Pastor’s Weekly Message: 02.02.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Epiphany – Season of Wisdom:  “Let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is trustworthy and pure, everything that we love and admire – with whatever is good and praiseworthy.  Keep doing everything you learned from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing.  Then the God of Peace will be with you.”  (Paul to the Philippians)

Our Annual Congregation Meeting is this Sunday, February 5 immediately following worship.

I-SRV – Prayers of Protection:  The Walnut Creek Islamic Center has agreed to host the Ring of Solidarity this Friday afternoon at 2449 Buena Vista Ave. in Walnut Creek.  We will begin gathering from 12:30 to 1:00 pm.  If you desire to pray at 1:30 pm, feel invited and then afterwards we will sing as folks come out of prayer time for a brief word in front of the congregation and then we will be invited to come into the courtyard for an Interfaith program of solidarity.

Deliver us, O Lord,  from the fear of our enemies which makes cowards of us all.

Tyme for Tea:  Come enjoy a wonderful tea with friends from Peace on Saturday, February 11 at 11:00 am in Niles.  All  seats are booked.  However, contact Diane Kurtz if you wish to be on the waiting list.

This weekend  Elizabeth Hunter Ashley will perform as a soloist for 2 Concerts with The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra.  They are on:  February 4, 2:00 pm @ El Campanile Theatre in Antioch; and February 5, 2:00 pm in the Hoffman Theater @ the Lesher Regional Center in Walnut Creek.  For more information http://contracostachamberorchestra.org/concerts-events/.

Blessed is one who sees their own weakness, and blessed is one who, when seeing a flaw in someone else, takes responsibility for it.

Because …. half of any person is wrong and weak and off the path.  Half!  The other half is dancing and swimming and flying in the Invisible Joy. —Rumi

First Friday Films/February 3 at 6:30pm:  You are invited to view a crowd-pleasing comedy on this year’s short list at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film – A Man Called Ove. This is a 2015 Swedish comedy about a grumpy senior who is deposed as president of his condo association; things go downhill from there. But the improbable happens. New neighbors from Iran – Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her family – move in across the street. Against his will they befriend him, leading to nothing less than transformation. Rolf Lassgård, who stars in the Wallander crime series on PBS, gives a deft performance as Ove, who learns that making snap judgments about people walls us off from experiencing community.  Run time 116 min.; rated PG-13. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after.

FFF UPGRADE: Thank you to the Peace Council, Pastor Steve and Office. Manager Kari Doolittle for upgrading Peace’s WIFI. A round of applause is also due Music Director Gary Sponholtz who ran a hard wire from our Apple TV in the Youth Room to Peace’s updated 3G WIFI. We tested the Apple TV streaming on Sunday and it is clear as a bell – amazing! Look for April’s film, The Brand New Testament, scheduled to be released for streaming in March.

Back/Forward to the Basics

Hate Speech is not Free Speech.

Torture is a Sin.

The Truth will set you Free. —Jesus

Remember; we were strangers in a strange land, therefore welcome the stranger in your midst. (Passover Seder)

Even if you are only a minority of one, the truth is still the truth. (Gandhi, assassinated on January 30, 1948)

Meet the Magnificat People /Global Partnerships:  If you are looking for inspiration, if you want to hear stories of faith and transformation, if you’ve been wondering what is happening in Rwanda these days, come to the Adult Forum on Sunday, February 12and meet Fr. Innocent Rugaragu, S.J., Ron Snyder of PICO International, and Dr. Karl Smith of the Rwanda School Project.  They will share stories and pictures of faith communities doing amazing things to bring good things to their people — hospitals, clean water, schools, economic development.  You’ll also hear how ordinary people have learned to confront and engage their governments — local and national — and make them active partners…just the sort of things to give US courage and motivation for our own time. This is another way for us to stay in touch with the realities of our Partners in Lwamondo Parish, South Africa.   For more information, talk with Pastor Lucy Kolin.

Please keep in your prayers: Lisa Gorman Miller’s family on her death, David Malowitz, Bob Worthington, Marlene and Fred Garrity, Anne on the death of Keith,  Ruth on the death of  Bob, Maili and Kersti on the death of Astrid, Rae on the death of Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Nancy, Gun, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Kari Schoening’s father, Peter, Ed Klitsch, for clarity in times of confusion and chaos, for political prisoners; that we may practice the Beatitudes – do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

“The Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin (FCI Dublin) will be holding a mock job fair for inmates on Wednesday, April 26.   There is a morning session in one facility from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and an afternoon session from noon to 1:30 p.m. in an adjacent facility.  Volunteers can participate in either the morning or the afternoon session or in both sessions.  The purpose of the event is to:

  • Give inmates realistic experience where they can learn and improve their job seeking skills.
  • Assist FCI Dublin develop valuable contacts with employers, and enhance the credibility of FCI Dublin programs with inmates and the community.  This will help employers change their viewpoint about inmates and inmate programs, and look more favorably on hiring ex-offenders, after being exposed to the prison and the inmates during the job fair event.  This can contribute directly to the ability of inmates to get and retain jobs and be successful in the community.

FCI Dublin is seeking both individuals to assist in interview coaching and resume reviews, and also hiring organizations to participate in the event.  They have a particular need for Spanish speaking volunteers, in addition to English speaking volunteers.  If you would like to volunteer to provide interview coaching/resume review (or if you are aware of an organization that may wish to participate) please contact Remegio Tibunsay at FCI Dublin, at rtibunsay@bop.gov who can provide you with the necessary information to complete.  It is a good idea to respond quickly if this is of interest in case volunteer opportunities fill up.  If you would like to know about past experience volunteering at FCI Dublin please contact Ron Elsdon at renewal@elsdon.com .”

Love is a harsh and dreadful thing:  “A new commandment I give, that you love others as I have loved you” – not the defending of your life but the laying down of your life.  This is a hard saying of Jesus – and the only answer to human misery.  Before God we are already One.  We must learn to love one another. —Dorothy Day

Epiphany Blessings of Wisdom,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 01.26.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Epiphany – the Season of Wisdom“The person who is in love with their vision of community will destroy community.  But the person who loves the people around them will create community everywhere they go.”   Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Such Joy we experience in the celebrations of our Family Service.  The little ones laughing, dancing and playing remind us of the very heart of God.  Thanks to our Confirmands who helped teach us the Qi Abba/Imma!

The Council had an engaging Retreat this past Sunday. Our Annual Report will be available to you this Sunday, January 29.  Our thanks to Treasurer Diane Kurtz for preparing our 2017 Proposed Budget!

Committee Meetings – All members of Peace are invited to join these committees.

Education Team – January 31 at 3:15 pm

Annual Congregational Meeting – immediately following worship on February 5

Healing Prayer Team – February 7 at 3:15

Peace Council Meeting – February 14, 7:00 pm

Justice Advocacy – February 18, Noon – 2:30

Tyme for Tea:  Come enjoy a wonderful tea with friends from Peace on Saturday, February 11 at 11:00 am in Niles.  Only one seat remains!  The cost is $39.  Please contact Diane Kurtz to make your reservation.

In two weeks Elizabeth Hunter Ashley will perform as a soloist for 2 Concerts with The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra.  They are on:  February 4, 2:00 pm @ El Campanile Theatre in Antioch; and February 5, 2:00 pm in the Hoffman Theater @ the Lesher Regional Center in Walnut Creek.  For more information

http://contracostachamberorchestra.org/concerts-events/.

Church Women United invites you to Pray for Peace, Reconciliation and Compassion during the next 100 Days.  The biblical inspiration for this practice is Matthew 19: 27 – 20: 16.  Speak with Lois McGee about details.

January 21, 2017, will go down in history as a turning point in human consciousness.  Women, men, children, babies, and peoples from every sector and over fifty different countries (including 600 marches in the US) marched in the streets of the World to protest hate, fear, and prejudice.  These marchers had many different points of view about many different issues.  Some marched for Women and Human Rights, others walked to protect religious and ethnic minorities, many marched in the Pro-Life Movement, and others for an array of concerns and issues.  What they had in common was mutual respect, deep dialogue and a willingness to model in fact the peace our World so deeply longs for in times of conflict and confusion.  The marchers provided an example of how people with different points of view can walk together not merely in protest but profoundly in solidarity as they seek to forge peace by striving for justice.” Fr. Tom Bonacci

If you would like to join the Peace Prayer Circle who is notified by email of prayers requested for the needs of people in our families, congregation and community, please contact Lois McGee at:  loisjmcgee@aol.com.

Global Partnerships:  If you are looking for inspiration, if you want to hear stories of faith and transformation, if you’ve been wondering what is happening in Rwanda these days, come to the Adult Forum on Sunday, February 12 and meet Fr. Innocent Rugaragu, S.J., Ron Snyder of PICO International, and Dr. Karl Smith of the Rwanda School Project.  They will share stories and pictures of faith communities doing amazing things to bring good things to their people — hospitals, clean water, schools, economic development.  You’ll also hear how ordinary people have learned to confront and engage their governments — local and national — and make them active partners…just the sort of things to give US courage and motivation for our own time. This is another way for us to stay in touch with the realities of our Partners in Lwamondo Parish, South Africa.   For more information, talk with Pastor Lucy Kolin.

Please keep in your prayers:  Marlene and Fred Garrity, Anne on the death of Keith,  Ruth on the death of  Bob, Maili and Kersti on the death of Astrid, Rae on the death of Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Nancy, Gun, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Kari Schoening’s father, Peter, Ed Klitsch, those living in fear of hard times.

“The Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin (FCI Dublin) will be holding a mock job fair for inmates on Wednesday, April 26.   There is a morning session in one facility from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and an afternoon session from noon to 1:30 p.m. in an adjacent facility.  Volunteers can participate in either the morning or the afternoon session or in both sessions.  The purpose of the event is to:

  • Give inmates realistic experience where they can learn and improve their job seeking skills.
  • Assist FCI Dublin develop valuable contacts with employers, and enhance the credibility of FCI Dublin programs with inmates and the community.  This will help employers change their viewpoint about inmates and inmate programs, and look more favorably on hiring ex-offenders, after being exposed to the prison and the inmates during the job fair event.  This can contribute directly to the ability of inmates to get and retain jobs and be successful in the community.

FCI Dublin is seeking both individuals to assist in interview coaching and resume reviews, and also hiring organizations to participate in the event.  They have a particular need for Spanish speaking volunteers, in addition to English speaking volunteers.  If you would like to volunteer to provide interview coaching/resume review (or if you are aware of an organization that may wish to participate) please contact Remegio Tibunsay at FCI Dublin, at rtibunsay@bop.gov who can provide you with the necessary information to complete.  It is a good idea to respond quickly if this is of interest in case volunteer opportunities fill up.  If you would like to know about past experience volunteering at FCI Dublin please contact Ron Elsdon at renewal@elsdon.com .”

“Legislation may not change the heart but it will restrain the heartless.”  Dr. Martin Luther King

Epiphany blessings,

Pr. Steve

 

 

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 01.19.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Holy One of Compassion, in this world wounded by injustice and ignorance give our religious and political leaders of courage and vision.  Dedicate them to the common good.  May we as global peacemakers partner with them in creating a world built on respect, reverence, humility and responsibility—a culture of peace that reflects your presence.

 Our Family Service this Sunday will be a celebration of children and prayer.  Please invite friends and new families to join you.  Looks like rain….count on it raining grace in the sanctuary!

The Peace Council will have our Quarterly Retreat after worship this Sunday too.  Our Annual Congregational Meeting will follow worship on February 5.

Several women from Peace plan to attend the Women’s March in Walnut Creek this Saturday.  We plan to gather between 10:00-10:30 at Civic Park.  The website states: The Women’s March is a national movement for women, men, and children who stand for human rights, civil liberties, diversity, and compassion for our shared humanity.  We march to support and inspire each other and the nation to celebrate, honor and protect our diversity, freedom and human rights.  We gather in community to find healing and strength through tolerance, civility, and compassion.  This is a non-partisan march.  We welcome all people to join us as we unite locally and nationally, on January 21, 2017, to stand together in justice, respect and inclusion for all.  (For further info:  Women’s March-Walnut Creek/Contra Costa Facebook page.  (Speak with Arlene or Linda.)

Ceil Mccloy (Ceilmccloy@aol.com) invites those who wish to participate in the Oakland March to carpool with her.

Our own Elizabeth Hunter Ashley will be the Soloist for 2 upcoming concerts with The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra: February 4, 2:00 pm @ El Campanile Theatre in Antioch; and February 5, 2:00 pm in the Hoffman Theater @ the Lesher Regional Center in Walnut Creek. Check out this link for details – http://contracostachamberorchestra.org/concerts-events/

The Wound of Racism:  “Mother Emanuel” African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, SC was the site of the murder of nine members of that congregation in 2015 at the hands of Dylan Roof, who is a member of an ELCA congregation in Charleston.  Two of the pastors of that church who were murdered, The Rev. Clementa Pinckney and The Rev. Daniel Simmons, who were graduates of the ELCA’s Lutheran Southern Seminary. As Presiding Bishop Eaton so movingly pointed out at the time, “One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own.” Mercy, mercy, mercy.  (To better understand the dynamics of racism today read “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

Please keep in your prayers: Anne on the death of husband Keith, Paige on the death of her husband,  Ruth on the death of father Bob Lesher, Maili and Kersti on the death of Astrid, my sister Rae on the death of husband Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Nancy, Gun, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Kari Schoening’s father, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, those looking for shelter, those who have been blessed by Dr. King, the children and families of Aleppo, our Confirmands (who meet this Sunday), to live lives of grace upon grace upon grace.

Our thanks to Karin and John Shepanek for their donation of fine office desks and furniture!

Psalm 15

Lord, who can  be trusted with power,
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched of the earth as their family
and the poor as their own flesh and blood.

They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people’s trust.

Their compassion lights up the whole earth!
And their kindness endures forever.

Epiphany Wisdom Blessings to you!

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 01.12.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Who you are is God’s gift to you.  Who you become is your gift to God.— Happy Epiphany!

 Family Service – our next celebration will be on January 20 at 10 am!

 2nd Friday (January 13) – Film:  Join us for a screening of The Giver starring Jeff BridgesMeryl StreepAlexander SkarsgardKatie Holmes and Taylor Swift. The book this film is based on won the 1994 Newberry Medal and has sold more than 10 M copies worldwide and is on many middle school reading lists. A 2012 survey based in the US designated it as the fourth-best children’s novel of all time. In a seemingly perfect community without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a 16-year-old boy is chosen to earn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world. Run time 97 min., rated PG-13.

Choral Gems of Baroque Italy:  Enjoy the 25 Singers from the American Baroque Festival Chorus in Connecticut perform Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ and de Rossi’s ‘Songs of Solomon’ this Sunday, January 25 at 7:30 pm at Peace.  Tickets are only $10 online:  www.americanbaroqueorchestra.com.   Our thanks to Elizabeth Hunter Ashley for making this concert possible!

Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be on Sunday, February 5 immediately after worship.  This is Super Bowl Sunday but have no fear – you will easily be home in time for the game.

From Calvin Neswiswi and Lwamondo Partners:  We were blessed by a grandchild on New Year’s eve She is a lovely and cute baby. We love her so much. We now have a total of 9 grandchildren, four boys and five girls. Four are attending school and are in different grades.  We had a wonderful festive season with lots of Christmas gifts from our children. It is nice to be on pension though Caroline is still working with the Election Commission and is stationed in Polokwane (Pietersburg) during the week but comes home for the week-end.

Lwamondo Parish is growing though many of the people like Patrick Sithubi, Alfred Ndou and many more have retired and are on pension now. The Parish has 9 congregations.

We have started with preparations to celebrate 500 year of the establishment of the Lutheran Church. Lutheran Church members from different parts of the world will be converging in Namibia in May this year for the celebration. Lwamondo Parish will not be able to send representatives to this function. We could not find accommodation as all hotels are already fully booked. We will only watch from TV screens at home.

How are our friends at Nicaragua? I hope they are doing well.  Our regards to all at PEACE and Nicaragua!

Dr. Martin Luther King Celebrations!

  • Monday, January 16: Noon – Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave., Walnut Creek.  Hear St. Benedict’s Gospel Choir and Fr. Kwane Assenyou preach on Dr. King:  Tough Mind and Tender Heart.
  • 2:00 pm -Standing in Solidarity – On the corner of Civic and N. Broadway.  Let your presence and prayers be visible as we support our Syrian, Iraqi, Latino immigrant and refugee siblings.  Love your Neighbor!
  • 4:00 pm:  The 10th Annual Celebration of MLK – SRV United Methodist Church, 902 Danville Blvd., Alamo, CA
  • The Martin Luther King Peace and Justice Committee and Interfaith Council of the San Ramon Valley invite you to an Interfaith Celebration of Dr. King’s Dream of Nonviolence and Peace.  The service will be followed at 5:45 by a Candlelight Peace Walk at the Iron Horse Trail at Prospect Avenue in Downtown Danville to celebrate the unity of our faiths.

He became a small babe so that you could be fully grown, a mature human being; he was wrapped in swaddling clothes so that you might be freed from the bonds of death; he came to the manger to bring us to the altar (our senses); he was on earth so that we might bring heaven to earth with him. —Ambrose of Milan

Please keep in your prayers: Anne on the death of husband Keith, Paige on the death of her husband,  Ruth on the death of father Bob Lesher, Maili and Kersti on the death of Astrid, my sister Rae on the death of husband Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Kari Schoening’s father, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, those looking for shelter, the children and families of Aleppo, Unicef and all who work on behalf of the world’s children.

Solar Halos – Further negotiations reduced the total cost of our 80 Panels from $90,000 to $86,000; last week’s total – $62,000, this week’s – $65,000 raised; 35 members and friends of Peace have been able to contribute in honor of loved ones – thank you!  Thanks to our Solar Committee for their diligent work.

Be sure to check out Bill Carmel’s Art Exhibit at the Orinda Library Art Gallery.  Last Saturday a dozen Peace Members attended the Opening!  It is beautifully done!

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action.  And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium….the world will not have it.  It is not you business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open, and to live it.”  Martha Graham, choreographer – (Thanks to Ron Elsdon for this quote and his Prison Ministry Forum last Sunday.)

Epiphany blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 01.05.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Axial Age – the Qualities that birthed Human Potential.  (Xavier Le Pichon is puzzled why we only talk about the skills and tools of ancestors when Neanderthals and early humans cared, at great effort and sacrifice, for people who were injured and disabled.)  The early ones organized themselves around the small ones, the babies, because otherwise no life was possible.  That we share with all the mammals.  But they also organized around people in great difficulty, those suffering or sick, because of handicap, or because life was coming to an end.  And that’s really very new and special.  It became a society which we call human or humane in French.  There is a new touch, a new kindness, a new softness, a new way of living , which is completely focused by the fact that you put the weakest at the center of the community. 

We celebrate Epiphany – The Arrival of the Wise Ones this Sunday.  Please bring photos of your children or grandchildren to place in the Manger!

Forum -Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin with Ron Elsdon –  Sunday, January 8 after worship:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”  Please join us!

Christmas Tree Decorations – during Hospitality this Sunday you are invited to bring down our decorations. Many thanks to Ken for creating a beautiful tree this year!

Please keep in your prayers:  Ruth Lesher on the death of her father Pr. Bob Lesher, Maili and Kersti Malvre on the death of daughter/sister Astrid, my sister Rae Neunaber and family on the death of her husband Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Kari Schoening’s father, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, those looking for shelter, the children and families of Aleppo.

From Bill Carmel:  It is my great pleasure to announce my upcoming Show at the Orinda Library Art Gallery. I will be showing 28 works including cast bronze, epoxy resin and pewter works as well as paintings with three themes: Wild Animals, Calligraphy and Landscapes.  The show, curated by the Lamorinda Arts Council, runs from Jan. 3 to 31, 2017. See http://lamorindaarts.org/orinda-library-art-gallery.  I hope you can join me at the artists’ reception on Saturday, January 7, from 3-5 PM and will include light refreshments.  Contact info:  Visit the gallery at 26 Orinda Way during normal library hours – Mon. through Thurs., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sun., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m /  925-254-2184 or visit http://ccclib.org/.

Solar Halos – Three Highlights to report:   After further negotiations the total cost for our 80 Panels has been reduced from $90,000 to $86,000; we have raised $62,000 (with $60,000 already in hand); 30 people have contributed to our project; and Linda Elsdon’s photography has raised $830!  We are getting there.

Jazz Church West welcomes the Lorca Hart Trio with Brian Ho on the Hammond Organ, Mike Clark, guitar and Lorca on the drums.  Makes you feel so good to be in church with the Three Wise Ones!

Tai Chi Chuan:  this 12 week series classes begins again on Thursday, January 5 at 7:00 pm.  All that is required is loose, comfortable clothing and an open mind.   Sitting Meditation / Zazen also resumes on Thursdays from 6 – 6:45 pm.  It includes  10 minutes of Walking Meditation during this 45 minute period.  Get centered, grounded in prayer and wise!

2nd Friday (January 13) – Film:  Join us for a screening of The Giver starring Jeff BridgesMeryl StreepAlexander SkarsgardKatie Holmes and Taylor Swift. The book this film is based on won the 1994 Newberry Medal and has sold more than 10 M copies worldwide and is on many middle school reading lists. A 2012 survey based in the US designated it as the fourth-best children’s novel of all time. In a seemingly perfect community without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a 16-year-old boy is chosen to earn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world. Run time 97 min., rated PG-13.

Three Dr. Martin Luther King Celebrations!

Monday, January 16: Noon – Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave., Walnut Creek.  Hear St. Benedict’s Gospel Choir and Fr. Kwane Assenyou preach on Dr. King:  Tough Mind and Tender Heart.

2:00 pm -Standing in Solidarity – On the corner of Civic and N. Broadway.  Let your presence and prayers be visible as we support our Syrian, Iraqi, Latino immigrant and refugee siblings.  Love your Neighbor!

4:00 pm:  The 10th Annual Celebration of MLK – SRV United Methodist Church, 902 Danville Blvd., Alamo, CA

The Martin Luther King Peace and Justice Committee and Interfaith Council of the San Ramon Valley invite you to an Interfaith Celebration of Dr. King’s Dream of Nonviolence and Peace.  The service will be followed at 5:45 by a Candlelight Peace Walk at the Iron Horse Trail at Prospect Avenue in Downtown Danville to celebrate the unity of our faiths.

Family Service – our next celebration will be on January 20 at 10 am!

We will become fully human the day we design our Foreign Policy around the needs of the children of the world.
— AJ Muste

Epiphany Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.28.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Touched by an Angel, Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity.

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

We shared a blessed Christmas with 3 very different liturgies.  Thanks to all our Children – Lillian Meynier, Ava Grant, Luke Miletich, Evan and Sydney Wettstein, Collin and Brady Gillespie, Patrick Kiley; and Musicians/Singers – Jamie Madsen (and Elizabeth her Voice Teacher) John and Mary Ellen Nowell, John Ashley/Jack O’Neill/Noah Hunter-Ashley, along with Sarah and Dwane Michael, Drew Cremisio, Gary Sponholtz – and All the Drummers who created the unique and joyous gifts of this Christ Child season!

Please keep in your prayers:  Pr. Bob Lesher and daughter Ruth, my sister Rae Neunaber and family on the death of her husband Dave, Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, those looking for shelter.

Chanukkah Menorah Lighting – 18th Anniversary:  Celebrate this Friday, December 30th at 6 pm at Beth Chaim Congregation (1800 Holbrook Dr., 1 mile from Peace).  Singing and dancing and feasting at this Festival of Lights.

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – Forum with Ron Elsdon on January 8 after worship.

From Bill Carmel:  It is my great pleasure to announce my upcoming Show at the Orinda Library Art Gallery. I will be showing 28 works including cast bronze, epoxy resin and pewter works as well as paintings with three themes: Wild Animals, Calligraphy and Landscapes.  The show, curated by the Lamorinda Arts Council, runs from Jan. 3 to 31, 2017. See http://lamorindaarts.org/orinda-library-art-gallery.  I hope you can join me at the artists’ reception on Saturday, January 7, from 3-5 PM and will include light refreshments. Bay Area jazz guitarist Lee Waterman will be playing some great tunes as well. The other artists in the show are Margaret Dorfman of Oakland who is showing vegetable parchment art; Diana Monk of Santa Rosa who is showing oil paintings of landscapes and Charlotte Huntley of Lafayette who is showing watercolors.   Contact info:  Visit the gallery at 26 Orinda Way during normal library hours – Mon. through Thurs., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sun., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m /  925-254-2184 or visit http://ccclib.org/.

(A new verse for ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’)

 

O hush the noise, you strife-filled souls, and hear the message clear;

God wills a peaceful time on earth for all the creatures dear.

Embrace the hope that builds no walls, the love that knows no fear.

Believe the words the angels sang, the song of peace is here.

See you Sunday and Happy New Year!

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.22.16

Grace Waves

Merry Christmas!

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” – written by Rev. Edmund Storrs Willis in 1859…..a verse rarely published:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long;  Beneath the angel-strain have rolled, Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not, the love song which they bring:  O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing.

Hush the noise ….and hear the angels sing!  These are troubled times, when ugly noises need to be dramatically hushed.  Words of hatred, prejudice and fear need to be muted and what once came upon a midnight clear clearly needs to be heard anew.  This Christmas Carol was written shortly after the Mexican War (one of the ‘least just’ American wars), was opposed in Congress by only one Representative named Abraham Lincoln; and Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay taxes to support it.  Christmas Carols birthing Peace….what else are we about!

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm –  fun for our families, come meet Baby Jesus;   Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm – beautiful music!  Invite your friends.
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Thank you to all who contributed to making Christmas possible for families here and through our Partnerships!

Peace Christmas Caroling – our group of Carolers raised up Christmas Cheer in several homes and at Brookdale Nursing Facility. Such a blessing and as Gary says, “Singing is yoga for the voice and soul!”

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – An advance word about the Forum Ron Elsdon will lead on January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Dave Neunaber, Pr. Bob Lesher, Peter, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, Natalie, Rick; those who like the Holy Family are looking for a home; the people of Aleppo, refugees, parents and grandparents, those who protect us through the night; those who seek wisdom in our times.

The Pure Delight Concert was a blessing for those who attended.

Comment from one who purchased a Solar Halo:  It’s really nice to imagine that a house of worship will be autonomous in the darkest of times and will shine as a beacon for those in spiritual need.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.

And though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see.

There will be an answer, let it be.

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
—Lennon/McCartney and the Bible

Christmas blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.15.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Every Midwife knows that not until the womb softens

can the child find the opening to be born.

 

Soften the treasure of your heart, my Friend,

so that the opening within you may be discovered

and the dark pain with the joyful vision you carry

may gracefully lead you to the never-ending grace.

“Turn Back, O Man” – no one will forget the dynamic Advent Song from Godspell that Elizabeth and Gary gave us last Sunday!  Fun, illuminating, truth-telling – exactly everything the Gospel is at its best!

Mary Sunday:  This Sunday we celebrate that strong woman Mary, Jesus mother!

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm; 
    Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.  
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Please return your Christmas Gifts with the Ornaments taped on your gifts this Sunday, December 18.

Peace Christmas Caroling – Sunday, December 18 at 5:00 pm.  We begin with libations at Peace before we continue our joyous evening lead by traveling minstrel Gary!

 The Pure Delight Concert will be this Saturday, December 17 at 5:00 pm.  Invite friends to join you for this Christmas Concert –www.puredelightmusic.org.

 Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Dave Neunaber, Pr. Bob Lesher, Fred Garrity, Ed Klitsch, Natalie, Rick; those who like the Holy Family are looking for a home.

Solar Halos:  As you know, we are working to put solar on the church roof.  This will not only show our commitment to the environment but will potentially save us $10,000 or more a year in energy costs that we could then use to supplement our many ministries.  We’ve researched it well and have narrowed it down to two companies who were recommended highly and have done many commercial installations.  We should be able to do the whole job using the best panels in the business for less than $90,000.  As of now, we have pledges for about $60,000 with about $50,000 cash already received.  All sales of Linda Elsdon’s photography goes to our Solar Project Our fundraising is continuing to grow.

Many people are donating in honor of or in memory of dear ones.  We hope to be able to order the project by late January in order to capture the most favorable P.G.&E payback.   Be sure to check out our website  www.peacejourney.org and click on the sunflower for more information.  Any donations arriving this year will receive a donation receipt for 2016 IRS.  The Peace Solar Committee

Thanks to our tasteful and highly skilled Decorating Committee who have graced our Gathering Hall with the spirit of the Christmas Season!

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – An advance word about the Forum Ron Elsdon will lead on January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

Advent Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.08.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Loving God,

Thank you for your incredible love for us.

Thank you for giving us the Light that shines through all darkness.

Slow us down, quiet us and open our hearts this Advent season to see what’s being born in us.

Prepare our hearts and help us to say ‘yes’ no matter where it take us.

And help us support each other just as Mary and Elizabeth did.

  • Christmas Eve:  Family Service at 5:00 pm; 
    Candlelight and Communion at 10:00 pm.  
  • Christmas Day worship at 10:00 am.  
  • New Year’s Day – Christmas Carols at 10:00 am.

The Pure Delight Concert will be on Saturday, December 17 at 5:00 pm.  Invite friends to join you for this Christmas Concert.

Giving Tree Gifts:  Please return your Christmas Gifts with the Ornaments taped on your gifts on Sunday, December 18.

Peace Christmas Caroling – Sunday, December 18 at 5:00 pm.  Always a joyous evening lead by our traveling minstrel Gary!

Please keep in your prayers:  Brian Turner, Renee’s mother, Brian McGee, Margaret Bender, Pr. Bob Lesher, Fred Garrity, Natalie, Rick; gratitude for a seeming breakthrough at Standing Rock.

Solar Halos:  As the campaign continues more pledges continue to come in.  Gratitude to all who have been able to contribute and to Linda Elsdon who has donated proceeds from her photography sales for ‘Let There be Light’ to our solar campaign.

Volunteer Career Services at FCI Dublin – This is an advance word about our Forum for January 8:

“Volunteer career services in a prison can offer a valuable benefit given the substantial career support needs of people approaching re-entry to society after incarceration. Having been privileged to deliver more than 50 career classes at FCI Dublin over the past two years this forum provides an overview of the form this has taken, how it has evolved, and the benefits and challenges.”

To the Congregation at Peace Lutheran in Danville,

The Church Relations group at Bread for the World is adding our thanks for your gift, given in memory of Paul Harms, of $1200.00.  We appreciate your designating Bread for the World to receive the gift and we honor, with you, his memory.  Bread’s Executive Director Rev. David Beckmann recently addressed staff saying, “Bread’s election-related advocacy had an impact, notably by getting candidates to devote some attention to hunger and poverty.  We can also draw encouragement for the tough work ahead from the clear feasibility of progress against hunger and poverty and, at a deeper level, by God’s presence with us in our advocacy for hungry people. “ 

What can you do now?  Call or write your members of Congress to thank them for passing the Global Security Act this summer and watch for the 2017 Offering of Letters Project, advocating for a Zero-Hunger Budget.

Blessings in the hope of Advent, Ruth Nybro

Advent Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 12.02.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

Bedeviled human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life. —The Meadow, Marie Howe

With the initiation of the Advent Season our thanks to Noah and Charlene, and to Ken for creating our Advent Wreaths.  And what a blessing to have a Pipe Organ for our Advent and Christmas Seasons!  Thank you Gary.  (Be sure to speak with him after worship about the intricacies and history of this fine instrument.)

Pr. Margareta sends her gratitude for all the prayers and blessings offered her at her Retirement Service.  Her heart was filled to overflowing with the love expressed by so many friends. The congratulatory tributes from Pr. Elizabeth, Rabbi Dan, and Stefan Safsten through Pr. Lucy made this a moving occasion for us all.

Forum this Sunday:  Jon Bronstein, the Chair of the Solar Committee at Beth Chaim (where solar panels have been successfully installed) will speak about their process and show us how their energy efficiency is monitored.  For those who wish to go to Beth Chaim afterwards a brief tour will be conducted there.  Gratitude to all who have contributed Solar Halos thus far.  To learn more about our Solar Halos Campaign you can direct people to our homepage at www.peacejourney.org.

Thanks to all who have submitted their Pledge Cards.

Our Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve celebration was a profound and delightful evening of music by our Interfaith Choir and Eve Decker and Julie Wolf, chants and prayers from around the world, the Pacific Choir youth who were marvelous, reflections by Rabbi Dan and myself, and a wonderful interview by Avi Rose of Jewish Family Service with our refugees Gamal and Jalal who are residing at San Damiano.  Essential Bridges of Understanding are built every time we come together.  One woman fled Iran because of Baha’i persecution there remarked that she had never before experienced an harmonious gathering of people from so many different faiths in one sanctuary.  We also raised $1785 for the ongoing work with our Refugee Resettlement Program and Shelter, Inc.  (The Sweetest Melody is attending to the cries of a hungry heart.)

First Friday Films, Dec. 2, 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Room A Christmas Story:  Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s life is filled with what every kid deals with at Christmas – bullies at school, feverish dreams about what he wants from Santa and weird presents from his relatives. You will laugh, no matter your age, at every caper in this classic film (1983!) which Roger Ebert rated 4 out of 4. Take a trip back to kid-time Christmas with us – popcorn included! Run time 93 minutes; PG rated.

We most need to pray when we least feel least 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 gift meant for each of us.
—Catherine of Siena

Please keep in your prayers:  Fred Garrity, Margaret Bender, Corine, Zach, Marshall, Pr. Margareta and her parents,  interfaith friends, our Confirmands, the hungry and homeless, those who work for the common good, the indigenous peoples from 200 tribes now gathered at Standing Rock, ND seeking the justice of clean water, those who pray for us, gratitude for healings that have occurred; those who live with HIV/AIDS, and for my friend Jack Pantaleo who began the first Aids Ministry in San Francisco in 1983.

News from our Partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua:  Hurricane Otto hit the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua on Thanksgiving, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get heavy rain on the Pacific side as well, so we postponed our annual dinner at the Ben Linder House for this Thursday. Luckily, the rain was very light here, and only minor damage in the Eastern and Southern parts of Nicaragua.  Eduardo talked with Dona Ligia last week and she said that in the community they are going to have good harvests. There is enough water in the river so that they are not having to use the water from the wells right now. Dona Ligia’s grandson has not had the operation yet, he is being observed until they say he is healthy enough.  Luis suffered an accident about a month ago; his nephew accidentally backed over him with his truck. He was very fortunate to not have broken any bones or internal damage, just soreness and severe road rash. He also just underwent eye surgery yesterday and that went well. So prayers for him are very appreciated as he mends!

Animo for your work as well as we enter this time of Advent, actively waiting and reflecting.   Amanda and Memo

Jazz Church West hosts Inga Swearingen, Anton Schwartz and Dan Feiszli this Sunday at 5 pm – Free!  This trio is stunning,  elegant and a daring jazz venture.  Inga has sung on Prairie Home Companion for years.  Did you see our local Danville Paper has an article about the Jazz Church West?  It contains this quote:  One performer explains the Jazz Church West experience this way, “You don’t understand how good this is. As musicians, we practice endlessly but you only go so far with that. It’s the audience who says, take me further, go there, back off, be gentle with me—and their responsiveness generates our creativity—to do things we’ve never done before, which is the point of jazz. This crowd is so tuned in, there are no distractions, pure focus—and sparks fly. This is why I got into jazz.”  Invite friends to join you – they will thank you!

Language is almost all we have left of action in the modern world. For many of us, at least, action has become what we say:  the moral life is lived out in what we say more often than what we do. —M. Howe

 

Gods and men love maps

they draw borders with pens that

split lives like an ax. —Haiku by John Lederach

Advent blessings,  Pr. Steve