Good News 10.25.2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

            Five years from now, on October 31, 2017, we will be celebrating the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation!  If we lived in Germany, we would already be participating in different festivities because Europe has declared 2008 to 2017 as the “Luther Decade.”

            At Peace Lutheran this Sunday, we will be remembering the Reformation in our worship through our prayers, hymns and stories.  In fact, we will be privileged to hear stories from our three South African Delegation members – stories that allow us to peek into the mysterious ways God transformed them through the experience of meeting with people from Lwamondo Parish.  What a gift we shall have!

            At its heart, the Reformation is about liberation… freedom… truth…  In fact, the message of the pericopes (set of scriptures) we will be reading is:  “Live free only in Christ.”  It’s a powerful message!  Yet, I often wonder whether we can “see” the freedom offered through Christ if we cannot see the many ways in which we are enslaved – enslaved to doing our duty… to ever increasing job demands, rising cost of tuition, time and money for elder care…enslaved to our anger, our compulsion to take care of others, envy, perfectionism, and more. 

Through his early experiences, Martin Luther realized he was not free.  In fact, his experience of his own sinfulness drove him to spend six hours at a time in the confessional, until his spiritual confessor told him to go get a good night’s sleep.  But, the real break-through for him came in the midst of his trials with the pope, his accusers and his personal demons.  For years he had been trying to do enough penance to earn God’s approval.  Finally, though a study of the New Testament text from the Greek, he realized that the original Greek words reveal that we are “set right” before God because of God’s goodness, not anything we do, ourselves.  In other words, “We are saved by grace through faith, not our doing, it is a gift from God – not by works so no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8)

Martin Luther clearly saw the problems… the sinfulness… the hopelessness of Medieval theology.  AND… he clearly saw the source of hope – that we are set free by God’s grace!  In other words, the more we are captured by the love of God through our relationship with Christ Jesus, the more we are set free.  So, there is “re-formation” continuously happening in our hearts and in our world!

Thanks be to God!

            Pastor Mary Ann

A special visitor this Sunday–Morgan Bach, who just returned from a year in Palestine, will be speaking about her experience there.  She is the  grand-daughter of our Sanctuary designer, Richard Caemmerer,  who taught at Valparaiso University and later founded Grunewald Guild.  Here’s Morgan’s bio:
Morgan Bach, 25, from Seattle, Washington is giving a presentation on her experience traveling in Palestine and Israel this last year. She spent eight months living in the Palestinian village of Al Aqaba, and coordinating visitors and volunteers from all over the world to visit the village, most of which is under threat of demolition. Morgan’s speaking tour aims to raise awareness about the inequalities faced by Palestinian Muslims and Christians under Israeli occupation, and the inspiring work being done by people of all faiths to restore dignity and trust in the Holy Land.  Morgan is associated with the Lutheran retreat centers of Holden Village and the Grunewald Guild in Washington State. In Jerusalem, she was a member of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, and was involved with, and inspired by the work of the international and local Lutheran churches in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah.  
Please welcome Morgan to Peace this Sunday and join her in the Gathering Hall  for her talk after Worship!

 From Council President, Pat Leong

With the most recent rains and the chilly weather at night, I am finally feeling that fall is here.  Time goes so quickly; Pastor Mary Ann has already been with us for over a month.  I feel so grateful for how much she truly cares for our congregation.  The theme for this fall is “Blessed to be a Blessing” and we are blessed in so many ways.  It is such a privilege to work with our church members who bless Peace with their resources and efforts, resulting in a very successful Pet Festival and a delegation to visit our dear Partnership friends in South Africa. I am looking forward to a wonderful season of Jazz at Peace.  As we look forward to the holiday season, let us each ask ourselves how we can continue to share our many blessings with those near and far.

All-Nite Soul this Sunday at Peace, 5 pm-7:30 pm.  THIS YEAR  ALL NITE SOUL @ JAZZ CHURCH WEST HONORS the Fred Randolph Quintet.  This superlatively talented group of musicians will serve up a mix of their latest compositions. A solid night of jazz!
PLUS! As all of the quintet members are also teachers., joining them on the bandstand will be a few of their best students. Come hear the future of jazz as it passed on by the best player/teachers of now in the magic spirit of the jazz jam. Fun for all!  Click here to see the complete Fall schedule for Jazz @ Peace.

Greg Grebe sends a big thank you to all of the people who helped with the Pet Festival/Blessing of the Animals this year, especially:  Everett Sylwanowicz, Tim Griesbach, Charlene McPherson, Pam and Chuck Fisher, Arlene Reed, Ro LoBianco, Bill Carmel, Audrey Hohertz-Serpan, Allison Winter, Pr. Margareta, Pr. Mary Ann, Elise Ching, Pat Leong, Maili Malvre, Gary Sponholtz, and John and Mary Ellen Nowel.  The Bluegrass music provided by Gary,  John and Mary Ellen during the event was a great addition!  The Pet Festival was a huge success in every way, blessings for the animals, pet adoptions, food and fun.

Another cat adoption opportunity–Dabbie Bowron forwards an email from a friend who must give up her sweet 13 yr old cat and move to Southern California.  Details are on the kiosk or call the Office.

A belated thank you  to Jeanie Locklear and Dabbie Bowron who managed the Office while Libby Flynn went to South Africa with Elizabeth Hunter Ashley, Jack O’Neil and Pr Steve  as our 2012 Delegation to Lwamondo Parish in Limpopo Province.    Only a couple of questions came up and they could be answered byinternational text messages!

Healing Prayer Sunday last week was so special with  prayers in each group and Pr. Mary Ann’s stories about how the mother eagle nudges her fledglings out of the nest and over the edge of a cliff when they’re old enough to be on their own, but scoops them up if they don’t start flying.  A propos to how God works with us!

October/November Calendar

  • Weekly (Tues)  Yoga Level One in the Gathering Hall at 9:15 am
  • Weekly (Thurs) Chair  Yoga in the Gathering Hall at 4:45 pm
  • Oct 28Reformation Sunday (remember to wear red); stay tuned for some great stories from our Delegation to South Africa ;                
    Jazz Church West presents All- Nite Soul–The Fred Randolph Quintet–joined by his students  5-7:30 pm
  • Nov 4  All Saints Day Sunday Service; Council Retreat  noon-3 pm
  • Nov 11Bread for the World Sunday Service; Jazz Church West presents Glenn Pearson with Clifford Brown III.
  • Nov 18Consecration/Stewardship Sunday Service
  • Nov 21–Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim 
  • Nov 22–Thanksgiving Day (no service)
  • Nov 25–Christ the King Sunday Service

Good News 10.18.2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

            Last Sunday, our seminarian, John Brett began an adult discussion group using the book, Baptized We Live, by Dan Erlander.  In that class, we are asking:  What IS baptism?  And, what does it mean to live out our baptism?  

            A true story:  After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was discussing reconstruction of our country with members of his cabinet.  Thaddeus Stevens banged his fist on the table and said, “Mr. President, I think enemies are to be destroyed!”  Mr. Lincoln responded quietly, “Do I not destroy my enemy when I make him my friend?

What a novel idea!  …a nonviolent way to exterminate enemies!  The hitch is, of course, that it does not change my enemy but requires me to change – thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perhaps my entire world view?  Often that requires soul-searching honesty and tremendous inner struggle.  We call it “wrestling with our own demons.”

Right after his baptism…right after he heard the words, “You are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and enduring temptations from the devil.  Similarly, each time we remember our baptism…each time we hear the words, ‘You are my beloved son (daughter) with whom I am well pleased,” we are called to journey into the desert of our own souls to look for obstacles that are preventing us from growing closer to God.  For example:  Perhaps we constantly compare ourselves to others and believe our value is established by some outside factor?  Or, perhaps we constantly engage in negative self-talk so that we are always saying, “Oh, I can’t do that!”  Or, maybe we find ourselves putting others down so we can feel better… stronger… smarter?  Those are only a few of the ways we could confront inner issues.  There are many more!  However, the point is – – constant struggle and repentance is what it means to live out our baptism.  The Good News?  It is God’s abundant and overflowing love for each of us that calls us into more health and wholeness.

Remembering our baptism…. Living out our baptism is a constant dying and rebirth so that we might bear more fruit for Christ.  Or, as Saint Paul said (Gal 2:20), I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.  Paul means that death to self is living in Christ with the freedom to be compassionate… to love… to give joyfully in service to one another.

All are welcome to join our discussion group on baptism.  Struggles and repenting… dying and rising… are CENTRAL to what is means to be a Christian!

Blessings,  Pastor Mary Ann

From Education Deacon, Linda Benatar

     John Brett began his series for Adult Education on Sunday, October 14th.  Eight attended and enjoyed his first session of “Baptized We Live”. [Booklets are available in the Office.]  We met from approximately 11:15 to 12.  John will continue this series on Sunday, October 28th and conclude it with the third session on November 4th.  Even if you missed the first session, it’s not too late to join us for the remaining ones.

     Our new Sunday School program seems to be running smoothly.  A special “Thank You” to the teachers.  We could use more children, so encourage any you might have in mind to attend. 

     For the spring, or perhaps as Lenten activities, we are looking into having a time for a film on Martin Luther and a recitation of the Gospel of Mark.

     Mark Miller has also offered to do a session on help with investment strategies, especially for retirees.  If you are interested, please let Mark Miller or Linda Benatar know!

     Any topics that you would like to see covered by our education committee, please refer to Linda Benatar, Education Deacon.

Jazz Last Sunday evening was magical with original compositions by Gerry Grosz, who is a master on the vibraphone.  Jazz Kitchen performers,Alto saxist  Larry De La Cruz, Bassist Doug Ebert, and Drummer Rob Hart were also wonderful. Two more Jazz @ Peace events very soon–All Nite Soul on Oct. 28 from 5-7:30 pm with the Fred Randolph Quintet and various talented students—  and Glenn Pearson, with Clifford Brown III on Nov. 11.  We will need volunteers to help with All-Nite Soul since Pr Margareta and Jan Johansson will be away on vacation.

Martha Mantei invites us to attend the Broadway Chorus production of Saints and Sinners at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton on Nov. 9-11.  Friday & Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.  Call 925-462-2121 to purchase tickets.

Monthly outreach –A small group accompanied by Laura Barrera, a longtime friend of Peace, sang at the Danville Rehabilitation Center after worship last Sunday.  Call Charlene at 820-5167 if you would like to join the group in November.

Bill Carmel’s sculptures and paintings are on exhibit at the Orinda Library Gallery until Oct. 31.  This is an amazing and diverse collection of works commissioned over the years.  Well worth a trip to Orinda–just 5 minutes off Highway 24–at 26 Orinda Way!

October/November Calendar

  • Weekly (Tues)  Yoga Level One in the Gathering Hall at 9:15 am
  • Weekly (Thurs) Chair  Yoga in the Gathering Hall at 4:45 pm
  •  Oct 21–Healing Prayer Sunday
  • Oct 28Reformation Sunday (remember to wear red); stay tuned for some great stories from our Delegation to South Africa ;                
    Jazz Church West presents All- Nite Soul–The Fred Randolph Quintet–joined by his students  5-7:30 pm
  • Nov 4  All Saints Day Sunday Service; Council Retreat  noon-3 pm
  • Nov 11Bread for the World Sunday Service; Jazz Church West presents Glenn Pearson with Clifford Brown III.
  • Nov 18Consecration/Stewardship Sunday Service
  • Nov 21–Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim 
  • Nov 22–Thanksgiving Day (no service)
  • Nov 25–Christ the King Sunday Service

 

Keep in your prayers Ed, Micki, Howard and Lynne, Pam, all those looking for work, and upcoming elections in the US and South Africa.

Blessings to all!

Good News 10.10.12

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,                  

            Do you remember sitting in science classes and discussing which of the natural forces on earth is the strongest?  Is it gravity?   magnetic?  electromagnetic?   molecular bonding?  or nuclear binding?  It is a puzzle!  How about “none of the above”?  Christians have a different answer–It is: God’s unconditional love, called GRACE– the power that persuades the human heart to surrender!

            Many years ago on television, I saw a show about human-looking aliens that came to earth intending to kidnap human specimens to take back to their planet.  By the end of the show though, all of the aliens had fallen “in love” with earthlings.  They were “stuck” on their lovers and could not return to their planet.  All of their technology for intergalactic space travel could not compete with the power of love to capture another human being.  (It was a fun and memorable show!)

            As Christians, we believe that all love comes from God.  Because we are made in the image of God, we are able to reveal the vitality of God’s love to one another through the things we say and do.  And then, when we gather together as a community in Christ and ALL of us are energized by loving compassion for others and a passion for our neighborhood, God has an extraordinarily powerful “magnet” to attract others! 

            I saw a powerful magnet in action last Sunday afternoon as people brought dogs, cats and other beloved critters to be blessed.  Friends from the community and from near-by homes came to Peace and found friendly people, displays, adoptable pets, food, music and a silent auction.  But they were drawn here by the desire to have their pets blessed by someone who would invoke God’s name on behalf of their beloved “Jake” in a prayer for long life and health and happiness.  They may not have known much about faith or God or Christ but they wanted the blessing!  In addition, three different families asked me about attending worship at Peace. 

            Through the “Blessing of the Animals,” Peace Lutheran was a beacon for Christ’s love–a magnet for those who hunger and thirst for the food that Jesus gives!  Isn’t that what being Church is all about?  Isn’t it about being a community of lovers-in-Christ who eagerly invite others to know the One who heals wounded persons, binds up broken hearts and unites fractured neighborhoods? 

             I want to thank everyone who participated in last Sunday’s event!  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!  In fact, I felt privileged to be there and to participate in offering Christ’s loving hospitality to others!

            Pastor Mary Ann

Peace Sunday Service Calendar for October and November: 

October 21          Healing Prayer Sunday Service
October 28          Reformation Sunday (wear red)  Stay tuned for some great Delegation stories
November 4        All Saints Day Sunday Service
November 11      Bread for the World Sunday Service
November 18      Consecration/Stewardship Sunday Service
November 21      Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim
November 22      Thanksgiving Day (no service)
November 25      Christ the King Sunday Service

Good News 10.3.12

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

            Sometimes I hear interesting questions like: Why go to church if it’s the same every Sunday?  Why confess our sins if it feels like a “downer”?  Why spend time serving others if it takes time away from “my” pleasure?  Why listen to a Bible that is 2000 years old if I can “make my own way”?  Honest questions – definitely worth pondering!  Perhaps the following story might begin to shed some light…

            A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.  “I’ve gone for thirty years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like three thousand sermons.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them.  So, I think I’m wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting their time by giving sermons at all.”

            This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column, much to the delight of the editor.  It went on for weeks until someone shared the following thoughts.

            “I’ve been married for thirty years now.  In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals.  But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals.  They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.  If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead.  Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today.” 

            Worship, like many other events in our lives, often works quietly within us to strengthen us and build spiritual muscle.  The fact is, human beings are always worshipping something.  If we are not worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are worshipping the “gods” of culture (wealth, prestige, power, position, etc.) otherwise described as a religion of “me-ism” – my wealth, my pleasure, my status and so forth.  In reality, most Christians worship a combination of the two.  If we live in this ambivalent state, we do not know who we worship and we are like “salt that has lost its saltiness” (Mt 5:13).  In other words, we lack spiritual depth or “roots.”

            One way to gauge whether we have grown sufficiently deep “spiritual roots” is to ask how we would handle different situations.  For example, would we have the inner strength and courage to stand up in the midst of apartheid or the Nazi holocaust and say, “This is wrong!”?  Could we stand up to a boss who wants us to “adjust the financial statements?   Are we able to exhibit the gifts of the spirit consistently in our relationships – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  If another kid were being teased mercilessly at school, could we stand with her?  Can we tell the truth?

          So, how do we grow into “spiritual redwoods”?  How do we become so devoted to our Lord Jesus that the gods of culture and the temptations of the world, have minimal effect on our behavior?  The answer is worship.  Worship, Sunday School and Bible Study inform and reform us every time we enter the experience.  Jesus, in speaking to Satan, reminded him that we are commanded by God to “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Mt 4:10).”

            God’s gift to each and every one of us is a quiet working of the Holy Spirit, nourishing and strengthening our minds and hearts with God’s life-giving Word…  opening us up to the joy of life in Christ.  It is the gift of life!

            Blessings, Pastor Mary Ann

A message from Cindy Townsend

        May of 1990 was the beginning of an exciting journey for Peace when six of us joined Pastor Steve on our first delegation to develop a partnership with a rural community in Nicaragua.  We visited the municipality of San Francisco Libre which is composed of 32 villages and is located a few hours drive from Managua.  We returned home transformed with a greater awareness of the deep interconnectedness of all of God’s children and with a better understanding of the injustices that create desperation and violence in our world. 

        In 1992 we realized we needed a more intimate relationship than one provided by the municipality of 32 villages and thus we partnered with Laurel Galan, one of the very poor villages in the municipality.  We have had many delegations to Laurel Galan plus two delegations from Nicaragua to Peace Lutheran.  With each experience our heart connections, faith in God, and global consciousness have deepened.  This relationship built on solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the South have taught us so much – humility, hospitality, generosity, and a deepened faith and reliance on God’s Light and Love.  Give yourself a precious and irreplaceable gift by joining a delegation in 2013.  Contact Arlene Reed for more information.

Announcements

October 1 through October 31, The Orinda Art Gallery is presenting the Sculpture and Paintings by Bill Carmel.  Please join us for the Opening Reception on Saturday October 6, 3:30 to 5:30PM.  26 Orinda Way, Orinda, California (adjacent to the Orinda Library).

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

            Sometimes I hear interesting questions like: Why go to church if it’s the same every Sunday?  Why confess our sins if it feels like a “downer”?  Why spend time serving others if it takes time away from “my” pleasure?  Why listen to a Bible that is 2000 years old if I can “make my own way”?  Honest questions – definitely worth pondering!  Perhaps the following story might begin to shed some light…

            A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.  “I’ve gone for thirty years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like three thousand sermons.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them.  So, I think I’m wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting their time by giving sermons at all.”

            This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column, much to the delight of the editor.  It went on for weeks until someone shared the following thoughts.

            “I’ve been married for thirty years now.  In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals.  But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals.  They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.  If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead.  Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today.” 

            Worship, like many other events in our lives, often works quietly within us to strengthen us and build spiritual muscle.  The fact is, human beings are always worshipping something.  If we are not worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are worshipping the “gods” of culture (wealth, prestige, power, position, etc.) otherwise described as a religion of “me-ism” – my wealth, my pleasure, my status and so forth.  In reality, most Christians worship a combination of the two.  If we live in this ambivalent state, we do not know who we worship and we are like “salt that has lost its saltiness” (Mt 5:13).  In other words, we lack spiritual depth or “roots.”

            One way to gauge whether we have grown sufficiently deep “spiritual roots” is to ask how we would handle different situations.  For example, would we have the inner strength and courage to stand up in the midst of apartheid or the Nazi holocaust and say, “This is wrong!”?  Could we stand up to a boss who wants us to “adjust the financial statements?   Are we able to exhibit the gifts of the spirit consistently in our relationships – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  If another kid were being teased mercilessly at school, could we stand with her?  Can we tell the truth?

So, how do we grow into “spiritual redwoods”?  How do we become so devoted to our Lord Jesus that the gods of culture and the temptations of the world, have minimal effect on our behavior?  The answer is worship.  Worship, Sunday School and Bible Study inform and reform us every time we enter the experience.  Jesus, in speaking to Satan, reminded him that we are commanded by God to “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Mt 4:10).”

            God’s gift to each and every one of us is a quiet working of the Holy Spirit, nourishing and strengthening our minds and hearts with God’s life-giving Word…  opening us up to the joy of life in Christ.  It is the gift of life!

            Blessings, Pastor Mary Ann

A message from Cindy Townsend

May of 1990 was the beginning of an exciting journey for Peace when six of us joined Pastor Steve on our first delegation to develop a partnership with a rural community in Nicaragua.  We visited the municipality of San Francisco Libre which is composed of 32 villages and is located a few hours drive from Managua.  We returned home transformed with a greater awareness of the deep interconnectedness of all of God’s children and with a better understanding of the injustices that create desperation and violence in our world. 

In 1992 we realized we needed a more intimate relationship than one provided by the municipality of 32 villages and thus we partnered with Laurel Galan, one of the very poor villages in the municipality.  We have had many delegations to Laurel Galan plus two delegations from Nicaragua to Peace Lutheran.  With each experience our heart connections, faith in God, and global consciousness have deepened.  This relationship built on solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the South have taught us so much – humility, hospitality, generosity, and a deepened faith and reliance on God’s Light and Love.  Give yourself a precious and irreplaceable gift by joining a delegation in 2013.  Contact Arlene Reed for more information.

Announcements

October 1 through October 31, The Orinda Art Gallery is presenting the Sculpture and Paintings by Bill Carmel.  Please join us for the Opening Reception on Saturday October 6, 3:30 to 5:30PM.  26 Orinda Way, Orinda, California (adjacent to the Orinda Library).