March 29, 2012
From the Rector
An Opening and Clearing of the Heart
“The ministry of reconciliation, which has been committed by the Christ to his Church, is exercised through the care each Christian has for others, through the common practice of Christians assembled for public worship, and through the priesthood of the Church and its ministers declaring absolution.” 1979 Book of Common Prayer, p. 446.
Most Sundays of the year, the faithful gathered at All Souls Parish take part in the Confession, the corporate opportunity to bring to God the times and places in our lives where we have fallen short, in the Greek understanding of the word for sin, hamartia, where we have missed the mark. (the Sunday exceptions being the Sundays of Christmas and Easter, the seasons when we celebrate the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus) From early on, within the first couple of centuries, the Christian Church has engaged in the practice of personal confession leading to reconciliation. It is a practice that has been maintained, to a greater or lesser degree, ever since.
But why? Why do we say these words Sunday and after Sunday? And why to individuals make time with a priest to confess their sin? What purpose does this serve? In our record of the ministry of Jesus it is clear that one of his purposes, his way of being really, was to help people to reconcile with God. Time and time again he sought to mend what was fractured and offer the absolution of God, to help remove what prevented that person from right relationship with God and the people around them. The Church has followed this practice, through different expressions to be sure, in the generations that have followed. In Anglican tradition in the past few centuries there has been an increasing practice, following both the catholic revival of the “Oxford Movement” in the mid-19th century and as part of the liturgical renewal movement in the middle of the 20th century.
There are many reasons to engage in the rite of reconciliation: as a way of encountering difficulty in a safe way, to come to terms with our personal participation in the darkness of the world, to know about the truth of forgiveness. Especially at this time of year, I have found that as we approach Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Great Vigil and Easter Sunday, that it is essential to come close to this Mystery with an open and clear heart. Being able to confess, to release that which you have held onto, is a powerful way to do this.
I would encourage any and all to consider the rite of reconciliation as you approach Easter. We, the priests of this parish, will be available to hear confessions on Good Friday in the Chapel, between the 9a service and 12n services and again between 3p and 6p. As well, if you like to set an appointment to offer your confession to God we are glad to meet with you in this time of preparation. May we all approach the Great Mystery of the Risen One with an open and clear heart.
From the Parish Deacon
What exactly is a Deacon?!!
Beginning this month, I am offering a series on the Diaconate – what exactly is a Deacon?!! Let us begin . . .
There is a tendency within the church to define the deacon by what they can and cannot do, rather than by what God calls them to be. The deacon is an emissary of the bishop expressing the diakonia of the whole church through a ministry that is based on the diakonia of Christ – a ministry that is collaborative, authentic, and empowering. Deacons are called to be disciples of Christ and servants of God while exercising their gifts in ministry to the church and to the world. They are ordained to Word and service – to proclaim the Gospel both in word and deed – to equip the church gathered to take the living gospel to the church scattered.
All Christians are called to “Proclaim by word and deed the good news of God in Christ.” Deacons have the special task of interpreting “to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.” [Ordination of a Deacon, BCP 543]
The Deacon is sent by the bishop into specific ministry situations as advocate, messenger, herald, agent, and servant leader, equipping the laity to express their diakonia through Christlike service.
Christ is to be the model for both priests and deacons. The deacon primarily focuses the church on Christ as servant leader, The deacon as servant leader equips the church gathered to express its diakonia to the world. The compassionate church must tie a towel around its waist, get down on its knees and wash the feet of the world; in doing so we wash the feet of Jesus. The deacon in partnership with the laity is a living expression of the diaconal role of church to the world.; whereas the priest focuses on Christ as priest and spiritual leader, as reflected perhaps by the Sermon on the Mount where we find the teaching, gathering, edifying, nurturing role of the Good Shepherd.
An active, authoritative diaconate becomes a visible sign of what the whole body of Christ – the Church – is called to be a servant of God and God’s people, and thus leads to the whole church regaining its role as servants of God and of each other in mission. All are required to fulfill their Baptismal vows in their diaconal calling as well as their priestly calling. A vibrant diaconate points outwards into the world, where the Word calls us to serve and to spread the Gospel.
So what exactly is a Deacon? Well, not only in the ordination process, but even after ordination, this is a question that, as deacons, one is continually called upon to answer. Is a Deacon an assistant to the Rector, a holy social worker, a lay person who really takes his or her religion seriously, a helper to whoever needs help, what? What is a Deacon about, what does it mean or look like to be a Deacon? And, more important, Why?
If the answer to that question does not come clearly from our story, from Scripture, tradition and reason, it will come from somewhere else. And I believe that if it comes from somewhere else, the renewal of the Diaconate is doomed.
So what I’d like to attempt to do is offer a theological context for looking at orders and the Diaconate, and then to suggest some models of Diakonia that flow from that context.
Now, where to begin doing theology about Holy Orders in general, and the diaconate in particular? Assumption: Before we can talk about holy orders, we need to talk about sacraments, and before we can talk about sacraments, we have to talk about the Church, because holy orders are about the wholeness and the good of the Church. Before we talk too much about the Church, we need to talk about Jesus – because that’s whose body we are.
One way to get at this is to look at something basic about the way God acts, about the way God has acted in history, and the way God acts now. That is, God expresses God-self in and through the material world. Now, I believe this is really behind the catechism definition of a sacrament: “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace….” [Catechism, BCP 857]
.....to be continued next month.
The Rev. Mary Louise Hintz
We Do Not Walk Alone: Lenten Series
The Sin of Racism
Many years ago, when I was working in a big hospital outside of Boston as a psycho-oncologist, a patient gave me a bookmark I have saved. It is a quote by the French playwright Paul Claudel and it reads: “Jesus did not come to take away suffering or to remove it; He came to fill it with his presence.” I have felt His presence in our Lenten series and it will follow me into Holy Week and through to Easter.
These last weeks, I have been stunned and stricken by the persistence of racism without end. From more than a dozen individuals, we heard how racism scars people of color and white people alike. But for people of color the scars of racism are not purely spiritual or emotional. Just last week in Florida, we watched in horror the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin based, it appears, solely on the color of his skin.
I grew up in the 60’s and was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and traveled to hear Martin Luther King deliver his I Have a Dream speech. In the late 60’s, I worked for three years with the 13 Black Colleges Project in which black and white college teachers labored together to create an interdisciplinary curriculum confronting racism at its roots.
Racism, of course, does not only affect people of color. Just last week, in Toulouse, France, a terrorist gunman mowed down a rabbi and three Jewish children. As the child of Jewish refugees run out of their native Vienna, fleeing for their lives threatened solely on the basis of race, I have the fear of racial persecution in my bones, my sinews, my DNA.
I believe racism is bottomless, built into the nature of reality, and endless and we can only struggle against it, individually and collectively. Through these weeks of personal witness by members of our All Souls community, we have created a space to mourn and repent, to become more aware and to accept grace. Our task now is to fill the suffering with our presence.
Stations of the Cross–Lent 2012
A Collection of Photograms on display at All Souls
The Stations of the Cross series on display at All Souls is a collection of photograms; a nineteenth century photographic process which uses physical objects, rather than film, to create darkroom prints. In this series I used hydrangea petals and nasturtium leaves which were collected, manipulated and composed between sheets of glass to create all fourteen images. Each image is unique and involved no camera use.
The story of the crucifixion means many things to many people. The work reflects upon the narrative of the crucifixion with indefinite symbolism and aesthetics rather than realism and therefore places no constraints on the viewer’s experience. It asks the viewer to reflect upon the pattern and detail as well as darkness and light created by projecting light through organic forms.
I hope the work can be a starting point or touchstone for meditation and reflection during this season of Lent. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to interpret such a profound story with the medium of photography.
Sepia toned gelatin silver prints
10 x 8 inches (print size)
On view in the church nave between the stained glass windows
I am looking forward to serving God and our community in my new role as Treasurer of All Souls Parish in Berkeley. Michelle Barger, Interim Chair, was out of town during our meeting. So in her absence I took a stab at chairing my first Finance Committee meeting on March 13, 2012.
My fellow committee members were patient as I am learning the ropes. Judith provided me with February and YTD reports.
I have reviewed and recapped the numbers and they are reflected in the chart below. A brief note regarding our 2012 Pledge Budget. This number is “set” based on the response during the Annual Stewardship Campaign. But I want to remind all of us that it is never too late to pledge to the ongoing support of our Parish.
Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
Getting Ready for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter
Hospitality needs: How you can help!
ALTAR OF REPOSE
Flowers, potted plants, shrubs, and small tress from your garden are needed for the creation of the Altar of Repose in the Chapel of the Holy Nativity on Maundy Thursday. Drop off these items Wednesday or Thursday by the Chapel door on Cedar Street. You may pick them up on Good Friday morning after 10 am.