Good News, 09.30.2011

Friends:

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama — and I think St. Francis would agree!

It will be a wonderful Sunday with our St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival! Be sure to invite your friends to this day (Noon – 3:00 pm) which brings such joy and healing to so many furry, feathered and scaly friends as well as their two-legged admirers.  Rescue animals, pet adoptions possible – such an affirmation of all of God’s creatures!

This Sunday your Adult Education options are:  Bible 365 or “Christ was not a Christian” (Who is God, Part I) which meets in the Gathering Hall.  (After the Education Hour you are invited to the back of our property to participate in the annual St. Francis Scattering of the Sunflower Seeds!)

October 16 at 4:00 pm – Transforming our World View:  Integral Perspectives linking Body, Mind and Spirit. The Science and Religion Team invites you to a fascinating presentation by Dr. Marilyn Schlitz of IONS (the Institute of Noetic Sciences).   The Healing Prayer Team is co-sponsoring this event which aims to bridge the historical gap between rational, scientific examination and conscious, spiritually aware exploration.  Both require rigorous commitment to help create a  sustainable future.  Dr. Fran Geddes will also be present to introduce Dr. Schlitz and sign copies of his new book Contemplative Healing.  Please invite friends – skeptics, seekers, scientists, mystics – to this rare occasion.

The Taize Contemplative Prayer experience was a blessing to all present.  It will be offered on the 4th Friday of each month at 7:00 pm.

Phil and George send their greetings from Greece. It has been a trying time in Athens.  They are doing well in the midst.

The Jazz Church West begins its 7th Season on October 9 at 5:00 pm with the Erik Jekabson Quartet.  See the attached season flyer.

Our next Small and Tall Family Worship is planned for October 23 at 9:30 am.

Thoughtful Quote: I can’t remember who said it but, “There is no such thing in the US as a poor person, only temporarily frustrated millionaires.  In the land of opportunity, everybody ought to be able to strike it rich, eventually.”  Yet something has changed, and is continuing to change in the world.  Income inequality is indeed deepening, to the extent that the US is now next to Ghana in the rankings.  Not that I have anything against Ghana.  But it seems to me social unrest is created by poor people becoming poorer, not the other way around.  Rev. Brian Stein-Webber of the Interfaith Council

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 09.22.2011

Friends:

“Everywhere that I roam, everyone I see is a poem – written on the back of God’s hand.” Gil Scott Heron

The initial service with our worship change of time to 9:30 seemed to work well for everyone. The quality of our hospitality time was not diminished. And 20 people participated in our Adult Education Class in the Gathering Hall. Nursery Care for the littlest ones is being arranged during the Sunday School/Adult Education as well.

This Sunday’s Adult Education Discussion Topic (which meets in the Gathering Hall):Can we find common ground with Christian fundamentalists/ Why is religion used for hating people?” Bible 365 continues with Pr. Elizabeth at 11:10 am each Sunday. New participants are always welcome!

Taize Contemplative Renewal begins Friday evening at 7:00 pm. This prayer service consists of chants, brief scripture and a period of silence. It’s an opportunity to be present, listen deeply and rest. We get to pray for the healing of our lives, loved ones and world. Feel free to invite friends to join you. Taize is sponsored by the Healing Prayer Team and it will happen monthly on the 4th Friday of each month.

Martha Mantei will participate in the Walk out of Darkness on Sunday. It is sponsored by the Society for the Prevention of Suicide. If you wish to support her please go to www.outofthedarkness.org. Enter Martha’s name as the “participant’ or her team name “Tri-Valley Starz”. (Donations can be made until 12/31/11) Thank you, Martha, for keeping us aware resources and hope!

We are happy that Lois McGee is home from the hospital and doing well!

Please keep in your prayers: Marlene Garrity, Sheryl Ruzek and family who mourn her mother’s death, the Duffy Family, and the family of Troy Davis.

This Sunday you will get to meet our new Seminarian Brenda Bos. You will enjoy her!

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 09.15.2011

Friends:

“There is no way to peace; peace is the way.” (AJ Muste)

A joy to share the Birthing Blessing this past Sunday with April and Matt Rasmussen.  New life always emerging wherever we are.  For all the little ones and those soon to arrive praise God!

Homecoming is this Sunday and our new schedule begins:  Worship at 9:30, Hospitality at 10:45 and Sunday School and Adult Education from 11:10 – 11:50.  Your requests for specific adult classes will be solicited this Sunday.  Lifelong Learning is a blessing and so important to model for our children and grandchildren.

The Holy Convergence/Interfaith Festival is also on Sunday afternoon.  You will enjoy the drumming, chanting, presentations, conversing with interfaith friends, fresh veggies and apple tasting!.   Invite your friends to join you for this unique experience of global spirit and hope.

Meditation resumes on Thursday from 5:45 – 6:30 pm.  All are welcome to come and enjoy the presence of God in stillness and calm.

Greg Grebe and the Committee for our St. Francis Animal Blessing and Pet Festival are working hard to organize our annual blessing event.  It happens on October 2 from Noon – 3:00 pm.   Rescue animals and pet adoptions will be available.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the goodness of all God’s creation and creatures.  Be sure to distribute the fliers wherever you can.

Please keep in your prayers:  Lois McGee, Heather Macleod, Bob Worthington, those with addictions, those seeking homes, members of the Islamic Center and the reconciliation of all God’s people, the people of Japan and East Africa.

The Memorial Service for Betty Duffy who was killed in a bicycle accident last week will be this Saturday at 2:00 pm.   If you can assist Pr. Anita with the Reception please let her know.

Taize Prayer is a contemplative prayer service incorporating chants, brief scripture and a time of silence for prayer.  It is offered by Peace Lutheran to the larger community on the 4th Friday of each month beginning on September 23 at 7:00 pm.   A peaceful and profound way to be in the presence of God and to pray for the reconciliation of our world.    Rev. Lucy Kolin from Resurrection Lutheran in Oakland will lead the music for these services.  The Healing Prayer Team is sponsoring these beautiful services.

Wonderful News!   Seminarian Brenda Bos has been assigned by PLTS Seminary to work at Peace for this next year through May of 2012.  Look forward to meeting Brenda either this Sunday or next.  Here is a brief bio:  Brenda Bos is a member of St. Matthew’s North Hollywood and is taking a “Lutheran year” of studies at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.  She holds a Masters of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology and has interned as a chaplain at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and as a media producer at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.  Brenda worked in television production for eighteen years before entering seminary, most notably as a producer on “George Lopez” and “Suddenly Susan”.  When not wandering the hills of Berkeley, she lives in Pasadena with her partner Janis and their two dogs Boo and Taz.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 09.09.2011

Friends,

“You are God’s work of art!”  (Ephesians 2);  and “If we only knew what we were receiving in the Eucharist we would leave the Table dancing!”  (Marty Luther)

What a splendid celebration we had with Gerry Grosz and his Jazz Kitchen.  Gerry composed 2 new pieces just for our worship.  He told me afterwards, “I love this place; it  inspires me every time I come here.”  Gerry has composed new pieces for Jazz at Peace, the Hope for Japan Benefit Concert presented by A Pair of Jeans, and now for our worship as well.  Meditating, dancing, powerful Children’s Time, gracious Communion, nurturing the Heart – the gift of Spirit and worship.  Our thanks to the Jazz at Peace/Jazz Church West Team for bringing the Jazz Kitchen to worship and to Pr. Margareta for the Jam in the Cross!

President Pat Leong announced last Sunday that the congregation has decided to move our worship time to 9:30 am beginning Homecoming Sunday on September 18.  The Council and Clergy see this change as a pivot point for Peace to establish a solid education component for both Adult Education and Sunday SchoolMultiple adult classes can be offered from 11:10 – 11:50.  You will be asked for topics that you want to engage.  Members of Peace will be asked to share their expertise in classes.  The 4th Sundays of each month will be the time for our Committees to meet and organize our ministries.  The Sunday School Staff would like to have 6 teachers/assistants in their pool.  Pr. Anita is coordinating this.  Training is provided.  Commit yourself to Life Long Learning! (Those in the Bible 365 Class know the joy of faith strengthened and deepened.)  Let’s offer our children and adults the best Spiritual Formation possible!  And all will continue to enjoy our delectable Hospitality Time in between worship and education.

The Holy Convergence – our 7th Annual Interfaith Festival – is celebrated on Sunday, September 18 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  It is sponsored by I-SRV (Interfaith – San Ramon Valley) and is hosted by Peace Lutheran.  We will explore the themes our Earth/Faith/Food CSA provides.  The Orpheus Ensemble will drum, Devotional Singers from the MA Center will chant, and  Chi Kung Master Kaleo Ching will ground us.  There will be prayer, panelists, information booths from participating congregations and plenty of Organic Food.  This is a blessed and relaxed opportunity for new connections and insights.   Spread the word – invite friends to join you.  Experience the feel of the global spiritual community! To download the flier for Holy Convergence in PDF format click here.

And as long as you’re downloading fliers, how about downloading and sharing this one for October 2’s St. Francis Blessin of the Animals Pet Festival!

Please keep in your prayers:  Lois McGee, Nancy, Julie and George, Jeanne and Pete, Erica, Dwane Michael, Kersti Malvre, Toby and Chris, April and Matt, the Healing Prayer Team, for the release and delight of the creative energy/gifts given each of us, the Altemus family, the family of Betty Duffy, Pete Yellin, the people of East Africa dying of famine and drought, political prisoners.

Taize Contemplative Prayer:  The Healing Prayer team will be sponsoring a Taize Prayer Service on the 4th Friday of each month at 7:00 pm beginning on September 23.  It is a beautiful and simple service composed of repetitive chants, brief scripture, a period of silent prayer and the opportunity to pray around the cross.  It is a Centering Experience which allows us to be and pray in the stillness of the Spirit.  Taize began in southern France several decades ago.  Peace has periodically offered this service.  Rev. Lucy Kolin of Resurrection Lutheran in Oakland will lead Taize with her music.  Prayers for peace and reconciliation in our lives and world shape the flow of this healing service.  Friday evenings initially seem an odd time but the truth is Taize graciously concludes our week and brings energy for the weekend.  Some years ago a member of Peace named Casey Barton said:  Taize is like soaking in 3 hot tubs simultaneously.  Find out for yourself.  This is a gift to the larger community – invite your friends.  Enjoy the silence, the quiet, the calm:  Be still and know I am God.

The Healing Prayer Team will resume healing prayer during Communion at Sunday worship in the near future.

What do you think:  The Choir from Centerpointe Presbyterian, Gary Sponholtz, the 7 A’s, Pr. Elizabeth preaching/presiding, Emily and Dan’s Wedding, Amar and Sybomar Khalsa and Sikh Chants, the birth of Margo El Mogazi, Pilgrimage Sunday on the Labyrinth with Jeanie Locklear and Trio con Brio, Reggae Love Fest, Mark Miller’s Deficit Crisis Presentation, Gerry and the Jazz Kitchen…….though deaths and heavy times are upon us, it has still been a blessed summer.  Thank God for our communion and community.

Keep Jammin!

Pr. Steve

Good News, 09.02.2011

Friends:

The cynic says evil  – war, famine, betrayal, etc. – outweighs the good; hope is irrational and it would have been better if humans hadn’t been created.  Writes the great Jewish scholar Maimonides,

Such reasoning stems from narrow parochialism.  A person looks at his/her own fate, or at what happens to a friend, or at the disasters facing the whole human race and thinks:  This is decisive in the vastness of things.  Or a person finds that in their life unhappiness predominates and judges the universe from that experience.  But we are not the center of the universe, neither as individuals nor as the representatives of the whole human race.  God’s universe must be considered as one great whole composed of interrelated parts, and its majestic purpose in not the gratification of our tiny selves.”

What a blessing to Walk the Labyrinth this past Sunday and to experience the gift of our community on the journey together.  Gratitude to Jeanie Locklear and Trio con Brio for their beautiful music and to Pr. Margareta for suggesting and prompting our Pilgrimage Sunday.

The family of Ki Altemus sends their thanks for our prayers and ministry with Ki during these past years.  Please keep Ki’s family – Nancy, Dan, Rich and Bob and their families in your prayers.  The life of Ki enriched Peace.  May her transformation by baptism and her death in Christ enrich the Kingdom of God as well.

Our Reggae Love Fest proved a delight for all the participants.  The band Native Elements was outstanding and they enjoyed the spirit of the crowd who attended.  Delicious food, tasty Specialty Drinks, a chance to relax and dance made for a happy celebration and fun connections with the larger community.  Our thanks to Carol and Al Barake & Julie and Robert Arnone for coordinating this event, to the couples and persons who sponsored the Love Fest and to all the Committee folk who broke a sweat preparing, serving and cleaning up for the day!  From Chris Cortez:  “We had a wonderful time playing for you all yesterday. On behalf of the band, I wanted to thank you for your kind generosity and invitation to play for your congregation and the community in Danville. I hope that the folks who were in attendance had a good time. Please send our warmest regards to everyone who helped make the event a success.”

Jazz musician Gerry Grosz will bring his Jazz Kitchen to play for our worship this Sunday.   It promises to be a unique and marvelous celebration.

Dear Pr Steve:   As a part of my job as staff writer here at Lutheran World Relief, I check the internet for mentions of our organization. It was through this search that I discovered that Peace Journey is supporting LWR’s response to the East Africa drought. I just wanted to send a note of thanks. Through the support of communities of faith like yours, Lutheran World Relief is able to reach out to so many in East Africa with not only help for today but for the coming days as well. We believe that walking with communities in poverty, listening to them and helping them to overcome the barriers that prevent families and communities from living productive lives is our unique, God-given calling and mission. Your support makes it possible to strive toward that mission.  God bless Peace for all that you do.   Nikki Massie  Staff Writer/LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF

Last Sunday I mentioned some of our Clergy’s talents and skills which  members may not be aware of.  Pr. Anita’s online Ministry SisterFriends offers support to lesbian women around the country.   She receives about 500 hits daily.  She provides spiritual care for women who often feel isolated and cut off from their religious communities and faith.  Peace is glad to be the congregational home hosting this ministry.   Pr. Margareta has been interviewed on numerous Swedish TV and radio programs and for national magazines regarding her Ministry with Children especially when facing death, their spirituality and pastoral care of their families.   Her ministry served international families from around the globe.  She has co-authored 3 books:  Children’s Existential Questions:  How they understand their Diseases and Dying; Ethical issues Related to Abortions (Commissioned by the Church of Sweden); and Egg Donations: Ethical Perspectives on Artificial Insemination (Commissioned by ‘Save the Children Sweden).  In addition she was selected by the Diocese of Stockholm to be trained as a Spiritual Director in 1996 which complemented her ministry as the Senior Chaplain for Women and Children at the Karolinska University Hospital.  Are we at Peace not blessed by these clergy and their gifts unimagined?

Peace will once again host the Holy Convergence on Sunday, September 18 from 2 – 5 pm.   This is an utterly unique Interfaith Festival with all of our interfaith congregations/communities/assemblies participating.  The focus this year will be on Earth/Faith/Food themes.  There will be drumming, presentations, prayer, chanting, Labyrinth walking and more.  If you wish to be involved as one of the hosts for the day please let me know.

The Pacific Choir composed of Korean youth whose debut performance was at Peace several months ago, recently sang at Herbst Theatre for a special Korean Cultural Celebration.  Congratulations to our young friends who continue to rehearse at Peace on Sunday evenings.

Congratulations to Alan and Kelly who will be married at Peace this Saturday.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve