Pastor’s Blog 05.15.19

Friends:

“If the soul could have known God without the world, the world would never have been created.”  Meister Eckhart

The gift of the Light Globe from Pr. Margareta and family was well received and celebrated on Mother’s Day last Sunday.  This is a beautiful invitation to prayer when we can’t find the words to express our hearts’ desire.  The Light Globe will be introduced to our AA and NA groups also for their use and prayers.  The Light Globe will always be available to you on Sundays or whenever you come to Peace.  Thanks to Pr. Margareta for preaching and to Johannes for transporting it all the way from Stockholm!

 

 

A joy to hear our Peace Singers perform.  Looks like they are having fun too.

 

The Holy Envy Class began onTuesday at Beth Chaim.  Two more classes will follow on May 21 and 28 at 7 pm.  You are welcomed to join in this exploration of various faith traditions.  As Lutheran scholar and bishop Krister Stendahl taught:  A) Learn from the adherents of another religion not from its enemies; B) Do not compare their worst to your best; and C) Enjoy experiencing Holy Envy!

Keep in your prayers:  Margaret Bender, Lois on the death of son Brian, Pr. Margareta on the death of her mother, Bob Mantei, Ed, Betty, Ralph, Spoon Jackson, Eddie and Mad, those seeking homes, those struggling in their relationships, the lonely, the unemployed, nurses, teachers, our children and grandchildren.

 

Vivaldi’s Magnificat – with the Pacific Choir and full Baroque Orchestra — Saturday at 7:00 pm, 10th Anniversary Concert!

Come honor the 10 Years of Partnership with the Pacific Choir, encourage these wonderful  young people and feed your soul with spiritual delights!

How blessed we are (and how exceedingly rare for a congregation) to have the Abundance of Artistic Performances (classical voice and instrumental, jazz, visual, cinematic, theatre, dance, poetry) that we experience at Peace on a regular basis.  Be amazed!

 

 

“Do not depend on the hope of results.  When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, (essentially healing, compassionate work) you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.  As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.  And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people.  The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relations that saves everything.”  Thomas Merton

Easter blessings,

Pr. Steve

 

 

Pastor’s Blog 5.10.19

Friends:

“What is REAL?  Real isn’t how you are made.  It’s something that happens to you.  It takes a long time.  But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.  It lasts for always.”  The Velveteen Rabbit

Mother’s Day Worship will be especially celebratory this Sunday as we welcome and dedicate the gift of a Light Globe from Sweden.  This gift from Pr. Margareta and family will illuminate our prayers for our mothers and the people of this world.  Bring your Mother to church on Sunday – in your heart if not in your hand – and light a candle in gratitude for her.

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others : Begins TUESDAY!  Sign up today…   Tuesdays, May 14, 21 & 28| 7:00-8:30 pm Beth Chaim Sanctuary

Rabbi Dan and Pastor Steve Harms once again come together to teach a compelling approach to thinking about God and faith. The class will be taught out of NY Times bestselling author, Barbara Brown Taylor’s recent novel, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others.  We will explore the question “What can we learn about our own wrestle with God from encountering the faith journeys of our neighbors?”  Three Sessions | Cost: $60 (includes book)

From Calvin Neswiswi and our Partners in Venda, South Africa:  It is 11:00 in the morning and South Africa started voting at 7:00. We are looking forward to large voter turnout.  Our wish and hope is that Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC win the election. Pray with us for peaceful election.  Greetings to our friends in Peace.

Math Outreach  (https://www.mathoutreach.com/the-program.html) supports kids in disadvantaged local and global communities who lack the skills of basic math concepts. The program will provide tutoring, mentoring, and fundraising to purchase necessary educational supplies. The goal is to help  close the learning gap in math so kids can move forward in their math education.  So far, Math Outreach has raised over 1000 dollars and has been able to purchase numerous math educational supplies including base 10 blocks, pencils, notebooks, flash cards, white boards, calculators, and learning toys.

MAY 18 ~ Pacific Choir Artist in Residence program presents the 10 year Anniversary Concert, Saturday May 18, 7:00p.  Tickets available at the door.

Honoring our Mothers

“Love is recklessness, not reason.  Reason seeks a profit.  Love comes on strong, consuming herself, unabashed.  

She risks everything and asks for nothing.  Love gambles away every gift God bestows!”

 

Easter blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog / Grace Waves 05.01.19

Friends:

“The living are few and the dead abound in this life — the dead being those who never let go and can’t walk away from themselves into love and laughter!”  Christian Bobin

Following their Baptismal Renewal on Easter and ancient church tradition, the Catechumens have now become Mystagogues” Mystagogues are spiritually inquisitive, delightfully ambiguous and increasingly playful as they explore the meaning and mystery of their lives.  Keep them in your prayers.

The Jazz Church West and Cinco de Mayo coalesce this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  Dr. John Calloway will be performing with his Quintet.  How long have you said to yourself, ‘I’ve got to get to jazz!’  Now’s the time!

Congratulations to Elizabeth and John Hunter Ashley on their family Cover Photo in the Blackhawk Magazine.  ‘Music, Medicine and Ministry” says it all.  A fine and fun article!

This Sunday Amaya Ghosal will share with us a Math Outreach program she has created to support students in Nairobi.  Another way for us to experience and practice our global partnership.

“Holy Envy” – Finding God in the Faith of Others:  Rabbi Dan and I will once again teach a compelling approach to thinking about God and faith.  The class will be taught out of NY Times bestselling author, Barbara Brown Taylor’s recent novel “Holy Envy”.  We will explore the question “What can we learn about our own wrestling with God by encountering the faith journeys of our neighbors?”  Three sessions on Tuesdays May 14, 21 and 28 at 7:00 pm at Beth Chaim.  The cost is $60 and includes a copy of the book.  Sign up on Sunday or notify the church office.

Sabbath Attack Poway: Once again, the time has come for us as a people and a world, to confront any form of hatred or prejudice that might lurk in our hearts.  The time has come to examine our public and religious speech to ensure that institutional violence is not unwittingly preserved in our teachings, our prayers, or our public worship.  We must make it a priority in our public and governmental life to elect leaders who will uncompromisingly stand up for human rights and not use one religion against another for political advantage.  We stand with Rabbi Anvari, who continued his sermon after being shot in the hand, by saying:  “One message from all of us in our congregation is that we are standing together. We are getting stronger. Never again. You can’t break us. We are strong.”

Our thanks to Elizabeth Hopkins-Kurz for representing Peace at the Baha’i Diversity in Unity event last Sunday.

Muse on this:  “College mental health facilities are swamped, suicide rates are spiking.  At the root of it all is the following problem:  We’ve created a Culture based on Lies including – rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people.   We pretend we don’t tell this lie, but our whole meritocracy points to it.  The message of the meritocracy is that you are what you accomplish.  If you perform well, people will love you.  No wonder it so hard to be a young adult today.  No wonder our society is fragmenting.  We’ve taken the lies of hyper-individualism and we’ve made them the unspoken assumptions that govern how we live.”  David Brooks in the NY Times

Bill Carmel’s Artist Reception The Art Gallery at the Orinda Library on Sunday, May 5 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm.  See Bill’s latest paintings in three themes: Paintings Without Words, Contra Costa County Landscapes and Fractal Patterns and enjoy light refreshments.

“You’re Doing What?Older Women’s Tales of Achievement and Adventure”:  Enjoy inspirational stories encouraging women and men to view aging as an opportunity to act on long deferred or never imagined dreams.  Featuring our own Elise Ching at Orinda Books on Saturday, May 11 from 2 – 4pm.

Celebrate the Pacific Choir’s 10th Anniversary at Peace with Vivaldi’s Magnificat RV 610 & 611 on Saturday, May 18 at 7:00 pm.  Can you believe it’s 10 years?  This unique concert will feature Baroque instruments (strings, oboe, harpsichord) with soloists from Australia and the SF Symphony Chorus, plus musicians travelling from Oregon to participate in this special event.  Come honor the creativity of these 50 young people and director Dr. Hyunjung Choi.  Invite friends to join you.  Tickets are $35, seniors and students $20 and children 10 and under free.

“We need to guard not only against the negativity of this world, but against our preoccupation with ourselves, another door by which the world might creep back into us like a prowler into a sleeping house.”   Bobin

Easter blessings – Rise Up!

Pr. Steve

“God’s forgiveness is like breathing.  Forgiveness is not apparently something God does, it is who God is.”

Pastor’s Blog / Grace Waves 04.17.19

Friends:

“We come at last to the dark

and enter in.  We are given bodies

newly made out of their absence

from one another in the light

of the ordinary day.  We com

to the space between ourselves,

the narrow doorway, and pass through

into the land of the wholly loved.” 

Wendell Berry, Sabbath 3

~ Holy Week Schedule:

  • ~ SEDER Supper- Thursday, April 18 at 6:30 (or whenever you arrive):
  • ~ Good Friday worship – 7:00 pm.  The church will be open Noon – 3:00p for prayer and meditation.
  • ~ Easter Worship on April 21 will be at 10:00 am!  Who will you invite to join you this year?  Bring your friends and family!
  • ~ EGG HUNT & Potluck brunch follow worship, bring a dish to share and enjoy with friends celebrating Easter joy!

Keep in your prayers:  All of those names and circumstances written down in our Healing Prayer Service; Brian, Margaret, Pat, Diane, Olavi, those recovering from surgery, Jack and Ruth, those living with chronic illnesses, our Peace Council, the Catechumens, for a transformative Holy Week, those living with addiction, those preparing for birth, the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.

~ Hospitality Needs You!  Now you can sign up for Peace Hospitality Hour from the comfort of your own home / computer / phone / laptop…  We’ve gone online for sign ups, and will continue to have the clipboard available on Sundays. SIGN UP HERE

Holy Week Blessings, Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Blog/Grace Waves 4.10.19

Friends:

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one person’s life.”  TS Elliot

~ Holy Week begins this Sunday with Palm/Passion Sunday.

~ SEDER – Thursday, April 18 at 6:30 (or whenever you arrive):  The Story of Passover is about learning to overcome the spiritually crippling view of what is “realistic”.   The Passover Seder is the source of our Eucharist Meal.  Slavery was not necessary in Egypt and spiritual timidity is not necessary in our times.  The Seder affirms a deeper truth:  That the world is governed by God who is the Source of transformation and healing, that we are created in God’s image, that we are embodiments of God’s Spirit, and that we have the capacity to join with others and transform the world we are in.  We need to be Equipped for Liberation – the Catechumens have been learning this!  The SEDER will equip you!D  Please SIGN UP (send your name, email, and number of people to Office@PeaceJourney.org ) so we can make appropriate meal preparations.  Feel free to invite friends from all of your circles of life!

~ Good Friday worship – 7:00 pm.  The church will be open from Noon – 3:00 pm for prayer and meditation.

~ Easter Worship on April 21 will be at 10:00 am!  Who will you invite to join you this year?

~ Gratitude to our Healing Prayer Team – Charlene, Martha, Libby and Catherine for our Healing Prayer liturgy last Sunday.  How good it is to dwell in prayer together.

~ The Peace Council had a fine Retreat reflecting on the core values that have built and sustained Peace over the years.

~ Ken is assembling a Weeding Team for Spring Cleaning – this Sunday, April 14 after worship (or return at 12:30).  Since you already love Ken come and say thanks by adding your muscle power to the beautification of Peace for Easter!  Thank you in advance.

Keep in your prayers:  All of those names and circumstances written down in our Healing Prayer Service; Brian, Margaret, Pat, Diane, Olavi, those recovering from surgery, Jack and Ruth, those living with chronic illnesses, our Peace Council, the Catechumens, for a transformative Holy Week, those living with addiction, those preparing for birth, the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.

~ Hospitality Needs You!  Now you can sign up for Peace Hospitality Hour from the comfort of your own home / computer / phone / laptop…  We’ve gone online for sign ups, and will continue to have the clipboard available on Sundays. SIGN UP HERE

~ Jazz Church WestWhat a blast we had!  I’d like to bottle that vibe and send it to the world.”  Fred Randolph, leader of the Quintet

~ Congratulations to Tess and Bob Perko on their marriage!

“In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way.

Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each person a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses.

The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.”  Dag Hammarskjold

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve

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