Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.20.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
Impending Resurrection:  We pay more attention to dying than to death.  We’re more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death.  Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as the last enemy.  There is a real difference:  the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection.  It’s not from the art of dying but from the resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world.  Here is the answer to Archimedes’ challenge: ‘Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.’  If only a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed.  To live in the light of resurrection – that is what Easter means.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed April 09. 1945
Gratitude for Easter and for all who contributed to the joy!  Thanks to Elizabeth and Teresa for their vocal leadership, to Ginnie and Gary, to Charlene for Children’s Time, to the Altar Guild, John for drumming with the assistance of all the little boy drummers, to Martha and Libby for the Easter Brunch, Elana and Margit for the decorated Gathering Hall and to All of You who Contributed to the Delicious Brunch, and to Seminarians Louis and Ella….and Austin who helped Hide the Eggs –  weren’t the children beautiful!  And to Gary for the Lenten Season video he prepared.  This Sunday you’ll get to see his Easter Video!
Equal Gratitude to Diana Howard for coordinating our Passover Seder and to all who contributed to that incredible evening through story, song, personal reflections shared….. and truly fine dining!
  Taize on My Mind by Susan Gest (poetic gratitude for Lenten Taize at San Damiano)
Veneration of the Cross
Up there at San Dam
Blood and cross and thorns feel real
Smells like Holy Ghost 
Sounds like God the Most
Spring Cleaning – POSTPONED…too many people are unavailable this Saturday so we will reschedule.
Earth Day Worship this Sunday!
“Thanks to our bodies God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.” (This comment by Pope Francis was placed on a plaque in Rome’s Biopark)
April 23
Interfaith Shoah Remembrance, 3 – 4:30 at Beth Chaim.  Commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and those whose lives are on the line today.
Confirmation: 5 – 7 pm at Peace.
Four Seasons and More – A Concert by the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra at 7:00 pm — under the direction of Goran Berg.  Superb quality from fine young artists!
“We shall rise again…..and find an open door….until then our life lies hidden with Christ in God.”
Easter Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.11.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
Prayer for Holy Week:
Just as your Final Week begins – everything collides together:
The glib attitudes of ‘life on the surface’ with your moment of sublime submission.
You are afraid, anxious, wary of betrayal, tasting despair and anguish.
Here and now is held everything human and all human beings.
Here are you and me.
It is when you have been tested that you know who you are;
You know it, Lord, not me……because my final test hasn’t happened yet.
Lord, we would like to follow you all the way…..all the way to the Cross.
Seder this Thursday at 6:30:  We gather to commemorate our roots, identity and the Lord’s Supper.  We recognize that imperfect people can usher in liberation.  There’s no sense waiting until we are totally pure, psychologically and spiritually healthy.  The healing of the world continues now and it will be accomplished by imperfect people/wounded healers who will transform our lives and world through wisdom, compassion and grace.
Good Friday:  Peace will be open from Noon – 3 pm for prayer.  Contemplative worship begins that evening at 7:00 pm.  “Stay with me, remain with me, watch and pray.”
Easter Day at 10:00 am.  A joyous celebration of new life and new creation!  Our Brunch begins at 9:15 and the Egg Hunt will follow worship.
Keep in your prayers:  Shiva, Nik, Nette, Teresa, Brian McGee, Gun, Nancy, Brian Turner, Sue, Marshall, David, Bob, Ralph, Marlene and Fred, those who have lost parents/loved ones – Alan, George, Ann, Dwane, Maili and Kersti; Ed K. Liz, Peter, Kathy, Jerry, the Confirmation Class; those living with addictions, the people of Syria and the Coptic Church of Egypt.
Spring Cleaning at Peace – Saturday, April 22:  We begin with Pancakes at 9:30 and work from 10 – Noon.  Make your mother proud that she taught you how to use elbow grease!
Culinary Herbs for Warm Weather with Elana: At the Orinda Library, Garden Room, Friday from 1 – 2 pm.
Sunday, April 23
  • Earth Day worship at 10 am.
  • Interaith Shoah Remembrance at Beth Chaim from 3 – 4:30 pm.
  • Confirmation – 5:00 pm
  • Four Seasons and More – a Concert by the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra under the direction of our own Goran Berg at 7:00 pm!
How can we sing praise songs in a world so full of hunger, hatred and war?
How can we praise God when surrounded by negativity and deception?
How can we say ‘thank you’ when suffering is so present and betrayal so near?
We are living in a Dark Time but the Light is here – who can stop us!
Therefore we can live like it is day despite the dark night.
In the midst of so much need and darkness
We are not allowed to be Silent.
Therefore we must sing:  Hosanna in the Highest, Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
(Bishop Karoline Krook)
Holy Week Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.06.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
Preparation for Holy Week:  “I never intend to become adjusted to bigotry.  I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism or to the self-defeating effects of physical violence.  In other words, I am convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world:  The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”  Martin Luther King
Palm Sunday initiates Holy Week this Sunday when we share the Passion Narrative.
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.
Passover Seder/Maundy Thursday – April 13, 6:30 pm:  The Seder Celebrates the core of justice and liberation work in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  It is also the context in which Jesus initiated Communion.  You will experience and enjoy our faith in a profound and delightful way — which you will never forget.
Did you know:  The Exodus (the end of slavery in Egypt) is the first recorded Liberation Event in history!  And the midwives who refused to kill the male babies committed the first recorded act of nonviolent disobedience.
An utterly profound evening with a meal, great symbolic traditions, insights and hilarity.  Taste and See!
Please Sign Up Sunday or email: office@peacejourney.org.
Good Friday – Contemplative Service, April 14, 7:00 pm:  Come pray, meditate, chant and reflect on this healing mystery into Christ’s transformation of death into new life.
Easter Day – April 16 at 10 am:  Celebrate the joy and the vision of Christ’s Resurrecting Love!  Invite friends.
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.)
Spring Cleaning at Peace – Saturday, April 22:  Pancakes at 9:30, Clean up from 10 – Noon.  No experience necessary!
April 23
Earth Day Worship – pray for the renewal and resurrecting of Creation!
Interfaith Shoah Service at Beth Chaim from 3 – 4:30 pm:  A Remembrance of Holocaust Victims and Today’s Victims (Muslims, Refugees, African Americans, LGBTQ)
Four Seasons – And More…A Concert with the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra at 7:00 pm.  Enjoy music by Bach, Bruch, Brahms, Gupta, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and more!   The Orchestra consists of 15 young and gifted musicians under the direction of Goran Berg.  The performance is filled with youthful, bold sound; powerful expression and captivating energy!
Pr. Lucy Kolin will serve as the Interim Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland for the next 3 – 4 months.  She will continue to support/encourage the ministries she’s engaged in at Peace but we won’t see her for this period of time.  Blessings on your work at St. Paul’s!
On April 4, 1967 Dr. King preached at Riverside Church in New York.  In this speech, Dr. King not only spoke out against the war in Vietnam – a risky and polarizing move at the time – but he spoke out against everything that the war represented, a “far deeper malady within the American spirit” that would never be healed unless we moved past Vietnam and toward a “true revolution of values”.  Virtually no one among the Civil Rights leadership supported him in his decision to speak out.  But this speech has become incredibly prophetic for our time.  I invite you to read it both as preparation for Holy Week and as a Reformation Reflection.  Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later on this same day in 1968.
Gratitude to Bruce Silverman and the drummers from Beth Chaim for his/their leadership in our Drumming Service last Sunday.  Those present experienced how grounding and transformative this ancient practice can be in our worship.  The Hebrew Scriptures called drums ‘timbrels’ and they were used endlessly from Miriam, to David, in the Psalms and the Temple for meditation and the uniting of Earth and Heaven. Bruce is teaching a Drumming Class at Beth Chaim and invites members of Peace to join them.  Speak to me if you are interested or contact him at:  brucesilverman6@gmail.com.  Wouldn’t it be marvelous to stir up a Percussion Crew at Peace!
 
“I do not like the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West and yet are against refugees and other religions.  The sickness Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy.  You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) or Matthew 25 which calls us to ‘feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger’.  To claim I am a Christian and not do these things makes me a hypocrite.  The greatest reformers of the church are the saints who practice God’s Word, he told the group of young Lutherans and Catholics from Germany.  Our traditions have already moved from ‘conflict to communion’.  Now in putting ourselves at the service of the neediest we will experience that we are already united; it is God’s mercy that unites us.”  Pope Francis
Holy Week Blessings,
Pr. Steve