Good News, 03.29.12

Friends:

“To live in this time is to live in God’s time for in Christ all things hold together; to have confidence  at all times that this is God’s world, that the One who is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and completion of time – is making all things new….this is what God wants us to know.” (Paul Harms)

This is Palm/Passion Sunday and our Holy Week or Still Week celebrations begin.  It is a time of profound mystery for the Christian Community as we ponder the healing of our lives, times and cosmos.  All is being made new through the unconditional love of the Cross.  We can’t comprehend it but we can absorb the grace.  We can practice the reconciling love which breathes peace wherever brokenness, grief and injustice are found.  Participate in as many of these services as is possible for you.  Each one will enrich you in ways unimaginable.

Triduum

April 5:  Maundy Thursday/Seder at 6:30 pm.  This is the culmination of our Exodus Lenten Series.  A joyful ritual Passover Meal at which Jesus instituted the Eucharist.

April 6:  Good Friday – a contemplative service beginning at 7:00 pm

April 7:  The Easter Vigil on Saturday evening at 7:30 pm presents every aspect of the High Feast from solemnity to hilarity.  Choose to make this a central part of your Resurrection Celebration!

April 8:  Easter Day Worship is at 9:30 am.  Celebrate with music, choir and festive spirit.  The Egg Hunt will follow worship.

Be sure to return your Easter Eggs for the children this Sunday!  They can be filled with candy or little surprises.  Please make sure they sealed and closed with tape!

Our thanks to the Healing Prayer and Art and Spirituality Committees for their creative design of our Healing Prayer Service this past Sunday.   How gracefully and persistently the Gospel insists on Planting Seeds of Hope within us that we might be changed into the fullness of Love who reconciles and makes whole the broken shards of our hearts, relationships and injustice.   After grandchild Aden Collins had planted his seed of hope he gleefully cried out,  “I did it!” That’s all our God wants to hear from us, the joyful cry – I did it, I became human, I changed – I became real! Watch the planters in the sanctuary for signs of growth and transformation these next Sundays

APRIL FOOLS MADS-NESS: A Celebration of Jazz Violin with the Mads Tolling Quartet happens Sunday April 1st @ 5pm….2 Sets with a Tasty Reception.  $20/person. Our Special Guest and Emcee  is Clifford Brown, Jr. of KCSM-FM 91.1.  Mads  (who just played a concert for the Danish Prince and Princess) is a Two Time Grammy Award winner.   This is a rare treat.  Thanks to the Jazz at Peace team for their efforts to bring great culture and art to our Valley!

Keep in your prayers:  Jack Larson recovering from burns, Micki and Sarah, Joe, Joseph, those in mourning,  the people of Syria – especially the children who have been tortured; political prisoners, the abandoned and lonely, immigrants and refugees, our seminarians, the unemployed.

Holy Week PrayerJust before your Final Week begins – everything collides together:  The glib attitudes of life on the surface and the moment of sublime submission.

You are afraid, anxious, wary of betrayal, despair and anguish.  Here is held everything human and all human beings.  Here are you and me.

It is when you have been tested that you know who you are; You know it, Lord, not me….because it hasn’t fully happened yet for me.

Lord, we would like to follow you all the way, all the way to the Cross.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.23.12

Friends:

“Every request I make of God is a message telling of my neediness, of my trust in God, of my willing dependence and openness to receive.  Prayer is the moment in life where we need not fear to express ourselves in all our emptiness and imperfection.  God already know; it is we who need to be informed.” (Michael Casey, Towards God)

This Sunday will be a Healing Prayer Sunday for us once again.  It is good to be in God’s presence, resting like seeds in the soil for the impetus of new life.

The Big Blow Concert was simply amazing.  The SF Gay and Lesbian Band was so skillful.  They loved performing at Peace.  We had a wonderful turnout of Peace members and folks from many different circles in the larger community.  The music lifted our hearts and as I told some friends, “Even the building seemed to be dancing!”  Thank God for days of pure joy.

Our last Exodus Soup and Sacrament gathering will be next Wednesday.  Our thanks to Dr. Phil Stanley for his thoughtful and impressive presentations.

The Earth/Faith/Food program has received a $7,500 Grant to organize an Interfaith Community Project among the I-SRV Congregations.  Details will be coming to you soon.

April Fools Mads-ness:  On Sunday, April 1 the Jazz Church West presents jazz violinist Mads Tolling.  A wonderfully gifted artist (who has recently returned from performing for the Prince and Princess of Denmark) – who you will enjoy to no end.  This special addition to our jazz season is in honor of JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) which occurs every April.  The tickets are $20/person.  There will be two sets and a fine reception.

Holy Week begins with our  Palm/Passion Sunday Service on April 1 at 9:30. We will begin in the Courtyard.

The Triduum is the name for the final days of Holy Week by which we enter into the Pascal Mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.

April 5 is our Seder at 6:30 pm.  This is a true culmination of our Exodus Soup and Sacrament Series.  Please sign up on Sunday or notify the office.

April 6 is Good Friday with a contemplative service happening at 7:00 pm

April 7  is our Easter Vigil at 7:30 pm – I would like to make a Special Request for the participation of as many of you as possible.  A service rich in every regard. It will transform your delight, understanding and appreciation of Easter.

April 8  – Celebrate Easter at 9:30 am.  The phenomenal Egg Hunt will follow!

“Prayer requires perseverance, because there is an aspect of Purpose that is asleep and must be awakened by knocking and demanding.  When a person perseveres, the Giver of Life always give in abundance!”

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.16.2012

Friends:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton

Seminarian Brenda Bos will preach this Sunday.  Our worship will be abbreviated so the Korean Church can begin worship at 11 am and the preparations for our afternoon concert can begin at 1 pm.

This  Sunday – March 18 the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band (55 members!) will be performing The Big Blow – a free concert at Peace at 4:00 pm.  The Band has a beautiful musical program prepared.  They will perform from within the Gathering Hall and the audience will be in the sanctuary. You heard the incredible Finale Chord Gary played last Sunday.  Imagine what the organ and full band will sound like.  Please invite your friends to share in this joyful celebration of life!

The final session of Understanding Baha’i also occurs this Sunday evening.   This has been a very valuable series.  It is this kind of dialogue upon which our world depends!  We received both the historical context and a sense of the faith and practice of the Baha’i community.  They have experienced persecutions and are glad for the companionship of spiritual friends at Peace.  Sometimes the affirmation of others is so simple as in,  “I see you.” Join us this Sunday evening (after the concert?) at 6:00 pm in the Art Room.

Our Lenten Exodus/Soup and Sacrament Series with Dr. Phil Stanley continues to be a profound learning experience.  “The one thing we learn from history is we don’t learn from history!” It is such a relaxing evening to share a simple meal, explore new insights and digest the questions of our faith with friends.  Feel free to join in – there’s always room for you.  Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

Check out the series of photos of our evolving Transfiguration Mask Man/Pacem Totem on our website!

Congratulations to Fidel Taylor on his graduation from college!  May he and his wife Heidi continue to be surrounded by the Spirit’s strength, wisdom and grace.

Our Adult Education hour was a powerful discussion on the Theology of the Cross versus the Theology of Glory.  The group will be reading a book by Gerhard Forde on this topic and continuing the discussion in the Easter Season.  All members of Peace are invited to join in.

GODSPELL, THE MUSICAL (A production of Las Positas College, Livermore):

Some stories never get old, and deserve to be retold.  This is a fresh interpretation of Matthew’s gospel, with music, dance and theatrical traditions set amidst the world of Occupy Wall Street. One of the biggest Broadway successes of all time, with lyrics and music from the creator of Wicked, Stephen Schwartz. A ground-breaking and unique reflection on the life and parables of a radical pacifist named Jesus, including themes of kindness, tolerance, social justice and love, set to a “rockin’ fun” musical score.

Performances March 23 and 24 (8:00 p.m.) and March 25 (2:00 p.m.), and March 30 and 31 (8:00 p.m.) and April 1 (2:00 p.m.).

We hope to gather groups from Peace to attend either the March 25 and April 1 matinee performances….and Abigail Vass (Pastor Elizabeth’s daughter) is in the cast.

Sing-along with the Broadway Chorus at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton on March 30 and 31 at 8:00 pm or Sunday Matinee April 1 at 2:00 pm.  Hear our own Chorus Member Martha Mantei sing.   Martha reported that the rehearsal of the 110 members of the Chorus this last Saturday was a delight for the entire Chorus.  They were fascinated by the beauty of Peace and potential future opportunities!

This year I invite you to participate in the Easter Vigil Service on Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm.  This ancient service has been considered the highpoint of the Easter Season/Triduum and Easter Day the culmination of the Paschal Mystery.  Try it – make it part of your Holy Week rhythm….it will move you in surprising and new ways.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.06.12

Friends:

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that growth is made by passing through some stages of instability –

And that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you – your ideas mature gradually….let them grow,

Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)

Will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that God’s hand is leading you,

And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ)

What a marvelous Crab Feed – a delicious evening:  tasty, relaxing and renewing…plus a good fundraiser for Peace.  Our special thanks to Julie and (Deacon)Robert for their organizing and coordinating, to Elana and Bill, Michael and Christy, Annika and Brielle, Edith and Charlene, and Susanna and Anita!

We had a great beginning of our Lenten Exodus/Soup and Sacrament Series with Dr. Phil Stanley.  It is so good to share a simple meal, learn new insights and digest the questions of our faith with friends.  20 people came last week – please join in, there’s room for you too!  The evening is from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

Understanding Baha’i had a delightful launching on Sunday evening with Dr. Diane Hill.   Over 30 people attended.  We received both the historical context and a sense of the spirit of the Baha’i faith.  They too have experienced persecutions and are glad for the companionship of spiritual friends.  Thanks to (Deacon) Gil Jardine for initiating and coordinating this event.  Join us this Sunday evening at 6:00 pm in the Art Room to learn more about the teaching of the Baha’i faith from Chris Palmer.

….After you have attended the Jazz Church West event (you have this Sunday option too) with 86 year old Guitar Icon Eddie Duran and his daughter pianist and vocalist Sharman Duran at 5:00 pm.  They will be accompanied by Percussionist Raul Ramirez who will simply astound you to no end!

For our Adult Education Hour this Sunday Seminarian Brenda Bos will present and lead a discussion on The Theology of the Cross versus the Theology of Glory.  Choose to be a part of this important Lenten dialogue.

It is not too late to join the Easter Choir if you so choose.  Members are meeting after worship on Sundays.

Musical Opportunities Galore:  Sunday, March 18 the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band (55 members!) will be performing The Big Blow – a free concert at Peace at 4:00 pm.  The Band will perform within the Gathering Hall and the audience will be in the sanctuary.  A fantastic music program is prepared for you.  Invite your friends!

Godspell: Our own Abigail Vass performs in this hit production.  Matinee groups/carpools from Peace are being arranged for Sundays March 25 or April 1.  Details are coming.

Sing-along with the Broadway Chorus at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton on March 30 and 31 at 8:00 pm or Sunday Matinee April 1 at 2:00 pm.  Hear our own Chorus Member Martha Mantei sing….and Martha has also arranged for the 110 member Chorus to rehearse at Peace during March.

During these next week’s you are invited to reflect on the theme of Take up your Cross from last Sunday’s Gospel:  What does it mean for you;  what intentions or commitments does it stir; what transformation does it prompt in your life; what act of justice or hope does it prompt as you prayerfully reflect on this pivotal instruction of Jesus?

The Time Change occurs this Sunday – Spring Ahead!

During Lent you are invited to simply come and be underneath the Tent of Revealings in our sanctuary.  Such an ancient and essential practice.  God knows our every need expressed in sighs and groans and stillness.

Lenten Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.02.12

Friends:

“If you want what only the visible world has to offer you are an employee of life.  If you want only the invisible, spiritual world you will live in delusions.  But you will be forgiven for forgetting that what you really want is Love’s Confusing Joy!” (Rumi)

Creativity as worship – inviting the soul to pray with colors, images, symbols, textures and vibrations .  What a rich immersion we have been experiencing through the gifts and leadership of Kaleo and Elise Ching and Bill Carmel.  The celebration of Margo’s Baptism is now washed and imprinted within the Mask Man through the participation of Susanna and Raddi, godparents and so many more in the Peace Community.  What a marvelous means for exploring and expressing our faith!

Our favorite annual Crab Feed on Saturday, March 3 at 5:00 pm happens this Saturday!   An exquisite feast is being prepared.  All we need is you and your friends!!  Silent Auction items would still be welcomed….they don’t have to be rare or priceless.   Please spread the word – this is such a tasty tradition at Peace.  Forward the flier to your friends.

The Class on Baha’i and Christian Dialogue begins this Sunday, March 4 at 6:00 pm.  It will continue on March 11 and March 18.  The Baha’i Community is investing a great deal of research and energy in preparation for this series.  We have prayerfully supported the Baha’i Leaders imprisoned in Iran for several years.  Now we begin to learn that the genocide of half a million Baha’is in Iran is considered possible in the tensions of these times.  Your participation and encouragement of others is requested.   Make this part of your Lenten Journey.  Mutual understanding is no longer optional on our planet!   “Lord, when did we see you in need…….”

Lenten Soup and Sacrament SeriesExodus with Dr. Phil Stanley – begins on Wednesday (Leap Year Day) and continues on the Wednesdays of March… 6:30 – 8:00 pm.  This will be fascinating, enlightening and joyful.  Many of you remember the previous Lenten Series that Phil led – this too can be a Lenten Gift to yourself.  Commuters arrive whenever you can….we promise to feed your body, mind and soul.

Encourage members to join our Easter Choir which will meet after worship in the sanctuary during the Sundays of Lent.  Did you know Music and Chant are the only ways to massage your internal organs plus their health benefits (physically, psychologically and spiritually) are being documented through current scientific studies.  “Those who sing pray twice”…Martin Luther.

Abigail Felts is appearing in a production of Godspell on the last 2 weekends of March.  Please sign up this Sunday if you would like to attend with a group from Peace.  We will make carpool arrangements.

The San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band will perform on March 18 at 4:00 pm at Peace.  It is a free concert.  Please invite your friends to join you for this happy occasion.  The music will be outstanding and both our pianos and the organ will be incorporated too!

Several people expressed their joy at seeing our Tent of Revealings return to the sanctuary for our Lenten Season.  The inspiration for it came from the story of the Hebrew slaves who kept the Ark of the Covenant within this Tent during their 40 years in the desert.  It was always placed within the center of all the 12 Tribes tent encampment.  Do come on Sundays or any day of the week you wish to sit underneath this canopy to simply be, pray and breathe with your God.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve