Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.28.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Touched by an Angel, Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity.

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

We shared a blessed Christmas with 3 very different liturgies.  Thanks to all our Children – Lillian Meynier, Ava Grant, Luke Miletich, Evan and Sydney Wettstein, Collin and Brady Gillespie, Patrick Kiley; and Musicians/Singers – Jamie Madsen (and Elizabeth her Voice Teacher) John and Mary Ellen Nowell, John Ashley/Jack O’Neill/Noah Hunter-Ashley, along with Sarah and Dwane Michael, Drew Cremisio, Gary Sponholtz – and All the Drummers who created the unique and joyous gifts of this Christ Child season!

Please keep in your prayers:  Pr. Bob Lesher and daughter Ruth, my sister Rae Neunaber and family on the death of her husband Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, those looking for shelter.

Chanukkah Menorah Lighting – 18th Anniversary:  Celebrate this Friday, December 30th at 6 pm at Beth Chaim Congregation (1800 Holbrook Dr., 1 mile from Peace).  Singing and dancing and feasting at this Festival of Lights.

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – Forum with Ron Elsdon on January 8 after worship.

From Bill Carmel:  It is my great pleasure to announce my upcoming Show at the Orinda Library Art Gallery. I will be showing 28 works including cast bronze, epoxy resin and pewter works as well as paintings with three themes: Wild Animals, Calligraphy and Landscapes.  The show, curated by the Lamorinda Arts Council, runs from Jan. 3 to 31, 2017. See http://lamorindaarts.org/orinda-library-art-gallery.  I hope you can join me at the artists’ reception on Saturday, January 7, from 3-5 PM and will include light refreshments. Bay Area jazz guitarist Lee Waterman will be playing some great tunes as well. The other artists in the show are Margaret Dorfman of Oakland who is showing vegetable parchment art; Diana Monk of Santa Rosa who is showing oil paintings of landscapes and Charlotte Huntley of Lafayette who is showing watercolors.   Contact info:  Visit the gallery at 26 Orinda Way during normal library hours – Mon. through Thurs., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sun., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m /  925-254-2184 or visit http://ccclib.org/.

(A new verse for ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’)

 

O hush the noise, you strife-filled souls, and hear the message clear;

God wills a peaceful time on earth for all the creatures dear.

Embrace the hope that builds no walls, the love that knows no fear.

Believe the words the angels sang, the song of peace is here.

See you Sunday and Happy New Year!

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.22.16

Grace Waves

Merry Christmas!

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” – written by Rev. Edmund Storrs Willis in 1859…..a verse rarely published:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long;  Beneath the angel-strain have rolled, Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not, the love song which they bring:  O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing.

Hush the noise ….and hear the angels sing!  These are troubled times, when ugly noises need to be dramatically hushed.  Words of hatred, prejudice and fear need to be muted and what once came upon a midnight clear clearly needs to be heard anew.  This Christmas Carol was written shortly after the Mexican War (one of the ‘least just’ American wars), was opposed in Congress by only one Representative named Abraham Lincoln; and Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay taxes to support it.  Christmas Carols birthing Peace….what else are we about!

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm –  fun for our families, come meet Baby Jesus;   Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm – beautiful music!  Invite your friends.
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Thank you to all who contributed to making Christmas possible for families here and through our Partnerships!

Peace Christmas Caroling – our group of Carolers raised up Christmas Cheer in several homes and at Brookdale Nursing Facility. Such a blessing and as Gary says, “Singing is yoga for the voice and soul!”

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – An advance word about the Forum Ron Elsdon will lead on January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Dave Neunaber, Pr. Bob Lesher, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, Natalie, Rick; those who like the Holy Family are looking for a home; the people of Aleppo, refugees, parents and grandparents, those who protect us through the night; those who seek wisdom in our times.

The Pure Delight Concert was a blessing for those who attended.

Comment from one who purchased a Solar Halo:  It’s really nice to imagine that a house of worship will be autonomous in the darkest of times and will shine as a beacon for those in spiritual need.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.

And though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see.

There will be an answer, let it be.

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
—Lennon/McCartney and the Bible

Christmas blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.15.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Every Midwife knows that not until the womb softens

can the child find the opening to be born.

 

Soften the treasure of your heart, my Friend,

so that the opening within you may be discovered

and the dark pain with the joyful vision you carry

may gracefully lead you to the never-ending grace.

“Turn Back, O Man” – no one will forget the dynamic Advent Song from Godspell that Elizabeth and Gary gave us last Sunday!  Fun, illuminating, truth-telling – exactly everything the Gospel is at its best!

Mary Sunday:  This Sunday we celebrate that strong woman Mary, Jesus mother!

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm; 
    Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.  
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Please return your Christmas Gifts with the Ornaments taped on your gifts this Sunday, December 18.

Peace Christmas Caroling – Sunday, December 18 at 5:00 pm.  We begin with libations at Peace before we continue our joyous evening lead by traveling minstrel Gary!

 The Pure Delight Concert will be this Saturday, December 17 at 5:00 pm.  Invite friends to join you for this Christmas Concert –www.puredelightmusic.org.

 Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Dave Neunaber, Pr. Bob Lesher, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, Natalie, Rick; those who like the Holy Family are looking for a home.

Solar Halos:  As you know, we are working to put solar on the church roof.  This will not only show our commitment to the environment but will potentially save us $10,000 or more a year in energy costs that we could then use to supplement our many ministries.  We’ve researched it well and have narrowed it down to two companies who were recommended highly and have done many commercial installations.  We should be able to do the whole job using the best panels in the business for less than $90,000.  As of now, we have pledges for about $60,000 with about $50,000 cash already received.  All sales of Linda Elsdon’s photography goes to our Solar Project Our fundraising is continuing to grow.

Many people are donating in honor of or in memory of dear ones.  We hope to be able to order the project by late January in order to capture the most favorable P.G.&E payback.   Be sure to check out our website  www.peacejourney.org and click on the sunflower for more information.  Any donations arriving this year will receive a donation receipt for 2016 IRS.  The Peace Solar Committee

Thanks to our tasteful and highly skilled Decorating Committee who have graced our Gathering Hall with the spirit of the Christmas Season!

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – An advance word about the Forum Ron Elsdon will lead on January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

Advent Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.08.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Loving God,

Thank you for your incredible love for us.

Thank you for giving us the Light that shines through all darkness.

Slow us down, quiet us and open our hearts this Advent season to see what’s being born in us.

Prepare our hearts and help us to say ‘yes’ no matter where it take us.

And help us support each other just as Mary and Elizabeth did.

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm; 
    Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.  
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

The Pure Delight Concert will be on Saturday, December 17 at 5:00 pm.  Invite friends to join you for this Christmas Concert.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Please return your Christmas Gifts with the Ornaments taped on your gifts on Sunday, December 18.

Peace Christmas Caroling – Sunday, December 18 at 5:00 pm.  Always a joyous evening lead by our traveling minstrel Gary!

Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Pr. Bob Lesher, Fred Garrity, Natalie, Rick; gratitude for a seeming breakthrough at Standing Rock.

Solar Halos:  As the campaign continues more pledges continue to come in.  Gratitude to all who have been able to contribute and to Linda Elsdon who has donated proceeds from her photography sales for ‘Let There be Light’ to our solar campaign.

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – This is an advance word about our Forum for January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

To the Congregation at Peace Lutheran in Danville,

The Church Relations group at Bread for the World is adding our thanks for your gift, given in memory of Paul Harms, of $1200.00.  We appreciate your designating Bread for the World to receive the gift and we honor, with you, his memory.  Bread’s Executive Director Rev. David Beckmann recently addressed staff saying, “Bread’s election-related advocacy had an impact, notably by getting candidates to devote some attention to hunger and poverty.  We can also draw encouragement for the tough work ahead from the clear feasibility of progress against hunger and poverty and, at a deeper level, by God’s presence with us in our advocacy for hungry people. “ 

What can you do now?  Call or write your members of Congress to thank them for passing the Global Security Act this summer and watch for the 2017 Offering of Letters Project, advocating for a Zero-Hunger Budget.

Blessings in the hope of Advent, Ruth Nybro

Advent Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.02.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Bedeviled human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life. —The Meadow, Marie Howe

With the initiation of the Advent Season our thanks to Noah and Charlene, and to Ken for creating our Advent Wreaths.  And what a blessing to have a Pipe Organ for our Advent and Christmas Seasons!  Thank you Gary.  (Be sure to speak with him after worship about the intricacies and history of this fine instrument.)

Pr. Margareta sends her gratitude for all the prayers and blessings offered her at her Retirement Service.  Her heart was filled to overflowing with the love expressed by so many friends. The congratulatory tributes from Pr. Elizabeth, Rabbi Dan, and Stefan Safsten through Pr. Lucy made this a moving occasion for us all.

Forum this Sunday:  Jon Bronstein, the Chair of the Solar Committee at Beth Chaim (where solar panels have been successfully installed) will speak about their process and show us how their energy efficiency is monitored.  For those who wish to go to Beth Chaim afterwards a brief tour will be conducted there.  Gratitude to all who have contributed Solar Halos thus far.  To learn more about our Solar Halos Campaign you can direct people to our homepage at www.peacejourney.org.

Thanks to all who have submitted their Pledge Cards.

Our Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve celebration was a profound and delightful evening of music by our Interfaith Choir and Eve Decker and Julie Wolf, chants and prayers from around the world, the Pacific Choir youth who were marvelous, reflections by Rabbi Dan and myself, and a wonderful interview by Avi Rose of Jewish Family Service with our refugees Gamal and Jalal who are residing at San Damiano.  Essential Bridges of Understanding are built every time we come together.  One woman fled Iran because of Baha’i persecution there remarked that she had never before experienced an harmonious gathering of people from so many different faiths in one sanctuary.  We also raised $1785 for the ongoing work with our Refugee Resettlement Program and Shelter, Inc.  (The Sweetest Melody is attending to the cries of a hungry heart.)

First Friday Films, Dec. 2, 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Room A Christmas Story:  Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s life is filled with what every kid deals with at Christmas – bullies at school, feverish dreams about what he wants from Santa and weird presents from his relatives. You will laugh, no matter your age, at every caper in this classic film (1983!) which Roger Ebert rated 4 out of 4. Take a trip back to kid-time Christmas with us – popcorn included! Run time 93 minutes; PG rated.

We most need to pray when we least feel least like praying.  Even when we seem unable to pray as we ought, we can trust the Spirit prays within us with sighs too deep for words, for the prayer of the heart depends not on our temperament or natural capacity for quiet but on the Spirit’s presence and gift meant for each of us.
—Catherine of Siena

Please keep in your prayers:  Fred Garrity, Margaret Bender, Corine, Zach, Marshall, Pr. Margareta and her parents,  interfaith friends, our Confirmands, the hungry and homeless, those who work for the common good, the indigenous peoples from 200 tribes now gathered at Standing Rock, ND seeking the justice of clean water, those who pray for us, gratitude for healings that have occurred; those who live with HIV/AIDS, and for my friend Jack Pantaleo who began the first Aids Ministry in San Francisco in 1983.

News from our Partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua:  Hurricane Otto hit the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua on Thanksgiving, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get heavy rain on the Pacific side as well, so we postponed our annual dinner at the Ben Linder House for this Thursday. Luckily, the rain was very light here, and only minor damage in the Eastern and Southern parts of Nicaragua.  Eduardo talked with Dona Ligia last week and she said that in the community they are going to have good harvests. There is enough water in the river so that they are not having to use the water from the wells right now. Dona Ligia’s grandson has not had the operation yet, he is being observed until they say he is healthy enough.  Luis suffered an accident about a month ago; his nephew accidentally backed over him with his truck. He was very fortunate to not have broken any bones or internal damage, just soreness and severe road rash. He also just underwent eye surgery yesterday and that went well. So prayers for him are very appreciated as he mends!

Animo for your work as well as we enter this time of Advent, actively waiting and reflecting.   Amanda and Memo

Jazz Church West hosts Inga Swearingen, Anton Schwartz and Dan Feiszli this Sunday at 5 pm – Free!  This trio is stunning,  elegant and a daring jazz venture.  Inga has sung on Prairie Home Companion for years.  Did you see our local Danville Paper has an article about the Jazz Church West?  It contains this quote:  One performer explains the Jazz Church West experience this way, “You don’t understand how good this is. As musicians, we practice endlessly but you only go so far with that. It’s the audience who says, take me further, go there, back off, be gentle with me—and their responsiveness generates our creativity—to do things we’ve never done before, which is the point of jazz. This crowd is so tuned in, there are no distractions, pure focus—and sparks fly. This is why I got into jazz.”  Invite friends to join you – they will thank you!

Language is almost all we have left of action in the modern world. For many of us, at least, action has become what we say:  the moral life is lived out in what we say more often than what we do. —M. Howe

 

Gods and men love maps

they draw borders with pens that

split lives like an ax. —Haiku by John Lederach

Advent blessings,  Pr. Steve