware of Thursday afternoons, and my ever-patient and vigilant editor.)
As you may know, the calendar that the Church keeps is changing this Sunday. As of December 3rd, it will be a new year, we will start all over again, with the beginning of Advent. One of the many gifts that we have received over the millennia of Christian practice has been marking of time. We do this yearly, seasonally, weekly, daily. When lived with care and intention, we can be reminded of truths that we might otherwise forget—anticipation and preparation, penitence and mercy, rest and re-creation.
We are on the precipice of entering into one of the most liminal times of the church year. In the northern hemisphere, the days are growing short, the nights long. And in the culture around us, as capitalism has increasingly infiltrated cultural Christianity, the feelings of rush and frenzy have begun to set in.
This is why, especially now, we have practices to mark the time we spend. On Sundays, our space and our liturgy changes. On Wednesday evenings, we will take time to break bread, share soup, sing, hear stories, and sit in silence. (in our increasingly rapid-paced Bay Area, this may be one of the more counter-cultural ways that you spend time this December) And every evening, even if for a few minutes, we gather around greens and candles to pray, listen, and wait.
So ready yourselves, friends. Because if we rely on the culture around us to help prepare for this great Mystery, we will likely be hurtled along to the manger. But if we mark the time to enter into the story, listen to the silence, and be still, we might well be surprised by what is awaiting us.
From our Transitional Deacon
For several years a consistent prayer has emerged for me when praying with others: “Help us hear Your voice, in ourselves and in each other.” I do not recall when I first said it, but it has become a constant theme when I pray in groups.
During an overnight retreat this week for those of us being ordained priests on Saturday, we reflected on the Gospel reading about the Good Shepherd who lays down one’s life for the sheep in contrast to the hired worker who runs away when the sheep are threatened by predators (John 10:11-18).
But, as is my habit, I also looked up which stories preceded and followed the assigned reading. I was intrigued by how Jesus begins teaching about how the Good Shepherd can be recognized: it is by the shepherd’s voice (John 10:1-6). The flock recognizes the voice of the one who cherishes them, knows them by name and, as the Psalmist portrays it, leads them to places of nourishment and safety “beside the still water.”
As we live into our baptismal vows, our task is to be diligent in listening for the voice of the Holy One; to learn to recognize, trust and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.
I see one of my primary tasks as a priest to be pointing towards the voice of Holy One – certainly as I hear it in my life – but especially as that loving voice is heard and expressed in our communities of faith. I am grateful that with this community, I have so clearly heard the voice calling us to care for refugees and for elders; to work for justice through non-violence; and to celebrate and strengthen our life in community. Together, we are better able to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
~ The Rev. Marguerite Judson
You are invited: Ordinations at Grace Cathedral; 3:00 pm this Saturday, December 2nd. Carpooling and public transportation strongly recommended!
From the Stewardship Team
Building Up in Love and Family Fuel – By the Numbers
As we begin the new church year, the stewardship team is closing out our annual pledge campaign. We are grateful to everyone who has made a financial commitment to All Souls for 2018 and hope that if you have not done so you will make your pledge today. Just click on this link to make it happen!
Here are a few highlights from the campaign thus far:
72% of households have made a financial commitment for 2018. Which means we are waiting for 28% to respond.
44% of those making a financial commitment indicate that they determined their pledge as an intentional proportion of their resources
In addition to the households mentioned above, 6 children and 3 youth made a financial pledge and 8 children and youth pledged to contribute through participation in specific All Souls ministries.
A number of people have asked about the survey questions we didn’t use in the Family Fuel game after the Celebration Dinner. All Soulsians gave a wide variety of interesting responses to the survey. Here are some highlights:
Favorite hymn? Forty-nine responses gave 35 different hymns. Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing led the pack, Amazing Grace took second place.
Ideal length of All Souls sermon? Average answer: 14.5 minutes
What is the first word you think of after an All Souls sermon? “Amen” and “Wow” were the most popular answers.
Something that All Souls needs more of? “Incense” and “Cowbells” tied for first place.
Favorite coffee shop? Peet’s, Highwire at Flowerland, and Starbucks were the most popular
Career for Phil if he were not a priest? Teacher/Professor was overwhelmingly most popular. Bearded Brooklyn artisanal pickle maker and British Secret Service Agent also received votes.
Episcopal Dioceses – Survey Average: 104 [Actual: 109]
From the Junior Warden
Catching up on our November meeting, here are the highlights. First and foremost, perfect attendance, once again. This vestry shows up! Our reflection, led by co-chaplain Erin Horne was based on Barbara Brown Taylor’s essay on Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” It’s a lot to chew on, balancing our concern for the everyday obligations in our lives and trusting in the Lord’s presence wherever we are. This is from the collection “What Did Jesus Ask: Christian Leaders Reflect on His Questions of Faith.”
The Rector’s Report covered our stewardship campaign, administration updates, and the very much anticipated Advent season:
Stewardship: The campaign under Caroline McCall’s leadership resulted in inspiring Soup and Story house gatherings (with more than 100 participants), a moving ingathering Sunday, a wonderful celebration dinner, and collections to date of 169 pledge cards (about two dozen to go to reach last year’s total with roughly 75 households still to respond). Vestry participation is 100%. Our 2018 budget will be finalized based on pledges to date, and the vestry will vote on its approval at the December 19 meeting.
Administration: The search for our Parish Administrative Assistant is proceeding; a recent hire proved to be short-lived as the candidate decided it was not the job she was looking for after all. But another candidate has moved to the hiring stage, and hopefully will be announced any day. Parishioner Peggy Patterson will join All Souls as a non-stipendiary assisting priest. She has been a cathedral dean and chaplain. She will take on liturgical work, pastoral care and teaching, and will also serve as a supply priest to other congregations in the area.
Advent: Always welcome, but this year very short! On December 3, we’ll celebrate the Advent Festival with the debut of the newly formed Children’s Choir. Wednesday evening Taize services Dec. 6, 13, and 20 will follow a soup supper. Advent 4 is also Christmas Eve. We’ll hold the 7:30 and 9:00 am services and then the church will be greened in anticipation of Christmas Eve with its 4:00 pageant service, 8:00 Carols and Candlelight and 10:30 “Midnight” service. Christmas Day will be celebrated at 10:00 am.
Moving on to the Parish House Project, Ed Hahn reported on the neighborhood meeting presenting the latest designs. The design supported by the neighborhood and having Vestry consensus features a cutaway deck on the corner of Oxford and Cedar, providing all residents a sunset view and reducing the perceived height of the building. A second deck overlooks the shared courtyard. We will present this concept to the City of Berkeley department roundtable as our application and see their reaction. Next steps include submitting an Entitlement Application by the end of December and pursuing funding. Initial ideas for the large shared courtyard include raised garden beds, family friendly space, a grassy expanse, open space, contemplative space, labyrinth tables and chairs picnic tables, wedding space, baptismal font, and an outside chapel; in short, there is much to choose from.
The vestry voted to accept the proposal of a local blind company to purchase replacement blinds for the West and South sides of the Parish Hall. The blinds are in production now, and installation is anticipated before Christmas.
Prayers of petition, guidance and thanksgiving were offered before adjournment of our meeting. Please note the December Vestry Meeting is on a Tuesday (December 19) so it will not conflict with the Taize service on Wednesday. The December meeting is held at a vestry member’s home (my home this year), runs from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, and is open to the All Souls community as are all vestry meetings.
One final note, wearing a different hat… if you have any year-end questions about your pledge payments in 2017, please ask me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to help.
– Maggie Cooke
We have the privilege of bringing gifts each Sunday to be blessed and shared with those who are in need. On the first Sunday of Advent, we will support the Nueva Esperanza / New Hope, led by Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, which supports the transition needs of newly arrived migrant youth and families. This Sunday, December 3rd, please bring:
· Gift cards (for example, from CVS or Target) to purchase supplies and household essentials
· BART tickets
Advent Festival – this Sunday!
Invite three friends to join you at All Souls this Sunday afternoon, December 3rd at 4:00 pm for our Advent Festival! We’ll start with a short and spirited service of music stories, and poetry, designed with kids in mind. Then we dive into the festivities of making Advent wreaths, (bring a wreath form if you still have it from last year!) ornaments, and Cards of Hope for foster youth with Braid Mission. We’ll sing around a fire in the courtyard and eat treats. Bring some cookies and cider or wine, bring your longing for light in the darkness, bring friends and be family.
Advent Series: Stillness, Song, and Story
This Advent we are once again keeping our communal practice simple. For the first three Wednesdays in Advent we will be gathering for a soup supper in the Parish Hall at 6:00 pm. At 6:45 pm we will enter a candle-lit church for a Taizé service. Icons will be set up around the space, we will chant, keep silence, hear scripture, and pray. Similar to our 12 noon service on Good Friday, a parishioner will offer a short reflection each week. If you can bring soup or bread, please sign up here.
Vestry nominations are open!
We are looking for four new vestry members, to be elected at the annual meeting in January. The rules: 1. Nominees must be members in good standing, and 2. you may nominate yourself, or someone else, as long as you have their permission. Current vestry members are happy to discuss service on the vestry and answer questions. (Pictures of current members are in the narthex, and names are listed here.) The nomination box is on the counter in the narthex. Happy nominating!