Good News, 11.28.2012

 

Dear Friends in Christ,                                                

            The season of Advent is upon us!  Yet many do not know what it means.  The word comes from the Latin, “ad” and “veni” meaning, “to come.”  And, with only 25 more days until Christmas, it is no mistake that the word, “Advent” has the same root as “adventure.” Just when we are ready to bolt out the door to gather “things” for Christmas, we hear in church that the season of Advent is about waiting…  watching…  expecting…  preparing to receive the love of Christ into our hearts.  Just when we are frantically decorating the house and making lists of things to do, we hear that the season is really about an inward journey in faith.

            Remember what the prophet Isaiah (9:6+) foretold?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

              And when this child’s rule spreads about the earth Isaiah says (11:6+) that,

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat…they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord….”

             Isn’t it encouraging and inspiring to hear these words of hope for new and peaceful ways of relating to each other when God’s Kingdom rules the earth?  Think of friends and families who would be re-united!  Think of countries that would no longer engage in warfare!  Imagine human hearts that are unafraid, filled with joy, and compassionate toward others. Occasionally we get glimpses of God’s Kingdom breaking in here on earth, like in the true Christmas story that follows. 

            It was a few weeks before Christmas 1917.  The beautiful snowy landscapes of Europe were blackened by World War I.  On one side of the trenches were the Americans; on the other side, the Germans.  The shooting was intense across a narrow strip of no-man’s-land.  A young German soldier attempting to cross that no-man’s-land had been shot and had become entangled in the barbed wire.  His pain was so intense that he continually cried out in anguish.  Between shellings, the Americans could hear him scream.  Then one American soldier could stand it no longer.  He crawled out of the American trenches and made it to the German soldier.  The Americans stopped shooting when they realized what he was doing but the Germans continued for a bit.  Finally a German officer realized what the young American was doing and he ordered his men to cease firing.  Now there was a weird silence across the no-man’s-land.  On his stomach, the American made it to the wounded soldier.  Then he stood up with the German in his arms, walked straight to the German trenches and placed him in the waiting arms of his comrades.  Having done so, he turned and started back to the American trenches.  Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder that spun him around.  There stood a German officer who had won the Iron Cross, the highest German honor for bravery.  He jerked it from his own uniform and placed it on the American who walked back to the American trenches.  When he was safely in the trenches, they resumed the insanity of war!  But what a brief glimpse of God’s Kingdom that story gives us, even now!

            There are wars in our world…. our cities… our families… and our own hearts.  Christ came to bring peace through forgiveness and reconciliation, to show us how to make peace, and to help us find “shalom” in the midst of chaos.

            The Christ Child calls us on a journey of the heart that begins in worship with expectation…  wonder… and awe.  After all, whose heart does not melt at the sight of a baby in a crib? But when we realize it is God’s baby… born as The Savior for you and for me, then our hearts open to worship and adore!

May God’s love for each of us, fulfilled in Christ Jesus, be born anew into our hearts this Christmas season!

                        Ps. Mary Ann 

From our Financial Secretary Pam Lane
Some of you may wonder why someone from Livermore drives to Danville to attend church.  Acceptance of all people is very important to me, so I was looking for a Reconciling In Christ congregation, which is what led me to Peace 10 years ago.  What keeps me coming is the people and the feeling of acceptance and giving that emanates from the place.  Everyone is welcome, accepted, cared for and loved no matter what their circumstances.  That’s what I was I was looking for and found here.  There are so many great things about Peace and on this Thanksgiving week, I’m very thankful for Peace and for all of you.  

Enthusiastic Recommendation– On All Saints Sunday, Pastor Mary Ann spoke about the thin veil between heaven and earth.  As an example, she cited a neurosurgeon’s experience when he was near death from a rare form of bacterial meningitis. Dr. Eben Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon who has taught at the Brigham & Women’s and Children’s Hospitals and Harvard Medical School in Boston.   His recovery is not only a medical miracle, but the story of what occurred during his 7-day coma is even more compelling.  His experience is recorded in his book called Proof of Heaven.  Dabbie Bowron highly recommends this book to everyone.

 The 8th annual SRV-Interfaith Thanksgiving Service took place Wednesday evening last week at Beth Chaim.  14 folks from Peace  sang a rousing rendition of Marching in the Light of God (a South African song) with accompaniment by the pianist from the Congregational Church. Libby, Elizabeth and Jack were dressed in their traditional clothes from Venda, SA and Pr. Mary Ann wore a Venda necklace.  The entire service is very inspiring with a variety of prayerful (and thankful) contributions from faith groups in the San Ramon Valley.  Food was collected for the Food Bank and money was collected for Shelter, inc. We’re happy so many from Peace were able to attend!

Martha Mantei passes along an opportunity to see An Evening with Brian Copeland at the Marsh Theater this Saturday at 5 pm. This performance of the play called “The Waiting Period” will benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide and tickets will sell for $55. Brian Copeland is amazing in this solo performance. For details click here.

We’re invited to Beth Chaim for Chanukah on Friday, December 14th at 6 pm.  Let Pr. Steve know if you can attend.

Gary Sponholtz invites us to attend two events where he is singing:  The SF Gay Men’s Chorus will sing a Santa Concert Thursday Dec. 6th at 8 pm at Davies Symphony Hall ; and, the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band will produce the 2012 Dance-Along Nutcracker on Sat Dec. 8 and Sun. Dec. 9 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  More details in the Gathering Hall.

Make plans now to bring family and friends to our Special Holiday Jazz@Peace Sunday December 23 at 5 pm with Taylor Eigsti on piano with Greg Johnson on bass.  This will be a fantastic performance. To download a poster for this event
click here.

Honey from the Monastery has arrived! It is available for sale in the Gathering Hall. Same prices as last year!

Catechumenate Class begins in Advent! An opportunity to deepen our faith through reflection, conversation, prayer and blessings.  We will explore the questions that matter to you and seek to discern how the Spirit is leading you.  We begin in Advent (December 16?) and conclude on Pentecost in May of 2013.   The gatherings and schedule will be decided by the participants.   Pr. Steve and Margareta will lead this series. Speak with them for details.

Farewell from Pastor Mary Ann
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Phil 1:3-6

That verse from Philippians seems appropriate because I am thanking God for you and for the privilege of serving as your interim while Pastor Steve was on his sabbatical.  From my first Sunday at Peace, I felt welcomed and appreciated.  God gave me the gift of presiding at Word and Sacrament in worship but, you may not realize, I also received many other gifts from you, such as: your hospitality, interest in peace and justice, celebration of partnerships, deep commitment to children and youth as well as those in the mature years, and your desire to learn and grow in Christ.  (If I listed all the gifts, this note would be too long!)

Please know that I will keep Peace Lutheran and each of you, in my heart and in my prayers.  I thank you so much and feel richly blessed!

Blessings,  Ps. Mary Ann

 December Calendar

  •  Dec  2– First Sunday of Advent; Pr Steve returns; Welcome Back Dinner at 5 pm
  •  Dec  9– Second Sunday of Advent
  •  Dec  16– Third Sunday of Advent
  •  Dec  23–Fourth Sunday of Advent; Jazz @ Peace at 5 pm special holiday show:
                    Taylor Eigsti on piano with Gary Johnson on bass
  •  Dec 24–Children and Family worship at 5 pm;
                   Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm
  •  Dec 25–Christmas Day worship at 9:30 am
  •  Dec 30–First Sunday after Christmas

Good News, 11/21/2012

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices:
Who, from our mothers’ arms, has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

 Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us all in grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all harm in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Spirit blest, who reign in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
 For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore. (ELW 840)

Such a beautiful, heartfelt poem!  It was written by Martin Rinkhart who lived (1586-1649) and served as a Lutheran pastor in the small town of Eilenburg in Germany.  He began his ministry just before the Thirty Years War – a war that decimated the population of Germany and Eilenburg in particular.  Because Eilenburg was a walled city and offered some sense of security, nearby people flocked there for refuge until it was overflowing with people.  Then the plague came, killing 8,000 including Rinkhart’s wife.  On some days Pastor Rinkhart conducted 40-50 funerals for those killed by the plague.

In the midst of all these trials, Pastor Rinkhart wrote the above hymn of thanks to God, not for public worship but as a table grace for his family!  At the end of the war, this hymn was sung at the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia – the treaty that ended the war.

When I read or sing this hymn, I cannot help but give thanks to my Lord and Savior… and give thanks that there are people, both alive and those who have died, who are models of a deep and abiding faith in our God of abundance and grace.

Have a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving! 

 Ps. Mary Ann

From Treasurer Diane Kurtz

     When Pastor Steve asked me if I was interested in being Treasurer, I was excited to give it a try.  With a lot of help from Libby, I am learning what the job entails.  I was told to try to keep the expenses within the budget.  That was not possible because of the painting and maintenance of the building plus some other expenses that were not anticipated. 
     Soon I will be working on the 2013 Budget and will be meeting with the Council Members and  Deacons to ascertain what their needs will be for next year.  If you would like any input in the Budget, please e-mail me at dianekz@aol.com and type “Peace Budget” in the subject line. 

From Connections Deacon  Dabbie Bowron

“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information,
but to face sacred moments.”  —
Abraham Heschel

     Maybe it’s part of being American, this want to build on things instead of facing them. After all, our ancestors believed it their manifest destiny to keep moving on until they ran out of land. But now that there’s nowhere left to go, a different sense of exploration, that has waited centuries, is calling.
     Instead of building a road to somewhere other than where we are, the life of the spirit requires us to open doors that wait before us and within us. This is what Abraham Heschel calls “facing sacred moments”: the opening of doors into the life we already have.
     The effort to build our way elsewhere can be admirable and even heroic, but it often distracts us from inhabiting the life we are given.
      Certainly, there is nothing wrong with bettering our outer circumstances, but these constructions mean nothing if we never face the very pulse of life that waits like a kind mother at the edge of our exhaustion.1                                                                       *          *

     For years, I found myself wanting more, but I wasn’t sure what was missing? I knew there was a “pulse of life” but I wasn’t sure how to find it. For me, church had a negative meaning attached.  I was uninterested in a God that had a lot of rules and constraints to achieve the everlasting.  That God to me was small and too judgmental.  So, church was not an option until my then significant-other invited me to a function at Peace Lutheran. 
      What I found was a place that thrives on diversity, encourages dialogue, and embraces the evolution of scientific discovery and its interconnectivity with faith and spirituality.  Over time, I learned that the individuals at Peace are broad-minded and eager to learn new things. Change is viewed as an opportunity to grow.
     As Deacon of Connections, I invite you to join us if you too are searching for something outside of yourself.
     Stop and listen for a moment to that voice deep within that calls for something greater.  Open the door to your own sacred moments.
     I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

    1Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening:  Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have,  Heschel, A., “Facing Sacred Moments,” pp. 311–12, Conari Press, 2000. 

Honey from the Monastery has arrived! It will be available for sale in the Gathering Hall and at the Interfaith Service at Beth Chaim.  Same prices as last year!

Catechumenate Class beginning soon!  An opportunity to deepen our faith through reflection, conversation, prayer and blessings.  We will explore the questions that matter to you and seek to discern how the Spirit is leading you.  We begin in Advent (December16?) and conclude on Pentecost in May of 2013.   The gatherings and schedule will be decided by the participants.   Pr. Steve and Margareta will lead this series. Speak with them for details.

November 8, 2012 letter from San Francisco Libre, Laurel Galan, Nicaragua

For all of our loved ones in the North at Peace Lutheran Church,

We hope that you are in good health, surrounded by your families.  The reason we are writing this letter is to tell you haw grateful we feel for the solidarity that you had with us, giving economic support to help us with some things that we needed.  This will help us solve some of the needs that each family has, which are many and varied.  For example, medication, food, help paying off debot, repairing their house, or for a small business they have, or buying a pig, and others offered it as an offering to their church.
We also feel very grateful to God in blessing us so that our crops were not damaged and that there was no flooding this rainy season.  God has favored us and given us an abundant harvest, which will just cover what we consume as families.

We are always praying for you and your families.

Kisses and hugs,
Laurel Galan
Your sisters in Christ

 November/December Calendar

  •   Nov 18–Consecration/Stewardship Sunday Service; Justice Advocacy during Adult Education; outreach to Danville Rehab at 11 am
  •   Nov 21–Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim at 7 pm 
  •   Nov 22–Thanksgiving Day (no service)
  •   Nov 25–Christ the King Sunday Service; drama by Youth Group; Baptized We Live discussion concludes
  •   Dec    2– First Sunday of Advent; Pr Steve returns; Welcome Back at 5 pm
  •   Dec    9– Second Sunday of Advent
  •   Dec  16– Third Sunday of Advent
  •   Dec  23–Fourth Sunday of Advent; Jazz @ Peace at 5 pm special holiday show:Taylor Eigsti on piano with Gary Johnson on bass
  •   Dec 24–Children and Family worship at 5 pm; Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm
  •   Dec 25–Christmas Day worship at 9:30 am
  •   Dec 30–First Sunday after Christmas

May we who have been blessed be a blessing to others!

Good News, 11.16.2012

Dear Friends in Christ,

            THANKSGIVING is coming!  My little refrigerator magnet shows a turkey holding a sign saying “Eat Ham”!  I smile and look forward to the celebration but I am also sad that, in this country overflowing with abundance, few take time to thank God for so many blessings.  How blessed most of us are!

            Dr. Paul Harms (Pastor Steve’s dad!), one of my professors in seminary, said, “Learning to give and give thanks is at the heart of Christian living.”  I’ve pondered that statement throughout the years… wondering if gratitude is always central to my life.  Do I really take time, often, to count my blessings and then joyfully give thanks to the Giver? Am I really a giving person?

            Brother David Stendl-Rast writes in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, that “The Ibo in Nigeria have a proverb.  It says, ‘It is the heart that gives; the fingers just let go.’ Giving is something only the heart can do.  And this is true not only of gift-giving, but of all forms of giving.  There are three preeminent forms: giving up, thanksgiving, and forgiving.  The heart knows that all belongs to all.  And so, when we live from the heart, we are free…”  We are free to give thanks by giving to others out of the abundance that we have been given.

            In the midst of the coming celebrations…. between the pumpkins and the turkeys, the cards and the Christmas trees, I hope we will keep God in the center, remembering the greatest gift of all – the gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Certainly the Eucharist, “The Great Thanksgiving,” is a remembering and a celebrating of the power of Christ in our own lives today.  It is a celebration that Love lives among us here and now!

How can we help perpetuate Christ’s love in the world?  We do this by using our “Blessings” of Time, Talent and Money and committing them in support of the ministries of our church, Peace Lutheran.  I hope you will prayerfully consider letting your Blessings become a Blessing to Peace by maintaining or, preferably increasing, your pledge commitment.

            A prayer: 
Gracious God, help us to remember that it is God who gives “Every good and perfect gift.”  Help us to live with Christ in our hearts.  Help us to live lives of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the blessings given to us.  Amen.

                                    God’s Blessings,

                                                Pastor Mary Ann

 Everyone  is invited to the Interfaith Thanksgiving  service  at Beth Chaim on Wednesday Nov. 21  at 7 pm  where Peace Lutheran will give thanks for Partnership, and lead everyone in a South African song, Marching in the Light of God.  Non-perishable  food will be collected there for the Contra Costa Food Bank. If you won’t be attending the Interfaith service, you can bring  your food donation to church on Sunday. This food will be taken to Beth Chaim Wednesday evening. Following the Thanksgiving service, there will be a vegetarian reception.  We are invited to bring a dish for the reception as well.  This is a wonderful prelude to Thanksgiving as we join with other faith groups in the San Ramon Valley to give thanks.

 The Youth Group will  be attending the Interfaith Thanksgiving service on Wed.  at Beth Chaim as a group.  The play featuring the Youth Group has been rescheduled for Nov. 25.

Honey from the Monastery has arrived! It will be available for sale in the Gathering Hall and at the Interfaith Service at Beth Chaim.  Same prices as last year!

Jazz last Sunday was especially nice.  Glen Pearson plays a mellow jazz and his group was a joy to hear!  Be sure to save the date for the next Jazz at Peace on December 23. It will be a Holiday Special:  Taylor Eigsti (who grew up in the Bay Area but now lives in New York) will play piano with his friend Greg Johnson playing bass.
Bring your family and out-of-town guests for a great evening of music and inspiration (Pr Steve will be back to read poetry).

Jazz at Peace will move to  the 1st Sunday of the month starting in January.  We’re hoping our regulars will come one week earlier each month!

Plan to stay for Adult Education this Sunday.  Deacon Cindy Townsend will lead a program focusing on Justice Advocacy combining reports on the Just Faith retreat (Sept. 29), the Witness Our Welcome (WOW) service (Oct. 28),  Nursing Home Ministries, and the Earth Faith Food initiatives.  Upcoming projects to be discussed include the Welcome Back Event for Pastor Steve  and the 2013 Delegation to Laurel Galan, Nicaragua.

Thanks to all the families who have signed up for Hospitality this fall.  A new sign-up sheet will be in the Gathering Hall for the Advent and Christmas season.

You are invited to join Charlene and others for hymns and prayer at Danville Rehab at 11 am. this Sunday!  This group is well received by those convalescing here on Diablo Road.

Pray also for those who are suffering–in New York and New Jersey without lights and heat–and around the world, in war-ravaged areas, and other natural disasters.  Life is hard for so many families.

We’ve received a flier from the Livermore Valley Opera, which is producing a Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, on Dec. 8, 2012 at 2 pm and 5 pm.  Details are available at  www.livermorevalleyopera.com.

November/December Calendar

  •   Nov 18–Consecration/Stewardship Sunday Service; Justice Advocacy during Adult Education; outreach to Danville Rehab at 11 am
  •   Nov 21–Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim at 7 pm 
  •   Nov 22–Thanksgiving Day (no service)
  •   Nov 25–Christ the King Sunday Service; drama by Youth Group
  •   Dec  2–First Sunday of Advent; Pr Steve returns
  •   Dec  9–Second Sunday of Advent
  •   Dec 16–Third Sunday of Advent
  •   Dec 23–Fourth Sunday of Advent; Jazz @ Peace at 5 pm special holiday show:Taylor Eigsti on piano with Gary Johnson on bass
  •   Dec 24–Children and Family worship at 5 pm; Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm
  •   Dec 25–Christmas Day worship at 9:30 am
  •   Dec 30–First Sunday after Christmas

Peace to all!

 

 

Good News 11.8.2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

            This Sunday, November 11, is “Bread for the World” Sunday – a day to engage in God’s work to end hunger.   Who can comprehend that one-fourth of the developing world lives in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 per day?  Or, that one fifth of the children in the United States lives in a family that struggles to feed itself?  The numbers seem staggering, almost overwhelming!

              A story I like…   Along the coast of the vast Atlantic ocean there lived an old man.  Each day when the tide went out he would walk along the shore for miles.  His neighbor noticed that this was a daily habit – that he disappeared from view and returned hours later.  But, curiously, the observer also noticed that he often stopped down to lift something from the sand and then tossed it away into the water.

            One day when the old man went down to the beach, the neighbor followed to satisfy his curiosity and, sure enough, as he watched, the man bent down and gently lifted something from the sand and threw it into the ocean.  It was a starfish – one that had been stranded by the retreating tide and would, of course, die of dehydration before the tide returned.  The neighbor called out with a degree of mockery in his voice, “Hey, fellow!  What are you doing?  This beach goes on for hundreds of miles, and thousands of starfish get washed up every day!  Surely you don’t think that throwing a few back is going to matter?”  The man listened…. and paused for a moment.. Then held the starfish in his hand and said, “It matters to this one.”

            That’s just it!  If we look at all the needs of our community, the church or the world, we feel overwhelmed.  There are simply too many starfish on the shore! – – too many issues or people needing help!  We know of people who have lost jobs; families going hungry; friends on the brink of foreclosure; and others suffering terrible illness.  We read of the famine and AIDS around the world.  And then, we hear of hurricane Sandy’s incredible devastation with more than 40,000 looking for winter shelter!  The needs seem so vast! …staggering!

            Yet Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it for one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  (Mt 25:40 NRSV) Jesus is telling us to look at the ones we can help.  If we are addressing world hunger, we can send money; we can write our senators and congressmen to sustain support for needy people; and, we can collect food items for the local food bank.  Every time we help or serve, we contribute to the health of the family.  As Everett Hale wrote….

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I should do and,
With the help of God, I will do!

            Checks to help with either the Bread for the World campaign to alleviate hunger or to help with hurricane disaster relief should be made out to “Peace Lutheran Church” and noted on the memo line either “Bread for the World” or “Hurricane Disaster Relief.”

            And what a gift the people of Peace have been to each other…. to our community…. and to our world!  So much loving energy is poured out in service.  I know I give thanks for all the generous hearts and willing hands!  Praise God!

             Joy in Christ,   Pastor Mary Ann

From Worship Deacon, Jeanie Locklear–

The Music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.                                                                     
          

         Wordsworth

Has that ever happened to you?  You hear a particular hymn or song at church and then you find that you are humming it off and on for the rest of the day.  Or, maybe you wake up Monday morning hearing the lilting refrain of Sunday’s Communion piece.  We are very fortunate at Peace to have a rich variety of music.  Gary always provides us with beautiful and meaningful worship melodies.  In addition, on October 7th, John and Mary Ellen joined Gary and Wind ‘n Keys for our St. Francis service.  Then, the next week we had our Small and Tall Service with wonderful and appropriate selections. Stay tuned for our November 11th service as one of our very own makes their musical debut! I’m not saying anymore.  You just have to be there.
   If you play an instrument or sing, please join us!  All are welcome to be part of making a Joyful Noise here at Peace Lutheran Church!

Jeanie Locklear
Worship Deacon

 Everyone is invited to the Interfaith Thanksgiving  service  on Wednesday Nov. 21  at 7 pm at Beth Chaim where we will give thanks for Partnership and lead everyone in a South African song.  There will be a non-perishable food collection at the Interfaith Thanksgiving service.  Please bring food items to Peace on Sunday Nov. 18 if you will not be attending the Interfaith service later that week.  The food collected will go to the Contra Costa Food Bank.

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
  • Nov 11Bread for the World Sunday Service; Baptized We Live discussion continues; Jazz Church West presents Glenn Pearson with Clifford Brown III at 5 pm.
  • 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

Hold all those who are suffering in prayer!

Good News, 11.1.2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you aware that we will celebrate All Saint’s Day this coming Sunday?  During worship we will remember the “saints” who have gone before us, particularly our friends and family who have died this past year.  We will also consider the question: What is a saint?  Who is a saint?  Two stories about children and saints may provide some insights and points to ponder…

Saint Simeon the Stylite:  There is a story of a little boy who was learning about saints and became fascinated with St. Simeon the Stylite who lived in ancient times on top of a sixty-foot pillar in Syria.  Surely this was a man to imitate!  So he immediately went into the kitchen, put a chair up on the kitchen cabinet and climbed upon it.  He stayed there all morning but finally came down.  His mother, who understood what was happening, said to him, “Don’t feel bad about this.  At least you have thought about saints.  You have made an attempt to imitate one and that is more than most people do… but you must remember that it is almost impossible to be a saint in your own kitchen.”

 A tour of the cathedral:  Seven year-old Evelyn’s class went on a field trip to the near-by cathedral to study saints.  When she got home, her parents asked her to describe what she saw.  She told about seeing saints as marble statues and wood carvings but she said the ones she liked best were in the windows – beautiful windows of many different colors.  “The saints,” she said, “let the light shine through!” 

What a wonderful way to describe saints – the people who let the light… the Light of Christ, shine through them!  These people, young, old, famous or not, let their lives be “set aside” for God.  They are not perfect by any means but keep their eyes on Christ and pray that their lives will become a blessing to this hurting world. 

Come, celebrate All Saint’s Day on November 4!

            Pastor Mary Ann

Time Change this Saturday night/Sunday 2 am.  Be sure to set your clocks back one hour (or you will be early for everything)!

Thanks to Morgan Bach (Richard Caemmerer’s granddaughter) for her helpful and informative talk at Peace last week after worship!  She related the precarious situation of a Palestinian village, Al Aqaba, in Area C of the West Bank where she lived and taught for a year.  Despite a demolition order from the Israeli military that would level 97 percent of this Jordan Valley village, including its  kindergarten, and nearly all homes, the hamlet of Al Aqaba is writing a different scenario for its future.  The first step was a design planning session last July that produced house designs, a financing strategy for new homes for Palestinian families, and a village plan to guide long-term growth.  Morgan will be launching a “Speaking Tour for Palestine” by attending the Students for Justice in Palestine conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan!  The East Coast segment of the tour will likely be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, but Morgan will be speaking in the Bay Area, throughout California and back home in Washington State before Christmas.
To see Morgan’s promotional video and support the tour:  http://www.indiegogo.com/OhSayCanYouC.  This video is the next-best thing to hearing Morgan speak last week!

Last week was also Reformation Sunday.  Karl Pfeiffer sent amazing resources for The Luther Decade “Luther 2017–500 Year of Reformation”.  An excerpt:

In earlier centures, the major anniversaries related to the Reformation were celebrated separately according to political and confessional divisions.  Luther was presented as a popular German hero and the celebrations were used by Protestants as a means to establish distance between themselves and Catholics.  The Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 aims to achieve the opposite:  it is to be defined by openness, freedom, and the ecumenical spirit.

More information and inspiration is available on the website  http://www.luther2017.de/en.

Our delegation to Lwamondo Parish in South Africa who returned the first week of Oct.  gave their  Report to the Congregation during worship last week.    Elizabeth Hunter-Ashley, her son, Jack O’Neil and Libby Flynn had met Pr. Steve in Johannesberg. Then they travelled by commuter plane and van to Lwamondo Parish in Limpopo Province.  It was Pr. Steve’s fourth visit, but the other delegates were there for the first time.  As Elizabeth observed, “Partnership is much like Reformation Sunday.  Nothing is ever the same following our experiences.”  Jack stayed with Muthuphei’s family, who has teenage sons. He spoke of the jolting experience of seeing a freshly butchered pig in their garage . [This area of South Africa is such a mixture of traditional (e.g. home butchering) and new (e.g. homes all-electric appliances).  Libby shared an email from  Mudzunga Farisani, who entertained the delegation soon after they landed at the airport in Polokwane.

Much appreciation to the delegation.  I was also impressed to see Jack O’Neil being part of the delegation.  I hope he had a good time as well.  Partnership is so important in our lives.  There are times when we take things for granted;  after each visit, both the hosts and the partner will see things differently.
You will recall that we have just emerged from an apartheid era;  the message that you have brought is for both Black and White South Africans.  It is a message of reconciliation, that indeed both blacks and whites can live together in harmony.  Much appreciation.”

Calvin Neswiswi is the current Partnership chair at Lwamondo Parish.  He is also a childhood friend of Dean Tshenu Farisani and he accompanied  the Peace  delegation to Beuster to meet with Tshenu and the Beuster Church Rebuilding Committee.  Our delegation was somewhat surprised that the new church is in very early stages of construction.  The foundation is done and bricks have been made for the walls.  It was clear that the project is waiting for funding.  The check that the delegation brought, representing money from the Peace budget as well as individual donations,  was gratefully received. 
 Calvin has visted Peace and  also accompanied Peace members on a delegation to our partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua.  At the Farewell ceremony,  he spoke of a “Triangle Partnership”: Lwamondo, Laurel Galan and Peace.  How international and how inspiring!

Amanda at Entre Culturas  forwarded  a letter from our partners in Laurel Galan. We recently sent them $500 from the Peace Justice Advocacy budget.

The community of Laurel Galan really appreciates the donation of economic help that you all sent to Laurel Galan. May God bless you, keep you in His care, and help you in your work. Brothers and sisters, we have decided to utilize the help that you sent now, because we don’t have a good harvest, and because of that we are going to give a portion of the total amount to each member for the needs that we have in each of our houses. We discussed this with the entire community, and some are going to use it for food, and others for medications, because some in the community are sick.

Relationships with Laurel Galan are being maintained by our prayer partnership as well. 

Finally, there are two  important Interfaith events in November: 

  • the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County is having their annual potluck on Nov. 18 at 6 pm at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek.  Is there someone who would like to volunteer to be the Peace contact for interfaith work?
  • we are going to participate at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 pm.  Please come and join us as we lead the group in the South African song ” We are Marching in the Light of God.”

Keep the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti, Cuba and the US in your prayers!

Blessings to all.