Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.23.15

Grace Waves

Friends:

Do not be afraid.  Look I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by all the people!”  Angel, Gospel of Luke

Christmas Eve:  Our Children’s Service is at 5:00 pm;  Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.

Christmas Day at 10:00 am.

O Come let us adore him!

 Such a blessing to share in Dylan’s Baptism last Sunday.  What a peaceful and present spirit she is.  And the Baptismal Gown she wore was designed in 1865!  Imagine all the generations who have worn it for this utterly unique celebration of New Life – including her father.  A soul-deep reminder that we are part of the great stream of life, endlessly flowing toward the Source of our being.  God bless Dylan, her parents, grandparents and godparents all the days of their lives!

Family Service Pastor:  Our Peace Council has created a new pastoral position to design and coordinate our monthly Family Services.  The Council requested Pr. Margareta to serve as the Family Service Pastor and she has said Yes.  She will begin in January.  We are delighted that she is able to provide prayerful leadership and together we will give a focused development to this important ministry at Peace.

The Pure Delight Concert was a true blessing.  The soloists Elizabeth Hunter Ashley and Joo Wan Kang, violinist Jiwon Evelyn Kwark and the Coelis Vocal Ensemble lifted our spirits in a profound fashion.  Thank God for these abundant and gracious gifts!

Additional Quilts now hang in our Sanctuary thanks to the efforts of Bill Carmel.  What a precious gift for our Christmas Celebrations!  Thank you, Margaret!

Christmas Eve Interfaith Special on CBS at 11:30 pm!  CBS in New York asked URI (the United Religions Initiative) to prepare a unique Christmas and Interfaith Special.  This has never been pursued before.  I joined the URI Creative Design Committee in shaping this exciting challenge.  The Special will be aired on all national CBS Affiliates – replacing Stephen Colbert’s show. Tune in or Tivo!  Hopefully this will advance dialogue with all our interfaith friends!  Let me know what you think.

The Mandala in the heart of our Peace Mosaic now holds the Manger and Star created by the homeless children who spent their Christmas while living for 2 weeks at Peace a few years ago.  Savor the meaning of Christ’s Birth as you walk the Labyrinth these solstice days.

Bev and I are happy to host an Open House for the members and friends of Peace on Saturday, January 2 from 3 – 5:30 pm.  If you want to bring something tasty, please do so.  Come and relax into the New Year!

Joyful Christmas!

Pr. Steve

 

 

 

 

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.16.15

Grace Waves

Friends:

By your Light we see the light.

The Psalms

Our 3rd Pure Delight Concert will be presented this Saturday, Dec. 19 at 5:00 pm – a delightful experience of Christmas!  Come appreciate and encourage our own Elizabeth Hunter Ashley and Hyunjung Choi in their artistic passion to provide us with an exquisite Christmas Concert.  This will benefit our Interfaith ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ commitment by providing ongoing hospitality for the Refugees living at San Damiano.  Please invite friends to join you for this joyous celebration of Newborn Life – and strengthen support for the Classical Arts at Peace by encouraging the Pure Delight Foundation.

The Family Service was a joyous experience of light and a blessing for all present.

On this 4th Sunday of Advent/Mary Sunday,  Dylan Odne will be baptized.  Please keep Dylan in your prayers as we prepared for her baptism. Those of you who remember the Tomamichael Family may begin to be happy.  We will get to see Kathy and Jim because it is their granddaughter who is being baptized.

Giving Tree Gifts can be presented at worship this Sunday, December 20.  We ask that your gifts are wrapped and each gift is marked with the name of the child or parent and Room number.  This ensures easy delivery of your gifts to the appropriate families.  Thank you!

Christmas Eve Children’s Service at 5:00 pm:  Would your kids enjoy participating – with music, dance, role playing the Christmas Story, as narrators?  We have 10 kids already involved – the more the merrier!  We will have 1 Rehearsal on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 5 pm.  Please let me know soon – it’s always lots of fun!

An Early Communion Class will be offered for 2nd – 5th Graders and their parents starting in January (the 17th?).  There are a total of 5 Classes ( 4 Sunday afternoons and 1 Saturday morning) ) and the participating families will decide the schedule together at our first meeting.  This is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about Communion with child appropriate material.  1 family is already committed. Talk with me for details.

Our thanks to the Youth Group for initiating the call for Socks for Homeless Friends and for the generous response of so many people.  In addition the total has grown to 21 Backpacks contributed for those who sleep on the streets of Walnut Creek.

Chanukah  at Blackhawk Plaza was a marvelous celebration.  Our thanks to  Beth Chaim Congregation for inviting us.  This was the 19th year for this Interfaith Celebration!

Christmas Eve Interfaith Special on CBS at 11:30 pm!  CBS in New York asked URI (the United Religions Initiative, the largest grass roots organization on the planet, now in 85 countries) to prepare a TV Special – to be aired on all national CBS Affiliates on Christmas Eve.  After weighing this first of a kind request, URI accepted the request and asked Pr. Steve to join their Creative Design Committee in creating this unique and exciting venture.  The Special will replace Stephen Colbert that evening  – he normally takes the night off.  Tune in or Tivo it!  Hopefully this will advance dialogue with all our interfaith friends.

Thanks to John and Jack for getting the Lights on our Christmas Tree!

Margaret brought members of her Quilting Guild to Peace and they thoroughly enjoyed the Quilt Exhibit.  Aren’t we fortunate!

World Music Dancing!  On Saturday, January 9  there will be dancing at Peace – for the joy of it!  All the families of Peace are invited to participate in this New Year’s Celebration.  Plenty of munchies too.  “What you have danced can never be taken from you!”  Ancient African Wisdom

Joyous Advent,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.09.15

Grace Waves

Friends:

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union,
a deeper communion…  —T.S. Eliot

Family Service – This Sunday!  We will have a wonderful Advent Celebration with all of our families this Sunday.  It is the Pink Candle Sunday – the day for joy and delight in the coming of Christmas.  There will be special music and worship activities for the kids.  Invite your friends and  grandchildren to join you.  Plus there will be Carol Singing during Hospitality in the Gathering Hall!

The Youth Group invites everyone to Bring Socks for the Homeless this Sunday!

Giving Tree Families:  We have Christmas Requests remaining for 2 Families residing at Shelter, Inc.  If you would like to assist one of these families please contact the church office on Sunday or notify the church office.  Please Return your Giving Tree Gifts on December 20!

20 Backpacks for the Homeless were collected by the members of Peace.  Thank you for providing these life giving Christmas Gifts!  Ron has delivered them to the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek.

Pure Delight Christmas Concert – Saturday, December 19 at 5:00 pm.  Our own Elizabeth Hunter with co-founder Hyunjung Choi leads a stunning Christmas Celebration with baritone Joo Wan Kang, violinist Evelyn Kwark, The Coelis Vocal Ensemble, Special Blend, the Pacific Youth Choir and Junior Choir.  This concert will be a joyous gift of classical and contemporary music.  A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Refugees that I-SRV is sponsoring at San Damiano.  The concert concludes with a community sung “Hallelujah Chorus”.

Thanks to our ‘Decorating Angels’ who have filled our Gathering Hall with Christmas Beauty and Spirit!

Christmas Eve Choir:  2 Voices have already said Yes to singing on Christmas Eve.  Join in the Joy – let Gary know that you would like to participate!

Christmas Caroling:  We will have our Annual Caroling on Sunday, December 20, starting at 6 pm at Peace.  Always a great time, everyone is welcomed to join Chief Caroler Gary.

 I hope all is well with you, the family and Peace Congregation as well. We are experiencing severe drought in most parts of South Africa. Some people have lost their livestock and that’s what they had for a living. In some areas, prayers for the rain have been conducted and we pray that God answers us soon.”  Mudzunga Farisani

Living Earth Reflections:  Last week, African heads of state gathered here to announce the African Renewable Energy Initiative to develop at least 10 gigawatts of new renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and at least 300 gigawatts by 2030, potentially making the continent, which is now one of the most energy impoverished regions, the cleanest in the world. The African Development Bank and other financial institutions, including the World Bank, pledged an initial $5 billion to support the initiative. On Monday, the group of seven advanced economies (G7) and the European Union pledged an additional $10 billion in grants and loans to support this plan.  An agreement from Paris will not solve every problem faced by God’s creation, but it moves us closer to a more hope-filled future.  Mary Minette, ELCA Advocacy Director

What is a Blue Christmas or Longest Night Service?  Brightly wrapped packages, Christmas trees, holiday parties, holly and the scent of pine, unending upbeat carols in shops and malls, visits from friends and family, baking and cooking, food everywhere –these are the images and memories of Christmas most of us celebrate and treasure. But each year some people–the grieving, the lonely, the hopeless–dread the approach of the holiday season. They have no heart for the cheer and the bustle, the anticipation and theexcitement. Across the country congregations recognize the struggles grieving people often face during the holidays. In the weeks before Christmas they focus ministry efforts on special worship services that speak to the needs of the downhearted.

Asbury United Methodist Church

4743 East Ave. Livermore, CA 94550

925-447-1950

Service of the Longest Night, Monday Dec. 21 at 7pm

www.asburylive.org/news/service-of-the-longest-night-monday-december-21/

On the longest night of the year, Monday, December 21, join in a worship service at 7pm in the Chapel. Come to sit in the silence, light a candle, take a break from all the busyness, acknowledge that holidays can be tough when we are missing a loved one or simply not feeling jolly. Drop in between 7-8pm.

Thanks to Crystal for her ‘Reading Congregations’ Report this past Sunday.  It is helpful to learn about the dynamics and context of Peace and its ministries.

“The most important thing is that we are here, at this place, in a house of prayer….Enjoy this.  Drink it all in.  Everything, the redwood forests, the sea, the sky, the waves, the birds, the sea lions.  It is in all this that you will find your answers.  Here is where everything connects.”  Thomas Merton (On the 100th Anniversary of his birth, Dec. 10, 2015)

Advent Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.03.15

Grace Waves

Friends:

Maturity:  among other things – not to hide one’s strength out of fear and, consequently, live below one’s best.  —Dag Hammarskjold

Reading Congregations – Sunday Forum with Seminarian Crystal Larsen: Come learn how our church family is transforming, while still growing. Crystal Larsen has been with our community since September, learning the dynamics of what makes and shapes Peace Lutheran today.  Please join us Sunday in the Youth Room as she shares her findings.

Pure Delight Christmas Concert – Saturday, December 19 at 5:00 pm.  Our own Elizabeth Hunter with co-founder Hyunjung Choi leads a stunning Christmas Celebration with tenor Joo Wan Kang, violinist Evelyn Kwark, The Coelis Vocal Ensemble, Special Blend, the Pacific Youth Choir and Junior Choir.  This concert will be a joyous gift of classical and contemporary music.  A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Refugees that I-SRV is sponsoring at San Damiano.  The concert concludes with a community sung “Hallelujah Chorus”.

Margaret’s beautiful Quilt Exhibit is on display through December.  Invite your friends to join you on a Sunday or come see the Exhibit during the week.

Giving Cards.  Pamela and Dennis request if you have not done so to submit your Giving  Cards by this Sunday so our Treasurer can establish our budget for 2016.

Quiet Prayer Time / An Advent Invitation:  Would you appreciate time to center and focus before worship?  The Healing Prayer Team invites you to join them in the Counseling Center at 9:40 for 15 minutes of quiet prayer time.   Make the enrichment of your Advent worship and Eucharist celebrations a Christmas Gift to yourself.

Our next Family Service is December 13.  Bring all your kids and grandkids to this joyful child-loving Advent celebration!

The Youth Group gathering was a great evening for kids and parents.  Thais and Greg prepared a delicious meal, we reflected on spiritual questions and John Ashley introduced us to the basics of creating a Percussion Circle.

Join the Christmas Choir!  Speak with Gary if you wish to participate on Christmas Eve!

FFF Films, Fri. Dec. 4, 6:30 pm – Nativity!  Ben Jones, guest host for December, brings us Nativity!, a 2009 Brit family comedy based on an elementary school which puts on a nativity play; think School of Rock meets Elf in Coventry. This family-friendly film features a cast of talented children who scream with joy upon hearing that a Hollywood director is coming to see their play – or is it just a rumor? Used-to-be-actor turned teacher Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman) is UPset to be handed the job of whacking together the annual nativity play and making the kids’ Hollywood dreams come true. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after.

Backpacks for the Homeless – Final Sunday:  Thanks to all who have contributed Backpacks.  We will conclude our gathering of these crucial winter gifts this Sunday. New or good condition, used packs are appreciated!

Happy 100th Anniversary of the Theory of Relativity!

Keep in your prayers:   Lois, Kim and Cam on the birth of Spencer;  Fred, Ralph, refugees, those seeking faith and a spiritual home, the UN Climate Talks in Paris, World Aids Day – those who are living with AIDS.

This year we have seen fresh momentum for Healthy Earth/Healthy Human Community action building all around the world:  Pope Francis released his historic encyclical Laudato Si, urging world leaders to act on crucial climate issues; the EPA’s new  Clean Power Plan was introduced; and China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, submitted one of the strongest commitments ahead of Paris with plans to cut carbon intensity by 60–65 percent below 2005 levels.  Keep the global leaders and these important decisions in your prayers.

Jazz Church West – The Lorca Hart Trio:  This Sunday enjoy a unique organ – guitar – drums holiday celebration.  You won’t find it online, in a catalogue or at any mall – only at Peace!

What is a Blue Christmas or Longest Night Service?  Brightly wrapped packages, Christmas trees, holiday parties, holly and the scent of pine, unending upbeat carols in shops and malls, visits from friends and family, baking and cooking, food everywhere –these are the images and memories of Christmas most of us celebrate and treasure. But each year some people–the grieving, the lonely, the hopeless–dread the approach of the holiday season. They have no heart for the cheer and the bustle, the anticipation and the excitement. Across the country congregations recognize the struggles grieving people often face during the holidays. In the weeks before Christmas they focus ministry efforts on special worship services that speak to the needs of the downhearted.

Christmas Caroling:  We will have our Annual Caroling on Sunday, December 20.  Always a great time, everyone is welcomed to join Chief Caroler Gary.  Time to be announced.

Advent Wreaths:  A dozen were designed this past Sunday! Thanks to Charlene for organizing this special Advent Gift.

Our Giving Tree Ornaments can be chosen this Sunday.  Each of the ornaments will contain the family requests for children and parents who are receiving support from Shelter, Inc.  The gifts will need to be presented at Peace on Sunday, December 20.

Blessed Advent!

Pr. Steve