Good News, 12-21-2011

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.” (C. S. Lewis)

CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP
Saturday Dec. 24
Children and Family worship at 5 pm
Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm

CHRISTMAS DAY WORSHIP
Sunday Dec. 25
Worship at 9:30 am Please invite friends and family!

Special Request: If you have Bells (of any size or sound) please bring them to worship with you on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s!

The Christmas Pageant Rehearsal is this Thursday at 6:00 pm. Expect a wonderful Christmas Gift from our kids and Youth Group.

Thanks to all who contributed to our Giving Tree Gifts for Families in need. Over $1100 was presented for our Partnership Families in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua and Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa. The staff at Shelter, Inc. was delighted by all the gifts for the homeless families whom they and we serve.

And thanks to our Youth Group for the Snowman Soup, to Margit Johansson for the Glogg, to Greg Grebe and all who formed the Tree Decorating Party, to Alexei Griesbach for his guitar music, to the chorus for the Magnificat, to Bill Carmel for his painting “Spark”, and Richard Caemmerer for “Corona – the Pregnant Cosmos”.

A word from Seminarian Brenda Bos:

I am going home to Los Angeles on Friday, December 16 and will be there through the month of January. Several years ago the ELCA made a commitment to multi-culturalism, and as part of that commitment, seminarians are required to have a “cross-cultural immersion” where we live among people from a different culture for three weeks. In January I will spend 4 days with an African American family in Los Angeles and worship in their Lutheran congregation, then spend 2 1/2 weeks with a Spanish-speaking family, worship in their Lutheran church and experience Los Angeles from their perspective. I look forward to reporting back to Peace and know I will miss you all while I am gone. Joyous Christmas! Brenda

Additional Blessing: Seminarian John Brett, a first year student at PLTS Seminary, has been assigned to work at Peace as our second Teaching Parish seminarian. John will begin working with us in February of next year. Look forward to meeting and working with him.

The Winter Solstice arrives on the 21st – the darkest night of the year. This is a precious time to Walk the Labyrinth and absorb the Peace Mosaic with open eyes and heart. (Can you guess which Mandala is in the center now?) Invite family and friends to walk the labyrinth and/or worship with you this Christmas.

Epiphany Open House: Bev and I and the Church Council invite you to our home on January 8 from 1 – 4 pm. You can join us for Jazz at Peace afterwards if you wish.

Advent Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 12-14-2011

Friends:

“Every midwife knows that not until the womb softens can the child find the opening to be born.  Soften the treasure of your heart, my Friend, so that the opening may be discovered and the dark pain you carry may gracefully lead you to the never-ending grace.”

December 18 is Mary Sunday for us and promises to be a lovely liturgy with the celebration of the Magnificat.  Our Giving Tree Gifts will be received (wrapped and with the Ornament taped on the outside – please see the stories below); you may choose to participate in the Christmas Tree Decorating Party (thanks to Bill Carmel and Ray Lewis for getting the tree up!) or Bible 365 or learn the Abba Chi Prayer in depth (Seminarian Brenda and Kaleo have just finished the video of our congregation praying the Abba Chi).

Christmas Pageant Service:  Members of our Youth Group are helping design and coordinate our Pageant with the children of Peace for our 5:00 pm Christmas Eve Celebration.  We will have a Rehearsal on Thursday, December 22 at 6:00 pm.

Christmas Eve Worship Schedule:  5:00 pm Children and Family Worship; 10:00 pm Candlelight and Communion.

Christmas Day – Carols and Communion at 9:30 am.

How fun to celebrate 15+ Birthdays of Gun, Maili and Marlene this past Sunday.  What blessed Openings of Compassion they have shared with us over the years!

Gun was delighted to share with us her experiences in Liberia and the ongoing work of Lievstucket (a Swedish Women’s Organization) which has been assisting Immigrant Women for many years.  These are the Signs of Hope upon which our world depends.  Gun is now off on a journey to Israel.  Safe travels.

Please keep in your prayers:  Kersti, Nancy, Marlene, Lois, Liu Xiaobo (last year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winner who is still in prison), Leymah Gbowee (this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Liberia and author of Mighty Be Our Powers), Lisa and all those who pray for us.

Here are some of the background stories of our Giving Tree Gift Families this year whom we are supporting through Shelter, Inc.

Family TWO

Jesse, his sister Rebekka and her 2 daughters Faith and Bianca have just moved into the SJ-II housing program. Jesse is disabled and helps his sister care for the children. The two have been best friends since child hood and have always supported the others efforts to grow. Faith and Bianca are very smart and very artistic. Bianca loves to draw and dance and Faith loves to design clothes and cook or bake. Both girls like to help mom in the kitchen or garden and they are all enjoying their large yard in the new house.

Family Six

Jenna and her first baby just arrived at our emergency family shelter. Her baby boy is 3 weeks currently and will be almost 3 months old at Christmas time. Mom is 25 years old and adores her baby boy. Joseph is a very kick back calm little baby who rarely cries and is starting to focus on voices that he hears and tracks sounds with his eyes. Mom is very happy to be with SHELTER, Inc. and plans to make the most of her time with us. She has never had a place of her own and has spent most of her life being bounced from one family member to another in 4 month stays. She states that she has never had a place to call home since she was a tiny child and you might think that this kind of upbringing might bring her down, Jenna is one of the most positive people I have seen in a long time.

Family Seven

Lena and her 2 daughters are participants in the family rapid re-housing program. They have come to SI because they had to leave an domestic violence situation. When they left they were not able to take any of their personal belongings. She is very soft spoken and sweet with her 2 daughters. They are incredibly grateful to be in a safe and healthy place for Christmas.

Family Eight

Debisue is a young mother of 2 daughters aged 2 and 3 years old. She is pregnant with her 3rd child a boy she has named Jimmy after his father. Baby Jimmy is due any second literally, Debisue will have the baby within a couple of days and she is so excited to be having a boy after 2 girls. Debisue has taken a break from school in order to have her baby and take some bonding time after his birth. She is a full time college student at Western Career College in Concord with a few months left to earn her Nursing assistant degree and certificate.

I can’t thank all of you enough for the Surprise Birthday Parties after worship and at Jazz on Sunday!  It was a most elegant and gracious way to turn 60.  I am mindful of a phrase I used in an Advent Homily recently:  Time is given to us not to keep a faith we once had, but to acquire a faith we need now.  Thank you for your encouragement in my life and faith.

Several of you requested Poet Tomas Transtromer’s (Nobel Prize Winner for Literature this year) poem used this last Sunday.

Roman Arches

Inside the huge Roman Cathedral the tourists were confined in the mystery of twilight.

Vaults – mouths gaping wide open – beyond vaults, gave no gaze of the vastness.

Flickering candle flames.

There, the voice of an angel without face embraced me

whispering into my body-being:

“Do not feel ashamed of being human – breathe, bear, be proud of your dignity!

Inside of you, vault upon vault is opening up into eternity.

You will never be ready – and that is as it should be.”

Blinded by my tears I was jostled by the crowd into the sun-drenched piazza

Together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Tanaka and Signora Sabatini

….and within them vaults upon vaults beyond vaults were opening – endlessly.

Blessed Advent,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 12-09-2011

Friends:

“Why do we rush about…..looking for God who is here at home with us, if all we want is to be with God?  Let us fly to our beloved homeland – from the noise that is around us to the joys that are silent and present within.” St. Augustine

Please choose an Ornament from our Giving Tree this Sunday.  Your gifts will support:  our Partnership friends in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua and Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa; or hungry families in need in our County; or homeless families who are staying with Shelter, Inc. in Concord.  Details will be given on Sunday.  The gifts will need to be presented at worship on December 18.

Those who can assist Diana Keller with transportation to worship on Sundays (she lives off of Crow Canyon) are asked to contact our church office.

We will have a Christmas Tree Decorating Party after worship on December 18.  Christmas Carols and festive goodies too.

The Sing-along-Messiah is presented on December 18 at 7:00 pm at the San Ramon Presbyterian Church on Alcosta Blvd.  Tickets are $10.  Go to www.srvmessiah.info for tickets or get them at the door.

Christmas Eve Worship:  Children and Family worship at 5:00 pm;  Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.

Christmas Day Worship:  9:30 am.  Invite family and friends to join you.

Jazz at Peace hosts Anton Schwartz and Inga Swearingen this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  An utterly unique and daring sax and vocalist presentation.  You will be amazed.

Personalized M&Ms with a lovely cat face on them….do you think Annie has enjoyed her birthday?

Advent Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 12-01-2011

Friends:

“A person has no alternative but to respond to the real setting in which one finds oneself, with a result that one’s prayer is necessarily fabricated from the various inner and outward components of one’s life…..prayer grows out of life.  It is not an isolated department of life; prayer is the realization of the God-ward potential inherent in every life.” (Michael Casey)

Our Advent Season was blessed to begin with 4 baptisms this past Sunday.  The faces of the children and their parents were a source of wonder and delight.  How marvelous it was when they were presented with an array of candles.  The music of Paul Scheffert and our Abba/Imma Chi Prayer gave space and grace to the Spirit’s invitation to be, breathe, read scripture, pray and listen during this Advent time of preparation.

The Women and Moms of Peace will meet again next Wednesday, December 7 at 7:00 pm at the home of Julie Gillespie and Judy Oliviera.  The group will continue to reflect on Loved by God….but – Struggling to keep my own Strength. Pr. Margareta will be present to help facilitate the conversation.  Future topics/burning questions can be identified as well.  All the Women of Peace are encouraged to participate.  Judy and Julie’s  address is:  7552 Northland Ave in San Ramon.  This is a great opportunity for “breathing time” into our lives and the season of Advent.  If anyone wants to bring snacks, please let Julie and Judy know by Sunday, December the 4th.  Further details will be in the bulletin.

Our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve Celebration at 7:00 pm was a gift to all the participants.  Our thanks to Parisa Lo Bianco and the Danville Baha’i Assembly for hosting this service.  Each of the congregations participating had a Youth Representative and Allison Winter represented Peace well!

Please keep in your prayers:  Kersti Malvre, Diana Keller, Marlene Garrity , Nancy Carlston, Lois McGee and Martha Mantei , Fidel Taylor, the newly baptized, Seminarian Brenda Bos and her Committee, Chaplain Dwane Michael, and our Advent Season that we may have times of stillness as we ‘wait for the Lord’ in prayer, quiet, scripture reflection and meditation.

Meditation time is available for you on Thursdays from 5:45 – 6:30 pm.  It includes sitting and walking meditation.  Beginners are welcomed and instruction is always available.

Blessings, Pr. Steve