St. Mary Punches the Devil – A Pastoral Letter from the Rev. Molly Haws

16 August 2021

Feast of St. Mary the Virgin

Dear Beloved of the Good Shepherd,

West Texas was up 2-0 going into the bottom of the 5th, with the Little League Southwest Regional Championship on the line. Then, quicksand. One error became two, a missed catch at the plate, then an overthrow, another fielding error… by the second out, Louisiana had scored 6 runs. The West Texas coach comes out on the field, where the team waits for him to speak. “Hey, this is a game, guys. A fun game. Just settle down, play the game, have fun out there. Okay?” I love this coach’s attitude. I love how he clearly cares about the players as much as he cares about the game and a little more than he cares about winning. 

I wish it were possible to simply feel better because someone told me to. I wish that all it took to get back to normal was a timely reminder to just settle down and have fun out there.

West Texas got their cabooses kicked, 6-2.

But they’re going to the Little League World Series. The experience of having participated in greatness will stay with them long after the sharp bitter taste of this disappointment has faded to mere memory. 

Many of us have tasted disappointment in these past few weeks. We’ve done everything we were asked, everything we could. We waited. We were patient and faithful and we learned and we made it work, and now it feels a little like… like Team Coronavirus brought the Delta Variant in off the bench in the bottom of the 5th and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kinda kicked in the caboose.

We are still in this, beloved. And rather than telling myself to “have fun out there,” I asked myself “what would I like to do right now?” and I came up with three things.

  1. With the blessing of your Bishop’s Committee, I’ve changed my schedule so that I’m now at Good Shepherd on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 10ish – 4ish, with Friday as my day off. 
    • This allows me to be here for the Monday Morning Sandwich Ministry and the Wednesday Noon Eucharist. If you haven’t experienced these weekday offerings yet, I recommend them highly. 
    • I’m available to meet with you in person here at Good Shepherd, or via Zoom or on the phone. Call or text me at 510.672.1376 or drop me an email at to schedule a time.
  2. I am hosting Tuesdays On Zoom, every week at 7pm (click the link in the Good Shepherd Announcements). Stop in and chat. Share a picture or a poem or a joke. Talk about your day and hear about someone else’s. Play “Stump The Priest” (it’s pretty easy, trust me). Even if it’s only for 10 minutes sometime between 7 and 8 pm, I’ll be glad to see/hear you.
  3. Miss seeing folks and chatting after church Sunday morning? Since we can’t have indoor coffee hour in person anyway, let’s bring back Zoom Coffee Hour! I’ll be logged in on my office laptop for the whole service so all the Zoomers can get beverages and come right back, I can join from here, and others can log in as they get home.

So, beloved: what do you dream of doing, now, in this time? What would make the most of this time at Good Shepherd? what spark of creativity or silliness or sustenance needs only a little fanning to shine a light?

Yours in faith,


Holy Week Message (2021) from Rev. Molly Haws

March 2021

A short story from my past, around 15 years ago:

“So, how come we go up and stand around the altar at this point?” I asked them. “What’s that about?” The elder of the group spoke up: Because there’s not too many of us, and there’s room for all of us to come up and stand. 

I knew that Elise was smart and thoughtful and engaged, but still, her answer was much more liturgically astute than I was expecting from a not-quite-eight-year-old.

“Okay, so what makes us want to come up and stand around the altar?” I asked. “What are we doing?” As the group was contemplating and conferring, one of the four-year-olds piped up, “Because God is in the middle.” 

This exchange used to enter my head—quietly, without drawing attention to itself—every time we gathered around the altar for communion at Good Shepherd. Because God is in the middle.

Six months after I began serving Good Shepherd as long-term supply priest, we suddenly could no longer gather to worship at 9th and Hearst in Berkeley. How could we possibly gather around with God in the middle when we couldn’t even be in the same room together? 

And yet, we did, and we do.

We adapted to environmental changes while remaining true to who we are. When there was no way for us to be together, we found a way. When we couldn’t find a way, we made a way. We remembered and reminded one another that we are nimble, creative, capable of surprising ourselves. We continue to be a circle with God in the middle, lifting our hearts and voices in song and prayer, in grief and in wonder, a circle made of faith-in-action, because this is who we are.

My hope for this year is that we shall continue creating and re-creating, leaning into the challenges that arise, daring to rejoice and defying the devil.

What is it that you hope for?

Yours by grace,