Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 04/29/20

A message from Pastor Steve (hidden last week…)

Friends:

“And then we shall know each other for the first time, and heaven will be a communion of love.  Because here on Earth we cannot know each other well.  We only know by appearances, and even those who know and love each other best are always a profound mystery to one another, always fundamentally unknown, just as we remain unknown and a mystery to ourselves.  Only in heaven shall we truly communicate with one another, only in heaven can we speak our most intimate word, and we shall have no need of language because we shall have a perfect communion of love.  We shall know each other completely, living in the total presence of those we love.”  Ernesto Cardenal

A True Resurrection story: Watch the Jubilee International Debt Relief beautiful 2 minute message with our global partners HERE.

Congratulations to Bev Harms who fully retires on Friday, May 1!

Flooded Peace

Garbage truck and a fire hydrant get tangled… resulting in a flooded Peace parking lot! Complete replacement of cement pad, pipes, and hydrant soon to be underway (all covered by Republic Services).

Keep in your prayers: Elise Wigton, Betty Watson, Bob Mantei, Heather, Jim & Barb Heinzer, Marshall, Denise, Ed Klitsch, Carol, Stanley Ngesa, Julia, Our partners in Laurel Galan at Lwamondo Parish, those ill or dying of Covid & their loved ones, all health care workers and people on the front lines, the unemployed, and for all of us who are separated from our spiritual community.

 FROM ONE FRIEND TO ANOTHER
  
 Written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words.  Rooney has passed away but used to be on CBS's 60 Minutes TV show.
  
 I've learned....
 That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
  
 I've learned....
 That when you're in love, it shows.
  
 I've learned ....
 That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.
  
 I've learned....
 That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
  
 I've learned....
 That being kind is more important than being right.
  
 I've learned....
 That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
  
 I've learned....
 That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in any other way.
  
 I've learned....
 That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
  
 I've learned....
 That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
  
 I've learned....
 That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when 
 I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
  
 I've learned....
 That life is like a roll of toilet paper…the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
  
 I've learned....
 That money doesn't buy class.
  
 I've learned....
 That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
  
 I've learned...
 That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
  
 I've learned....
 That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
  
 I've learned....
 That when you plan to get even with someone you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
  
 I've learned....
 That love, not time, heals all wounds.
  
 I've learned....
 That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
  
 I've learned....
 That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
  
 I've learned....
 That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
  
 I've learned....
 That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
  
 I've learned....
 That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
  
 I've learned....
 That when you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
  
 I've learned....
 That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
  
 I've learned....
 That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
  
 I've learned....
 That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
  
 I've learned....
 That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in their little fist, you're hooked for life.
  
 I've learned....
 That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
  
 I've learned....
 That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done. 

Covid19 Quarantine silver linings: Los Angelinos are enjoying their longest clean air streak since 1995… and bears in Yosemite are thriving!

And, the water in Venice is clearer than it has been in years, prompting the return of fish, swans, and dolphin.

Thanks to Ro for sharing these and more with us!

Easter blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves

A message from our Peace Council regarding the financial picture of Peace

Friends:

Easter Joy!  It is not true that life is short.  Our life is not short, eternity has begun for us now.  We do not have death before us, but infinite joy.  We are not born to die, but to live into eternal compassion.  We do not grieve that time passes so quickly, because it is not life that passes, it is time that passes.  The future evolves from how we live the present.  What lies ahead is the open-ended exploration of love – the Eternal Present, the dynamic spacious, gracious, maturing experience of love we call God.  Don’t waste your time fearing death.  At baptism we began to enter a more whole, more real, more vital life.  Our destiny: Becoming more Alive – are you ready?

A Letter from the Peace Council regarding the financial picture for our congregation is coming to you next week. 

Mini Concerts for Peace:  Calling all artists – have you a video to share of yourself performing music, poetry, dance…or cooking lessons?  Would be fun to share these with our congregation and beyond.  10 – 15 minutes in length.  You do have to film it.  Mp3s or Drop Box delivery is helpful but Kari can assist you with this part.  Let me know if you need assistance.

Our thanks to Barb Ghinazzi for our “Deja Vu”/Pandemic History piece and to Linda Elsdon for the beautiful photo accompanying our Earth Day Prayer “A Clean Safe Place” by Bob O’Sullivan. A note re: Pandemic poem: This text is actually a modern-day poem written during the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic by author Catherine M. O’Meara. O’Meara posted this poem to her blog The Daily Round on March 16, 2020.

Labyrinth – Meditation Walking:  Many people are walking our Labyrinth these days and expressing their appreciation. Bev shared with me that someone in “TV Land” officially endorsed Labyrinth Walking as one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental and spiritual health during this time of Covid Crisis.  I am deeply persuaded that our Spiritual Community is constantly preparing/providing anticipatory healing practices and environments that initially seem idealistic or unnecessary but suddenly prove themselves – like our Labyrinth – to be anchors of reality.  In addition, on Earth Day Polly placed Eco-wise educational/advocacy literature at the entrance of Labyrinth for our guests and friends.

Matching Funds: Some companies have matching finance programs for churches, if the funds are designated for a specific purpose, e.g., emergency preparedness, COVID-19 response, kitchen renovation project, etc.   Have you or your family checked with your employers for matching gifts?

Great Literature:  Since we have time to read….how about the Two Greatest Volumes in Western Literature?  The Bible and the Iliad! They have attained this majesty because each expresses the full mystery, madness, magnificence, beauty, absurdity and joy of human life.  We speak of a Shakespearean world (his birthday was 4/23), a Joycean world, the world of Dostoevsky, or Dickenson, Melville or Emerson – because they unveil the niches of of human experience but they do not communicate the overwhelming “Terrible Grace of God” or “The Seeming Indifference of the Fates”.  I highly recommend Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Homer’s The Iliad because he attempted to delete the textual accretions gathered over centuries and his poetry therefore moves with dynamic force.  Of course Phil Stanley would recommend you read it in Greek but I will let Phil argue (or teach) his own case.  Regarding the Bible:  After 4 years of in depth study during seminary and a lifetime of preaching my respect and delight for the wisdom transmitted has been heightened beyond explanation.  Recommended:  Genesis, Exodus ch. 1 – 20, the Psalms, Isaiah 40 – 66, Amos, Matthew’s Gospel, Philippians, Galatians, and Colossians. Pick one – savor and enjoy.

Lynne Goodman sends her greetings from Fresno. She misses her friends at Peace and sends her love.

The Bill DeMichele Art Exhibit remains up and open in our sanctuary.  It has become a strong witness to life in this season of crisis.  It is possible on Wednesday afternoons for individuals to come into the sanctuary to absorb these fine works of art.  How elegantly great art speaks to the needs of our spirit especially now.

Keep in our prayers:  Betty Watson, Bob Mantei, Elise Wigton, Marshall Moore, Stanley Ngesa, Carol, Heather, Jim and Barb Heinzer, Carlo, those ill or dying with the covid virus, healthcare workers, the ninos and ninas separated form the families at the Border, Muslim friends at the beginning of Ramadan, the unemployed, the people of the southlands overwhelmed by tornadoes, our Partners in Laurel Galan and Lwamondo Parish who are mourning the death of their Bishop, and those besieged by swarms of locust in Africa.

Volunteering? Monica Laurlund recommends…

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano needs your help to provide fresh food. Check out the work they are doing to end hunger! www.foodbankccs.org

“Peanuts” first debuted October 3, 1950 Developed by Charles M. Schulz, who was raised a Lutheran. “Peanuts” ran for nearly 50 years and was published in 75 countries. A great source of theological insight. Thanks to Martha Mantei for these cartoons

Easter Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 04.17.20

Featured

Friends:

  “Resurrecting Love – Bursting New Life!”

A response to the Seder/Maundy Thursday question “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Each moment, the flame flickers and the wax melts a little more
The candle and we won’t be the same again
Alone or together, people take care best they can where they are
Inside homes, hospitals, shantytowns, refugee camps, detention centers, and the open air
Weeping as good-byes are shared from near or far
With loved ones whose final, profound breath departs on its return this night
While others linger as inspiration still flows inside. (Elizabeth Hopkins-Kurz)

Our First Sunday of Easter prayer video will arrive on Sunday morning at 9:45 am.

Thus far, everyone at Peace appears to be healthy in light of covid.  Isolation, anxiety, old wounds are taking their toll.  For now we continue prayerfully in the midst of disastrous threats and  experiences we could never have imagined.

Did you work with an Intention during our Lenten Season and Holy Week?  If so, be sure to record what you learned/experienced.  It will be part of future conversations when we return and see each other face to face.  I hope those who are keeping a Journal (reflections or art images) – are finding this a valuable practice.

I placed a Basket with all the Palm Crosses that Christa and Grace made at the entrance to Peace.  During Holy Week they all disappeared except for the few I reserved.  When burnt, these palm ashes will be used for our Ash Wednesday service next year.

Thanks to all who are able to financially contribute to Peace at this time.  There were a number of special Easter Gifts.  And people are contributing by checks, through their banks or online through Venmo! Remember to check with your company for matching gifts… Peace thanks you!!

Treasurer Diane Kurtz told me there is a passage in the Bible which says, “Give until it feels good,”  but I’m not quite sure where that is.

Enjoy this four minute beautiful prayer of blessings and gratitude to be discovered in the midst of the covid crisis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCYoikGaI6U&feature=youtu.be

Please keep in your prayers:  Betty, Bob, Ed, Heather, Jose, Marshall, Stanley Ngesa, Jim and Barb Heinzer, Ruth, all who are at risk, ill, dying; all healthcare workers.  Dorie Larsen who many of you knew died last Sunday on Easter.  Prayers for her family.

Greetings from Susanna and Raddi — wherever they are on the planet now; and from Ceil and Dave who are in Florida!

Oikonomia (Greek for Economy) – original meaning: Household–  to care for the well being of the whole household.  Economy does not mean making money, making a profit, exploitation of human beings and the earth.  It means to care for the wellbeing of the whole family or whole community.  Who really are the Essential Workers upon whom our society depends? Do you remember the $15/hour Living Wage Campaign?  Ironic isn’t it that most of the people who we now call “Heroes” would be the beneficiaries of that Living Wage Campaign:  healthcare workers, store clerks, restaurant workers, sanitation workers and so many more on our front lines today.  Can Covid, hideous as it is, open our eyes to fresh perspectives? 

New Metaphors for our Time:

We grew up in a time when heroes were idealized.  But what if things have changed so drastically around the world that no hero can rescue us?  In our era of expanding human numbers, decadent wealth piling up in many countries right alongside lethal poverty – no hero can save the day.  Perhaps what can replace the mythic heroes’ perilous journey is the self-sustaining community.  What if the security of peace and wisdom is not to be found within old ideas and structures?  What if the horizons of greatest importance are now instead to be found within us?  You have heard: “The Way forward is the Way Inward.”  Nourishing of the person, nurturing our self awareness beyond ego fixation…. could this be our vital path?  To lead us beyond the self-consumed Me to the Self-Giving We?  When we restart our economy inequality, exploitation, and desecration, will not protect our grandchildren. (adapted from Barry Lopez)

Pray for the people of Wisconsin who during Holy Week had to make a choice:  Vote and die or don’t vote;  and pray for the Supreme Court, who didn’t stand in line all day exposing themselves to illness while waiting to vote, and who has now decided to hold their sessions virtually.

50th Anniversary of Earth Day arrives next week. In the midst of this time of uncertainty, grief, and disruption, we want to celebrate Earth Day in a way that centers our interconnectedness, lifts up the hope available to us in God’s creation, and provides pastoral resources to the Church and especially to our broad Creation Care community. Even in trying times, our commitment to care for God’s creation is strong and brings us together. Knowing that fundamental changes are happening across our country and the world, we come together to pray for the just world that could be built, bringing new life for our people and for the Earth. (The Episcopal Church)  Look for Interfaith Earth Day celebration opportunities in your inbox next Tuesday.

Honoring Earth Day: Karen and Jose stopped by and suggested we might buy something special for our Courtyard Garden.  Perhaps a statue to commemorate these times and the beauty Ken, Austin and God have created?  If you have any ideas/suggestions please let me know!  They are walking the Labyrinth next Wednesday, you may, too!

Mini-Concerts:  Rabbi Dan told me that the people of Beth Chaim have been filming Mini-Concerts in their homes and then sharing them online with the rest of their congregation.  A great idea, right?  So why don’t we begin to do the same?  Musicians and singers have at it —  2 or 3 Songs/ or 10 – 15 minutes in length!   How about the poets and dancers?  Storytellers?  How about chefs, cooks and bakers? Could be great fun.  You don’t have to wait for me to ask.  I know there is already a Disco video out there!  Send them to me/Kari at:  office@peacejourney.org.

In this spirit, Elizabeth is already contributing and enriching us.  She discovered the following when she Opened the Door for Elijah at the Seder:

Fear and safety play hide and seek
Angst and calm walk side by side
Sorrow and joy dance hand in hand
Loss and gratitude mingle in the same cry
Bitterness and forgiveness give chase in swirling circles
And the guides who have gone before gently whisper
“Stay and let your heart be open to it all”

Easter Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 04.08.20

Friends: “The Glory of God is the Human Being fully alive!” ~St. Irenaeus

Look for daily prayer videos:

  • Maundy Thursday prayer video is designed for your participation in ritual actions and conversations. Therefore, you’ll need to pause the video as your meal progresses (the food of the meal is your choice!) … some of you have family with you, some of you don’t; this is not a Seder but tries to use key elements and symbols for your dinner reflections. We are mindful that the Passover meal became Eucharist Communion sacrament for the Christian community. If there’s no one in your home with which to share a meal, call or Zoom with a friend from Peace to share these dinner reflections. Look for this prayer video at 5:00pm Thursday. (Video designed to watch in short pieces)
  • Good Friday: The ancient tradition of the church is that the sanctuary is open for personal prayer and meditation from noon to 3:00pm. This prayer video is a meditation on the cross for this Covid pandemic time. Look for this prayer video at noon on Friday.
  • Easter Vigil prayer video celebrates early church baptismal rites which normally began at midnight and continued ’til dawn. However, this prayer video will come to you at 3:00pm Saturday.
  • Easter! will be delivered Sunday 9:45am.

All of our Holy Week prayer videos will reside on our home page through the month. Video links can also be found on our Facebook page. Please feel free to share the videos directly (from the Vimeo page) or share the Facebook post!

April 8 2020 (News from Lwamondo Parish in South Africa)
  Our brothers and sisters at Peace Lutheran Church.
   Let me start by greeting you with this week’s Watch word: “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
   I’m delighted to see Pastor Steve with his grand son from baptism. I was pleased about that. Thank you very much.
   We again wish to appreciate your well wishes and blessings on Palm Sunday and Holy week.
   South Africa like any country around the world is affected by Corona virus. We thank the government the way is trying to flatten the curve.
   We are in complete lock down. No movement except to buy essentials or consult a doctor. Majority of us are observing. Only in informal settlements, is this a challenge. Schools closed two days earlier. School holidays have been elongated.
   Over 58 000 people have been tested so far. 1749 were found to be positive. At least 13 deaths and 95 recoveries by 4/ 7 / 2020.
   We pray that Scientists and doctors discover treatment. We pray for the sick, affected and dead. For the past two Sundays we didn’t have church services. We are receiving church services from social media. For elderly people without What’s App are at a disadvantage. We hope sooner than later would be a breakthrough.
   Greetings to you all. We wish you a blessed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. John 3 : 16..
Muthuphei

We keep in our prayers all with the covid virus, their families and all health workers and researchers.

Blessed Holy Week,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 04.01.20

Friends:

“S/He who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” — Aeschylus

“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,  in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”  Isaiah 30: 15

HOLY WEEK begins this Sunday with Palm Sunday.  Special video worship experiences are being prepared for you throughout the week.  Decide what Intention you will choose to focus on for Holy Week.  What do you want to learn?  What do you want to appreciate?  What do you want to practice?  Who/what do you want to be with for a week?  What do you want to pray for a week?  Your Intention will sharpen and strengthen your clarity to experience a Holy Week like you have never experienced before!

Abba/Imma Qiqong Lord’s Prayer link will be coming to you with this week’s homily.

Many people continue to Walk our Labyrinth and stroll through Ken and Austin’s Courtyard Garden.  Both are literally life saving right now.  And of course our Healing Mandala is resting in the Peace Mosaic.

Please keep in your prayers:  Melanie Hobden recovering from surgery, Betty and Bob – quarantined for the time being; Bob Worthington – recovering from a stroke; all the people of Peace who are experiencing isolation as harsh; those who are separated from their families, those who have recently died; health workers – Jessica, Kylie and many others; for those without food at this time; all who are making special creative efforts like making masks; Alan Laurlund whose work is designing/expanding current and new hospitals; and for the most vulnerable – refugees, immigrants, children on the border who will face the corona virus soon.

The Peace Council is examining our financial picture at Peace and discerning how we will best make it through this time.  If you are able to continue contributing at this time your gifts are most appreciated!  Council financial recommendations will be coming to you in the near future.

Our calling: To see the World through the Cross; To see Life through the eyes of God; To see one another through the compassion of Christ.

Jubilee USA Network: We are sharing some good news amidst these trying times.
We have won 3 Campaigns due to our coronavirus education: 

  •  Moments ago the IMF agreed to our proposal to expand debt relief, as the coronavirus spreads, to the world’s poorest countries to bolster healthcare
  • The IMF just announced it will double its capacity to do below market-rate lending to all countries to prevent financial crisis in the face of the coronavirus
  • On Wednesday, after two years of work, the IMF supported the plan to reduce Somalia’s debt from $5 billion to $577 million

“Are there not 12 hours in the day?

No one who walks in the daytime stumbles,

having the light of this world to see by;

anyone who walks around at night stumbles,

having no light as a guide.”   Jesus / John11: 10

You will receive our Palm Sunday Liturgy initiating Holy Week at 9:45 on Sunday morning Feel free to forward to friends.  Thanks to Gary for producing, Elizabeth for singing and Kari for transmitting!

Our online services will be available to view via the website on Friday afternoon, and will be posted to Facebook along with the 9:45 email on Sunday morning. The homily will remain on the website through the week.

  • COMPLETE THE CENSUS TODAY!
  • No, this is not an April Fool’s Day prank. Today is National Census Day!
  • In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging the public to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census online.
  • Why does responding to the 2020 U.S. Census matter so much? Because: the census helps determine where funding goes, and how much funding communities get. 
  • Filling out the 2020 U.S. Census online is fast and easy—no more than 10 minutes.
  • So, can we count on you to get counted?
  • Wash your hands and get those keys clicking!
TAKE THE CENSUS NOW

Blessed Holy Week, 

Pr. Steve