Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.15.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. —Gandhi

Early Hymns – Foundation of the Christian Faith:  The following 4 Ancient Hymns formed the faith that was known, believed and taught about Jesus shortly after his resurrection.  Paul, who was writing around 50 CE (20 years after Jesus) says several times, “This is what I received.”  Savor these during your Lenten Journey.
Eucharist:  1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26  (Earliest formula and practice)
Kerygma/Gospel Preaching Core:  1 Corinthians 15: 3 – 4 (Living Liberation)
Baptism Hymn  Galatians 3: 26 – 28 (Affirmation of Equality of All)
Jesus Divinity:  Philippians 2: 5 – 11 (Heart of the Faith, Self-Emptying Love/Service of all)
These hymns anchored all the writings of Paul.  (They also were the focus of our Forum last Sunday.)
SAP Rising:  In these recent weeks the sap has begun to move and rise in the trees.  I have decided to initiate a SAP (Serenity at Peace) Rising Lenten season at Peace.  So many demands on our lives, why not make Sunday worship and Holy Week (April 9 – 16) your first priority during Lent?  As Jesus says, “Don’t worry, everything else will fall into place.”   Enough of consumer addiction, anxiety and despair.  Choose to Cultivate Serenity:  calm, clarity, focus, wisdom.  No artificial techniques for superficial happiness but the deep down grounding which our ancestors have practiced for more than 2,000 years.  Decide to immerse yourself in Grace, Wisdom and the Sacraments which have already engaged the darkness of crucifixion and now illuminate resurrected living.  “Who you are is God’s gift to you; who you become is your gift to God.”  This is our life and it is not a rehearsal.  In times like these we need each other – friends we can count on, who are present to us, who will pray for us no matter what.  Become SAP Rising – “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine – all that God has in store for those who love God and life!”
Lenten Wednesday Evenings – Taize Prayer at San Damiano, 7 – 8 pm:  Get in the rhythm – join in these beautiful, contemplative prayer services on all the Wednesday evenings of March and April 5.  Gary, Elizabeth, John, Jeanie and Drew are the music leaders for these prayer/chant/scripture/stillness services in the chapel of our lovely Franciscan Retreat Center.
Earth Songs” – The Incredible SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs at Peace on Sunday March 26 at 4:00 pm.  The performance will include Images by Ansel Adams.  This is a celebration of life and I hope you will attend to support Gary in his many splendid musical endeavors throughout the Bay Area Community.  If you are willing to assist with the Reception afterwards please notify Gary or myself.
Tent of Revealings:  You are invited at any time during the week or if you want to come earlier on Sunday mornings to come sit and pray/meditate under our Tent of Revealings.  It is such a blessing to be enveloped by this Sphere of Prayer.

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.  —Gandhi

Holy Week:
  • April 9 – Palm Sunday
  • April 13 – Passover Seder – Diana Howard is coordinating this evening.  Speak with her if you will assist her.
  • April 14 – Good Friday
  • April 15 – Easter Vigil
  • April 16 – Easter Day
March 19 – Woman at the Well
March 26 – Healing Prayer Service
April 2 – Family Service with Drumming and Percussion!

Amazon Smile:  Amazon is celebrating its #1 ranking in customer satisfaction by the ACSI! Today, March 16, Amazon will donate 5% (10 times the usual donation rate) of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Peace Lutheran Church. Get started at smile.amazon.com/ch/94-1664977.

Speak only if it improves upon the silence. —Gandhi

Lenten blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.11.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest being presented to our senses.  Your neighbor is indeed holy in the most holy way since within him and her Christ truly lives.  —CS Lewis

Time Change this Saturday night—Spring Ahead!
The Tent of Revealings which rests over our altar is a Lenten Gift to Peace.  It is a reminder of the Tent in which Moses met God during the Israelites 40 years in the desert.  Come any time and day that is good for you to sit beneath the Tent to pray, meditate and nurture the ground of our faith.  (Our thanks to Ed and Gary for assembling it.)
SAP Rising:  In these recent weeks the sap has begun to move and rise in the trees.  I have decided to initiate a SAP (Serenity at Peace) Rising Lenten season at Peace.  So many demands on our lives, why not make Sunday worship and Holy Week (April 9 – 16) your first priority during Lent?  As Jesus says, “Don’t worry, everything else will fall into place.”   Enough of consumer addiction, anxiety and despair.  Choose to Cultivate Serenity:  calm, clarity, focus, wisdom.  No artificial techniques for superficial happiness but the deep down grounding which our ancestors have practiced for more than 2,000 years.  Decide to immerse yourself in Grace, Wisdom and the Sacraments which have already engaged the darkness of crucifixion and now illuminate resurrected living.  “Who you are is God’s gift to you; who you become is your gift to God.”  This is our life and it is not a rehearsal.  In times like these we need each other – friends we can count on, who are present to us, who will pray for us no matter what.  Become SAP Rising – “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine – all that God has in store for those who love God and life!”
Lenten Wednesday Evenings – Taize Prayer at San Damiano, 7 – 8 pm:  Get in the rhythm – join in these beautiful, contemplative prayer services on all the Wednesday evenings of March and April 5.  Gary, Elizabeth, John, Jeanie and Drew are the music leaders for these prayer/chant/scripture/stillness services in the chapel of our lovely Franciscan Retreat Center.
Holy Week:
April 9 – Palm Sunday
April 13 – Passover Seder
April 14 – Good Friday
April 15 – Easter Vigil
April 16 – Easter Day.
Keep in your prayers:  Nik, Betty – Margaret Beeler’s mother, Renee’s mom, Rick – Linda’s brother, Brian Turner, Brian McGee, Nette, Margaret Bender, Teresa,  Nancy, Marlene and Fred Garrity, Gun, Bill Lesher, Ruth, for our kids and grandchildren who are struggling,  Ed Klitsch, Ed Rether’s father, Sue Shuffield, Marshall, Bob W., Rob, David M., Ralph, Cliff Brown, Jim Foot, Liz, for our Confirmands, those mourning the death of loved ones:  George Perko, Maili and Kersti, Ann, Alan and Monica, Pari;  for all Caregivers, for our Creation, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ young people who are harassed, for those who have inspired us with vision and unconditional love.
International Women’s Day:  Globally, an estimated 1 in 3 women will experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse in their lifetime. At its core, this global epidemic is fueled by traditions, beliefs, and practices that view women less-than-equal to men. On a larger scale, these acts have led to creation of systems that infringe on the rights of women. Women and girls in developing countries experience particularly high rates of gender-based violence. Some of this violence is perpetuated in the form of battery, honor killings, rape, trafficking, and female genital cutting. Urge your Senators to support the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)  I-VAWA seeks to increase legal protections, victims’ access to healthcare, and develop economic and educational opportunities for women and girls globally.

Earth Songs:  The SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs a Musical and Cinematic tribute to the Photography of Ansel Adams at Peace on Sunday, March 26 at 4 pm.  This splendid gift is coming to us through the efforts and love of Gary Sponholtz.  The 70 member Band will dazzle you!   Please encourage lots of your friends to join you in this joyful event.  If you want to assist Gary in coordinating the day, please speak with him.

Bishop’s Chrism Mass:  Bishop Mark Holmrud celebrated this mass with local clergy on Thursday of this week.  It is a time for renewal of ordination vows and preparation for Holy Week.  The bishop extends his gratitude to all of you for the hospitality provided and for the “expansive ministries” of Peace.  He with everyone gathered for worship was deeply moved by the music of Elizabeth Hunter Ashley and Gary Sponholtz (he asked them to ‘go on the road’ with him), he (and many others) was appreciative of the immersion in art he experienced at Peace, he walked the grounds and found them beautiful and peaceful; he expressed gratitude for the justice and cultural ministries of Peace.  Finally he also made a mean batch of chili – which he learned from his mother, for the evening meal .

Enjoy the New Art Exhibit by Todd Brooks this Sunday. Thanks to Bill Carmel for curating the show.

Additional Prayer for Immigrants arrested by ICE who are incarcerated in private prisons where they are forced to work 40 per week for $1/day.  They are placed in solitary confinement if they don’t participate.  Lord, have mercy….how we abuse the most vulnerable.

Prayer is like the slow drizzle of winter rains….seemingly monotonous….yes…and where do we think the blossoms come from?

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.01.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

I thank you God, for your faithfulness and love which excel all we ever knew of You.

 

On the day I called, you answered; You increased the strength of my soul. (Ps. 137)

How lovely Lillian and her Baptism were……aren’t we blessed!
Thanks to all of our Transfiguration Actors!  You were marvelous!
Our Ash Wednesday worship is at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 1 at Peace.   All of our mid-week Lenten Services will be Taize Worship at San Damiano from 7 – 8 pm, lead by our own Gary Sponholtz.
Keep in your prayers:  Norma’s 3 friends serving life sentences who were recently released from prison.  Imagine what the spiritual equivalent of that release must feel like.  That’s why we celebrate Lent.
First Friday Films – Finding Dory, this Friday at 6:30 pm::  Who could forget the friendly Regal blue tang, Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, in Finding Nemo? Fortunately you don’t have to forget – she’s back! Dory still has short term memory loss but now she has something different: an ache in her heart to find her birth parents. This ache pushes her to go on a quest to find them despite her disability. She yearns to return to the place where she remembers experiencing peace and safety with her long lost parents. The underwater world Pixar creates will enchant you. Dory learns a lot on her courageous quest and so do we: asking for and receiving help, taking risks and persevering, for example. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after. Run time 97 min.; rated PG.
Peace will host the Bishop’s Chrism Mass on March 9.Save the Date – SF Lesbian and Gay Band performs at Peace on Sunday, March 26 at 4:00 pm.  A fantastic concert awaits you!
Jazz Church West – The Saxophonistas, this Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 pm.  This All Woman Band will offer a dynamic tribute to International Women’s Day.  Show up – experience surprise and delight – invite your friends.  This concert is for Strong and Spirited Women…..and those who love them!
Here is a Note handed to me during the evening by an attendee at the last Jazz at Peace event.

Grandmother’s House

The Jazz Concert was only an hour but it was like visiting Grandmother’s House.
I did not have to stay for a week.  I did not have to stay for a day.
Just one hour at my Grandmother’s House and my soul was filled with love, peace and joy.  Now ain’t that some jazz!

Lenten Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 02.24.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you.”  Jesus, Sermon on the Mount.  (This was our Epiphany Wisdom text for last Sunday.)  Therefore —Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit:  it is the Spirit who teaches us from within, from our hearts how to pray ‘Abba/Imma’ and how to say ‘our’.  Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray ‘Abba/Imma’ and to be able to say ‘our’ — and thus make peace with all our enemies.  —Pope Francis

The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew chapters 5 – 7.  It is immediately after teaching his disciples to love our enemies that Jesus teaches us how to pray the Lord’s Prayer the strength we need for grounding and to become humane people transformed by compassion.  Grace upon grace and wisdom upon wisdom.
This Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration as the focus of our Family Service.  We also celebrate the Baptism of Lillian who starred as Baby Jesus in our Christmas Story!  An experience of pure joy awaits you.
Astrid Malvre’s Memorial Service will be this Saturday at 11 am.  Maili and Kersti invite the members of Peace to attend.
Ash Wednesday, the initiation of Lent, begins with worship on Wednesday, March 1 with worship from 7 – 8 pm.  Join in this liturgy which births the Springtime of Transformation within and among us.
Please keep in your prayers:  Alan and Monica Laurlund on the death of his mother Sonia, Nik, Nette, Teresa, George Perko on the death of his mother, Brian Turner, Maili and Kersti, Brian McGee, Gun, Nancy, Renee’s mother, Sue Shuffield, Marshall, Bob, Rob, Marlene and Fred, Ralph, David, Ed Klitsch, Ann who mourns the death of Keith, the families and children who live under threats of intimidation and deportation.
See if you notice anything new in our Gathering Hall this Sunday.
Taize Meditation Services:  Our Lenten Wednesday evening gatherings will be at San Damiano Retreat Center this year where Gary and other musicians and singers from Peace will be leading Taize chants an prayers.  These are utterly beautiful liturgies of simple chant, scripture, stillness, and time for centering prayer.  Carpool arrangements from Peace will be organized.
FFF March 3, 2017 6:30 pm – Finding Dory (2016)
A Regal blue-tang named Dory is separated from her parents as a child. While growing up she tries to find them but gradually forgets them due to her short-term memory loss disability. She accidentally runs into Marlin, a clownfish who is looking for his missing son and joins him on his journey. The underwater world they explore is fascinating. People associate short-term memory loss with aging, but it can happen at any age. Run time 97 min.; rated PG.
Jazz Church West – The Saxophonistas a Woman’s Sax Quartet lead by Mad Duranon will play as part of an All Woman Band performing All Women’s Compositions in honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 5 at 5 pm!   Save the date NOW – do not miss this!  The idea for the Saxophonistas was inspired by our own Ed Klitsch!
The SF Gay and Lesbian Band performs at Peace on Sunday, March 26 at 4 pm. Spread the word – invite your friends to this cool concert.  Your presence will another way to let Gary know you love him….because this wouldn’t be happening without his loving efforts!
Peace will host the Bishop’s Chrism Mass for our local Conference Clergy on March 9.
Are not the Blossoms and Daffodils delicate reminders of the preciousness of all life!
Transfiguration Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 02.17.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

There are no Ordinary People.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, temporary, ordinary in their purposefulness.  But there are no Ordinary People.  Reverence the true temples of life!  —CS Lewis

The Justice Advocacy Committee meets this Saturday from Noon – 2:30 a the Elsdon’s home.  All members of Peace are invited.
Our next Family Service is on Sunday, February 26 at 10 am.  We get to celebrate Lillian Meynier’s Baptism that day too!
Our gratitude to Fr. Innocent, John Baumann founder of PICO, and Karl Smith of the Rwanda School Project for joining us in worship and leading our Forum last Sunday.  It is always encouraging to learn of the ways our Global Partnerships make a difference in our lives and the lives of our Partners.  And thanks to Pr. Lucy Kolin for coordinating this opportunity.
Our thanks to Linda Elsdon and Thais for their ‘Let there be Light’ Exhibit which has now concluded.  Your beautiful photography and art has stirred our spirits!
Please keep in your prayers:  Nik, Nette, Teresa, George Perko on the death of his mother, Renee’s mother, Peter, Bob, Gun, Nancy, Margaret, Maili and Kersti, loved ones who struggle, our Confirmands.
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent is March 1.  Our worship will be at 7:00 pm that evening.
Solar Project Update:  Since we are now only about $7,000 short of the $86,000 cost, we are hopeful that we might be able to raise that amount before the project is concluded.  Nancy Carlston’s recent gift is meant to encourage gifts of any size so that the Council need utilize only the smallest amount from our reserve fund.  Already an additional amount of more that $1,000 has been received.

Peace signed the contract with SkyPower on February 8th.  They have made progress already:  The site evaluation has been completed and the building plans should be completed next week.  SkyPower estimates they will then submit the plans to the Building Department for review and the approval process which should take about one week.  Once the Building Department gives us the green light they just need to order materials and pick an installation start date when the weather permits.

Jazz Church West – Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 pm.  Don’t miss this!  Mad Duran leads the Saxophonistas – a Womans Sax Quartet with an All Woman Band ++ and Special Guest playing All  Women’s Compositions —  Honoring International Women’s Day (March 8).

Copies of our Annual Report are still available.  Please pick one up on Sunday if you have not received one yet.  It is an excellent summary of our 2016 Ministries.

Epiphany Wisdom Blessings,

Pr. Steve

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