From the Rector
Com + panions
Separated by centuries, from the 1st through the 19th, the following saints of the church have at least one thing in common—Timothy and Titus, Perpetua of Carthage, Constance, a nun of Memphis, Tennessee, and James Hannington, a Bishop in Easter Equatorial Africa—they were all companions. The stories of their lives, heroic, courageous, filled with love, cannot be told without the knowledge that they were surrounded in life and in their death by companions.
The word companion is an old and beautiful word. It is found throughout our prayer book: in the psalter, in the marriage and burial rites, and in prayers for the oppressed, for parents, and in one of my favorites, for the presence of Christ as part of Evening Prayer,
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love.
One of the reasons why I have come to love this prayer over the years is that it images one of our most unusual and heartening Jesus stories: the Road to Emmaus. The story takes place at the end of Luke’s account, after Jesus’ crucifixion. Two disciples walk a lonely road out of Jerusalem and are joined by a stranger. When he asks what they are talking about, they are incredulous, and then tell him about Jesus of Nazareth, his life and death, what the women had seen at his tomb. The stranger then begins to teach them, interpreting the Scriptures as they walk along.
As evening begins to fall, and they invite him to join in their meal at the village of Emmaus. At table, “he took the bread, blessed and broke it,” and it is in this act that they recognized the living Christ with them. And, that they live into the word, “companion.”
Because simply put, a com (together with) panion (bread) is one that you break bread with. What was revealed at table in Emmaus is the profound truth of this action, that when we break bread with one another, we have the possibility of knowing one another in greater depth. It is why sharing food is such an elemental, powerful, and sometimes fraught practice in human communities.
It’s also how many groups (families especially) know each other. This is part of why we come to the table every Sunday morning. And why this Sunday we will also gather in the evening to feast together. On Sunday, October 29th, we will be celebrating as a parish family of all ages from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall and in the Church.
We will start by breaking bread with one another. If you haven’t signed up to be there, here’s the link. If you’re concerned about food or not knowing people, bring what you can and trust that there are people who are genuinely interested in meeting you. Our evening will finish with a ridiculous, spirited family game, and some singing before we head home.
So come, ready to join each other around the table, to engage in real conversation, to be companions, together.
From the Justice and Peace Team
A “vigil” like no other
Whenever I thought of vigils in the past, I remember throngs of little old people standing around on darkened street corners, silently holding candles or softly singing hymns. While I knew it was important, it just didn’t seem to me that it was changing any of the evildoers in the world.
And then along came Elena Ramirez urging each of us on the Outreach Ministry to join her at the West Contra Costa County Detention Facility on the first Saturday of the month. As more All Soulsians joined her and continually added their enthusiasm to hers, I finally made the trip. It wasn’t easy to find, but it surely was well worth the effort.
There were no candles, the singing was anything but soft, and the throngs of people came from all parts of the Bay Area, from churches, synagogues, mosques, and from no church at all (I stopped asking people from whence they had come after the fellow next to me declared he had been an atheist all his life!).
No, this just wasn’t the kind of vigil with which I was familiar! Leading us then, and leading us through the years is Rev. Deborah Lee, of the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition. Deb is probably the most well informed and compassionate person on the subject of immigration activities and issues in the Bay Area.
At the vigil we get an update every month…no, not any of the stuff you read in the newspapers or see on television. What we hear about is what’s happening here and now, in Berkeley, Richmond, San Francisco and other places in the state and border areas.
Who are the people incarcerated in the Detention Center? Are they all from the Bay Area? No, not only are they fathers pulled out of their homes for taking a short cut across private property in Richmond, but countless people having committed similar minor infractions (or none at all!) coming from all parts of the country. These situations add hopeless abandonment to their sense of exclusion and loss.
At the vigil we are informed of legislation to be enacted or tempered with that would put the undocumented into unnecessary situations such as the harmful attempt to weaken SB54 which prevented police to seek out information on the immigration status of a person arrested for minor crimes and turn it over to ICE.
Every month we hear firsthand the heartbreaking stories from the spouses, the children and friends of the people being held in the detention center. Then, in the weeks following we quite often hear the joyous stories of their release, brought about frequently by actions of alerted volunteer lawyers and pressure from EBIIC and other local organizations. Clearly we in attendance at the Vigil feel our voices are heard.
For most of us who are not involved much in the day to day activities of the EBIIC, the vigil is the place for us, not to weep, (although I must admit sometimes we do) but to understand what is happening and find our own ways of informing others of these daily events, happening in our own community where families are being torn apart by countless criminal acts by ICE.
No, this is not a vigil of the sort that I remember. This is one opportunity for each of us not only to enjoy the company of those of other faiths, but to personally encounter the terrible problems facing us, and give us the opportunity to actually effect some solutions.
Was it really Woody Allen who first said that 99 per cent of success was just showing up?? Well, maybe not 99% but, it really makes a difference!
Remember, it’s Saturday, November 4th, at the West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway Richmond, from 11:00 am until noon. If you would like a ride, we will be arranging car pools and will meet in the parking lot of All Souls at 10:15, with a departure no later than 10:30. Please sign up on the clip board in the Narthex, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me, (510)524-6106. It is All Souls’ turn to do the service…you will love it! If you are able provide rides, please also sign up on the clipboard or give me a call.
– Margaret Sparks
The Invitation to Know
Last week, Bob generously shared this reflection on giving, vulnerability, and engaging the process of reflecting on our relationship with money.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bob Holum, I’m a member of the Vestry, and I’m going to talk to you today about knowing what you give, which might seem like a banal topic. After all, if you want to know what you give, you can simply add up the amounts in your checkbook register, or look at the pledge statement you receive from All Souls twice a year. Right? But what if there’s more to knowing what you give than just knowing the amount?
Many of us have traditionally given to the Church by giving a fixed amount each week, each month, or each year. This is what I had been doing as well. Now, we live in a society where it can be difficult to talk frankly about money. Many of us have hang-ups of one kind or another about money. (If you have no hang-ups whatsoever about money, you may tune out the rest of this reflection and go back to whatever you were doing, but the rest of you, keep listening.) I have hang-ups about money, too. I am part of a profession—counseling and psychotherapy—whose members are notoriously bad at dealing with money.
For me, despite my best efforts, my own anxieties about money are aroused as I consider my pledge to All Souls. Am I giving too little? Am I giving too much? I wonder how my giving compares to that of the person sitting next to me in the pew. And how much money does that person make anyway? I don’t want to think that way, but I almost can’t help it. Focusing on the amount we give, I find, invites us to compare ourselves to others. And comparing ourselves to others can bring up emotions we would rather not feel, including inadequacy, fear, and envy. Maybe this is why talking about our pledging in church can feel kind of icky.
Here at All Souls, we are asked to consider proportional giving, where we give a percentage of our income that we choose rather than a fixed amount. I had resisted this suggestion in past years, but this year I decided I would try it. Almost immediately, as I began contemplating a proportional pledge, I noticed a shift in my thinking: my anxieties, and the pull to compare myself to others, began to fall away. Comparisons suddenly felt meaningless. With proportional giving, my neighbor and I might have wildly different incomes and give wildly different fixed amounts, but we are both giving thoughtfully out of what we have.
As my anxieties fell away, a new set of questions arose: What, in fact, do I have? What do I honestly feel grateful for? And what part of all that do I want to give? These questions point to a different way of knowing what we give—a way perhaps more in line with the real purpose and meaning of giving. These questions, too, can stir up uncomfortable feelings. I may realize that my heart is harder than I thought it was, that it is not as easy for me to give or be generous as I might like to think, that I am more broken than I care to admit. But I am told that God specializes in working with broken people, so maybe there is hope for me yet.
I still don’t know what proportion of my income I will choose to give, and I don’t claim that all my hang-ups about money have disappeared. But I believe that proportional giving is leading me along a path to a better relationship with money, one more in line with my values, one that better reflects who I want to be and how I want to live in the world. I invite you to join me on this journey. Thank you.
– Bob Holum
From the Treasurer
Very Good News. In case you wondered…
Our parish financial situation now, at the end of the third quarter, is remarkably strong. Our total income year-to-date (end of September) is somewhat ahead of 75% of what we’ve projected for the year, and the pledged giving part of that is also more than three-quarters of what is expected by the end of the year. (In case this news prompts you to wonder whether the remaining amount you’ve pledged is really needed—yes, it definitely is, in order for us to finish the year in a strong/balanced place.)
A big thanks from all—to all—who have contributed to making this the news.
Other details. Expenses are running about 4% below what would be expected at this point. The total of Identified Purpose Funds are down about $1100 from the beginning of the year. The Vanguard Funds have unrealized earnings (i.e. not withdrawn, so this could decrease before withdrawal) of $59,765 since the beginning of the year.
This is an unusually positive picture for this time of year, and reason for thanksgiving.
– Marilyn Flood, Treasurer
All Souls Family Fuel Questions
REMEMBERING and celebrating
All Saints & All Souls Sunday: Continuing the Feast
November 5th is our Feast of Title! Join us 10:10 – 11:00 am for a Continuing the Feast brunch! Bring something to share and enjoy fun and fellowship in the Parish Hall. The services will all be extra wonderful as we celebrate this community and remember those who have gone before, and also look to those who lead us forward with baptisms at the 11:15 am service.
Commemoration of the Faithful Departed
We will remember loved ones in prayer at the services on November 5th, All Saints and All Souls Sunday. To have the names of your departed loved ones remembered, please legibly print the name(s) on the form attached to the clipboard in the chapel or narthex or email Emily with the information. Please note that names of those who have died since All Saints Sunday 2016 will be read aloud (taken from our prayer lists); all other names will be listed in the bulletin. There will be incense at the 11:15 am service only. All are also invited to bring a photo or memento of a loved one to add to the Tree of Life in the back of the church.
Parish House Update
After months of hard work, integrating lots of feedback, and dreaming about how we can provide community and shelter for many in Berkeley, we have a near final set of drawings for our proposed building on the corner of Cedar and Oxford. Come, hear, and see these updates on November 5th after the 11:15 service the main sanctuary, and then join in the conversation with our neighbors on Tuesday evening, November 7th at 5:30 pm in the Parish Hall.
Daylight Saving Time
Next Sunday, November 5th is Daylight Saving Time. Enjoy the hour of rest!