Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.27.14

Grace Waves

Friends:

Liturgy is the shimmering of eternity in time.

We celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Peace at this site on Sunday.  Come join in the joy!

We had 15 people attend our New Friends of Peace Dinner last Sunday.  Thanks to Chuck Fisher for a magnificent meal and to Dabbie and Chuck for making the event happen!  Always such blessed energy as new friendships and community evolve.

We are now halfway through the season of Lent.  Don’t you feel better having sacrificed Habitual Negative Thinking!  Imagine how much lighter and freer you will feel by Easter!  Holy Week begins on April 13 with Palm Sunday and Easter is April 20.

This is also the week in which the Early Church gave the text of the Lord’s Prayer to the Baptismal Initiates/Catechumens but they were also informed that they couldn’t pray the Lord’s Prayer until after they were baptized because “it is the Holy Spirit who prays this prayer through you”.  Our final class on the Lord’s Prayer is offered at the Forum this Sunday.  Please join in.

Our Easter Choir is currently forming.  There will be a rehearsal after worship this Sunday.  All are invited to participate.

Thanks to those who have joined our new Sound Board Team:  Ken Budesa, Bill Carmel, Ron Elsdon and Jan Johansson.  This elite group may allow new members in the future.

Organ Concert – Friday, April 11 at 7:30 pm:   Gary will present an organ concert and share video presentations as a final fundraiser to pay off our new Organ Speakers.  A reception will follow.  Come and enjoy this delightful evening!

Lemon Pledge/Spring Clean Up Day – Saturday, April 12 from 4 – 5:30 pm:  This will be our only Spring Opportunity to get Peace as sparkling clean as possible – and we believe it can be done in 1 ½ hours….that’s how efficient we are.  All members of Peace are invited to participate.  Bring your own Lemon Pledge!

Life Together in Community:  A Lenten Reflection by Henri Nouwen

Community life opened me up to the real spiritual combat:  the struggle to keep moving toward the light precisely when the darkness is so real.  For example, sometimes in community I put claims on people that are so high that nobody can live up to them – emotional claims and expectations of which I am not fully aware.  I expect someone to take away my loneliness.  I expect that person to give me a sense of at-homeness.  I expect the community always to be a peaceful living together with no hard work or conflict.  When my expectations are not realized, I am left feeling upset, lonely and depressed.  Why are my expectations of others so high?  What need in me is not being addressed or fulfilled?

Community Requires Forgiveness:  Within the discipline of life in community are the twin gifts of forgiveness and celebration that need to be opened and used regularly.  What is forgiveness?  Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not fulfilling all my needs and desires.  Forgiveness says, “ I know you love me, but you don’t have to love me unconditionally, because only God can do that.”  I too must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people’s total needs, for no human being can do that.

We all have wounds.  We all live in pain and disappointment.  We all have feelings of loneliness that lurk beneath all our successes, feelings of uselessness that hide under all the praise, feelings of meaninglessness even when people say we are fantastic – and that is what makes us sometimes grab onto people and expect from them affection, affirmation, and love that they cannot give.  If we want other people to give us something that only God can give, we are guilty of idolatry.  We say, “Love me!” and before long we become demanding and manipulative.  It’s so important that we keep forgiving one another – not once in a while but every moment of life.  This is what makes community possible, when we can come together in a forgiving and undemanding way.

Our heart longs for satisfaction, for total communion.  But human beings, whether it’s your spouse, parent, sibling or child are all limited in giving the level of love and acceptance we all crave.  But since we want so much and we get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want.  So, I forgive you since you can only love me in a limited way.  I forgive my mother that she is not everything I would like her to be.  I forgive my father because he did the best he could.  This is of enormous importance right now because constantly people look to blame their parent, their friends, and their church for not giving them what they need.  Many people are so angry.  They cannot forgive people for offering only limited expressions of an unlimited love.  God’s love is unlimited; our love is not.  Any relationship you enter into – in communion, friendship, marriage, community or church – will always be riddled with frustration and disappointment.  So forgiveness becomes the word for divine love in the human context.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. steve

 

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.20.14

Grace Waves

Friends:

Our Lenten Forum Series is focused on the Lord’s Prayer.  Come learn about the heart of Jesus’ teaching and practice.

The Theme for our Lenten Soup and Sacrament is The Mystery and Music of the Pascal Season.  We begin our meal and reflection at 6:30; share a simple Eucharist and then the Easter Choir rehearses until 8:30.  The Choir will also be rehearsing on Sundays after worship.  Join us on Wednesday’s and enrich your Lenten Journey.

Please keep in your prayers: Evangeline (newly born granddaughter of Grace), Karl, Ari, Gloria Aver, Rich Lisa, Joan Squire, Lars, Fred, Ralph, Ruth, the people and children of Syria, Ukraine, the Congo, Yemen, Thailand and the victims of Fukushima on the 3rd anniversary of their disaster.

Prison Ministry—Here is a wonderful article from Gun Johnston about our first Peace-Prison Worship Celebration:

When our South African friend, Mudsunga Farizani, came visiting last spring, she told us of the visits the women in Venda, our sister parish, pay to the women in their local prison. All of a sudden Nancy and I came up with the exact same idea since our Intern Minister, Brock, is based at the Dublin Women´s Correctional facility half of his time and  is being trained to be a full-fledged pastor at our church by Pastor Steve. It´s amazing that the idea came from S. Africa and fit in with us so perfectly.

A small support group of volunteers meet up with Brock once a month, and early on we signed documents in order to be allowed in to the prison. Red tape takes time, as we all know, but on Monday everything was in order for us to join Brock for our first evening service. Unfortunately Nancy is on her way to Arizona, so she could not be with us last night when we car pooled over in the evening sun. We were met by honking Canada geese on the lawns, so peaceful and serene, until we saw the rustic coils of barbed wire everywhere around the campus. Back to reality! We are out of our element, and the reality of a prisoner´s daily life is very difficult for us to comprehend.

My initial aspiration was to simply be with these women to give them a feeling that someone out there cares and listens. Many of them are separated from the children in addition to losing their freedom. As a woman and mother, I shudder at the very thought of their despair and longings.

We are ready, all five of us, two men and three women. Brock arrives, and we are introduced to the striking young female chaplain when she greets us with the guitar under her arm. That looks promising! Music lightens any situation of apprehension.

We are asked to collect our ID´s, driver´s licenses, and fill out a standard form, assuring that we do not carry drugs or contra band. Shoes, belts and what -ever we have in our pockets go into baskets to be screened, just like we are asked to do at the airport before boarding a flight. We sign in and get an invisible stamp on our left hand which we show under a blue light when we enter. So far so good!

The chapel is located close by, and in the hall way there is an inviting reading room and quilts on the walls, very cozy and warm.  One of the young prisoners opens the door and we are awed by the glorious stain glass window and sparkling chandeliers in rows under the ceiling.

We spread out and wait for the worshippers to arrive. The young women place themselves together and seem to be good friends, all clad in light gray sweats and white tennis shoes, some  of them slim while others are overweight. We are watching each other and hope to meet a bit closer. Through this Lenten service they are asked to read out loud from the scripture, and volunteers cheerfully get up to the podium. Brock asks them what the text says to them, and before we know it, these women are eagerly sharing, very appropriately and personally what is on their mind, health, children and what it is going to be like to get out again. One of them is extra peppy and vibrant. She is being released on April 1 to go back to a new life in Arizona, feeling God´s presence. We hope she has a supportive family, so she doesn´t get back with the wrong crowd again. They are so sheltered here without worries for daily bread and care, but at the same time desperately needing their children. One of the women tells us she has nine kids, most of them adopted out, but she hopes to hear from one daughter. It is heart wrenching to watch their faces in agony, but we also exchange smiles across the room, just what I had been hoping for. Smiles are a universal language, indeed.

The female head chaplain is asked in to play her guitar when we sing together. It was a blessed interlude.

We end up with a back and forth conversation and when we part they hug us, something that is not allowed, due to the smuggling risks. They knew it, but we only found out afterwards. Human closeness is so important yet discouraged. It tugs at our hearts when we go out into freedom we take so for granted, get our licenses back and take farewells until next time.

When Brock´s time is up at the end of June, he would like to see us take over this service, and we all felt so good about our first visit that I sincerely hope it will work out according to his wishes. We had a great introduction and sensed that we had made a little difference in those young women´s lives. Maybe they carried us in their thoughts and prayers that evening before bedtime as well. I hope we gave them a sliver of hope and light in their day, and that we are a good motivation to stay on the straight path once they get back into freedom again.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

 

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.14.14

Grace Waves

Friends:

Whatever makes us think that our enemies will do us more harm than our enmity? —St. Augustine

How wonderful to celebrate Lent and the initiation of Spring with our Hospitality Hour on the Labyrinth last Sunday.  Surrounded by the blossoms and the ever unfolding beauty of the Peace Mosaic it was delightful to enjoy the encouragement that we too can be made new.  Now that our congregation has agreed unanimously to give up Habitual Negative Thinking for Lent – what a blessed and transformative season this will be!

And the little children shall lead them…

I am grateful for all the children in our Early Communion Class who learned how Communion strengthens us, enacted scripture stories, heard birth and faith stories from their parents, asked their own faith questions and played in the grace of God.  Teaching this class is one of the finest privileges of being a pastor.

Seminarian Brock Klobe and 5 members of Peace initiated the Monday Evening Liturgy at the Federal Corrections Prison in Dublin this past Monday.  New friendships were begun through prayer and conversation.

Please keep in your prayers: Gloria Aver recovering from surgery, Lisa, Joan Squire, Lars, Fred, Ralph, the people and children of Syria, Ukraine, the Congo, Yemen, Thailand and the victims of Fukushima.

Our Lenten Forum Series is focused on the Lord’s Prayer.  Come learn about the heart of Jesus’ teaching and practice.

The Theme for our Lenten Soup and Sacrament is The Mystery and Music of the Pascal Season.  We begin our meal and reflection at 6:30; share a simple Eucharist and then the Easter Choir rehearses until 8:30.  Join us on Wednesday’s and enrich your Lenten Journey.

The Spirit says,

“I come with the dawn

To chain you and drag you off.”

It’s amazing, and funny, that you have to be pulled away

from being tormented, pulled out

into this Spring garden—the awakening of Lent,

but that’s the way it is.

 

Almost everyone must be bound and dragged here—like Jonah.

Only a few come on their own. —Rumi

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.05.14

Grace Waves

Friends:

God created the world in six days and on the Sabbath God rested.  What a sad translation!  On the Sabbath God gave the world a soul! —Shlomo Carlebach

Chuck Fisher kept his promise and delivered “The Best Crab Feed in the Bay Area!”  What a joyful and spirited evening we shared.  Our thanks to Michael Valenta for being the catalyst and inspiration for the Crab Feed this year; to Chuck Fisher for his coordination of the evening and the exquisite food which was prepared for all of us; to the donors of our fine Silent Auction gifts; to our volunteers—Nancy Carlston, Ken Budesa, Pat and Jared Leong, Bill and Elana, Brock Klobe and Xanthia van Ewijk, Tommy Valenta, Libby Flynn and Pam Fisher plus Dessert Makers—Diane Kurtz, Ken, Pat, Libby and Chuck; and to all of you who invited friends to join you.  At least 90 people attended!   It was a great night and the event raised over $4,000 for Peace—the best fundraiser in our history!  And… check out the photos! (Thanks to Kirsti)

Ash Wednesday initiates the season of Lent.  Our worship will be at 7:30 pm this Wednesday.

Sabbath is the strongest vitamin because its nutrients are those which can heal the soul.

“Love Letters”  will be performed at Peace this Sunday, March 9 at 4:00 pm.  This is a fundraiser for Hospice of the East Bay where Bev Harms and Pr. Elizabeth work. This drama is a poignant and humorous story about letters exchanged over the course of a lifetime between two long time friends who despite going separate ways continue to share their confidences.  A reception with a popular harpist will follow.

This Sunday we will begin a Lenten Forum Series on the Lord’s Prayer.  Our thanks to Jan Johansson for his Forum on The Human Heart this past Sunday and to Ron Elsdon for his Forum on Inequality and Racism on the previous Sunday.

You can keep every Sabbath to the letter of the law, but unless Sabbath reaches the deepest place in your heart, you haven’t kept Sabbath.

At our worship this Sunday we will celebrate the culmination of our Early Communion Class with all the children and families who have been involved.  Please offer your prayers for Regan, Reese, Natalie and Ava throughout this week.

Remember: Time Change—this Sunday, March 9.  Spring ahead!

The Veil Tapestry Project has reached its goal of $426!  The Council and Bill Carmel offer their thanks to all who contributed.

The Brockometer has received an additional special gift of $1,000 bringing our total of Match Funds to $2,700!  In addition, the donor has chosen to give the entire $5,000 to the Prison Internship Fund!  How gracious and generous are the members of Peace!

Happy Birthday and Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary to Lois and Bob McGee!  Lois, we are grateful for all of your incredible gifts to Peace, PLTS Seminary and the larger church throughout the years!

Please keep in your prayers:  Karl Hepner and his fellow shipmates who are deployed in the Mediterranean currently; in gratitude for Lisa who has received a double lung transplant; for our children and the children of Syria, Afghanistan, and the Crimea.

March 7 is First Friday Films: Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen is a reverent 2009 biopic by director Margarethe von Trotta about the famed 12th century Benedictine abbess. Von Bingen was also a Christian mystic, scientist, physician/healer, poet, naturalist, playwright, philosopher and composer. Pope John Paul II called her, “a light to her people and for her time, she continues to shine even more brightly today.” Run time 111 minutes. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after.

Gary Sponholtz invites you to the DVC Wind Bands in Concert this Friday, March 7 at 8:00 pm at the DVC Performing Arts Center.  They will perform ‘The Lonely Beach—Normandy 1944’ featuring Kevin Tam’s arrangement of Camille Saint–Saens ‘Hail California’.  And Gary will be performing on the Peace Lutheran Church Organ which is being transported to DVC for this event!

A Sabbath Test:  If you want to know how much you like a person, see if you can sit with them….without doing anything.

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve