Pastor’s Weekly Message: 10.23.13

Grace Waves

Friends:

A person has no alternative but to respond to the real setting in which one finds oneself, with a result that one’s prayer is necessarily fabricated from the various inner and outward components of one’s life.  Prayer grows out of life.  It is not an isolated department of life, it is the realization of the God-ward potential inherent in every life. (Michael Casey)

This week I am on my Prayer Retreat deep in the heart of the old growth Sanctuary Redwood Forest in northern California.  “When the trees say nothing”….the commotion of our lives may be distilled and we can hear what is truly significant.  Please keep me in your prayers along with Margaret Bender, Lance Pierovich, Lars, Ari, Fidel and Spoon, friends diagnosed with cancer, the wounds and struggles each of us wrestles with, our children and grandchildren and children without homes or families.

This Sunday we will celebrate the Reformation—which is an ongoing work!  I will preach on Cosmology, Evolution and Faith.  The original accusation against Lutherans was that they were radical “Free Thinkers”!  Join me Sunday—I hope we are still worthy of such honorable accusations!

“Sing Out!”—what a marvelous evening of creativity and joy was shared by the participants with Clairdee and Ken French in the new recording of our Jazz Church West theme song.  You will get to hear it soon!

Here is a wonderful background article that Bill Carmel wrote for our current Art Exhibit by Shokoor KhusrawiThe Art of an Afghan Refugee.

It was a beautiful Fall evening in October 2012 when I walked down the staircase of a building on Main Street in Pleasanton and turned left. I saw a kiosk, normally filled with fresh picked flowers, filled with paintings instead.  Sprinkled among many paintings that looked like they belonged in a Ghirardelli Square tourist gallery (nothing wrong with that!), were some canvases that I liked very much.  A skilled hand (brush in the older ones and palate knife in the more recent ones) using desert colors in a bold and sophisticated impressionistic style was evident.  Lots of tribal and folk portraits of daily Afghan life, some of them rendered in a kind of naturalism that is direct, honest and compelling. His art is filled with compassion and a non-judgmental simplicity, which seemed such a contrast from Shokoor’s life experiences.

Over the next few months I got to know Shokoor and his brother Jelani, both refugees from the wars in Afghanistan. Jelani has been a resident for more than 15 years and succeeded in getting Shokoor here 2 years ago.  Their Muslim faith is strong within them and I enjoy discussing the sacred words and phrases contained in the calligraphy.

Shokoor’s art documents everything—moments of sublime beauty stolen from life in a country torn by war including the horrors that come from the collateral damage of a hundred years of terror. His body was crippled as a child.  Shokoor’s biography tells the story of his family—filled with the tragedies and sorrows that are all too common in that part of the world.  What is astonishing to me about Shokoor’s character is that he carries those insults and wounds without blame or malice.  The impossible thread that comes through the art, expressed with great skill and beauty, is joy.

It is an honor to present this body of work by Shokoor to the Peace Lutheran Congregation and our Interfaith community.  These are profound and intimate studies that, taken as a whole, represent the life of an artist who walks the path of devotion to God and speaks in a voice of love and beauty.  This is an exhibit you have to see to believe!

Blessings,  Pr. Steve