Good News, 02.26.2013

Friends: 

“Humility is true self-knowledge.  God is your being, and who you are…you are in God. True self-knowledge cannot end in the mere awareness of our faults and failings.  True self-knowledge opens onto God.  Perfect humility is meeting/receiving/enjoying the unfathomable love of God, who is the ground of our being.”          (The Cloud of Unknowing)

“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,  in quiet and in trust your strength lies”
 ( Isaiah 30:15)

Soup and Sacrament continues this Wednesday with Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer – the means and ways for nurturing prayer in our lives.  Plus you get some of the finest soups on the planet.  Join in at 6:30 pm.

Don Smith has died. His final weeks were with his daughter Jeanie in Arizona.  Don’s Memorial Service will be this Saturday at 4:00 pm at Peace.  All are invited.  If you wish to assist with a small reception afterwards, please let me know.  For all the saints – to God be the glory.

We get to celebrate the Baptism of Abigail Young this Sunday.  Her family is coming from across the country….at least as far as Boston!  Come prepared to praise and bless!

The Forum this Sunday will be lead by Martha Mantei and fellow volunteer from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Shirley Kaminsky.   Their presentation is entitled:  Bringing Mental Illness and Suicide “Out of the Darkness”:  Hopeful Information about Treatment and Healing.  Please encourage others in the congregation to attend with you.  This is an excellent opportunity for honest insights from lived experiences and for learning how to turn these losses into experiences of hope.

Time to join the Lenten/Easter Choir, isn’t it!!  Gary invites all the singers at Peace to join him after worship these next Sundays for the beauty and joy of it all.

 If you cannot sing….your other Talents are still Needed:  Counters of our Offering, Bread Bakers – (we have a new one), Ushers and Sound Board operators.  Training is available for each of these duties.  Contact Deacon Jeanie Locklear or the church office if you can assist.  (Imagine what it would be like to have no Bread, no bread, no one to lead and no sound!) 

Yes, it is true that recent studies have concluded that Europeans live with 40% less stress than Americans because they have health care for all their people.  Even more ironic,  through the Marshall Plan following WWII, the US mandated that the ‘enemy nations’ of Germany and Japan provide universal health care coverage to all their citizens.   What a punishment.

World Day of Prayer:  Church Women United – Beginning in the late 1800s, women from various denominations came together to pray for unity and various missions among them.  Today people in 170 countries gather for “informed prayer and prayerful action”.  You are invited to participate this Friday, March 1 at Lafayette United Methodist Church, 955 Moraga Road in Lafayette.   9:30 for coffee and prayer from 10 – 11 am.  Rev. Deborah Lee will speak about her work with the Interfaith Immigrant Rights Project.  Everyone is welcome.  Speak with Lois McGee for details. 

Keep in your prayers:  the Smith Family, Shepanek family, Melinda Howard, Jonathan and Miki, friends with cancers/Alzheimer’s/Parkinsons, the Catechumens, Youth Group, those searching for homes – physical and spiritual.

We had a wonderful Connections Forum this past Sunday.  Regarding outreach those present discussed the intimidation factors and the difficulties of speaking from grace.  And new insights were discovered that brought energy and laughter to the group.  More to come.  You will be seeing some of the fruits of these labors on Sunday.  If you are drawn to serve with the Connections Committee, please speak with Deacon Dabbie Bowron.

The Time Change occurs on March 10 – Spring Ahead!

The Jazz Church West presents pianist Dan Zemelman this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  He brings with him:  Christian Tamburr, Vibes – who has played with Cirque De Soleil;  Mads Tolling, Violin – a 2 time Grammy Winner who has been featured on NPR and performed with Chick Corea and Ramsey Lewis;  and Rose Armin-Hoiland, Vocalist – an up and coming singer with a delightfully powerful voice.  If you have too much joy in your life you had best avoid jazz!

Lenten Wisdom and Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 02.19.2013

Friends:

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things:  
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go….. let it go.” 
                                 Mary Oliver

The Theme for our Soup and Sacrament Series this year – which begins this Wednesday, February 20 from 6:30 – 8:00pm  is “Gratefulness the Heart of Prayer:  Skillful Means for Nurturing Prayer”.  We will discuss and experience various forms of prayer for attuning ourselves to God’s Presence.  Commentary from Dietrich Bonhoeffer will also be utilized.  Join in and enjoy the best soups on the planet!

Our Youth Group meets this Friday evening from 7 – 8 pm.  (2nd Saturdays and 4th Fridays each month)  Keep them in your prayers!

February 24 – Forum:   The Connections Committee invites you to “Connecting the Vision and Joy of Peace with New Friends” this Sunday for the Adult Forum.  This is a chance to explore how we can communicate the vitality and spirit of Peace with new friends.  We will share a variety of ways that you will find comfortable and fun.  Join Deacon Dabbie Bowron and me for this creative occasion.

Sunday Salon:  Our Book Study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy continues this Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3:00 pm at Peace.   We will meet on March 10 and 24 and decide April dates in the near future.  All are welcomed to participate in reading and reflecting on this fascinating story of faith in our times.

Keep in your prayers:  Nancy, Gun,  Melinda, Jonathan and Miki, Don Smith, Parker, the Catechumens, for the wisdom and grace to discern what really matters in our life and community.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 02.12.2013

Friends:

 “Each human being, regardless of birth, status, or native ability, has the right to be seen as created as an image of God, filled with infinite worth, equal to all other human beings, and so unique that he or she can say with surprise, ‘The world exists for me!’ On the other hand, since each and every person can make these claims, the only way all people can create a world that recognizes them is through relationship, that is the partnership between each person and God, as well as the connections between all human beings.  Spiritual traditions provide means by which such a world can be created.” 

David Elcott  Sacred Journey

 What a Celebration this past Sunday was with our special musical guests, the Dixieland Dykes!  We celebrated morning, noon and night.  What a festive Mardi Gras Party – great food, wonderful decorations thanks to Ken Budesa and dancing galore.   Thanks to Gary for all our musical connections.  We may have to make this an annual event!

 The Sunday Salon/Bonhoeffer Book Study began on Sunday too.  All are welcome to join us even if you haven’t gotten the material read. We have several copies of the book: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy available for purchase in the office. Here is our  Salon Spring ( 3 – 5 pm) Schedule:  Feb. 24 ( Chapters 4 – 6); Mar. 10 (Ch. 7 – 9 ); Mar. 24 (Ch. 10 – 15).  An incredible man for our incredible times!

 Ash Wednesday:  Tomorrow night our Lenten Season begins with worship at 7:30 pm.  Join us for this powerful experience of transition.  Our Soup and Sacrament Series on Wednesday evenings begins on February 20 at 6:30.  The Theme:  Gratefulness the Heart of Prayer.

The Youth Group met last Saturday to Walk the Labyrinth and reflect on future plans.  The Youth Group now meets every 2nd Saturday afternoon and 4th Friday evening.

A beautiful Jazz at Peace Evening comes your way this Sunday with the Marcus Shelby Trio at 5:00 pm.

On the necessity of Cooperation

 “Each person would soon learn from experience that if he (or she) aided their fellow-men, we would commonly receive aid in return.  From this practice…we might acquire the habit of aiding our fellow human beings…. and this habit would strengthen our feelings of sympathy, which give us the impulse to continue benevolent actions.”          
 Charles Darwin (who remained a believer and never imagined his evolutionary work being applied to economics)

 Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 02.06.2013

Friends:

 “The ego seeks its desires in words and actions.  The soul rests and awakens in the stillness of the Presence.”

Our thanks to the Partnership Committee for last Sunday’s worship.  These are Calvin Neswiswi’s 5 Points for Strengthening and Sustaining a Healthy Partnership [Calvin is the chair of the Lwamondo Parish Partnership Committee]:

1) Regular communication of information;
2) Exchange of Projects and Human Resources; 
3) Regular delegation visits; 
4) Exchange of prayer concerns;
5) Exchange of homilies.

Lwamondo Parish intends to send us a Delegation in 2014.  We are hoping to send a delegation to Laurel Galan this year in 2013.  Thanks to Ceil and Arlene for the beautiful variety of African and Guatamalan cloths.  And to Seminarian John Brett for preaching.  Wasn’t the music fun!

Meanwhile in Lwamondo they celebrated our Partnership at Dzwerani Congregation where Rev. Zwo Nevhutalu preached on Partnership.  On February 15 – 17 the church leaders of all the Ministry Leagues will be meeting for Strategic Planning.  They send greetings and gratitude for our Partnership!

Worship promises to be a special celebration this Sunday when the Dixie Dykes (the horn section of the SF Gay and Lesbian Band) join us on the last Sunday before Lent.  Playful, zany, contemplative – all the appropriate emotions and insights will be experienced.  Please honor these guests (coming from San Francisco!) with your presence!

And they are playing for our Mardi Gras Party at 5:00 pm in the afternoon.  This will be a Potluck Meal (Cajun food encouraged – or bring what you like to eat!) –  a time to relax with friends, delicious food and great music.  There will be dancing space too.  The Connections Team asks you to invite friends to join you for worship, the Party or both!  (Those who wish to assist with set up and clean up afterwards will earn extra points in heaven.)

Our Annual Meeting will be this Sunday following our worship.  Please read in advance the Annual Report that you have received.

We are beginning worship now at 9:25 with the sounding of the Singing Bowl, a few moments of stillness and then prelude as an Invitation to Prayer and to prepare for worship.  We human beings need time to transition, to make ourselves ‘available’ for what is about to happen, and to focus on ‘what we might become’ as we enter the sacred threshold.  We are always in the presence of God but usually we are not aware of it.  Worship deserves special attention.  As the opening quote today implies:  we come to Life by resting, opening ourselves to the Mystery of Grace, and by listening for the Presence.  Liturgy is the work and prayer of the people and it is “the shimmering of eternity in time and space”.    Of course greetings and conversations can continue in the Gathering Hall as people arrive.

Sunday Salon:  Our Book Study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy will begin this Sunday, Feb. 10 at 3:00 pm at Peace.  Copies of the book have arrived and are in the Church Office.  If you can stop by to pick one up that would be helpful.  We will meet twice a month in member’s homes during February, March and April.  All are welcomed to participate reading and reflecting on this fascinating story of faith in our times.

February 17:   The Worship and Partnership Committees will meet during the Adult Forum time for organizing and review.  The Worship Teams will meet in the Sanctuary where the various subgroups can converse for 20 minutes with a gathering of the whole in conclusion.  The Partnership Committee will meet in the Gathering Hall. 

Calendar: 
Catechumens —Friday at 4:00 pm  
Youth Group —Saturday 1 -3 pm (2nd Saturdays and 4th Fridays)
Sunday Salon — 3:00 pm
Mardi Gras Party —Sunday at 5:00 pm
Ash Wednesday service —Wednesday (Feb. 13) at 7:30 pm

 Have you ever heard  Ella Fitzgerald sing?  Her spiritual godson Kenny Washington will be singing for Jazz at Peace on February 17 at 5:00 pm.  Don’t miss this.

Keep in your prayers:  Nancy, Melinda, Jonathan and Miki, Don Smith, our Youth, Parker, Annie, the Catechumens, for an awareness of the racism within and around us.

 Our South African friends requested these prayers:  for the unemployed, those with chronic diseases like blood pressure and diabetes; HIV/AIDS; the victims and perpetrators of crime; for their system of Education.

 The Theme for our Soup and Sacrament Series this year – which begins on Wednesday, February 20 at 6:30 is “Gratefulness the Heart of Prayer:  Skillful Means for Nurturing Prayer”.  We will discuss and experience various forms of prayer for attuning us to God’s Presence.  Commentary from Dietrich Bonhoeffer will also be utilized.

 If you need to purchase a spiritual vacuum cleaner please speak with Pr. Margareta.

Transfiguration Blessings,  Pr. Steve