Pastor’s Blog / Grace Waves 03.22.2019

Friends:

“King Hsuan of Chou heard of Po Kung-I, who was reputed to be the strongest man in the whole kingdom.  The King was dismayed when they met, since Po looked so weak.

When the King asked Po how strong he was, Po said mildly, “I can break the leg of a spring grasshopper and withstand the winds of an autumn cicada.”

Aghast, the King thundered, “I can tear rhinoceros leather and drag nine buffaloes by the tail, yet I am shamed by my weakness. How can you be famous?”

Po smiled and answered quietly, “My teacher was Tzu Shang-chi’ui, whose strength was without peer in the world but even his relatives never knew it because he never used it.”

~ Lenten Sundays:  Seminarian Louis Moehlman preaches this Sunday.  On March 31st we’ll celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our Sanctuary on this site.  On April 7 we will have a Healing Prayer Service.

~ Lenten Forums:  This Sunday – Partnership:  History, Context and how our Partnerships Emerged.  March 31 – Aesthetics Tell the Truth:  How do the Design Elements of Peace convey our Faith (Everything is integrated at Peace!)  Come and learn this fascinating story of Beauty and Brilliance honoring our 20th Anniversary.  (Peace was one of the 3 Finalists for Danville’s Best Designed Buildings in 1999.)  April 7 – The Grace of Healing Prayer.

~ Lenten Services:   Unfortunately, Rabbi Dan has a conflict.  We will teach a class on Holy Envy (the good stuff of other religions) later in the Spring.

  • Wed  Mar 27:   Soup & Sacrament 6:30p ~ Creation, Passover & Easter
  • Wed  Apr 3  :   Soup & Sacrament 6:30p
  • Wed  Apr 10:   Soup & Sacrament 6:30p

~ The San Francisco Gay/Lesbian Freedom Band Concert is this Saturday, March 23 at  6:00 pm at First Congregational Church in Oakland.  If you would like to carpool to this event, contact our Office promptly!  Keep up the joyous work, Gary!

~ Here is a delightful article by our own Bill Carmel on the Monet Exhibit in San Francisco.  Read the article here:   The Immersive Experience: Monet at the de Young, February 16 to May 27.   Should some of us go together?

Keep in your prayers:  The people and especially Muslim Community of Christchurch, New Zealand and the people of the Midwest deluged by unimaginable storms.

~ Friday Films:  March 29th Becoming Astrid (2018), a coming-of-age biopic focusing on the formative years of famed author Astrid Lindgren who created the beloved character Pippi Longstocking – and a seminal event that will turn her into a titan of children’s literature. Not Rated; run time 2 hrs. 3 min.  6:30 pm dinner, 7:30 pm movie Bring something to share if you like, and bring a friend!    Becoming Astrid Trailer

~ The Monte Vista Choir holds their second concert at Peace this week TONIGHT Friday at 7:00pm. Come and enjoy these wonderful performances!

~ A new Tai Chi Chuan Class series begins on Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 pm.  All are invited to attend or explore.  Thanks to all who have participated in the classes over the years.  It has encouraged my practice and the deepening of my teaching.  Fascinating isn’t it, that Po like Jesus never used the strength he had to overcome or dominate.  Wisdom and compassion always open the way.

The Way of Life

A person is born gentle and weak.  At the time of death we become rigid and stiff.

Green plants are tender and filled with sap.  At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.

The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and the strong will fall.

The soft and flexible will overcome.

Lao Tzu

Lenten blessings,

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 03.05.19

Friends:

“Turn,

turn and return

to the holy, the dark illuminating night.

Over there  – far and close by

lies the world, sunken in a pit….like a desert, a lonely place.

In my heart a deep sadness blows through with a longing for love.

In dewdrops of mercy I will sink and mix with the ashes.”

 

~ Ash Wednesday Service tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm.

~ International Women’s Sunday this Sunday, March 10 with Pr. Ruth Lesher presiding and Seminarian Ella Vandervlugt preaching.  Ella and Louis are engaged and we are fortunate that we will get to have Ella with us at Peace during this Spring Semester!

~ Qiqong Liturgy at Peace on March 17.  Kaleo and Elise Ching are helping me design a worship service incorporating the body wisdom of qiqong.  This will be a marvelous meditative worship.  A flier will come your way.

If you wish to learn How to Meditate during Lent and cannot attend our Meditation Gatherings on Thursdays from 6 – 6:45 pm, please let me know and I will provide you with instruction.

~ Thanks to Drew and Gary and our Umbrella Dancers for a rich and delightful Fat Ash Celebration!  Jet lagged Josie danced all the way from Egypt!

“My soul’s the present shadow of a presence gone.”  Fernando Pesoa

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 03.01.19

Friends:

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends.”  Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War’s conclusion

~ Fat Ash Sunday:  In the spirit of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday and as preparation for Ash Wednesday (March 6 at 7 pm) we will combine these two as preparation for our Lenten Season with a Dixieland Jazz Liturgy created by our own Drew Cremisio this Sunday, March 3.  It shall be forever known as Fat Ash Sunday.  Expect a great fun and celebration.

~ Goran Berg and the Sycamore Strings Academy:  A simply stunning concert was presented by the Academy this past Sunday evening.  We are so blessed to have these incredible young musicians regularly performing  their concerts at Peace.  And thank you, Goran, for both being a gifted teacher and creating these superb feasts of the soul.

~ Friday Films – Last Friday 32 people attended “Bohemian Rhapsody“!  Thanks to Elana and Ken for creating these delicious meal and movie evenings!

“Love your enemies do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; turn the other cheek; lend without calculation of return; do not judge; the excess you practice will be the measure of excess you receive.”  Jesus

~ Greetings from Mark Miller!  We bought a home in Mount Vernon just 1.5 miles down the Potomac from George Washington’s home. We are located about 60 yards from the river, with great views. Our home is on property once owned by George Washington. Neighbors include G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame and an ex-Redskin quarterback.  We see our grandsons a couple of times per week and my wife and I both have siblings located 30 minutes to an hour away. I see a far greater degree of poverty than we had in the Tri Valley area. People begging for food at a local McDonalds and Safeway, which are about 4 miles from our home. I have bought food for a couple of people and put one homeless man up at a hotel during a cold period. I will probably join Nativity Lutheran church in Alexandria.  Best regards to everyone at Peace!

~ International Women’s Day – March 8: In 1961, three courageous women challenged the male-dominated realms of California conservation and politics. They took off their aprons and created a force that changed the future of our Bay.  Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick were environmental pioneers who started a movement to stop massive companies, wealthy landowners, and powerful politicians from filling in our Bay. They succeeded!

~ Keep in your prayers:  Frank, Betty, Margaret, Olavi, our Catechumens, Brenda, Kathy, Adel, Liz, Cynthia, Katie, Ed and Ed, Brian and David, Ralph, Drew, Jim, Seminarian Louis, the family of Doris Graesser.

~ Day of Remembrance, February 19, 77 years after the signing of Executive Order 9066:  We recall that dark time when the U.S. government deemed Americans of Japanese descent the enemy. Families, even young children, were forced to abandon their homes and lives for an uncertain future. Those children behind barbed wire were the youngest victims of racial prejudice.

It is crucial that we remember the deep wounds of Executive Order 9066. When we see children today separated from their families, it is our responsibility to stand with those subjected to unfair and discriminatory policies. Children are not the enemy and they should not have to question our government’s values.  Norman Mineta, Chair, Japanese American National Museum.

~ Our Jazz Church West celebration hosts Kristen Strom’s Quartet at 5:00 pm.  You won’t be the same person when the concert concludes!

“You can only go halfway

into the darkest forest; then you are coming out

the other side.”  Chinese proverb

Transfiguration Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 02.08.19

Friends:

“If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm.  If you torment someone, it is yourself you torment.  If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill.”  Jain Teaching

Partnership with Lwamondo Parish:  How good it was to share our memories, dreams, prayers and friendship with Lwamondo brothers and sisters in Christ on Partnership Sunday.  We continue to be enriched by the faith stories and experiences from members of the Body of Christ in different contexts around the world.

Peace Families Invite:  Nicki Lee and son Luke are inviting the Peace Families to her home on Sunday, February 17 for reflection, relaxation and nurturing friendships among the kids and parents of Peace.  Your RSVP to her is helpful.

Congratulations to Maili!  She has been chosen for a Lifetime Honors Award in the “Who is Who among American Women and American Teachers.” She was nominated by several of her honors students. A comprehensive biography will be published in their world wide publications and on line. Of course the principal and school superintendent from Amador High School were very excited by the news and have created ‘local buzz’ about this award.  Maili has mentioned that she will mention Peace Lutheran in her biography as well.  Once more, congratulations Maili!

Peace Members unanimously passed our Budget for 2019.  Gratitude to Treasurer Diane Kurtz for her thorough work and clear narrative.

Addendum to our Annual Report:  A supplement including our Year in Review, President’s and Justice reports, Solar Update and Technology Upgrades in 2018 will be delivered to you this Sunday.

I-SRV Storytelling Organizing Committee meets on Saturday, February 16 from 3 – 4:30.

The Justice Advocacy Committee of Peace meets on Saturday, February 23 at 2 pm at Peace.

Jazz Church West:  A change – The Lorca Hart Trio will return this Sunday (Glen Pearson will appear another time).  Organ, drums and guitar – what a sound you’ll get to experience!

Thrivent Choice:  Since 2010, over $414 million has been distributed to thousands of churches, schools, and other nonprofits just like yours through Thrivent Choice®. We are excited to share, Peace Lutheran Church received $1,917 in charitable outreach funding in 2018.  We would love to hear how this gift helped further your mission.

Epiphany blessings,

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 02.01.2019

Friends:

“A day comes when no one is a stranger to you anymore.  That terrible day marks your entry into real life.”  Christian Bobin

Partnership Sunday: Join us this Sunday to share in the richness of our Partnership with Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa.

Our Annual Congregational Meeting follows worship this Sunday.  You’ll easily make it home in time for the Super Bowl.

Tyme for Tea – Saturday, February 9 at 2:30:  Join us for a Delightful Thyme with friends, conversation and delicious sandwiches and pastries.   Speak with Diane Kurtz for details!

Family Invitation;  Nicki Lee is inviting the Peace Families to her home on Sunday, February 17 for reflection, relaxation and nurturing friendships among the kids and parents of Peace.  Details to come.

“No one is a stranger, this whole world is your home.”  Franz wright

 

Epiphany Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 01.25.19

Friends:

We are together embarking on a journey

     If we know each other better – we build trust

     If we can tell our own stories and experiences – we get to know ourselves

     If we learn some tools to build our families and communities – we build the stories of our future.

~ Thanks to our Story Telling Forum Leaders from this last Sunday:  Charlene, Diana, Jim and Mary.

~ Forum this Sunday:  Hear a report of the experiences and insights of the dozen Peace Members who attended the JustFaith Workshop 2 weeks ago.

Friday FilmsTODAY!!, January 25th  6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Movie.  Christopher Robin (2018) is a heartwarming tale about a boy who had countless adventures in his parents’ beautiful wooded forest but lost his way as a grownup.  Somehow, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet find him and remind him that doing mothering can be the very best something.  Run time 104 min; rate PG.

Disaster Preparedness:  Kim Murillo has stepped forward to lead a team at Peace to  prepare us for serving the local community in the case of a disaster.  County Officials will Not work with untrained volunteers in a disaster!  An Interfaith Emergency Preparedness Faire will be offered on Sunday, January 27 from 3 – 6 pm at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek.  Presenters include the Red Cross, our County Warning System and the Interfaith Council who is working to coordinate congregations with county officials.  Do you want to help prepare Peace for a large-scale emergency?  Help put policies in place about what to do in the case of fires, earthquakes or floods?  Would you help train congregants to work with the Red Cross or Danville’s CERT Teams if we became a site for sheltering others?  Join Kim on Jan 27!

~ Keep in your prayers:  June Jones as she moves to Las Vegas, Karin and John as they move to Reno, Elizabeth as she moves to Merced, the Catechumens, Louis, Olavi, our loved ones who are struggling, Benjamin on his baptism, our children, those with child, those living with addictions, for the nourishing of our contemplative spirits, those living between a rock and a hard place.

~ Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be on Sunday, February 3 immediately following worship.  Yes, you will make it home in time for the Super Bowl.

~ Soggy greetings from Pr. Elizabeth Felts who sends her love from the snow and slush of Providence, Rhode Island.  Lots of work meeting everyone but she is delighted by the members of Beneficent Congregational Church where she now serves as the senior pastor.

~ The Meditation Group keeps growing on Thursday evenings from 6 – 6:45 pm.  All are welcomed to participate or drop in on any Thursday that works for you.

This Sunday evening Korean National Television from South Korea will shoot a segment on The Pacific Choir and their creative work in making inroads into mainstream American culture.

Appreciative of Kim’s work mentioned above,  Bill Carmel commented after worship last Sunday, “Disaster Preparedness — I thought that’s what the Old Testament is about.

Epiphany blessings,  Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 1.12.19

Enriching with Story:  This Workshop happens on Saturday at Beth Chaim.  It will  demonstrate the power of facilitated storytelling, present a simple process of story creation and sharing, and demonstrate a path to deepen the connections within families and congregations.  5 people from Peace are attending.  Many joyful details to come!

Just Faith Workshop – this Sunday from 2 – 4:30 at WC Methodist Church.   12 people from our Peace Justice Advocacy committee are attending

Contemplation

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

—Mary Oliver, Upstream

 

Faith sees best in the dark.                  

   —Soren Kierkegaard

 

Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

–Friedrich Nietzsche   

Memories of a delightful eve of Christmas Caroling at San Damiano

Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 01.04.19

Friends:

“The heavens declare the glory of God…..No utterance at all, no speech, no sound that anyone can hear – yet their Voice goes out through all the earth, and their message is made clear to the ends of the earth.”  (Ps. 19: 1 – 4)

We celebrate Epiphany this Sunday – The Arrival of the Wise Ones.  Come and join those who are searching for wisdom.

Jazz Church West welcomes The Gerry Grosz Jazz Kitchen this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  Come see what’s cooking in the New Year!  It will be organic and delicious!

Story Telling Workshop with Maggid Jim Brule, sponsored by I-SRV and hosted by Beth Chaim.  Saturday, January 12th;  9;00a – 5:00p.

JustFaith Workshop with Founder Jack Jezreel:  Sunday, January 13th, 2:00 – 4:30p at Walnut Creek Methodist Church.  Members of the Justice Advocacy committee are attending.  Want to join us?  Talk with me.

Martin Luther King Sunday – January 20 with special guests.

“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion.  The world becomes much easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil.  The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard.   It makes demands.  Hate is simple.”  (from Bear Town by Fredrik Backman)

Joyful Epiphany,  Pr. Steve

Grace Waves/Pastor’s Blog 12.21.18

Friends:

“Joy to he World” is a popular, beloved and perhaps the most published Christmas Carol. Its author Isaac Watts did not write it with Jesus’ birth in mind – it’s not even mentioned.  It was published in a collection of hymns inspired by the Book of Psalms and interpreted through Christian eyes as an affirmation of the whole creation filled with new life:  Fields and floods, rocks-hills-plains repeating the ‘sounding joy’ refers to Ps. 98 where heaven and nature sing.  Watts conveyed crucial insights in the Judeo-Christian tradition:  That our Creator ‘rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and the wonders of God’s love'”.  As Mother Mary learned…we have much joy, mystery and love to ponder here.  If the sweetness and grace of the Christmas Story does not reach our hearts it is as mere ocean spray – a blast on the surface that never touches the deep nor calms the heart.

 

Christmas Eve Schedule

  • Family Service at 5:00 pm —  Guest singers/musicians/actors – pure joy!
  • Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm — contemplative and soul-stirring.

Christmas Day Worship at 10 am — another celebration filled with joyful carols!

Our Secret Santa Gifts and Gift Cards were delivered on Tuesday.  Thanks for sharing so much love with those in need!

Christmas Caroling Gary and accordion will lead the way on Sunday, December 23.  We leave Peace at 5:30 to serenade members and arrive at San Damiano by 6:45 to sing for the Camp Fire families.

Blue Christmas Services and Holiday Candle Ceremony:  Martha has sent us Christmas Resources for those facing grief and loss in this season of darkness.  See attachments below.

Our Christmas Tree has been voted Best Christmas Tree Ever!  Runner-ups include the Christmas Trees from 2011, 2007 and 2013.

The Song “Silent Night” celebrates its 200th anniversary this Christmas!

Our Monastery Honey has nearly disappeared.  Great gifts and so tasty!

Christmas opportunities for Service:   San Damiano Retreat Center has opened their facility for Paradise Fire Victims.   If you wish to Volunteer to assist the days most needed are:  December 24 and 25.  You can also wander up the hill at any other time these next few days and see where they need help.

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.  But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.  The other is mere business.” Gandhi

Entre Culturas News/Partnership On the firs half of October they get a lot of rain on Laurel Galan but then the rains stop all together and therefore it was not enough. There will be no harvest of corn but there will be plenty of food for the animals. The harvest of sorghum will be good. There is plenty of water on the wells. One well was dug to start the water project for the community…they are still waiting on the rest of the project. The women are going to have enough food to cover all of December.The cutting and selling of firewood is still slow.

Regular Giving!  By end of year, please change your automatic giving from Vanco to your own bank using the Monthly Bill-pay program.  Questions?  Please contact Pam Lane

YEAR END CONTRIBUTIONSPlease have all year end contributions into the office by, December 31st.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent celebrates the Gift and Faith of Mary and her Magnificat.  “God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary’s breast.”  Luther

Peace Office will be closed Dec 25 – Jan 2.  We will see you in the New Year!  2019 office hours will begin a new schedule:  Tues, Wed, Friday:  10a – 6p.  Most Thursdays with Pastor Steve, and by appointment.

Blessed Advent and Joyful Christmas!

Pr. Steve

 

Grace Waves / Pastor’s Blog

Friends:

“We most need to pray when we least feel like praying.  Even when we seem unable to pray as we ought, we can trust the Spirit prays within us with ‘sighs too deep for words’, for the prayer of the heart depends not on our temperament or natural capacity for quiet but on the Spirit’s presence and gifts meant for each of us.”  Catherine of Siena

Christmas Schedule

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm …. Who will be the Baby Jesus this year?  Guest singers/musicians/actors will fill the evening’s Story with delight!
  • Christmas Eve:Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm
  • Christmas Day: Worship at 10:00 am

Secret Santa Gifts and Gift Cards: Please bring your Gifts/Gift Cards to Worship this Sunday, December 16. The families live in Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Oakley and Concord. Please wrap your gifts and mark them with Family Name, Gender and Age of Child.  (For example, BAY Family.  Girl 7 years.)   A small group will drive to Martinez on Monday or Tuesday to deliver the gifts.

The Catechumenate (Adult Faith Deepening/Clarity of Calling) has begun.  A few other members may join in.  Keep Fei in your prayers and those who are contemplating participating in this time of discernment.

Sing-Along Messiah with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and our own Elizabeth Hunter Ashley!  Sunday, December 16, 7:00 pm at the San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta.  www.San RamonArts.org for tickets.

Blue Christmas Services and Holiday Candle Ceremony:  Martha has sent us Christmas Resources for those facing grief and loss in this season of darkness.  See attachments below.

Christmas Caroling:  Gary will once again lead the way with his accordion as we sing cheer at the homes of members of Peace.  We are hoping to conclude the evening with Caroling for the Camp Fire families residing at San Damiano.  All are welcome to join in – singers and non-singers!!

Thanks to the Women of Peace and Ken who have decorated our Tree and the Gathering Hall!

Sretan Bozic! –  Christmas Tree Decoration:  As a child “Sretan Bozic” was spoken in my Croat family more than Merry Christmas. It reminds me of our being an immigrant family.  I would like to prepare ribbons or paper strips with Merry Christmas written down in languages from all of our diverse family backgrounds.  From Arabic Maltese to Finish.  We can prepare these on Dec. 16 and 23 and use them as additional Christmas decorations.  Sretan Bozic!    Ken

Christmas opportunities for Service

San Damiano Retreat Center is opening their facility for Paradise Fire Victims.  78 people can be housed.  If you know anyone who needs a place for the holidays please notify Lisa at San Damiano promptly.  Her number is: 837-9141.  If you wish to Volunteer to assist the days most needed are:  December 20 and 21 when people arrive and December 24 and 25.  Contact me if you want help.

“The Lord has so identified himself with us that our love for one another truly binds us to him as well:  I have put you among your neighbors so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me.  And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.”  Catherine of Siena

Winter Nights Shelter:  in late January or early February we will provide hospitality (a meal, homework assistance, being present) with friends from Beth Chaim at St. Timothy’s Church.  More details to come.

Entre Culturas News/Partnership Eduardo and the women did the trip to a place call EL SALTO – which is a river that has waterfalls and some swimming holes. 22 women and 6 children came on the trip. They had lunch in El Salto ( fish filet and juice – according to the women it was very good.)  The women had a blast especially because they do not have the chance to leave the community to go on trips like this. Micaela and  Emelina came on the trip. Emerita seemed to most enjoy the trip…on the way back to Laurel Galan, since they had to go trough Managua, the bus take them to the main avenue in the city for the women to see all of the Christmas Lights and the Altars that are especially prepared for the celebration of the Concepcion of Mary.

The Third Sunday of Advent arrives this Sunday when we light the pink candle – a symbol of joy for all the people who cannot wait for Christmas!

Advent blessings,

Pr. Steve