Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 05.29.20

Friends – A Pentecost Blessing (originally titled A Non-traditional Blessing) by Ruth Fox, OSP.  It was given to me by Marlene Garrity.

May God bless you with anger at injustice for persons who experience abuse and exploitation so that you will work for justice, equality and peace. 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from the pain of rejection, starvation and war so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy. 

May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

If you have the courage to accept these blessings then God will also bless you with happiness because you will know that you have made life better for others;  you will live in peace because you will have worked to secure peace for others; laughter because your heart will be made light; and faithful friends because they will recognize your words and works as a person. 

These blessings are yours not for the asking but for the giving from the One who wants to be your companion, our God who lives and reigns forever and ever.” 

Ruth Fox was an alumni of St. John’s University School of Theology.  She is an archivist, organist, Formation Director and former Prioress of Sacred Heart monastery in Richardson, North Dakota. This blessing was composed for a graduate breakfast at Dickenson State College (now University) in 1984. It was first published in 1989 in Living Faith magazine as a blessing.  It so touched my heart.  Marlene Garrity

Pentecost is the Third High Feast Day of the Church Year.  With the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on this day we become the Body of Christ in the world.  Jewish practice and Christian faith share a common pattern:  Enslavement and crucifixion / Liberation and Resurrection / Revelation of Torah and Revelation of the Holy Spirit.  50 Days after Pesach/Passover (called the Counting of the Omer) the Torah was revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  50 days after Easter Pentecost (which means 50 days) celebrates the Descent of the Holy Spirit birthing the church.  Do you see the similar thread here?  Two religions sharing a common DNA derived since the Creation.  And Creation is ongoing in every moment – Creation never stopped, it is constantly evolving and growing, it is never past tense!  We live in the stream of an ancient history that shapes who we are and motivates how we live through Our Core Story:  We were Slaves, we were Freed, we Found out Why!  With the Spirit comes clarity and discernment of purpose.  Without us acting  Christ’s New Creation – nothing happens.  With abundant love and laughter here is the contemporary Jewish interpretation of Our Core Story:  We got stuck, we were freed, let’s eat!

Homilies Transcribed: Every week Libby transcribes my homilies and/or teachings.  These are available for all who would like copies.  As you know our Sunday Worship Videos are kept and available on both our website Home Page and Homilies Archive page.  My homilies have been recorded (pre-covid) but due to other pressing demands are not yet on our website. We are in the process of making them available; I will let you know when they are.

Reopening Committee:  Our Committee (Margaret, Jim, Howard, Kari and myself) had our initial meeting this week.  No decisions were made because there is far too much information to absorb.  The Lutheran Bishops of California are asking us to wait until much later in the summer.  We long to come together again without undue haste because we refuse to become a haven of contagion which happens when congregations open prematurely. We will begin conversations with our AA and NA groups.  For me it is significant  that Peace Congregation continues to act responsibly as a Community Leader with wisdom and thoughtfulness.  We want health and safety to open the way for all of us.

New Directory – ready to publish:  If you have any last minute changes in your personal contact data, please notify us at:  office@peacejourney.org. …before we go to print next week.  And yes we will have this available online as well!

Curator Bill Carmel invites you on a Virtual Tour of the DeMichele Art Exhibit at Peace:  Thanks to Bill’s keen eye and incredible grasp of art history and contemporary context, you will thoroughly enjoy this tour of our Sanctuary Art.  It is 18 minutes in length.  You can keep coming back to it as I do. This is the first of our Mini-Concerts – showcasing the talents of members and friends of Peace. This is also posted on our website.  Link:  https://vimeo.com/418324477 Our thanks to Julie and Will DeMichele for sharing the art of their husband and father.

Pentecost Art:  Look for Mary La Casse’s Art Invitation as part of our Pentecost Worship Video this Sunday too!

Keep in your prayers: For the 100,000 people in the US who have died from Covid in the last 4 months and for their families; for the 250,000 who have died from Covid around our world, for the healthcare workers and researchers; for Dana, Winnie, Roger, Don, Elise, Stanley, Ed, Bob; Thais’ mother, Betty, Kevin and Gloria, Marshall, Jean, Heather, the people of Minneapolis, the people of Brazil and countries of Africa where the pandemic is exploding,; for immigrants / refugees / children separated from their families on the border, for all who are accounted as Nobodies in this world…..and in whom Christ finds his home.  God, in your mercy.

Need more playfulness in your life?   Cynthia Winton-Henry of Body Wisdom Interplay invites you to check this out:   http://www.interplay.org/index.cfm/go/events:event/happening_id/2821/returnEvent/byLocation/

Unemployment Rates:  In Germany the unemployment rate has jumped from 4 – 5%; meanwhile in the US it has jumped from 4 – 17%.  Why the difference?  In Germany (and other developed nations) firing workers is not the solution to economic crises.  Teams composed of management and labor work together to figure out solutions and in critical times like these work in consultation with government advisors.  When our President forces meat packing workers to return to work and does not force employers to create clean, safe and healthy work environments, he implements grave injustice for those least able to survive the covid crisis.  To pray for the unemployed is not enough.

Traditionally I invite you to honor Pentecost by Wearing Red:  In fire, storm and earthquake God delivered Torah to Moses on Shavuot; in fire, wind and earthquake the Spirit gave birth to the Church in the first disciples.  It has come to my attention recently that not all of you are formally dressed for church on Sunday mornings – so at least Wear Red Pajamas!

Pentecost Blessings of Creativity, Imagination and Joy! Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 05.22.20

Friends:

Feast of the Ascension:  “If you love me you will keep my Word.  I shall ask Abba/Imma to give you another Paraclete/Advocate to be with you always , the Spirit of Truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows the Spirit – but you know the Spirit because the Spirit is with you, and the Spirit is in you.”  Jesus

A word from our California Bishops about Reopening the Churches:  

It is with concern that we reach out to you today, on the eve of Memorial Day weekend and the last Sunday of Easter, having just witnessed in a televised message by the President of the United States a statement declaring that the nation’s churches should open for public worship this weekend. We understand the strong desire of our people to worship together, particularly on a meaningful weekend like this one. We wish to state for the sake of our church and its people that we believe the advice to re-open this weekend is at odds with the prevailing medical understanding of the course of this virus and the ways to prevent its spread. 

We call on you to continue to listen to those state and local public health experts who, using the best medical and scientific information available, have already given us sensible guidelines to follow in our states and in the counties of our synods. Churches remain places of particularly high risk for contagion, and recent cases in many states have confirmed that opening prematurely can be catastrophic.

Returning to Worship at Peace: Margaret Beeler and Jim Gunshinan will lead our Reopening Committee so that appropriate procedures can be designed, ushers trained and the people of Peace educated about the best ways to worship and remain healthy in these upcoming weeks.  No date has been set yet but our Stratford School and AA Groups would like to resume their educational and support group0 work again later in June.  Lots of preparations need to be addressed in these upcoming weeks.

Why would we pit a healthy economy against a healthy population?  Racing back to consumerism, poisoning the environment, trampling our families and children in the rat race for profit borders on the pathological.  And to threaten the health of the nation on top of this?  Who pays the price?  Of course, the most vulnerable and the essential workers.  We have a chance now to see more clearly what we are doing and who pays the price.  The violent catastrophes – of inequality and ecological destruction – remain before us.  May the Covid Crisis motivate us to demand healthy practices for all God’s people and earth. 

St. Timothy’s invites us to participate in their Food Drive for Monument Crisis Center.  Sara Bretthauer will coordinate Peace efforts with them.  See the Flyer below*

Here is a 2 minute video from Jubilee- the Global Debt Forgiveness advocates.  The Covid Crisis has prompted the Forgiveness of Debt for the 25 poorest countries on earth. A True Resurrection story: Watch the Jubilee International Debt Relief beautiful message with our global partners HERE.

Sources for Face Masks – which Benefit Others:  Here is a link to an online page from Men’s Health magazine that lists a few dozen places where you can buy a mask and support non-profits at the same time. I went with “For Days” but mostly because they were able to send me 5 masks for $25 and send 5 to others for free; and they were able to send me the masks within a week.  (From VP Jim Gunshinan) www.menshealth.com/style/g32099210/fabric-face-masks-buy-online-charity-donation/

Bill’s Art Tour of The DeMichele Exhibit at Peace will come your way next week.  Anticipate wonderful insights regarding these fine works in our Sanctuary.

A new Peace Directory will soon be coming your way!

Many are experiencing Unemployment.  Churches are rich in connections!  I invited BJ Jesse – and anyone else who wants to – to reach out through Grace Waves.  Here is what she shared in terms of her job skills.  If you have suggestions let her know at bjjesseyoga@gmail.com“My gifts, talents and experience have such a range…from administrative/project management type skills to orchestrating the Sunday School program to teaching yoga & energy healing interest.

For 21 years:

  • managing personal and property interests for multi-million dollar client /
  • logistics for sculptural elements (check out granite @ Gale Ranch and Danville Hotel!)
  • administrative/office support/management for 35-person office — Thanks for your prayers and leads.  BJ

Keep in your prayers:  Dana Squire, former President of Peace Congregation, resides for half the year in Florida now.  He took a bad fall last week and was hospitalized. Elise, Betty, Bob, Jean, Winnie, Heather, Ed, Marshall, those living in countries around the world where Covid19 is about to hit.

Our parking lot Fire Hydrant has been replaced!

From Ceil Mccloy: 

Ascension Blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 05.15.2020

Friends:

For those who mock truth and their critics:  It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.  But to befriend the one who regards him/herself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.  The other is mere business.  Mahatma Gandhi

The Council and I truly appreciate the generous responses we are receiving to our Congregational Letter.  We also need to thank Libby for the time and energy she gave to assembling and preparing these Letters for distribution.  

Learning Meditation:  The gifts of Contemplation are not given so we can “bliss out” and ignore the pain inside and outside of our lives.  Listening, being still, at rest, the sacraments and praying are given us to make room for amazement!  Without wonder and gratitude we immediately attempt to ‘own and control’ life.  We need to be touched by the Spirit – the blessing of worship/wisdom/grace – to be awakened to the presence of God and the richness of life.  A Prayer Life without worship is like having a Gym Membership and never going…..expect nothing without exercise.  The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living!  Contact me if you want to develop your meditation practice.

Top interfaith priorities for next COVID-19 response bill
On May 1, the ELCA Advocacy office joined 34 other denominations and religious organizations in a letter to members of Congress. “As organizations representing a broad array of religious beliefs and faith traditions,” it reads, “we write to urge you to act with urgency to pass another COVID-19 response bill that first prioritizes vulnerable individuals and communities.” The letter goes on to share specific concerns, such as a request to collect and release federal demographic data so public health officials can begin to understand and address racial disparities in rate of infection and morbidity due to the coronavirus which are disproportionately higher in communities of color. Other concerns raised include: domestic abuse, people with disabilities, criminal justice, Native American issues, immigration, health care coverage for all.

DeMichele Art Exhibit:   Bill Carmel, our curator and Gary have prepared a video about our current Exhibit at Peace.  You will get to see it next week.

“Even if you are a Minority of One, the truth is still the truth.”  Gandhi

Aloha Kakou:  Kaleo and Elise Ching have taught Qigong and medical Qiqong for 31 years.  Together we created the Abba/Imma Qiqong Lord’s Prayer.  During this time of covid crisis they are teaching a number of Qiqong Zoom Classes which encourage healing and working with/absorbing nature’s energy.  If you would like to learn more check them out at:  lotus@kaleoching.com

LIRS/Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, CEO Krish O’Mara Vignarajah:   The pandemic has upended life as we know it, and the impact is hitting our refugee and migrant brothers and sisters particularly hard. As you may know, refugee resettlement is currently on hold, leaving children and families in at-risk situations and postponing family reunifications. Many refugees and migrants are afraid to seek medical care due to the public charge rule, and many more will not benefit from America’s stimulus plan despite having paid taxes for years. New Americans often hold jobs in industries that have been stopped short by the coronavirus and now have no steady source of income.

But all hope is not lost. Despite their hardships, immigrants in the United States have more than stepped up to the plate. They represent a disproportionately high number of America’s “essential” workforce as doctors, nurses, farmers, agriculture workers, food service providers, and more. They are helping keep this country afloat—and we need to return the favor.

Keep in your prayers:  Winnie, Elise, Jean, Betty, Marshall, Denise, Bob, Stanley, Ed, Heather, the family of Barbara Ann Alberti (former member of Peace) who died recently, our children, All those struggling in these time of Covid Crisis:  those with disabilities, those experiencing domestic abuse, people in prisons, the homeless, the quarantined, those in isolation, refugees and immigrants,  those in impoverished countries around the world anticipating the Covid Virus, healthcare workers, researchers, sanitation workers, those on the front lines of delivering essential services, the unemployed, and for those who act irresponsibly in times of crisis.  God, in your mercy!

Our Food Barrel has been placed outside at the Courtyard Front Entrance to Peace so that donations can be received easily. 

A Baby Sings in Church…and in the right key too!  Check out this link if you want your heart warmed.  Thanks to Elon Dickson for this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH6msTsClUs

“It has always been a mystery to me how people can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.”  Mohandes Gandhi

Easter Blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 05.08.2020

A Rose for the moms and women of Peace from Catherine Bell

Heaven – To know as we are known by Love:  “We want to be known.  We don’t want an ‘obscure’ life.  To be known is ‘to exist’ and that is why we want to be known – because if we are unknown we feel like shadows. Our ego demands center stage and it ceaselessly wants to compare with others.   Eternal glory means being known.  But human glory is a false glory, because it means being known by people who are not any more important than we are and their knowledge of us neither penetrates nor affects our being.  We are no less if we lead an obscure life unknown to this world.  We are no more significant if we are famous – our names appearing in headlines.  Our true existence lies in being known by God who only knows us through love.  Heaven is tasting the truth of who we are.  Heaven is freeing because we enjoy knowing who we are through the endless, generous love who is God. This love immediately births the love of community for perfect love can never be privatized!”  Ernesto Cardenal

Congratulations to Ella and Louis who are announcing that they are pregnant!  What joyful news!  Everyone is fine and their baby is due in the first week of October.  They are still in St. Louis and their future plans at this time are unknown.  They send their love to everyone at Peace.

Questions:  What have you experienced this week?  What disturbing?  What remarkable things have been discovered that you never expected?  Notice these things.  Note them in your journal. Put them in your prayers and release them to God.  There is no need to solve or fix anything you are experiencing during this crisis.

A Letter from our Peace Council regarding the financial picture for Peace has been sent to the whole congregation.  Please be on the look out for it.

Editing Skills:  Do you possess film/video editing skills?  Would you like to assist Gary in producing our current footage or work with the Archival Material we already have?  Could be a great deal of fun to bring the immense variety of events to life by making them accessible to the community of Peace and beyond.  Contact me if you are interested.  You do NOT have to be a professional.

Lectors:  Notify me if you want to read the Lessons for our Sunday Worship videos.  Gary and I want to share the creative riches with our whole community.

Correction:  I attributed the Stones you’ll see in Sunday’s Worship Video to Mary and these were actually a gift from Lori Garcia!  You will love these when you visit our Peace Garden or Walk the Labyrinth.

Poetry you Love:  What are beautiful poems you enjoy or have written – send them to me for Grace Waves.

Meditation:  Want to learn how to meditate?  Contact me.  The basics are quite simple and now is a great time to learn.

Recommended Read – All Saints by Robert Ellsburg:  Published in 2000 this volume shares a Saint’s Story for each day of the year. Well written and includes interfaith friends too.

US Mail Not for Sale:  In the midst of the covid crisis which still lacks any cohesive national strategy for eradication and a safe return to work, attempts are underway to get rid of the US Postal Service.  Besides being the most affordable and being utilized for multiple community resources I am most concerned that millions of people receive their medications through the US Mail and disruption to this service now only heightens the disaster we are in. Loss of the USPS could also be catastrophic for the election come November! If you want to learn what’s happening and how to help: www.usmailnotforsale.org.

Thanks to Martha Mantei…. A TRUE Lutheran!!

Easter Blessings,

Pr. Steve