Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.29.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Mud paste daubed on a blind man’s eyes…

“I have come into this world for this reason—to provide Clear Discernment; so that the blind may see (and see what’s really happening) and those who claim to see—may become blind.”  Jesus (John 9)

From Pr. Elizabeth – Dear Friends of Peace:

Thank you for the beautiful send-off last Sunday — the prayer with laying on of hands, the gifts, the delicious cake and the words of warm affection from each of you for me and Abigail.  We shall  never forget it, shall never forget you and shall never forget the part you played during the last 10 years in the manifestation of God’s grace in our lives.
With faith, hope and gratitude, Pastor Elizabeth
Healing Prayer Sunday:  All we can do is offer gratitude for the wounds shared, prayers heard and strength received through the healing graces of the Spirit.  “Where two or three are gathered I am present.”
Family Service – Drumming this Sunday at 10 AM.  Enjoy restoring our ancient worship roots with your kids and families as we celebrate percussive possibilities through Ezekiel’s ‘Dry Bones’ and the story of Lazarus.
Our Maundy Thursday Seder – April 13 at 6:30 pm – 20 people already Signed Up!  This ancient sacred Jewish Meal commemorates the Exodus from Egypt – the movement from slavery to freedom. It is the first recorded Liberation Story in history and it became the Meal at which Jesus initiated Communion – the meal of mercy and justice. Enjoy an evening of stories, songs, feasting, solemnity and hilarity.  Sign up on Sunday or at:  office@peacejourney.org.  If you wish to assist with the Meal Preparations, Diana Howard and her Committee are coordinating the details.
Forum on Sanctuary on April 9:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary Church and both groups agreed that we should further explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate the April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Compassionate Migration Policies:  As Lutherans, we heed the Bible when it tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether our neighbor lives in our community or across the world. Our faith has compelled us to help resettled refugees since 1939, more than 40 years before the U.S. government created the refugee resettlement program. Today, we continue to do ministry with the most vulnerable, whether they arrived through our refugee program or came to our southern border to seek safety. We know that migrants and refugees strengthen our congregations, our communities, and our nation. Pray for Clear Discernment; act with compassion.  (ELCA Justice Advocacy)
In the first month following last November’s election the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 1,094 hate crimes or incidents, the majority of which were anti-immigrant, followed by anti-Black, then anti-Muslim and then anti-gay incidents.
Interfaith Yom HaShoah – Sunday, April 23 from 3-4 pm at Beth Chaim / In Solidarity:  The Voices Silenced, the Lessons Learned.  As we remember the Victims of the Holocaust we will also remember those who have been targeted recently.  Keynote Speaker – Jim McGarry, Educator in Religious studies specializing in Ethics, Social Justice and Holocaust Studies.
Earth Songs”  We experienced an amazing concert with the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.  Music inspired by Zion National Park, Montana, China and Ansel Adams charged the performance with intriguing sounds/instruments and an uplifting spirit that simply carried the audience away. Gratitude to Gary and Austin for coordinating (and muscling) this event into reality.
And as Ken said:  What a beautiful evening we all shared this past Sunday. Gary is such a blessing to our church.  Who could tell the straights from the queers? We had just one group of very happy polite people.  How times have changed in our lifetimes — Gay is no longer unique, it’s just a different part of the norm.
First Friday Films:  April 7, 6:30 pm – The Brand New Testament — Join us in the Gathering Hall for a screening of this international hit from Belgium on our new smart TV. Written and directed by Jaco Van Doramael, it is a playful, dark satire in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan meets Monty Python. The film takes us on a farcical romp straight through current religious thought to something completely different. The film stars Benoît PoelvoordeCatherine DeneuveFrançois DamiensYolande Moreau and Pili Groyne. It was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards and has been nominated for and/or won over 45 U.S. and international awards. Stephen Holden of The New York Times calls it, “Wickedly amusing! A surreal comedy whose endless visual imagination matches its conceptual wit.”  (Parents are cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for those under 13.)
Lenten Meditation Options:  Walk the Labyrinth; Gaze on the Transfiguration Painting, Pray/Meditate underneath our Tent of Revealings; read the Psalms.
Jazz Church West hosts The Erik Jekabson Quintet this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  Ever been curious about what the Berkeley Jazz School faculty band would sound like?  This is it….and it was the inspiration of our own JazzCat Ed Klitsch!  So many ministry dimensions have evolved through our Jazz Church:  the inspiring music itself in our unique sanctuary, the formation of creative groups (Saxophonistas), pastoral care, new friendships, the prayers, the Receptions (rare opportunities for people to honestly connect), and hovering all about a Spirit of Joy dancing in the Wonders of Life’s Preciousness..

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath:  it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes….”
—Shakespeare

Merciful Lenten blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.22.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.  Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” –  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel  (This quote conveys the Spirit of last Sunday’s Confirmation Class through the interplay of Body Wisdom with Cynthia Winton-Henry)
Healing Prayer Service and Forum this Sunday – Come to receive prayer for yourselves or loved ones who are ill, stressed, recovering from surgery, longing for wholeness or suffering due to these troubled times.  The Healing River of Grace will renew us.
We bid Farewell to Pr. Elizabeth Felts this Sunday.  Please come to share your gratitude with her for her gifts of teaching, preaching, healing and spirit.  Abigail gets to be with us too!
Earth Songs” – the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs this Sunday at 4 pm!!  Spread the word with all your friends about this Dynamic Concert.  It includes a celebration of the Photography of Ansel Adams.  Experience the Joy of this energizing music.  If you can assist with the Reception please let Gary or I know.
Drumming for Family Service on April 2.  Bruce Silverman will lead our worship that day.  Pure joy and celebration as we restore our connection with ancient worship roots. There will be a Rehearsal for those who would like to learn some of the basics on Saturday, April 1 at 11 am.  Don’t think you have rhythm….check your pulse and get back to me!  Bruce is an excellent teacher!

Passover Seder, Thursday April 13 at 6:30 pm.  This ancient sacred Jewish Meal commemorates the Exodus from Egypt – the movement from slavery to freedom.  It is the first recorded Liberation Story in history.  And it is the Meal at which Jesus initiates Communion – the meal of mercy and justice.  Diana Howard is coordinating this Holy Week event and she asks for your assistance.  Sign ups will begin this Sunday and you may invite friends from beyond the Peace Community.  You will be transformed by this evening of stories, songs, solemnity and hilarity.
Ending Hunger/Bread for the World: Right now, the world is facing its greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945. We are staring down the outbreak of famine and near-famine conditions that is unprecedented in modern world history. Twenty million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen in the next six months, if nothing is done.  The proposed new budget would slash lifesaving programs that serve poor and hungry people, including dramatic and disproportionate cuts to vital U.S. foreign assistance. Slashing these programs — which make up just 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, or one penny on the dollar — wouldn’t balance the budget or pay for significant new domestic spending. But it will come at the cost of human lives lost to hunger and malnutrition.
Forum on Sanctuary:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary church and both groups agreed that we should explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate our April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and are encouraged to come.
SAP (Serenity at Peace) RISING:  Yes, I am having fun with this title – how many of you are Saps?  The life blood of trees, yes…and within this word the hint of an ancient Latin root word….to become Sapiential = Wise.  Enjoy absorbing this Lenten Sapiential Reflection on The Reign of God:
     It helps now and then to step back and take the long view.  The Reign of God is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision.
     We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.  Nothing we do is complete, which another way of saying that the Reign always lies beyond us.  No statement says all that could be said.  No prayer fully expresses our faith.  No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.  No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
     This is what we are about:  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
     We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
     We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders – ministers, not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future not our own.  Amen
     (Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, assassinated March 24, 1980)
Our Lenten Taize Wednesday evening services at 7:00 pm continue at San Damiano Retreat Center throughout March and on April 5.
The Gospel of Consumption – the Negation of your Lenten Practice.
“You want it.  You want it bad. Sometimes so much it hurts.  You can taste it. You feel like you would do anything to get it.  Go further than they’d suspect.  Twist your soul and crush what’s in your way. Then you get it. And something happens.  You become the object of your desire.  And it feels incredible.”  (advertisement for perfume in Macy’s window.)
Sapiential Lent,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.15.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. —Gandhi

Early Hymns – Foundation of the Christian Faith:  The following 4 Ancient Hymns formed the faith that was known, believed and taught about Jesus shortly after his resurrection.  Paul, who was writing around 50 CE (20 years after Jesus) says several times, “This is what I received.”  Savor these during your Lenten Journey.
Eucharist:  1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26  (Earliest formula and practice)
Kerygma/Gospel Preaching Core:  1 Corinthians 15: 3 – 4 (Living Liberation)
Baptism Hymn  Galatians 3: 26 – 28 (Affirmation of Equality of All)
Jesus Divinity:  Philippians 2: 5 – 11 (Heart of the Faith, Self-Emptying Love/Service of all)
These hymns anchored all the writings of Paul.  (They also were the focus of our Forum last Sunday.)
SAP Rising:  In these recent weeks the sap has begun to move and rise in the trees.  I have decided to initiate a SAP (Serenity at Peace) Rising Lenten season at Peace.  So many demands on our lives, why not make Sunday worship and Holy Week (April 9 – 16) your first priority during Lent?  As Jesus says, “Don’t worry, everything else will fall into place.”   Enough of consumer addiction, anxiety and despair.  Choose to Cultivate Serenity:  calm, clarity, focus, wisdom.  No artificial techniques for superficial happiness but the deep down grounding which our ancestors have practiced for more than 2,000 years.  Decide to immerse yourself in Grace, Wisdom and the Sacraments which have already engaged the darkness of crucifixion and now illuminate resurrected living.  “Who you are is God’s gift to you; who you become is your gift to God.”  This is our life and it is not a rehearsal.  In times like these we need each other – friends we can count on, who are present to us, who will pray for us no matter what.  Become SAP Rising – “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine – all that God has in store for those who love God and life!”
Lenten Wednesday Evenings – Taize Prayer at San Damiano, 7 – 8 pm:  Get in the rhythm – join in these beautiful, contemplative prayer services on all the Wednesday evenings of March and April 5.  Gary, Elizabeth, John, Jeanie and Drew are the music leaders for these prayer/chant/scripture/stillness services in the chapel of our lovely Franciscan Retreat Center.
Earth Songs” – The Incredible SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs at Peace on Sunday March 26 at 4:00 pm.  The performance will include Images by Ansel Adams.  This is a celebration of life and I hope you will attend to support Gary in his many splendid musical endeavors throughout the Bay Area Community.  If you are willing to assist with the Reception afterwards please notify Gary or myself.
Tent of Revealings:  You are invited at any time during the week or if you want to come earlier on Sunday mornings to come sit and pray/meditate under our Tent of Revealings.  It is such a blessing to be enveloped by this Sphere of Prayer.

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.  —Gandhi

Holy Week:
  • April 9 – Palm Sunday
  • April 13 – Passover Seder – Diana Howard is coordinating this evening.  Speak with her if you will assist her.
  • April 14 – Good Friday
  • April 15 – Easter Vigil
  • April 16 – Easter Day
March 19 – Woman at the Well
March 26 – Healing Prayer Service
April 2 – Family Service with Drumming and Percussion!

Amazon Smile:  Amazon is celebrating its #1 ranking in customer satisfaction by the ACSI! Today, March 16, Amazon will donate 5% (10 times the usual donation rate) of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Peace Lutheran Church. Get started at smile.amazon.com/ch/94-1664977.

Speak only if it improves upon the silence. —Gandhi

Lenten blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.11.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest being presented to our senses.  Your neighbor is indeed holy in the most holy way since within him and her Christ truly lives.  —CS Lewis

Time Change this Saturday night—Spring Ahead!
The Tent of Revealings which rests over our altar is a Lenten Gift to Peace.  It is a reminder of the Tent in which Moses met God during the Israelites 40 years in the desert.  Come any time and day that is good for you to sit beneath the Tent to pray, meditate and nurture the ground of our faith.  (Our thanks to Ed and Gary for assembling it.)
SAP Rising:  In these recent weeks the sap has begun to move and rise in the trees.  I have decided to initiate a SAP (Serenity at Peace) Rising Lenten season at Peace.  So many demands on our lives, why not make Sunday worship and Holy Week (April 9 – 16) your first priority during Lent?  As Jesus says, “Don’t worry, everything else will fall into place.”   Enough of consumer addiction, anxiety and despair.  Choose to Cultivate Serenity:  calm, clarity, focus, wisdom.  No artificial techniques for superficial happiness but the deep down grounding which our ancestors have practiced for more than 2,000 years.  Decide to immerse yourself in Grace, Wisdom and the Sacraments which have already engaged the darkness of crucifixion and now illuminate resurrected living.  “Who you are is God’s gift to you; who you become is your gift to God.”  This is our life and it is not a rehearsal.  In times like these we need each other – friends we can count on, who are present to us, who will pray for us no matter what.  Become SAP Rising – “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine – all that God has in store for those who love God and life!”
Lenten Wednesday Evenings – Taize Prayer at San Damiano, 7 – 8 pm:  Get in the rhythm – join in these beautiful, contemplative prayer services on all the Wednesday evenings of March and April 5.  Gary, Elizabeth, John, Jeanie and Drew are the music leaders for these prayer/chant/scripture/stillness services in the chapel of our lovely Franciscan Retreat Center.
Holy Week:
April 9 – Palm Sunday
April 13 – Passover Seder
April 14 – Good Friday
April 15 – Easter Vigil
April 16 – Easter Day.
Keep in your prayers:  Nik, Betty – Margaret Beeler’s mother, Renee’s mom, Rick – Linda’s brother, Brian Turner, Brian McGee, Nette, Margaret Bender, Teresa,  Nancy, Marlene and Fred Garrity, Gun, Bill Lesher, Ruth, for our kids and grandchildren who are struggling,  Ed Klitsch, Ed Rether’s father, Sue Shuffield, Marshall, Bob W., Rob, David M., Ralph, Cliff Brown, Jim Foot, Liz, for our Confirmands, those mourning the death of loved ones:  George Perko, Maili and Kersti, Ann, Alan and Monica, Pari;  for all Caregivers, for our Creation, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ young people who are harassed, for those who have inspired us with vision and unconditional love.
International Women’s Day:  Globally, an estimated 1 in 3 women will experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse in their lifetime. At its core, this global epidemic is fueled by traditions, beliefs, and practices that view women less-than-equal to men. On a larger scale, these acts have led to creation of systems that infringe on the rights of women. Women and girls in developing countries experience particularly high rates of gender-based violence. Some of this violence is perpetuated in the form of battery, honor killings, rape, trafficking, and female genital cutting. Urge your Senators to support the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)  I-VAWA seeks to increase legal protections, victims’ access to healthcare, and develop economic and educational opportunities for women and girls globally.

Earth Songs:  The SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs a Musical and Cinematic tribute to the Photography of Ansel Adams at Peace on Sunday, March 26 at 4 pm.  This splendid gift is coming to us through the efforts and love of Gary Sponholtz.  The 70 member Band will dazzle you!   Please encourage lots of your friends to join you in this joyful event.  If you want to assist Gary in coordinating the day, please speak with him.

Bishop’s Chrism Mass:  Bishop Mark Holmrud celebrated this mass with local clergy on Thursday of this week.  It is a time for renewal of ordination vows and preparation for Holy Week.  The bishop extends his gratitude to all of you for the hospitality provided and for the “expansive ministries” of Peace.  He with everyone gathered for worship was deeply moved by the music of Elizabeth Hunter Ashley and Gary Sponholtz (he asked them to ‘go on the road’ with him), he (and many others) was appreciative of the immersion in art he experienced at Peace, he walked the grounds and found them beautiful and peaceful; he expressed gratitude for the justice and cultural ministries of Peace.  Finally he also made a mean batch of chili – which he learned from his mother, for the evening meal .

Enjoy the New Art Exhibit by Todd Brooks this Sunday. Thanks to Bill Carmel for curating the show.

Additional Prayer for Immigrants arrested by ICE who are incarcerated in private prisons where they are forced to work 40 per week for $1/day.  They are placed in solitary confinement if they don’t participate.  Lord, have mercy….how we abuse the most vulnerable.

Prayer is like the slow drizzle of winter rains….seemingly monotonous….yes…and where do we think the blossoms come from?

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.01.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

I thank you God, for your faithfulness and love which excel all we ever knew of You.

 

On the day I called, you answered; You increased the strength of my soul. (Ps. 137)

How lovely Lillian and her Baptism were……aren’t we blessed!
Thanks to all of our Transfiguration Actors!  You were marvelous!
Our Ash Wednesday worship is at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 1 at Peace.   All of our mid-week Lenten Services will be Taize Worship at San Damiano from 7 – 8 pm, lead by our own Gary Sponholtz.
Keep in your prayers:  Norma’s 3 friends serving life sentences who were recently released from prison.  Imagine what the spiritual equivalent of that release must feel like.  That’s why we celebrate Lent.
First Friday Films – Finding Dory, this Friday at 6:30 pm::  Who could forget the friendly Regal blue tang, Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, in Finding Nemo? Fortunately you don’t have to forget – she’s back! Dory still has short term memory loss but now she has something different: an ache in her heart to find her birth parents. This ache pushes her to go on a quest to find them despite her disability. She yearns to return to the place where she remembers experiencing peace and safety with her long lost parents. The underwater world Pixar creates will enchant you. Dory learns a lot on her courageous quest and so do we: asking for and receiving help, taking risks and persevering, for example. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after. Run time 97 min.; rated PG.
Peace will host the Bishop’s Chrism Mass on March 9.Save the Date – SF Lesbian and Gay Band performs at Peace on Sunday, March 26 at 4:00 pm.  A fantastic concert awaits you!
Jazz Church West – The Saxophonistas, this Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 pm.  This All Woman Band will offer a dynamic tribute to International Women’s Day.  Show up – experience surprise and delight – invite your friends.  This concert is for Strong and Spirited Women…..and those who love them!
Here is a Note handed to me during the evening by an attendee at the last Jazz at Peace event.

Grandmother’s House

The Jazz Concert was only an hour but it was like visiting Grandmother’s House.
I did not have to stay for a week.  I did not have to stay for a day.
Just one hour at my Grandmother’s House and my soul was filled with love, peace and joy.  Now ain’t that some jazz!

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve