Good News, 04.30.2009

Friends:

Thou who art over us, one of us, and also within us; may all see Thee in me also.
May I prepare the way for Thee, thank Thee for all that shall fall to my lot, and not forget the needs of others.  Keep me in Thy love.
Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee; a humble heart that I may hear Thee.
A heart of love that I may serve Thee and a heart of faith that I may abide in Thee.

Dag Hammerskjold

We will celebrate Partnership Sunday on May 3 which reminds us of our global connections with faith partners around the world – especially in Nicaragua and South Africa.  It will be a joyful celebration.

What a blessing to have Rev. Roland Stringfellow this past Sunday.  Our thanks to Pr. Anita for including Peace within the ministry of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.  We were reminded anew of the pressing need for Grace Unfolding Ministry.  Please keep this ministry in your prayers.

Jeanie Locklear will share additional information with those who would like to learn more about Organ Donation this Sunday.

A flyer has been prepared for the Jarva Roster Choir who will sing at Peace for our Ascension Worship and an Interfaith Concert at 4:30 on May 24.  Pick the flyer up on Sunday.

Invite your Mom to worship with you on Mother’s Day, May 10.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.25.2009

Friends:

To make the Easter Story into something that neither startles, shocks, terrifies nor excites is to “crucify the Son of God afresh” writes Dorothey Sayers.  The people who hanged Christ never accused him of being a bore; they thought him too dynamic to be safe.  Such compelling love cannot stay imprisoned within a cold tomb.  Resurrection surprises us with pure joy and hope.  Yet, Graham Greene writes, “You can’t conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”

It’s a Boy! Jasper El Mogazi was born on Sunday, April 19th at 2:30 in the afternoon.  The family has arrived safely home this week and everyone is doing well.  Much love to Suzanna, Raddi and Jasper!

Rev. Roland Stringfellow is our Guest Preacher this Sunday.  He’ll preach on the Wellspring of Life and how we can pastorally and congregationally respond to people affected by the imminent decision of the California Supreme Court on the Marriage Equality Act.

Thanks to all of our Earth Day Contributors: Charlene McPherson, Jack Howell with the Solar Hot Plate, and Karl Pfeiffer.  So much to learn, so much to appreciate.

Dining Out for Life happens next Thursday, April 30.  When you eat at Amber Bistro or Amici’s Pizzaria in Danville or Dublin, 25% or your bill will be donated to Vital Life Services who provides incredible care for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Peace has supported Vital LIfe for 23 years!

The Baha’i Assembly invites you to the Ridvan Celebration this Sunday from 3 – 4 pm at the Oak Hill Park Community Center, 3005 Stone Valley Rd., by Monte Vista High School.  Prayers for religious inclusiveness and non-discrimination around the world will be offered.  Refreshments will follow.

Our VBS Program will be June 15 – 19.  Volunteers will be needed.

Please keep in your prayers: the family of Bob Collins (Rich and Judy’s brother) who died this week; Bob Sweeney, Jerry Slater, John, Kathy, the unemployed, our Confirmands and Catechumens.

The Natives Garden Tour: From 5 acres lots to front-yard gardens, the local Native Plants Tour is happening on May 3 from 10 am – 5 pm.  It’s Free!   There are 60 gardens and native plant nurseries to check out.  Flyers with details are available after worship on Sunday.

We must take care of the Earth or the Earth will take care of us.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.17.09

Friends:

In a society which idolizes self-sufficiency, has a horror of dependence, and despises those whose misfortunes remind us of our own deep neediness, to petition God for daily bread and acknowledge the limits of our own resources, is an act of defiance against the social and spiritual status quo.  Those who intercede for the needs of others or pray for deliverance from evil, admit that collectively the human race, supposedly so successful and mature, is unable to liberate itself, heal its own diseases, comfort it own fears, solve its own problems or control its own destiny.  Easter unleashes the creative and resurrecting love which liberates people and glorify God as all in all.” (Between Cross and Resurrection, A. Lewis)

Holy Week was a true blessing. There was a wonderful turn out for our Seder.  Gunilla and Christine really came through with Coordinating the evening.  Thanks to all who contributed.  The Good Friday Faith Walk and Easter Vigil with the Catechumens were powerful experiences.  Thanks to Sue Field, the choir, Dave Rocha, Prs. Anita and Margareta for contributing to the richness of Easter Day!

This Sunday we will celebrate Earth Day.  Jack Howell will present Solar Oven designs during and after worship.  He is trying to design ovens which can be affordable in Third World countries.  Partnership Committee members will be fascinated by his work.  If you would like to join the Greening Ministry at Peace please speak with Ro Lo Bianco or myself.  Here are some suggestions from Ro for additional ways to celebrate Earth Day:

  • Pull weeds in the Native California Garden at Peace.
  • Talk to Pam Lane about Trail Building and Restoration.
  • Diablo Foothills Park Cleanup Project/Saturday, April 25 Diablo Foothills Regional Park, WC.
  • Riparian Re-Leaf Resource Enhancement|Diablo Foothills (Walnut Creek) 9:30 a.m.-noon, April 25, 2009 (All ages) Registration is required: call 510-544-2340 or email Dave Riensche at driensche@ebparks.org.  And…

In response to a growing national trend to encourage and honor shopping and eating locally, the theme of this year’s Lamorinda Earth Day Festival is to ask residents in Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda to cultivate earth-friendly habits close to home. Lamorinda Earth Day Festival 2009 will promote “celebrating local solutions” using five “sustainability principles:” — eating locally, shopping locally, using local energy, moving locally and acting locally. The festival takes place April 19 at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature more than 40 visual displays, food from local restaurants and more than 50 local non-profit organizations and vendors. There will be live music from three musicians, oral presentations about the environment from expertise speakers and a free recycling drop-off with GreenLight Recycling in the Stanley parking lot.

Be sure to check out former Peace Seminarian, now Rev. Sue Schneider’s article on Art as Resurrection.

Rev. Roland Stringfellow from the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies will be our Guest Preacher on April 26.  He will preach about what Welcoming Congregations can do in pastoral care and response when the Supreme Court ruling on the Marriage Equality Act is issued.  Peace will host a Regional Meeting for Concerned (RIC) Congregations on April 28.

Rev. Brian Stein-Webber from the Interfaith Council shares this constructive thought:

As you read the news, much of which is disturbing and anguishing, remember that there are other, more peaceful, more holistic ways of looking at things.  There are realistic perspectives that are grounded and rooted in hope, life, love, repair, renewal and joy.  May new life be springing up in you!

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.09.09

Friends – in honor of Holy Week a poem from author John Updike who recently died:

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake:  if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh:  ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that – pierced – died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not paper-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Holy Week/Triduum:  The  Schedule for a Week of Stillness

  • Maundy Thursday:  Passover Seder, 6:30 pm (The Meal at which the Lord’s Supper was instituted.)
  • Good Friday:  Experiential Faith Walk (Walk the stages of the Cross at your own pace.  The church will also be open from Noon to Three for personal prayer and meditation.)
  • Holy Saturday:  The Easter Vigil is celebrated with the Catechumens, Confirmands, godfriends, mentors, families and friends at 7:30 pm.
  • Easter Worship:  10:00 am with a Brunch before and Egg Hunt following our Celebration.

Rev. Sue Schneider (a former seminarian at Peace) has written a wonderful article on Art as Resurrection in the Bold Cafe magazine which is a national ELCA magazine.  It is very timely because of Holy Week and because she references Grunewald Guild and Peace in her piece – just in time for our 10th Anniversary.  Lois McGee highly recommends this article!

Speaking of our 10th Anniversary: Wasn’t it amazing that we had two 10 year old Acolytes serving on March 29th (completely “unplanned”); the Bouquet of Flowers from Beth Chaim was a such a beautiful and surprising gift; and how the children’s dropping of stones throughout the service created a well coordinated rhythmic music of its own (almost hinting at Easter anticipations – “roll the stone away”.)  It was a blessing to have David and Wara Alexander worship with us too!

Our thanks to Zhiting Tsai for her powerful flute piece last Sunday “For Love of Golgatha”, and to our Narrators: Martha Mantei, Karl Pfeiffer and Pr. Anita.  Also thanks to Denise and Brian, daughters Annika and Brielle Strom and Deacon Everett Sylwanowicz for the new plants at our entrance ways.  Hard work with beautiful results.

For those of you who can’t experience enough joy and praise there will be Jazz at Peace this Sunday evening at 5:00 pm with Mad and Eddie Duran.

I saw Confirmand Ethan Hepner break a wooden board with his bare foot at his martial arts class recently.  If you don’t think Confirmation makes you stronger, you obviously haven’t studied your Catechism!

Hold and fold in your prayers: Micki, Jonathan, Judy, Georgia, John, Sandy, Bob, Nancy, the unemployed, the imprisoned, those who are searching and each other.

Blessings on your journey into the Pascal Mystery with Christ.  Let the silence speak, let the Word speak, let the Spirit speak, let the Cross speak, let the Eucharist speak – that we may hear and know and trust the Resurrecting Joy and Delight needed for our times!  Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.02.09

Friends:

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.
May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.  (“To Come Home To Yourself” John O’Donohue)

What a marvelous and spirited 10th Anniversary we got to celebrate this past Sunday.  Our new Tent of Meeting seemed to enfold and uplift our last decade of prayers and ministries with such gracious love.  The children are our Living Stones and the elders know they “Have another Building.”  The abstract painting, Light – Sacred Emptiness, stained glass, Shadow Boxes, Altar and Font all offered their praise.  Our thanks to the Archives Committee for their Construction Photo display.  This Sunday you will also enjoy reading Richard Caemmerer’s comments on the “Sanctuary Summary” which will be on the Archives Table.  Please know you are invited during all of Holy Week to come into the Sanctuary to sit and be within the Tent of Meeting/Revelation at any time.  This is called Living and Being in the Presence of God.

Holy Week – Worship Invitations and a RequestPlease sign up for our Seder by this Sunday! We need to be responsible with our church funds and allow the Coordinating Committee/Confirmation Parents to make appropriate purchases. The Passover Meal is a full lamb dinner at which Biblical Stories of our Liberation are told.  It is the Meal at which Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  You can also notify the office by phone or email if you wish to attend.

Good Friday Faith Walk: You may drop in any time between 7 and 8 pm on Friday for the Faith Walk.  This is a guided Experiential Walk that you do at your own pace.  Children can walk with you.  It is very powerful.  Our Easter Vigil Service is a celebration of Resurrection.  The service is filled with moments of contemplation, hilarity and joy!  Our Easter Worship will be pure delight with trumpet, choir and more.  Invite friends to join you for any or all of the worship services.  To participate at all the these services will transform your faith!

The Confirmands ask you to support them in their Bake Sale on Palm Sunday.  All funds raised will go to support the Debt Retirement Campaign.

The Easter Cookie Party has 21 kids and about 19 parents coming on Saturday!  There are 4-5 youth coming to help so it should be a great time for everyone!

Please bring your filled Easter Eggs to church this Sunday so they can be hunted and found on Easter Day.

This Sunday is the final Gnosticism Class with Pr. Elizabeth.  Feel free to join in.  What a great series this has been.

Choir Rehearsal Schedule: Sunday, April 5th (Palm Sunday) 9 -9.30 rehearsal for our Easter anthem;  Thursday, April 9th 1.30 pm;  Easter Sunday, April 12th 9am Choir and Trumpet   Sunday rehearsals will then take place each Sunday morning (through the end of May) from 9 – 9.30am.

Thought Provoker for our Times: “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich – both come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16)  Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman asked in the 1980’s:  why do the rich need incentives but the poor require desperation before people act?

An article was published in the Jewish Weekly this week about clergy and congregations who work in conjunction with Jewish rabbis and congregations.  Rabbi Dan Goldblatt and I were interviewed for this article.  You will see a copy on the kiosk this Sunday.

During Holy Week or the Triduum (Maundy Thursday – Easter) please read the Gospel of John chapters 13 – 18.  Read it until you weep –  and then you will fully understand the Pascal Mystery of Christ.

Keep roller blading – Blessings, Pr. Steve