Pastor’s Weekly Message: 05.03.17

Grace Waves

Once upon a time I took in Mystery as a sensation best left unexamined.  Now I experience it as welcomed.  I’m strangely comforted when I hear from scientists that human beings are the most complex creatures we know of in the universe – by far!   Black holes are in their way explainable; the simplest living human being is not.  I lean a bit more confidently into the experience that life is so endlessly perplexing.  I love that word.  Spiritual life is a way of Dwelling with Perplexity–taking it seriously, searching for its purpose and perils, its beauty and ravages.  Spiritual life is dwelling with perplexity.
—Robert Coles

Defusing Hatred Workshop:  Hosted at Peace,  Wednesday, May 10th, 7:00p.  Co-sponsored by Interfaith Council, Peace, and Together We Will. Learn non-violent communication skills, watch informative videos, share conversation and hands on experience.  Develop practical skills for responding to hate speech and public occasions of intimidation.  
Good Shepherd Sunday – Living an Abundant Life, May 7!
Forum: Laura Magnani of AFSC/American Friends Service Committee leads our Forum this Sunday at 11:30 – 12:30, then further in depth for those who wish to stay until 1:30.  She will speak about the core values that formed the Quaker’s historical commitment to justice (Underground Railroad, women’s suffrage, Japanese internment) and how these values shape their discernment and participation in the Sanctuary Movement today.
Keep in your prayers:  Margaret Beeler on the death of her mother Betty; the family of Pete Thomsen on his death,  Fred and Marlene Garrity, Marshall, Nette, Brian, Gun, Sue, Ed, Shiva, Cliff, Peter, Jerry, Nik, Brian, Enriqueta; the congregation of Korean Church of the Valley as they seek new spiritual homes; and prayers of gratitude for Mashudu Neswiswi) and Masome Makobe who were married in Lwamondo Parish this past Sunday!
Healthcare Community Meeting: Saturday, May 20th, 10:30a – 12:00p  Join concerned citizens and allied organizations for an educational forum– Health care is a human right in all industrial countries except the United States.  Come watch the 35 minute documentary “Now Is The Time” and learn how the US can join the rest of the world and provide its residents with universal health care.  CA is currently taking steps to go beyond the ACA and guarantee affordable health care to all for life.  Learn how you can be a part of this movement.  Question and answer period will follow screening. Event facilitated by Gerri Field. Health Care Activist, CaPA. 
Our next Family Service is on Mother’s Day, May 14!
Tyme for TeaWe meet again for Tea on Saturday, May 13th, 2:30p  Cost $40 per person.  We’ll meet at 1:30p at Peace to carpool.
 
Embodying Prayer Retreat:  San Damiano, May 13th, 10 – 4:00p with Kaleo & Elise Ching and Pr. Steve as leaders. Come learn and enjoy the whole-bodiness of prayer through the gift of incarnational qiqong.
First Friday Films presents The Brand New Testamentthis Friday at 6:30 pm:  A playful, dark satire in the style of Monty Python meets Moliére. The film takes us on a farcical romp straight through current religious thought to something completely different. If you can suspend your disbelief and poke some fun at religion you will see what one little girl can do with some help from her mother and famous brother (J.C.).  Shortlisted at the 2016 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, written and directed by Jaco Van Doramael.
The Pacific Choir performs Bach’s Cantata 80 (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott) on Saturday, May 20 at 7:00 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.  Tickets are free but you must sign up with Peace to receive your ticket in advance.  (Call/email the Office or Sign Up on Sunday.) Donations for the evening will support the Cleft Palate Foundation.  You may invite friends to join you.
Jazz Church West presents Clairdee and the Ken French Trio this Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 pm.  An elegant and lovely evening awaits you.  You have never been to Jazz before?  Now is the time to begin.
 
SOLAR CELEBRATION – Save the Date!  Come celebrate our solar installation and the sunny ministries of Peace.  With a Community Dinner on Sunday, May 28 at 5:00p.  Stay tuned for details!
 
Sign of the Times (radio comedy)  – “You can count on us because we tell the truth more or less nearly 100% of the time!”

Easter blessings!
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.26.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

“Tov” is the Hebrew word usually translated as ‘good’ but it’s core meaning is actually ‘life generating’.  Enjoy this definition when you read the Creation Story or pray/meditate on the Creation Mantra you received Sunday.  This translation invigorates everything!  The purpose and joy of our evolving Creation (like the daily choices we face) is that everything we engage becomes life generating!

Earth Day – “I used to think the top environmental problems were Biodiversity Loss, Ecosystem Collapse and Climate Change.  I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems.  But I was wrong.  The top environmental problems are Selfishness, Greed and Apathy.  To deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and we scientist don’t know how to do that.”  Gus Speth

(As I said on Sunday, we in spiritual communities do know how to do this, not because we have solutions but because we know how to begin again, how to turn and return, how to respectfully nurture consciousness.  Isn’t it exciting to build this creative partnership with the scientific community now!)

Bill Carmel wrote an article on ‘Matisse into Diebenkorn  for our local paper about a current exhibit at the SF MOMA.  Over 300 views already.  Check it out at: https://www.danvillesanramon.com/blogs/p/2017/04/18/matisse-into-diebenkorn.  Way to go, Bill!

Two Forums – Peace as a Sanctuary Church:  This Sunday we will attune our Listening Skills to hear each other’s stories and learn the formative elements that have shaped our values.  On May 7 Laura Magnani of AFSC will join us to expand our understanding of Quaker historical commitments to justice (Underground Railroad, women’s suffrage, Japanese internment) and how the Sanctuary Movement is contributing to that history.

Healthcare Community Meeting  Saturday, May 20th, 10:30a – 12:00p  Join concerned citizens and allied organizations for an educational forum — Health care is a human right in all industrial countries except the United States.  Come watch the 35 minute documentary Now Is The Time and learn how the United States can join the rest of the world and provide its residents with universal health care.  California is currently taking steps to go beyond Obamacare and guarantee affordable health care to all for life.  Learn how you can be a part of this movement.  Question and answer period will follow screening. Event facilitated by Gerri Field, Health Care Activist, CaPA (California Physicians Alliance) Board of Directors.

The Four Seasons and More Concert performed by the Sycamore Strings Academy was superb.  How luscious to hear such uplifting music wafting and reverberating through our sanctuary.  The 15 young artists playing violins, violas, cellos and bass are incredibly gifted.  Our gratitude to Director (and Peace Friend) Goran Berg for eliciting their best in music and spirit.  (It was tov!)

Mother’s Day Tea at Thyme for Tea on Saturday, May 13.  Reserve your setting with Diane or Pat.

Our Confirmands met last Sunday.  We shared reflections on Holy Week: Seder, Good Friday and the Resurrecting Love of Easter (Mark 14 – 16:8); we examined the ‘spiritual teachings/environment’ of our Sanctuary; walked the Labyrinth; studied the Peace Mosaic, spoke about the dynamics that prompted the horror of the holocaust; and enjoyed earth day moments.  Keep Gracie, Jack, Reese, Nik, Julia, Mark, Kyle, Luke, Julia and Alex in your prayers.  Their Confirmation Celebration will be on Pentecost, June 4.

Defusing Hatred Program – Keep Calm and Defuse the Tension:  Learn nonviolent communication skills in a safe environment and develop tools for responding to uneasy situations and hate speech..  Enjoy and informative, visual presentation followed by conversation and hands on experience through role-play.  We host this program to build communities of care who will protect the vulnerable and targeted around us.

Sunday, April 30 at 7 pm at St. Joan of Arc in San Ramon.  Co-lead by Rev. Will McGarvey and myself.

Wednesday May 10 at 7 pm at Peace with a variety of Community Advocacy Groups.  Same leaders.

KCOV/Korean Church of the Valley:  This Sunday Pastors Daniel and Connie Chung will retire and KCOV will officially close their congregation.  Members of KCOV will disperse to join other congregations.  Of course they are being invited to join Peace as well.  We offer our gratitude for their years of ministry among us and in the San Ramon Valley.

The choral group Chromatica (who was given birth at Peace) will perform this Sunday at 6:00 pm.  Tickets are $20/person.  A beautiful evening awaits you.

The Interfaith Yom HaShoah Remembrance Service at Beth Chaim was very powerful.  The prayer below is offered in honor of the 6 million Jews who were murdered, along with the 1 million disabled people, the 1 million gay people, the 1 million intellectuals, artists and political dissidents, and 2 million Eastern Europeans who were murdered.  May we have the courage to oppose bigotry and protect all who are scapegoated in our time.

The Redemption of Saving Grace

O Lord, remember not only the men and women

of good will, but also those of ill will.

But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted

on us;

Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to

This suffering — our comradeship,

Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,

Our generosity, the greatness of heart

Which has grown out of all this, and when

They come to judgment let all the fruits

Which we have borne be their forgiveness.

(Prayer found by the body of a dead child at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp)

On Resurrection: 

Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history.  —Pope Francis

Easter Blessings,

Pr. Steve

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

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