Good News, January 26, 2012

Friends:

Integrating Healing into a ParishI believe that grace’s empowerment is present in all true healings, in deliverance of all kinds, and in any movement toward wholeness and love and freedom, however great or small.  It is present in physical and psychological healing, in social and political reconciliation, in cultural and scientific breakthrough, in spiritual deliverance from evil, in religious repentance and conversion, and in the ongoing process of spiritual growth.  It is present where love really grows.  In every situation, grace enables us to make necessary initial changes and to continue, over time, to nurture those changes in creative, constructive ways. (Gerald May, MD)

This Sunday will be our next Healing Prayer Sunday.  The Healing Prayer Team has participated in creating this liturgy and I trust you will find it very comforting and meaningful.

February 5 will be a Partnership Celebration Sunday.  Our Partners in Lwamondo Parish, South Africa and in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua will share prayers and blessings with us on that day too.  A truly Global Church affirmation!  Members of Vukani Mawethu Choir will provide the music for that day.  They are a joy you won’t want to miss.

Small and Tall Worship – our next Family Service especially designed for the children – will happen on Sunday, February 12.

Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be held on February 5 after worship in the Sanctuary.  Your participation is desired.

What blessings have come through the Bible 365 experience.  It was great to see all the class members gathered around the altar last Sunday.  Our thanks to Pr. Elizabeth for her initiation and leadership of this class.  The class stirred endless questions and new perspectives.  It also confirms why the faith is not anti-intellectual or “blind” but a probing exploration or exposure of what it means to be human.  Continue to ask the probing questions and expect surprising insights.  Thanks to Pr. Elizabeth for all the gifts and challenges Bible 365 offered!

Fifty years ago Bob Dylan began singing in Greenwich Village and Peter Benenson, a British lawyer, founded Amnesty International – an organization dedicated to identifying and freeing political prisoners who are imprisoned for speaking their conscience.  Aren’t you glad both opened their mouths, minds and hearts!   Please keep all political prisoners in your prayers.  Join Amnesty if you wish.

The link for our Abba/Imma Chi prayer can be found at:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE59xtyGds8

Keep praying and practicing!

Time for some humor from Dana Squire:

One Sunday morning a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church to which he replied, “I’m not going.”
“Why not?” she asked.  I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said.

1), They don’t like me, and 2) I don’t like them.”
His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why you SHOULD go to church:
1) You’re 39 years old and 2)  . . . . . .  you’re the pastor!”

The Picnic:

A Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest met at the town’s annual 4th of July picnic.  Old friends, they began their usual banter.
“This baked ham is really delicious,” the priest teased the rabbi. “You really ought to try it. I know it’s against your religion, but I can’t understand why such a wonderful food should be forbidden! You don’t know what you’re missing. You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried Mrs. Hall’s prized Virginia Baked Ham. Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try it?”
The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin, and said, “At your wedding.”

Good News, January 19, 2012

Friends:

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”  (Martin Luther King)

Bible 365 concludes this Sunday and Pr. Elizabeth will be our preacher.  Her homily theme will be:  “Why I am still a devout Christian after being thoroughly deconstructed theologically and having every last shred of magical thinking wrenched from my hands by Bible instructors like….Pr. Elizabeth.” It will be a kind of Love Letter – and a joyful opportunity for people of faith who think, care, question and commit.

From our Seminarian Brenda Bos:

Tomorrow (1/12) will be the end of the first week of the PLTS cross-cultural immersion in Los Angeles.  17 of us come from PLTS, 2 from other schools in the GTU and 2 from Luther Seminary in Minnesota.  Emily Truby-Weller is also here.   We spent the first 4 days among the people of Holy Trinity Lutheran, a vibrant congregation of African descent.  We enjoyed their spirited worship service which included lots of singing and proclamation.  They have a terrific youth dance troupe and a gospel choir which several of us joined by standing up out of our pews, much to the surprise and delight of the congregation.

We are now living with Spanish-speaking families in working class neighborhoods.  We attend three hours of Spanish class every morning, and will visit various programs of local congregations and social service organizations over the next 10 days.  We are tired, but well cared for and learning so much about the different congregations in Los Angeles.

(1/16)We attended a poetry slam given by the homeless on Thursday night in a theater space downtown Los Angeles.  The poems were intense, full of talent and truth and amazing.  I learned a lot about the witness of those who have a very different life than us, including serious mental illness.  Friday we attended a hip hop church, put on by the youth of several African descent congregations.  It was spirit-filled, including a delightful “Bible Feud” game show, liturgical dance, rap and a sermon in spoken word poetry by a 15 year old which was breathtaking.  God moves in the ways each community needs.

Seminarian John Brett will begin working with us in February when Brenda returns to us as well.

Katherine Beeler reports from the Youth Group’s visit to the Open Cathedral – a church for the street people of the Tenderloin in San Francisco sponsored by the Night Ministry (with whom I worked for 10 years):  “It was a good experience for several reasons –  it was a concrete way of seeing both the need and the love that radiate from the Open Cathedral community….someone commented on the way home, ‘I’d never seen anything like that before!’;  it gave the youth a chance to connect as a group outside of church; and it tied in well with conversations about justice and mercy that we’d had earlier in the day.  The focus on ML King during the service at Peace sparked a good discussion about the current racial and economic segregation in the Bay Area and elsewhere- they’re a sharp group!)”

The ANC (African National Congress) celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year.  Did you know we have more black men in prison in the US today than South Africa had in its prisons during the height of apartheid?   What does that mean to us?

Please keep in your prayers:  BJ on the death of her mother, Lisa, Katie, April, Sheila, Diana, those with the flu, and our partners in Nicaragua and South Africa.

When shall the evening gathering of the Women of Peace happen next? If you have suggestions please let me know.

The Art and Spirituality Committee is evolving at Peace.  Here is a comment from Bill Carmel on ‘Spiritual InspirationIt is my opinion that most art comes from a personal spiritual place, something very similar to what Jung called the collective unconscious.  Many artists describe their art experience/process as spiritual, but this is a small part of what interests me.  I want to see art work where the content refers, in a cogent and accessible way, to spiritual ideas.  It is so easy for an artist who makes abstract work to say that he or she had a spiritual experience in the making of it.  While that is fine and valid, I become excited about the piece when it  actually communicates the spiritual ideas to the majority of viewers.  How does one communicate the idea of mystery?  Not so easy.

Our thanks to Lois McGee for delivering our 2nd Gathering of Giving Tree Gifts!

Keep practicing the Abba/Imma Chi Prayer.  30 days of praying/practicing and you will experience a delightful interior shift!

Listen to KCSM (91.1 FM) during the last two weeks of January and you will hear that their Premium Gift for new subscribers is our Jazz at Peace CD! They asked to use it.  We could never afford this kind of promotion throughout the Bay Area.  God is gracious, don’t you think!

Epiphany Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.12.2012

Friends:

Work and play are opposites but leisure is the spirit in which we are invited to live our lives.  The Chinese characters for Leisure are:  Open Space and Sunshine.  The Chinese characters for Busy are:  Heart and Killing.  Leisure is the essential ingredient which gracefully holds the demands and the joys of all our days. (Brother David Stendl-Rast)

Thanks to the Peace Council, Bev and all who could attend the Open House for such a relaxed and spirited day.  Always good to simply be together.

Bible 365 with Pr. Elizabeth concludes on January 22.  Join in these last wonderful classes!  She will be preaching on the 22 too.

The Bahá’í Community of Danville would like to thank the Peace Lutheran Church community for their hospitality, love & support during the Interfaith Thanksgiving services.  We hope that we can continue to work & grow together in the future.  In service to humanity, Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Danville.

Shelter, Inc. would also like to extend their thanks for the 2nd Special Christmas Gifting to homeless families.  Quite a generous response and the families are delighted.

Here is the link for you to use in learning the Abba/Imma Chi Prayer we experienced this last Sunday.  We will soon create a 2nd video that includes the meaning of the series movements.  You are invited to ground yourself and pray/practice this Lord’s Prayer three times each day.  Outdoors in the yard, by the garden, among the trees will add lovely dimensions too.  If you practice this prayer for the next 30 days (through the Epiphany Season to Transfiguration), you will enjoy a shift in attitude and energy.  Our thanks to Elise and Kaleo for creating the prayer and Seminarian Brenda Bos for this video.

Congratulations to Kelly and Alan Krock on the birth of Aden!

Gratitude for your strong response to the Hospitality Sign Up request.   Martha Mantei has agreed to take over the reins from Anita as the  Coordinator.  Many thanks, Anita, for making Hospitality such a tasty and connecting joy on Sunday mornings.

Zen (like the Gospel) describes itself as a mosquito sitting on an Iron Bull… it is utterly insignificant…but if its ‘spiritual bite’ ever gets through – everything changes for the bull!

Blessed Epiphany – pray for wisdom,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.04.2012

Friends:

“God of tender care, you have cradled us in goodness, you have mothered us in wholeness, you have loved us into birth:  All around us we have known you, all creation lives to hold you; in our living and our dying we are bringing you to birth.”   (Bernadette Farrell)

Bev and I and the Council hope you will be able to celebrate an Epiphany Open House at our home this Sunday, January 8 from 1 – 4 pm.   Come and relax, children are welcome and enjoy the good cheer of new friends and old.  Hope to see you then!

Epiphany:  Wise Ones from the East will be joining us this Sunday….don’t miss out!  Special Request: If you have Bells (of any size or sound) please bring them to worship with you for our final Christmas Season Celebration!

Sunday School resumes this Sunday – it’s the best Christmas and New Year’s gift to give our children!   Bible 365 also resumes and the Countdown begins….only 3 more Sundays!  You are free to join the class any one of these Sundays too.  Educate the mind and stability emerges; educate the heart and the spirit soars!

Please keep in your prayers: Diana, Gloria (travelling in Europe), BJ on the death of her mother, Anila, Kelly and Alan who about to give birth, Lisa, Kersti, for our young ones who are searching for themselves, for adults who don’t know who they are, for those living with addictions, for Openness, Giving Hearts, Hope and Wonder!

If you have children’s clothes (any sizes) or adult coats or Christmas toys that you don’t need or want, please bring them to church this Sunday.  Shelter, Inc. received two new homeless families on Christmas Day and we are trying to give them a bit of Christmas spirit and blessings that they really need.  Thank you.

The Women’s Group will meet next Wednesday, January 11 from 10 – Noon at Peace.   The Women of Peace evening group will decide soon when they will meet January.

The Jazz Church West presents the Steve Heckman Quartet this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  Favorite pianist Gerry Grosz will be playing with this group.

And now the 12 Days of Christmas….which lead up to Epiphany – the Celebration of Light!   Where do those crazy song lyrics (leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, the partridge in the pear tree) come from?  What do they have to do with Christmas?  Recently I found out:

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning – known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol was a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

  • The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  • The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  • The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

There is your historical insight for today.

Blessed Epiphany!   Pr. Steve