Pastor’s Weekly Message: 05.31.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

The world is pregnant with God, but it is only a heart in love who can see God.  —St. Francis

Sunday June 5 our Guest Preacher and Musician will be Rev. Paul Schmidt.  Paul has enjoyed designing new liturgies over the years and the synod has asked him to present one at a local congregation.  We at Peace get to experience this creative liturgy on Sunday.  No Sunday School this Sunday – all of our teachers are out of town.

Peace Keepers:  This Sunday the Connections Committee will present a list of ministries which need energy and participation from the members of Peace.  Please consider how you may assist in new or ongoing ways.  Thank you.

First Friday Films – Guest host Benjamin Jones screens three short films from his Spiritual Cinema Circle collection on Friday, June 3 at 6:30 pm in the Youth Room. Baggage is a comedy about dropping lifetime emotional “baggage.”  Run time 10 minutes. The Gambling Man is about Alby Hurwit, who has heard music in his head all his life. At the age of 70, he didn’t just write a song – he began composing a symphony. Run time 18 minutes. What Is That? portrays a father and son having an unexpected conversation. Join us for popcorn and discussion.

Jazz Church Wes– June 5:   We conclude our 11th Season with the dynamic duo of Saxman, Anton Schwartz and Pianist, Josh Nelson.  It will do your soul good.  See you at 5:00 pm.

Keep in your prayers:  Gun, Joan, Lois, Mike, Linda, Diane, Roy, Zach, Liz, Corine, Jim, Ralph, Fred and all caregivers.

The Pacific Choir and Coelis Ensemble present Mozarts ‘Missa Solemnis in C major’ on Saturday, June 11 at 7:00 pm at Peace.   The tickets are $20/adult and $10 for students.  

Forums:

Justice Advocacy – June 5:  We meet this Sunday 5 after worship to encourage one another in our ministries.  All Peace members are welcomed.

Yoga at Peace and Beth Chaim – June 12:   Jennifer Zetlan has begun a Shabbat Yoga Program at Beth Chaim on Saturday mornings.  She has been conversing with Jeanne Kaplan and Linda Benatar about making this a cooperative venture with Peace folks who are either yoga enthusiasts or those who would like to learn about this practice.  Please join us.

Youth Group – June 12:  The Youth Group will join Charlene at Danville Rehab to sing and share with the elders gathered there.

On Saturday, June 18 we will enjoy a Midsommer BBQ at 5:00 pm followed by a Solstice Dance to World Musicat 6:30 which Kaleo and Elise will lead.  Will be pure fun and a great way to kick off the summer!

Our next Family Service is on June 19, Father’s Day.

Peace will serve as a Polling Place on June 7.

KIDS IN CHURCH – End of the School Year Humor:

3-year-old Reese: “Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen.”

A little boy was overheard praying: “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it.  I’m having a real good time like I am.”

After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong.
Finally, the boy replied, “That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.”  (Thanks to Elana)

Self-Image

Spiritual narcissism is the unconscious use of spiritual practice to increase rather than decrease self-importance.  The only way to decrease self-importance is to replace “I can do it” with “I cannot do it alone.”  Sooner or later we discover that we cannot win in a direct battle against self-image.  Spiritual narcissim as a condition arises whenever one uses one’s faith to accomplish personal aims.  It is a consequence of willfulness; of being impatient; of not being willing to accept spiritual realization as a gift.

People attempt to make themselves better, which of course is an image – and whose image of “what is better” is one using?  They try to rid themselves of fears, anxieties and self-doubts that are simply an integral part of normal human living.

The point is not whether one feels positively or negatively about oneself, but that self-image is taken so seriously and made so important. Self-image is not important, it is an image, it is empty.  What the real thing is remains a mystery.  We are always and finally unable to comprehend ourselves.  (Pat. Hawk)

Blessings,

Pr. Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor’s Weekly Messages: 05.26.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Pentecost/Trinity:  “The day will come when, after harnessing the winds, the tides and gravitation we shall harness the energies of love.  And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, humans will have discovered fire.”  (Teilhard de Chardin)

Meditation Practice – Begin, Renew, Support:  Thursdays from 6 – 6:45 pm.

Copies of “Care for our Common Home” by Pope Francis have arrived.  They are $10 a piece.  This insightful volume will motivate your commitment to address and heal climate change issues and global inequality.

Please keep in your prayers:  Gun, Joan, Linda, Diane, refugees, teachers – students and the approaching end of the school year.

Forum – June 5:  Justice Advocacy update on current ministries.

Forum on June 12 – The Practice of Yoga:  Jenifer Zetlan from Beth Chaim, Linda Benatar and Jeanne Kaplan lead us in —  Exploring the Benefits of Yoga (physical, mindfulness and spiritual) and Peace/Beth Chaim Designing a Yoga Partnership.  Join us if you are curious, courageous, competent or completely enlightened!

FFF – Spiritual Cinema Circle:  Guest host Benjamin Jones screens three short films from his Spiritual Cinema Circle collection on Friday, June 3 at 6:30 pm in the Youth Room. Baggage is a comedy about dropping lifetime emotional “baggage.”  Run time 10 minutes. The Gambling Man is about Alby Hurwit, who has heard music in his head all his life. At the age of 70, he didn’t just write a song – he began composing a symphony. Run time 18 minutes. What Is That? portrays a father and son having an unexpected conversation. Join us for popcorn and discussion.

The Pacific Choir and Coelis Ensemble present Mozarts ‘Missa Solemnis in C major’ on Saturday, June 11 at 7:00 pm at Peace.   The tickets are $20/adult and $10 for students.  Pr. Steve has 10 free tickets so speak with him if you would like one or two.

Global Partnership News from Laurel Galan

Recap from Amanda’s 4/18/16 e-mail

Memo, Eduardo, and Luis did go out to Laurel Galan on April 6th and distribute the food; families each received 27 pounds of rice and beans, 68 pounds of corn, 5 liters of cooking oil, and 15 pounds of sugar. They were very grateful for your support and for thinking of them in their time of hardship. They continue to have enough water to get by in the wells, and the national weather system is now saying that the effects of El Nino are dissipating, and that there should be rain in the first half of the rainy season. So prayers for that to come to fruition!

Recap from Amanda’s 5/12/16 e-mail.

Memo and I actually have good health news to share: we are expecting! He or she is due in October, and we are very excited. I was pretty sick the first trimester, but the second has been better so far.

We haven’t set a date with the women of Laurel Galan yet, but it will probably be to celebrate Mother’s Day on May 30th, so either the beginning of that week, or the end of the week before that. Once we have a date we will let you know. Enriqueta does not have the wheelchair yet. It has been raining in Laurel Galan, praise God! Most will not plant during the first planting season anyway because of plagues, but it is helping to fill up their wells and provide them and the animals with drinking and washing water.

We would love to have a delegation from Peace Lutheran. For us, it would probably be best in 2017, since we will be adjusting to having a little one this year! So far we have a delegation from DUMC scheduled for early January, and one from McKendree University mid-May. But other than that, we would be open to date proposals.

Trinity Blessings,

Pr. Steve

 

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 05.17.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Is not Wisdom calling?
Is not Understanding raising her voice?

I am calling to you, people of the earth, my words are addressed to all humanity.

Leave foolishness behind and you will live, go forward in the ways of discernment. —Proverbs 8

 

Trinity Sunday – the Great Celebration of the Mystery, Manifestation and Meaning of the Communion of Love – this Sunday.

Forum – Connections within and beyond Peace: Our Connections and Youth/Family Deacons Pat Leong and Monica Laurlund will lead our Forum this Sunday about the ministry -dimensions currently happening and soon evolving through the connections of Peace.  Please join in  – your contributions and insights are valuable!

Our thanks to all the Linguists who participated in our Pentecost worship this past Sunday, to Gerry Grosz for his music and to Anthony on his birthday!

Renewal and Prayer with Inmates:  Norma will participate in an Agape Retreat with inmates at the Vacaville Prison on the May 29th weekend.  She requests your prayers for them to assure them that the outside community cares and they are not forgotten.

Yoga at Peace and Beth Chaim:  Jennifer Zetlan has begun a Shabbat Yoga Program at Beth Chaim on Saturday mornings.  She has been conversing with Jeanne Kaplan and Linda Benatar about making this a cooperative venture with Peace folks who are either yoga enthusiasts or those who would like to learn about this practice.  Please join us for this Forum on June 12!

Vocalist Clairdee performs for the final Spring Community Concert Series event this Saturday, May 21 at 8 pm.  She is a long time friend of Peace and a wonderful performer.

Heart Times Film Festival :  Zwo and Ndamu Farisani are excited to share with you a project we are working on that is very close to our hearts. We have been involved in the South African TV and Film Industry for many years in numerous capacities. We are now spreading our wings and delivering our own productions through our production company ‘Farisani Creations’. Our current project is the ‘Heart Times Film Festival’ which consists of four films with the common theme of ‘Love and Relationships’. The films do not aim to approach these topics in the traditional fairy-tale sense, but are meant to be delivered in an authentic and holistic manner with the key objective of helping people work through and heal from life’s challenges. We strongly believe in spreading a message of love and hope. With so many negative elements in the world right now, it has never felt so necessary to counter that with the positive.  The scripts for all the films are completed, with some of South Africa’s finest cast and crew already signed onto the project because of their shared passion for the story lines. If you’re interested in the project or you know someone who might be, please spread the word. Your support is highly appreciated!  To learn more:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35wdHVzZOeY

Dogtown Redemption:  Those who saw this PBS film about the street recyclers who fight to survive in one of Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods, will not soon forget it.  How harshly the impoverished must suffer while living in such close proximity to fabulous wealth.  Lord, have mercy.

United Nations Day at Muir Woods:  May 19 marks the 71st Anniversary of the UN Charter Signing at Muir Woods.

Let yourself be Silently Drawn by the Strong Pull of what you really Love.  —Rumi

Pentecost Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 05.13.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

If you can explain it, it’s not true! —Wisdom gracefully holds contradictions until new truth arises

We celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, the 3rd High Feast Day of the church.  It celebrates the Descent of the Spirit and the Birth of the Church (ecclesia – ‘the listening ones’).  Wear Red!

Christian and Interfaith Dialogue:  Seminarian Crystal Larsen lead a class on this topic with the Wisdom Seekers last Tuesday.  Her presentation was part of an Education Class she is taking at PLTS Seminary.  She felt it went well and the group seems to have had a positive response to their discussion.  The group concluded by asking:   what are our gifts for reaching out to “others”;  and what does the understanding of vocation in Lutheran theology have to teach us in regards to using our gifts in interfaith dialogue.  Thank you, Crystal.

Peace Men’s Group meets this Saturday from 8:30 – 10 AM.  Join in, get connected and enjoy a little breakfast too.

Forum – May 15:  The conclusion of our “Care for our Common Home” study.  Gratitude to Pope Francis for focusing our spiritual attention on creation and inequality.

Forum – May 22:  Deacons Pat Leong of Connections and Monica Laurlund of Youth and Family will share with you the Priorities for Connecting within Peace and beyond our congregation.

Second Friday Film  – Friday May 13 at 6:30 pm in the Youth Room.  It will be The Cobbler, a PG-13 movie starring Adam Sandler, Ellen Barkin, Dustin Hoffman, Method Man and Steve Buscemi.  As always popcorn during and  discussion after.

Mother’s Day Jewelry:  Kersti’s necklaces were quite a hit!  We will be sure to have her return for future occasions.

Jazz Church West:  This week the fundraising Gift Package for KCSM radio station (91.1 FM) was a CD containing highlights from 11 years of Jazz Church West Performances.  This included over 70 artists who have performed at Peace as part of our interfaith celebrations.  Our thanks to Ed Klitsch who continues to promote our Jazz Events in creative ways and to KCSM the only 24/7 jazz station in the US and whose music is heard worldwide.  What a unique ministry this has become.

Dogtown Redemption – Monday, May 16 at PBS at 10 pm:  St. Mary’s Center in Oakland provides food, shelter and a welcoming community to homeless and at-risk seniors living on the streets.  It also has an outreach program to help poor seniors age with dignity in their own home.  It is the only shelter of its kind in Northern California.  Peace has hosted fundraisers and Poetry and Art Exhibits in order to support St. Mary’s.  This Monday night you can see a remarkable video about life on the Oakland streets for seniors which includes the compassionate work of St. Mary’s. Tune in!

Advance Notice — October 2nd  from Noon to 2 PM – Pet Festival and St Francis Blessing of the Animals:   Our theme this year is from Canticle of the Sun by Marty Haugen (5th verse) –  The Creatures you made to Let your Life Show”.    This year we resume the full experience of music, silent auction, food sales, exhibitors and general merriment. We usually have several hundred pet and people visitors – so don’t miss it.  Donations of animal care items, dog and cat store coupons, restaurant coupons, yachts, mansions and vineyards gratefully accepted.   Want to get involved – contact me.   Kind Regards, Greg Grebe

Wedding Couple Kylie and Jesse Harms offer their thanks to all the friends at Peace for your wedding prayers, presence and blessings!  They are enjoying their honeymoon at Dana’s Cottage in Florida.

The Lord looks on his servants with mercy and not with blame.  In God’s sight we do not fall:  in our sight, we do not stand.  Both of these are true – but the deeper insight belongs to God. —Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich

Pentecost Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 05.04.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Each one of you has received a special grace. So, like good stewards responsible for all these varied graces of God, put it at the service of others.  (1 Peter 4: 10)

Your Prayers for Kylie and Jesse who are married on Friday at 4 pm are desired.  Thank you.  Bev and I invite you to attend if you can!  (Rain will determine the outdoor/indoor location!)

Mudzunga Farisani (Jesse’s godmother) and daughter Ndamu will be present for the wedding and I hope our Sunday worship too!  Come greet these good friends from South Africa.

Here is a Mother’s Day gift in honor of Annie Haines.

New Year 2016, New Opportunities, by Annie’s daughter Amy 

Opening a new calendar to January 1 always fills me with fluttery anticipation. Seeing all of those blank squares, each spot holding a space for adventures that await, challenges to be faced, joys to be experienced. Every day offers opportunity for a memory yet to be made.

In a similar way, I feel a twinge of nostalgia (and sometimes sadness) when turning the calendar to January and the metaphorical closing of a chapter on things already gone by.

In February 2015, my mom passed away after being diagnosed with cancer the previous autumn. In the weeks before her death, time ceased to have meaning for me. Minutes sometimes passed like hours, but a week felt like it was just a day or two. Everything else in my life receded to the background and my only focus became being with my mom: sitting near her, singing to her, massaging scented lotion into her skin. In all of this I felt both untethered and very present, a sensation I’d never experienced before.

One chilly morning I sat in my car and prepared to go see my mom. The sun streamed through the windshield and flooded the inside of the car, warming me with early golden light. In that moment, I was overcome with awe at how blessed we are by each moment. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before writing down these words:

Take the trip. Light the candles. Wear the dress. Drink the champagne. Make the call. Watch the sunset. Hold the hand. Share the story. Eat the dessert. Hear the symphony. Walk the path. Feel the heart. Open the arms. Breathe the air. Spread the love. Do it today.

I needed to write those words down as much as I needed to read them. And reread them.

Markers of time – events like birthdays, school years, and holidays – always take me by surprise. These are the moments when I pause, take a look around, and often wonder where I’ve been.

My mother’s death made me acutely aware of the delicate nature of time; no longer do I dismiss it as a bottomless resource. This awareness makes me responsible to consciously embrace each day, to take it all in, and not get so caught up in the doing that I miss the living. 

These days, I’m more tuned in to how I want to fill the squares on my calendar. I hope that when it comes time to turn the page at the end of 2016, your spaces are marked with the things that bring you joy, peace, and fulfillment.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve