Letter from the Rector
I was recently talking with the parent of a couple of teenagers. And in the course of conversation, they reminisced about readying their home for the arrival of their children. What struck me was that even though this was years and years later, they could still remember the name of the color of the paint for the walls and the kinds of animals above the cribs. It was as if it had just happened, and as after hearing the story, it reminded me that the preparation for an awaited event is just as important as the event itself.
The Church, in her wisdom, knows this as well. For centuries, as we have approached the celebration of the birth of Christ, we have changed our space and our patterns, prepared the baby’s room, so to speak, so that we can be ready for this new creation. At All Souls this will be seen in our worship, both in story and in song, through color and image and in the physical space in which we gather. All of it points to the Incarnation, the coming of God to be in this world in a real and tangible way. And, as we are told in our Godly Play curriculum, it is a Mystery so big that we must prepare.
And so it is that at our Advent Festival, November 29th after the 10:00 am service, the Parish Hall was filled with the smell of fresh greens. The tradition of creating an Advent wreath is a wonderful weaving of practice, preparation and theology. Because as we intertwine the branches, and nestle the candles, we begin this year’s path to the manger. For every night as we light the candle(s) and say our prayers we create the space in our homes and in our hearts for the Christ to come again. It is a powerful way that our daily practice of preparation can quietly shape our experience of what can be a rushed time. Another opportunity to delve deeply into our preparation for Christ’s Mass takes place in our annual Lessons & Carols service, December 6th at 3:00 pm in the church.
And every week in Advent, our communal life shows this changed pattern, as we approach the altar with our gathered gifts of canned food, teddy bears, art supplies and warm socks, bringing needed gifts of sustenance, love, beauty and warmth to people that not often receive them. It continues the first three Wednesday evenings with our Advent Series, “What Are We Waiting For?” Three outstanding scholars from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (the Episcopal seminary located a scant five blocks from All Souls) will lead us in discussion around the 1st-century notion of Messiah, the lived liturgical practice of Advent and our own understanding of humanity in the light of the Incarnation. As has been our recent practice, all evenings will begin with a simple soup supper and conclude with night prayer.
Last but not least, we have been planning, preparing and excitedly awaiting the redevelopment of our parish website, http://www.allsoulsparish.org. Because of the work of Jocelyn Bergen and a group of dedicated volunteers, our new site is more comprehensive, flexible and current. Please take some time to explore the nooks and crannies, listen to the sermons, stay up to date with the events, enjoy the photos (no stock pictures here) and use it as another piece of your Advent preparation.
May this time of Advent be blessed, full of deep silences, stories told by flickering candlelight and, watchful, anticipatory waiting.