Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 06.10.20

Friends:

"Holy, Holy, Holy is our God of Infinite Love,
The fulness of the earth is God's glory!"  (Isaiah 6)
Thanks to Pastor Lucy for this gift!

Our Justice Advocacy Deacon Sara Bretthauer participated in the Food Drive at St. Timothy’s last Sunday.  She will be sharing with us the best ways for Peace members to participate and support.

Incredible news from New Zealand that they are now Covid free!  Of course they are fiercely monitoring their ports of entry but it can be done!

There are stirrings that some members would like to prepare a Shower Gift for Ella and Louis.  You will learn more in the near future.

Members of our congregation are working on Covid Solutions in various ways.  Keep John Ashley and Greg Ouzounian in your prayers.

For those of you who have Prime there is a special series of Films being offered in June under the banner Black Lives Matter.  Most importantly, “Just Mercy” is being shown for free during June (many of you have read the book defending the rights of Death Row prisoners including children).  In addition, these are my personal recommendations for you;  “I am Not your Negro” examines the insights of poet/novelist James Baldwin; “Fences” with Denzel Washington; a film on August Wilson, playwright and author of Fences; “Get in the Way” by John Lewis who is considered the Conscience of the Congress; “Marshall” about former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and Harriet Tubman.  There are other worthy films!

Can you believe it – one year ago Paradise was on Fire?  Maybe we still are……….

The Seed/Wisdom of the Gospel falls on different types of Soil, said Jesus:  Paths (of habituation), among Rocks (hardness of heart), Weeds (pretense which strangles new life) and Fertile – rich, deep, open and mature.  There will also be those who ‘hear but do not understand and look but do not see’ (Mat. 13:14).  Those who ‘prefer darkness to light because their hearts are turned to darkness’ (Jn. 3:19).  Thankfully ‘those who are not conformed to the world’s values but by renewing their minds seek to discern God’s yearnings for their lives’ (Rom. 12:2).  And those who ‘desire to cooperate in the painful birth of a New Creation’ (Rom. 8:22)

Pentecost Season Blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 06.03.20

Council Members are reaching out by phone to our whole congregation.  Please call them back if they miss you!

Keep in our prayers:  Bobby who died unexpectedly, his family and sister-in-law Lori Garcia, the family of Josianne Meynier who died on Tuesday; the family of George Floyd; Elise, Don, Roger, Dana, Jean, Winnie, Ed, Bob, Betty, Marshall, Stanley, Heather, and Denise; — the people of Tiannamen Square killed on June 4, 1989 and the people of Hong Kong struggling for democracy; 

Peace has become a Staging Center for local neighborhood drive through Birthday and Anniversary Celebrations! 

Our Sanctuary Platforms were stripped, cleaned and sealed this week. They are beautiful and await our return to Sanctuary worship!

Our Justice Advocacy council rep, Sara Bretthauer, is working together with St. Timothy’s Episcopal on coordinating bi-weekly food drives benefitting Monument Crisis Center. Stay tuned for more on how we can support this much needed ministry!

Our deep gratitude for your continued financial support of Peace!

Trinity Blessing, Pr. Steve

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

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

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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