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All Saints is moving slowly into the 21st century. You can now make a gift to the church electronically through our secure online giving portal. Just head to AllSaintsSacramento.org/onlinegiving to make a contribution.
For years, figuring out a daily prayer practice for my family was something that I wanted to do, but I kept on stalling. Bedtime was already so long, and so often we were getting our children into bed later than I wanted to: did I really want to add a routine with candle-lighting, prayers, and so on?
Then, as my children transitioned from toddler to school-age, I worried that they might reject whatever I would come up with, just because. As double Priest’s Kids, (my husband is also an Episcopal priest), they already get a lot of religion anyway.
But still it nagged at me. I wanted a time at the end of the day that we could all come together, be aware that we are in the presence of God, and pray.
Finally I gathered up my courage to try something new. During Advent, I was encouraging members of my parish to pray the office of Compline. I figured that, what with the recent unsettling that followed the election, and the fact of Advent being a time for intentionally quieting ourselves and preparing ourselves to welcome Christ again, we could all use a little more intentional prayer. Compline is a beautiful service from the Book of Common Prayer, and while it can be made elaborate, it is very simple at its heart.
I created a handout that took the service of Compline and included a few sidebars with information about how to pray the service alone (it feels strange to say “The Lord be with you. And also with you.” when you are by yourself, but it’s okay). I taught a short class to a few people who showed up after church, and I distributed my Compline handouts to every group that met in the evening in the church, to use at the end of their time together. I left extra handouts out for people to pick up, and I announced in church that they were available.
Then, I took a deep breath, and brought five of them home with me.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easily my boys accepted the addition of Compline to our bedtime routine. With everyone ready for bed, we read a story as usual, and then put the story aside and gave a Compline handout to everyone who wanted one (two of my children are readers, the third not yet).
Our first night, I took the role of Officiant. Our second night, my husband was the Officiant. I assumed that we would trade off like that, but in a few days, our oldest son (11) asked if he could officiate! Brothers being what they are, the next night our middle son (9) asked to officiate.
Since then, our choice of officiant rotates around among all the readers of our family, depending on who volunteers and who has done it more recently. Our youngest usually sits curled up on my lap, and he has memorized all the words–even the psalms! In fact, after the officiating competition, the older two then competed in memorizing as well, and now they both refuse to take the handout unless they are officiating.
I love sharing prayer time with my family right before bed. I love that they are gradually becoming steeped in the beautiful language of the psalms and prayers of Compline. And the thing I love most is that they often take the opportunity in Compline to offer their own prayers or thanksgivings. They pray for people they know who are sick, or give thanks for their day. Our youngest often prays for the homeless or for the poor.
They are each developing their own spiritual life and relationship with God, and my prayer is that it will help support them throughout their lives.
I once heard a band sing a song that included the line: “Don’t just do something, sit there!” These words jumped into my mind as I was thinking about the wonderful Centering Prayer time we are offering at All Saints now. On Tuesday mornings at 11:30, anyone who wishes gathers in a circle of chairs in the chancel. Our leader, Sally Smith (who leads several Centering Prayer groups and is very experienced in Centering Prayer), reads a brief spoken prayer and then rings a small gong three times, followed by the words: “Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be.” Then, we sit there! We sit together in silence for twenty minutes, until the gong rings again to bring us gently back.
If you haven’t ever experienced this type of prayer, you may be wondering what we do during those twenty minutes. The answer is: nothing! We sit, with the intention of being in the presence of God, and when our minds wander (as they inevitably do) we gently bring them back to the intention of being in the presence of God.
It doesn’t sound like much, but this kind of prayer is a cornerstone of my own life of faith. I find that it changes me, that it opens me to God, and that I become aware of God’s presence.
I highly recommend experimenting with Centering Prayer, either by coming on a Tuesday morning or by sitting by yourself for twenty minutes, doing nothing but holding the intention of being in God’s presence. (Find more information about Centering Prayer here.) Centering Prayer has the potential to deepen your connection with God and to transform your spiritual journey. Give it a try!
Thoughts and updates from All Saints
First, the Easel –
The “Roots” of All Saints:
We are a truly welcoming community. Our circle expands to fit whoever comes. We care for and love one another. We honor doubt and strive for authenticity in our spiritual life together. Our liturgy and music is traditional and we take it seriously; at the same time we have fun with it and it is never stuffy.
One of the other signs says:
Becoming more deeply who we are as Episcopalians;
sharing who we are with the world.
The “roots,” you may remember, were something that the whole community commented on a couple of years ago (remember Betsey’s “trees”?). The rest of what is up there is the result of the work of last Fall’s vestry retreat.
What this amounts to is a discernment of who we are as a community, and a vision of who we will carry and build on this in the future. I’m reminding you all of this today because this is still the plan which the vestry and the clergy of All Saints are using as we move forward. Each decision that we make comes with this vision in mind. How does what we are doing or proposing to do fit in with the kind of community we are? And how does it further the mission of the church, which at the core is becoming more deeply disciples of Christ and inviting others to do the same?
We came to the conclusion that the best way we, the All Saints Community, could do this was to ground ourselves more deeply in the tradition we represent. We believe that the Episcopal way is a great avenue to Christ; and that the best way for us to fulfill on our call to ministry was to emphasize the strengths of that tradition in which we are already grounded. This means two things: first, that we recognize that our tradition has been ‘undersold,’ that it has much to offer the world but we’ve been too quiet about it; and second, that to do this, we have to begin by understanding it better ourselves. All this is why we are consciously making an effort to both explore and practice our tradition. That is why we have added a new worship opportunity on Tuesdays at Noon based on the Episcopal Daily Office; it is also why we are currently offering an “advanced bible” class on Sunday, not just to understand the Bible better, but to understand better the way our tradition offers us tools to understand what the Bible means to us. And of course, we’ll be doing more based on these principles going forward.
Above all of this, of course, is the root of what it means to be a Christian community. The goal is to understand better what it means to be disciples of Jesus, both so that we can be better disciples ourselves, and to offer an example of disciples to others in the wider community around us.
That’s what we’re doing. I just thought you’d like to know.
Ash Wednesday is on March 1st, and All Saints will offer two worship services, one at noon and the other at 7pm. Both services will include imposition of ashes and Eucharist. Childcare is available at both services, and, as always, children are also welcome in worship.
September 11 was a day for looking back, but also, after Sunday worshipers had gone home, for looking forward. The vestry and clergy of All Saints met for almost five hours, sustained by sushi (courtesy of Sandra Takagi), caprese sandwiches (courtesy of Doni Blumenstock), a variety of coffee-flavored hard candies (courtesy of Paula Ostrom), and, not least, by the Holy Spirit.
I (Betsey) designed and led the retreat, using tools from our diocesan College for Congregational Development. We spent time considering the purpose and work of every congregation, which can be summarized as:
We also looked carefully at the ways that All Saints does these things, and spent the most time thinking about the many opportunities for transformation and spiritual growth that we offer at All Saints.
You may remember a time two years ago, after the vestry retreat of 2014. I like to think that the “trees” I drew then (some said that they looked more like a strange variety of seaweed) were memorable artistic depictions of the work of the vestry retreat. We had discerned the four roots, or core values, of All Saints:
Building on this work of discerning our roots, and looking at the ways that All Saints currently offers opportunities for spiritual growth and transformation, the clergy and vestry at our retreat this year created an area of focus for our work as we move forward. That area is:
As you can see, we really combined two areas within one, but we felt that it was important to do so. First, we at All Saints need to learn to be more fully who we are (see root #3!), especially who we are in our particular Episcopal/Anglican branch of Christianity (see root #4!). The leadership of All Saints believes that the world has a great need of what the Episcopal Church has to offer, and in order for us to offer it, we at All Saints need to know it well and live it in our own congregational life. Then our task will become learning how to share who we are with those who are seeking, and learning how to invite and incorporate people more effectively into our common life (see roots #1 and 2!).
The clergy and vestry envision a time in the future when All Saints becomes known in the community as the place to go for education in the Gospel and for spiritual growth; when we are more intentional with invitation and incorporation of new members; and when opportunities for robust exploration of the Gospel and of our Episcopal/Anglican faith and tradition are abundant in our congregation.
We are excited about the future that we believe that God is leading us into. Please share your ideas and enthusiasm as we move forward together!
All Saints Episcopal Church
2076 Sutterville Road
Sacramento, California 95822
8:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
9:15 am Sunday Adult Bible Study
10:00 am Sunday Holy Eucharist, Rite II
Nursery and Sunday School at the 10 am service.
All Saints Church is located across the street from Sacramento City College. Each semester we offer students the opportunity to purchase a pass to park in our parking lot Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 4:00. For more information see our parking pass information page.
Some people think of the blessings of God when they are in nature. Others may feel it when they meditate or pray. We are all different. We are all loved. Take the time today and this week to look for signs of the love of God in your life and give thanks for that love as you pass it on.