Good News, 06.26.2013

Friends:

Do not feel ashamed of being human, be proud – breathe and bear your dignity!
Inside of you, vault upon vault is opening up – into eternity.
You will never be ready – and that is as it should be.”
(“This the angel whispered to me”….Tomas Tranströmer, Nobel Poet Laureate)

What a worship experience with Gary and Stefan Säfsten!  The double pianos were so enriching and the singing especially good!  Aren’t you glad we have Jeanie and Dabbie, John and Noah and our evolving Percussion Band!  What gifts to revel in.  Stefan has composed a Suite entitled “The Way Chose You” [Vägen valde dig] which is based on the spiritual journal of Dag Hammarskjöld (the first UN Secretary General who was a Swede) entitled Markings.  We hope that it will tour in the Bay Area and other parts of the US in the Spring of 2014.

Our thanks to Lena Säfsten for her report on Spoon Jackson (the poet who inspired Stefan’s composition ‘Words of Realness’ which was performed at Peace, New Folsom Prison and San Quentin a couple years ago).  It appears Spoon will soon be transferred to another prison.  Please keep prisoners, the guilty and the innocent, in your prayers.

Peace and Prison Internship:  PLTS Seminary has approved our sharing in the supervision of Seminary Intern Brock Kolbe who will begin working ½ time at Peace and ½ time at the Federal Prison in Dublin in September.  Our Justice Advocacy Committee is working on creating a Prison Visitation Ministry as well.

We get to keep our Seminarian John Brett until September – and we are glad.  John gave a fine homily this past Sunday!

Dabbie suggested we could all buy Google Glasses and wear them to worship (I think I got that right) or else continue to support the Website Development Project which is evolving well.   Either way we will land solidly in the 21st Century!

This Sunday we will get to see and learn about the New Masks – creative gifts of divine inspiration emerging from the two Mask Making Workshop days (this last and upcoming Saturdays).  The discovery process and reflections to be shared are always intriguing!

Beuster Church:  The gift of $1,000 was sent to our Partners in Venda, South Africa for the construction of the new church at Beuster.  Thanks to all who contributed.

120th Jazz Party! Our thanks to Jan and Margareta for hosting an incredible Jazz Celebration this past Sunday with violinist Mads Tolling!  It was a full house, the music was stellar – and what an incredible group of musicians.   We enjoyed guests in attendance who literally came from around the world:  Sweden, Denmark, Argentina, Brazil, Afghanistan, Germany, India and England not to mention Iowa, Florida and New York – and by no means were they all related to the Johanssons!  A delicious Reception followed.  The whole evening pulsed with the energy, delight and gratitude of being alive.  What an amazing planetary celebration we shared.

“The body is a device to calculate the astronomy of the spirit.
Look through that microscope and you will become oceanic.”

Rumi

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 06.20.2013

Friends:

“I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good thing that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I will not pass this way again.” (Clinic door plaque for Dr. Rick Hodes at Mother Teresa’s Community in Ethiopia)

Dr. Jan and Pr. Margareta remind us that all the members of Peace are invited to Celebrate their 120th Birthday with a special Jazz at Peace Event on Sunday, June 23 at 5:00 pm.  The Danish jazz violinist Mads Tolling will perform and you will be delighted!  Your presence will heighten their joy.

Compassion – Survival of the Kindest:  Why in our country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression and anxiety?  Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished?  Politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,”; based on theological and even scientific evidence, a better answer would be, “It’s the lack of compassion, stupid.”  Recently the Dalai Lama said, “If we say the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen.  If we say, compassion actually reduces your blood pressure, anxiety and stress, and improves your health – then people pay attention….though they may not act on it.”  Compassion is the recognition of another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering.  Often brushed off as a outdated religious term that is irrelevant in modern society, now even rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions:  compassion is good.

The poverty of the West is not that of the wallet but rather that of social connectedness:  both parents work, family time is decreased, distance from the extended family has increased,  awareness of social needs is diminished, trust and engagement in community is on the decline.  Yet studies at Emory University have demonstrated that regular compassion meditation and practices reduce negative neuroendocrine, inflammatory and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress.  Compassion benefits you and others.  Clearly Survival of the Kindest will lead to the long term survival of our species and planet!  (Dr. James Doty)

We Are All Connected:  The primary goal of this work in support of Dr. Rick Hodes in Ethiopia is to raise the consciousness among the children of our community about the critical needs of other children around the planet.  Thais and Leone want the children in our community to understand that the children of the world are all connected and through working together each of them can make a difference on this planet.  Thanks to our Education and Justice Advocacy Committees who are encouraging this work with our local schools.

Welcome to our New Members Rev. Bob Lesher and Rev. Ruth Lesher.  Aren’t we blessed to have the wisdom, grace and humor of these new friends!

Was wonderful to celebrate with Julia and Mark Laurlund and their whole family last Sunday.  And the Eucharist bread they made…..mmmm – as the scriptures say:  Taste and see that God is good!

Our Website Development Fundraising effort continues.  We hope to meet our goal by the end of June.  Thus far the congregation has raised $4,000 – so we are approximately 2/3 of the way to our goal.  If you have questions please speak with Dabbie.  Checks can be made out to Peace and noted ‘Website’.  Thank you.

Seminary Intern / Prison and Peace: Rev. Donna Duensing from PLTS has confirmed that Peace will share and supervise Seminarian Brock Kolbe with the Chaplaincy at the Federal Prison in Dublin.  Brock’s ministry with us will begin in September.  An Internship Committee will be organized – could be dynamic to have several prisoners on this Committee too.  The Justice Advocacy Committee is working on creating a Prison Visitation Ministry from Peace as well.

Pat Leong will be teaching a Sunday School Class based on “The Fruits of the Spirit” during the summer.  Details to come.

Our Nicaraguan Delegation – John Brett, Libby Flynn and Gary Sponholtz – met for an initial Orientation this week.  They will be journeying in Nicaragua for 2 weeks in August.  More details to come.

Please keep in your prayers:  Those with dementia and their caregivers, Pat, our Graduates, the hungry and disenfranchised in our country, the people of Syria.

George Hepner sends his greetings from Maine.  Son Karl is in the Navy and out at sea; Kathy and Ethan are doing well.  Much love to friends who are missed!

Bread for the World: In the closing minutes of Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Rep. John Lewis entered a caucus room packed with hundreds of exhausted Bread members who had spent the day walking the halls of Congress, meeting with their lawmakers on behalf of hungry and poor people. The civil rights leader brought them to their feet with a rallying cry: “Continue the fight. Continue the struggle. Never give up until everyone has food.” On Lobby Day, Tuesday, June 11, Bread members engaged legislators or their staff in 199 meetings, telling our stories and those of people in need, urging our leaders to consider the most vulnerable when they cast their votes—and reminding them that we are holding them accountable. Three-quarters of the Senate was visited by Bread members during Lobby Day.  Thanks to your efforts, the farm bill just failed by a vote of 195-234 on the House floor! This farm bill proposal included over $20 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps), $2.5 billion in cuts to food aid, and policy changes that would have substantially increased hunger for years to come.  Thank you for your faithfulness in speaking out with and for hungry people.  As we have seen today, when together we raise our voices to Congress with a message anchored in the love of Christ, we can bring good news to hungry and poor people. (Rev. David Beckman)

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 06.12.2013

Friends:

“An anthropologist proposed a game to kids in Africa. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won all the fruits. When he said – “Run” – they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked why they ran together, when one could have had all the fruit, they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
(Not sure if this specific story is actually true, but like the Italians say “se non è vero, è ben trovato”  – even if it is not true, it is well conceived!)
Thanks to Karl Pfeiffer

It is hard for a Liturgy to be richer than the one we celebrated this past Sunday! How many blessings can you count? Great to hear our Catechumens’ Reflections, congratulations to our Boy Scouts John and Jack, wonderful to see and hear Mudzunga and Ndamu and to learn about We Are All Connected from Thais and Leone, a blessing to Welcome New Members — Mary, Briggette, Thais and family, to embody our Abba-Imma Chi Prayer, and experience such rich music, singing and percussion.

Brunch:  Thanks to Barbara Drohrer-Kline and Thrivent for the delicious Brunch this past Sunday.  Great meal and delightful presenters.  Barb will keep us in the know about Thrivent programs and Choice Dollars which can benefit the ministries of Peace.

Join us for our Father’s Day worship this Sunday!

Justice Advocacy will host our Forum conversation.  Here is an opportunity to learn about and contribute to our Justice Ministries.

Partnership Silent Auction this Sunday:  Our Delegation of Gary, Libby and John Brett will be traveling to Nicaragua in August.  Our Father’s Day Silent Auction Fundraiser will receive Matching Funds from Thrivent.  (See the list of available items at the end of this Good News.) Your support truly encourages our Delegates and makes their journey on our behalf  possible!

Website:
Fundraising for our website development continues.  We hope to conclude the campaign by the end of June.  Speak with Dabbie if you have questions.

Beuster Church:  It was wonderful to learn of the progress and see pictures of the construction of Beuster Church which burnt down 2 ½ years ago.   A few ‘unsolicited’ gifts were received this past Sunday.  If you would like to contribute with a special donation please make your check out to Peace and note “Beuster” on it.  We will send the Gift soon.

Ubuntu Definition:  “I am because you are; because you are I am.” Mudzunga Farisani, Provincial Director for Elementary Education in Venda Province, South Africa.

Mask Making Workshop with Elise and Kaleo Ching – Saturdays June 22 and 29: This is an opportunity for youth and adults of all faiths to engage creativity as self discovery and spiritual exploration.  You will learn about Chi Kung energy flow and experience guided imagery; and you will be taught simple but effective art techniques to mold, paint and adorn your own mask.  (Your mask is a powerful gift to children and grandchildren!) Advance registration has begun.  Choose to participate in this delightful and insightful transformative experience!  Fliers available in the Gathering Hall or download a copy by clicking here.

Keep in your prayers:  Joan, Rich, our Partners, Nelson Mandela, our high school Graduates, our new members, the vulnerable children of Ethiopia and the world, our Catechumens, truth-tellers and prophets such as Medgar Evers (who was murdered 50 years ago today).

I am Harvey Milk:  Gary Sponholtz invites us to attend this performance by the SF Gay Men’s Chorus (all 300 members) in the City at the Nourse Theater on Wednesday, June 26 at 8:00 pm.  This year marks the 35th Anniversary of Harvey Milk’s death.  Sign up this Sunday.

Jan and Pr. Margareta remind you that all the members of Peace are invited to Celebrate their 120th Birthday with a special Jazz at Peace Event on Sunday, June 23 at 5:00 pm.  The Danish jazz violinist Mads Tolling will perform and you will be delighted! Feel free to invite more friends!

“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, with proper self-assurance that person knows that he or she belongs to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, or when they are tortured and oppressed.” Bishop Tutu

Blessings, Pr. Steve

P.S. Here is the list of Silent Auction items for Father’s Day:

$100 gift certificate from Basil Leaf
$40 gift certificate from Esin
$50 gift certificate from Gianni’s Italian Bistro
$100 gift certificate (brunch for 4) from Bridges
Brunch for 2 from Piatti Ristorante
$25 gift certificate from Chipotle
$25 gift certificate from Starbucks
$80 gift certificate from Kaleo Ching for Hawaiian Lomilomi Massage, Hypnotherapy or Medical Qigong
Gift certificate from Master Gardener Ken Budesa for an “on-site consultation”
And the Father’s Day Gift Basket with something for every dad, including–
a large tin of Almond Roca;
a large insulated lunch pack;
Weber 3-piece barbecue tool set;
a heat-resistant barbecue mitt;
an extra-large beach towel;
and both a bottle of wine [Fox Brook Sauvignon Blanc] and
a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Good News, 06.05.2013

Friends:

Several centuries ago Mulla Nasrudin got word that he had received a special message from the Sheik in Basra.  When he went to pick it up they told him he must first identify himself.  Nasrudin fished in his trousers and took out a brass mirror.  Looking into it he exclaimed, “Yup, that’s me all right.”

Brunch at Peace/Summertime Kickoff:  This Sunday we’ll have lots of music, reflections from our Catechumens and an almost Eagle Scout, new members will join, we get to learn about ‘We Are All Connected’, and a surprise guest from South Africa will be with us!   All this to be followed by a delicious Brunch which Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is providing, courtesy of Barbara Drohrer-Kline.  This should be a relaxing and joyful way to initiate the summer.

What a gift to hear our Godfriends speak about the Catechumens they have been accompanying for this past half year.  What a treasure to have a friend listen to you, pray with and encourage you on a steadfast basis.  Our spiritual path is always filled with surprises.  Way to go Dabbie, Diane, Gary, Jeanie, Jan and Margaret.

We Are All Connected:  This is an organization which Thais Ouzounian has initiated with a few parents locally to support the work of Dr. Rick Hodes in Ethiopia who has been assisting disabled and abandoned children for over 20 years.  Their goal is not only to provide financial support but equally important to raise the consciousness among the children of our community about the critical needs of other children around the planet.  She wants our children to experience that they are all connected and through working together they can make a difference on this world.  Thais and friends will be working primarily through our local schools.   I invite you to join her at her Brunch Table after worship on June 9 – especially the teachers at Peace and anyone interested in learning more.

First Friday Films is happening this Friday night with the showing of ‘The Lathe of Heaven’.  A fascinating film (the first ever shown on PBS).  You will be intrigued by this spiritual classic.   Questions – contact Elana at:  elanao@mac.com.

The Mask Making Workshop with Elise and Kaleo Ching is being offered on Saturdays June 22 and 29.  It is getting good publicity and advance registration is happening.  Choose to be a part of this delightful and insightful transformative experience!  Check out their flier on Sunday in the Gathering Hall or download a copy by clicking here.

Our thanks to the Seminarian Teaching Parish Committee, Chaired by Cindy Townsend who have recently completed their duties in supervising our seminarian John Brett.  Our thanks to the Committee for their dedicated work during this past year.  What a joy to see our seminarians grow in skills, confidence and faith.  PLTS Seminary sends Peace their thanks for our willingness to participate as a Teaching Parish Congregation.  Members of the Committee:  Bill Carmel, Christy Winter, Phil Stanley, Jane Powell, Annie Haines – THANK YOU!

Special thanks also to our Treasurer Diane Kurtz for thoroughly cleaning up our financial records.  While the books have been kept in good shape a variety of items accrue over the years which are obscured by loss of histrorical context or unclear entry titles.  The good news is Diane’s efforts have put us back in tip-top shape — and we are glad!

I am Harvey Milk:  Gary is inviting a group of us to attend this performance by the SF Gay Men’s Chorus in the City on June 27 at 8:00 pm.  Details and sign up will be available this Sunday.

What a surprise to have Gloria Aver drop by last week for a brief visit.  She is doing well in the north country of Vancouver, Washington and she sends her love to the whole congregation!

Jan and Pr. Margareta remind you that all the members of Peace are invited to Celebrate their 120th Birthday with a special Jazz at Peace Event on Sunday, June 23 at 5:00 pm.  The Danish jazz violinist Mads Tolling will perform and you will be delighted!  (PS – the jazz with Dmitri Matheny this past Sunday was outstanding, the crowd was so energized!)

Devout Christians of the future will either be mystics…or they will cease to be anything at all.” (Karl Rahner, German theologian)

Blessings,  Pr. Steve