Good News, 05.25.2011

Friends:

Each one of you has received a special grace – so like good stewards responsible for all these varied graces of God, put yours at the service of others. -1 Peter 4: 10

A Pair of Jeans presented a marvelous concert on Sunday. Music of Meditation, Hope, Commitment and Blossoming surrounded us. A wonderful crowd gathered to appreciate the music, haiku, images and the premier of a double piano duet newly composed by Gerry Grosz just for this occasion entitled Tango on 9.0. (Gerry and his wife Michiyo Aoyama also played together for the first time in public!) Our thanks to Libby Flynn, Charlene McPherson, Julie Arnone, Pr. Anita, Susanna El Mogazi, Kaleo and Elise Ching, Mark Donahoo, and students from Athenian School, and Las Lomas High School for contributing their skills and gifts to the day. Also to Thrivent Financial for their Matching Funds. (Below is a summary or the crisis in Japan.)

The culmination of our Destiny Disrupted series was an insightful conversation with Imam Amer Araim. Our thanks to Deacon Gil Jardine for initiating and guiding this 4 Week Study. It revealed a deeper understanding of Islam and heightened our awareness of how much more we have to learn.

Please keep in your prayers: Eric (friend of Tom Popp) who was injured in a hang gliding accident, Sheila, Taylor, Lisa, Heidi and Fidel, Bob, Janelle, Japan and each other.

This Sunday harpist Destiny Muhammed and her cousin Tarika join us to lead worship with their musical gifts. Come renew the friendship with them!

Thanks to our Council for the Ministry Tables presented during May. You can still sign up to assist our Deacons in their ministries.

Now is the time to Sign Up for our CSA/Earth, Faith and Food! Deliveries of produce will begin on June 5. Freshest food on the planet! Go to: www.earthfaithfood.wordpress.com to learn more or sign up. Details available at worship on Sunday too.

Elise and Kaleo Ching will offer Acupressure once more on Sunday, June 5. Please sign up this Sunday to receive their healing gift.

Four Disasters struck Japan simultaneously: A 9.0 earthquake, a tsunami, a grave nuclear radiation threat and freezing winter weather. The radiation has had an enormous impact on the agricultural sector and the area around Fukushima will be uninhabitable for decades. The damages cost estimate is $309 billion. At the beginning of April over 12,000 people were confirmed dead; over 15,000 are still missing. The earthquake was the 4th largest in recorded history.

Turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. May we O God build the Living Temple with you.

Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.19.2011

Friends:

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.  And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.  The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train – Howard Zinn

This Sunday two special gifts come your way:  The Benefit Concert of Meditation and Hope for the people of Japan will be presented by A Pair of Jeans at 4:30 pm.  The concert will include their beautiful music, Haiku, images and photos of Japan and special guests Gerry and Michiyo Grosz (who was in Japan during the tsunami).  They will share musical gifts too.  Thrivent Financial will provide Matching Funds.   Invite friends – share the bounty and the blessings.   After the Reception Imam Amer Araim will speak at 6:00 pm.  He is the author of the book Understanding Islam: 50 Questions.  He will then dialogue with participants about the realities of Islam today.  This will conclude the 4 week book study series utilizing Destiny Disrupted which has prompted animated conversation!  Please attend even if you have not been able to be part of the book study.  Guaranteed to be insightful and enlightening.

Soul/Food Connections: It is time to Sign Up for a membership with our I-SRV (Interfaith) CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  You can do so by going to terrabellafamilyfarm.com or by filling out a registration card this Sunday.  For 22 weeks of produce (veggies and fruits) the cost is $660 for a Large Share or $506 for a Small Share.  You can split the Share with a friend if you wish.   You receive the freshest food on the planet and it is more economical than local stores and farmers markets.  The produce will be delivered on Sundays from 11:30 – 2:00 pm and you get to make choices! The Market will rotate among interfaith congregations beginning with Danville Congregational on June 5 – July;  Peace during August & September;  Beth Chaim October – December.   To learn more speak with Libby, Charlene, Gun, Lois or Elana or check out the website at:  earthfaithfood.wordpress.com (as hundreds of other people are doing!)  The Organic Feast this past Monday was fantastic!

Rodgers and Hammerstein and the Broadway Chorus! Martha Mantei invites you to hear the Chorus this Friday or Saturday at 8:00 pm or Sunday at 2:00 pm at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton.  They will sing your heart into delirious happiness!

Ministry Tables: The Church Council wants to make you aware of all the ministries at Peace. This Sunday the Deacons for Youth and Family, Justice and Education will present information about their ministries during the Hospitality Hour.  Get the scoop, stay in the loop – they will even let you sign up to participate with them!  (Take note of all the Worship Leaders walking around with Gold Stars on their name tags.  They are really special!)

Acupressure given by Elise and Kaleo Ching was so well received by 10 people that June 5 will be another occasion for 10 other people to experience the healing gift of these friends which is so freely offered to Peace.

The DVC Plant Sale is this Saturday from 9 – 1 featuring unusual herbs and edibles, color bowls and salvias and perennials.  It’s located at 321 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill or check out the website at:  dvcplantsale.com.

Karl and Grace Pfeiffer are off to Germany to visit family and daughter Elisabeth who has been living and studying there for this past year.  There will be much to share on their return.

Bread for the World is presenting a National Gathering, June 11 – 14 on Changing the Politics of Hunger.  It is happening in Washington, DC.  Worship, workshops, meeting with members of Congress are all happening.  You will get to support the “1,000 Days Initiative” – an international effort to improve nutrition in the critical period of ‘Pregnancy to age 2’ for children in developing countries.  To register go to:  bread.org/event/gathering-2011/.  Let me know if you desire to attend.

Please keep the Confirmands in your prayers as they prepare in these final weeks for their Confirmation on June 5.

Need a beautiful place of rest and renewal in which to explore the creative arts?   The Grunewald Guild, founded by Richard and Liz Caemmerer, hosts various classes for 10 weeks throughout the summer.  Joyful, innovative, invigorating – whether you are a beginner or master you will be delightfully formed and transformed.  For info:  grunewaldguild.com.  See info on our Kiosk this Sunday.

Our thanks to the Pacific Choir who performed publicly for the very first time at Peace this past Sunday.  A talented group of young people under the direction of Mr.  Jae Sung Choi.  They invite you to a concert with them this Saturday night at 7:30 at the Methodist Church in Alamo.  Tickets are available at Peace.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.12.11

Friends:

The rulers of this world love to lord it over others, they like to make their ‘authority’ felt.  (They think they are Somebody if they step on nobodies.)  Not so with you.  If you would be great – serve others;  if you want to be first then become last.   So it is with the Son of Man – who authors life with understanding, compassion and wisdom.  -Jesus, mostly.

Such joy in celebrating our Small and Tall Worship!  Our thanks to the Youth Group for dramatically sharing the Gospel, to Sarah Kath for preparing the Prayer of the Day, and to Prs. Margareta and Anita for creating and leading this delightful service.

A Mother’s Day GiftUrban Legend exposed: In numerous studies scientists see no effect on kids’ behavior from eating sugar in any form.  In one study some moms were told their sons got a big helping of sugar and others were told their sons got a placebo. When researchers had mothers interact with their kids and asked about what happened, moms who thought their boys were amped up on a sugar high rated their children as being significantly more hyperactive than the other mothers did.  The catch:  None of the kids actually got any sugar.  Just thinking that a child had sugar makes parents see worse behavior the study concluded.

On the other hand – children who receive spiritual nurture and live on a balanced diet of the Sacraments tend to grow into happiness, self-understanding, wisdom, courage and compassion; they are kinder to themselves, willing to encourage others (especially losers), laugh at absurdity more, are willing to find hope in dark times, enjoy rest and experience peace in surprising times and circumstances.  When older they tend to appreciate their parents more.  No studies have conclusively documented this phenomenon but 2,000 years of practice have revealed the trustworthiness of this path.

Thanks to Mackenzie Dobson for organizing the Car Wash with the Youth Group and friends this past Sunday and providing support for servicemen and women and their families.

The Pacific Choir under the direction of Jaesung and Hyunjung  Choi will join us for worship this Sunday, May 15.   The choir consists of 12 – 15 young people who are learning the intricacies of choral music.  Please honor them with your presence.

Next Monday, May 16 at 6:30 pm at Peace is the 2nd Soul/ Food Organic Extravaganza!  And it’s Free!!  The official launching of Soul/Food Connections began with an Organic Feast at Peace two months ago.  The evening was composed of delicious foods, background information about CSAs, connections with new friends from the interfaith community, and conversation about what we might create in the San Ramon Valley.  A delicious evening of conversation, connections with new friends, healthy food and spirit await you!

Since then we have met with organic farmers, visited and picnicked at Terra Bella Farm in Sunol, experienced the CSA at Temple Isaiah, organized committees and our 2011 priorities, created our website, consulted with the Table Project, arranged speakers to address our congregations this Sunday on May 15, planned special summer activities for our youth, begun to receive memberships in our CSA, prepared a Training Session for volunteers on May 22, and arranged for our rotating ‘Market’ to begin on June 5 at DCC.  The Market will come to Peace during August and September.  The food will be provided by farms that are certified organic by CCOF, selected by our lead farmer, Shawn Seufert from Terra Bella Family Farm.   (Signup forms are on our Soul/Food website at:  www.earthfaithfood.wordpress.com.)  Please join us on May 16 and bring your friends.  Your RSVP is necessary for our preparations:   Call our office at 925-648-7000 or email office@peacejourney.org.

Congratulations to April and Matt Rasmussen who are pregnant!

Please keep in your prayers: our children, all the moms, those who mourn the loss of loved ones, families experiencing Alzheimers or Parkinsons, the unemployed and underemployed, those facing addictions, those in war zones, the poor, the people of Syria who are living and dying in their nonviolent uprising.

Join Destiny Disrupted for a lively Book Study conversation this Sunday, May 15 at 6:00 pm.  A great opportunity to learn about the history of Islam!  On May 22 (following the Benefit Concert for Japan) Imam Amer Araim will join us to co-lead the final session with Deacon Gil Jardine.  You may want to get a copy of his book on the 50 Key Questions of Islam.

A Pair of Jeans presents a Benefit Concert of Hope and Meditation for Japan on Sunday, May 22 at 4:30 pm.  The concert will include beautiful music, images and poetry.  Gerry Grosz, one of our jazz musicians will be present with this wife Michiyo.  She was in Japan during the Tsunami and will share personal stories from that experience.  Thrivent will provide Matching Funds through Church World Service who is providing shelter and care for 25,000 people in 100 Evacuation Sites near Fukushima.  This is an opportunity to be present to the suffering of others while offering our prayers, hope and support.  Please invite friends to join you for this blessed occasion.  A reception follows.

True Authority (like wisdom) is subtle and profound…..no need to dominate or enforce;
there is no way to describe it….we can only describe the appearance of true authorities:
They are careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream in Springtime.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.
Can you remain calm and still until wisdom emerges from within?
Then you will truly author life that is real.  -Tao te Ching, mostly

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.06.11

Friends:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday we will have another favorite Small and Tall Family Service.  This is so much fun for all the children and grandchildren and such a blessing for all the adults.  Come prepared to stretch your heart with joy!

During May the Council Deacons will present Ministry Tables with information for you regarding the variety of ministries at Peace during the Hospitality Hour.  Explore, inquire and get involved.

Healing into Wholeness: Are you in need of Acupressure/massage?  Kaleo and Elise Ching will each offer 5 free 20 minute sessions after worship on May 15 as a special gift to the members of Peace. Experience the healing calm, energy and focus you need.   Please sign up in advance this Sunday after worship.  Half of the slots have been chosen already.

Mackenzie Dobson is offering a Car Wash after church this Sunday.  Help our Confirmand achieve success by supporting her in this community endeavor!

Destiny Disrupted our Book Study on Sundays at 6:00 pm began with a class of over a dozen people.  Please join in this Sunday even if you’ve not been able to read the book yet. (The class will begin after Jazz at Peace so you can attend both.)

Jazz at Peace welcomes Kat Parra singing lovely Latin Jazz this Sunday for Mother’s Day at 5:00 pm.  Bring your mother to church a 2nd time in one day – you know she would approve!

A Concert of Meditation and Hope for Japan will be presented by A Pair of Jeans on Sunday, May 22 at 4:30 pm. This will be a beautiful concert of music, image and poetry with a Reception following.  Please encourage friends to join you.  (Then at 6:00 pm Imam Amer Araim will lead the final session of the Book Study Series.)

Soul Food Connections: A second Organic Feast/CSA Dinner is planned for Monday, May 16 at 6:30at Peace.  This is a delicious way to learn all about Community Supported Agriculture/CSA, our Sunol Farmers and how the Freshest Food Available will be delivered to our I-SRV/Interfaith Congregations.  (Speak with Libby, Gun, Lois, Charlene or Elana about their visit to the farm this past Sunday!)  Your RSVP is needed since seating is limited to 90 people gathering from the interfaith community.  Check out our website at:  earthfaithfood.wordpress.com.

Stephen Hitchcock (another classmate of mine) of Bread for the World will lead a discussion on the book Exodus from Hunger at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Walnut Creek on Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 pm.

The death of Osama bin Laden marks this as a Time of Reappraisal.  Much has been lost:  Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan people have been killed or maimed, there are a million widows in Iraq alone; a decade of war and occupation has pushed U.S. society to a breaking point by debt, division and an assault on social services and collective bargaining.  Now is the time for us to pray for clarity for our nation as we rebuild and invest in education, health, environmental stability and a market place that serves the Common Good.

The Pacific Choir composed of 12-15 youth who rehearse at Peace every Sunday evening, will sing for us as part of our worship on May 15.  Please honor these young people with your presence.

Cindy Carroll’s Ordination was a great celebration with several congregations participating, much music and joyful festivity.  Pr. Margareta and I represented Peace by leading the prayers for the Ordination Congregation.  Peace also gifted Cindy with a new red stole for the occasion.  (Pictures will be coming.)  Cindy sends her love and gratitude to all the people of Peace for our prayers, guidance and encouragement during her years of membership and Teaching Parish Training among us.

This note from Pr. Anita:

I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude to everyone at Peace for showing such compassion, love, and concern for me, Dana, and my family during my brother Randy’s hard journey with ALS. While I take comfort in knowing  Randy’s suffering has ended and his spirit is now free from a body that no longer worked for him, the grief I continue to carry runs deeper than anything I’ve ever know, yet even in the hours immediately following Randy’s death and so many miles from home, I could feel the love and care of all of you and that sustained and comforted me.

Several months before Randy died he wrote to me saying “I think most of our family has been sheltered from what an illness like ALS means beyond the words. At least I have been. Maybe this new generation will see the devastating effects of an illness like ALS and become a helping hand to others….Sis, there is no question that at the end of your life you can discard most of the things you did for yourself and keep as a lasting reward those things you did to help others.” That was my brother, his concern and compassion for others, and inspired by him I will continue what’s been started with Sweet Hope Cookies. Not only as a legacy to Randy but with the hope that one day effective treatments and a cure will be found. Until that day, thank you for supporting me through your prayers and for helping others with ALS through all your cookie buying. I’ll keep baking so please, keep on buying 🙂 I love and appreciate you all,  Anita

And Prov. 24:17, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.”

Easter Blessings,  Pr. Steve