Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.06.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
Preparation for Holy Week:  “I never intend to become adjusted to bigotry.  I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism or to the self-defeating effects of physical violence.  In other words, I am convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world:  The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”  Martin Luther King
Palm Sunday initiates Holy Week this Sunday when we share the Passion Narrative.
Forum on Sanctuary on April 9:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary Church and both groups agreed that we should further explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate the April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Passover Seder/Maundy Thursday – April 13, 6:30 pm:  The Seder Celebrates the core of justice and liberation work in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  It is also the context in which Jesus initiated Communion.  You will experience and enjoy our faith in a profound and delightful way — which you will never forget.
Did you know:  The Exodus (the end of slavery in Egypt) is the first recorded Liberation Event in history!  And the midwives who refused to kill the male babies committed the first recorded act of nonviolent disobedience.
An utterly profound evening with a meal, great symbolic traditions, insights and hilarity.  Taste and See!
Please Sign Up Sunday or email: office@peacejourney.org.
Good Friday – Contemplative Service, April 14, 7:00 pm:  Come pray, meditate, chant and reflect on this healing mystery into Christ’s transformation of death into new life.
Easter Day – April 16 at 10 am:  Celebrate the joy and the vision of Christ’s Resurrecting Love!  Invite friends.
First Friday Films:  April 7, 6:30 pm – The Brand New Testament — Join us in the Gathering Hall for a screening of this international hit from Belgium on our new smart TV. Written and directed by Jaco Van Doramael, it is a playful, dark satire in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan meets Monty Python. The film takes us on a farcical romp straight through current religious thought to something completely different. The film stars Benoît PoelvoordeCatherine DeneuveFrançois DamiensYolande Moreau and Pili Groyne. It was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards and has been nominated for and/or won over 45 U.S. and international awards. Stephen Holden of The New York Times calls it, “Wickedly amusing! A surreal comedy whose endless visual imagination matches its conceptual wit.”  (Parents are cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for those under 13.)
Spring Cleaning at Peace – Saturday, April 22:  Pancakes at 9:30, Clean up from 10 – Noon.  No experience necessary!
April 23
Earth Day Worship – pray for the renewal and resurrecting of Creation!
Interfaith Shoah Service at Beth Chaim from 3 – 4:30 pm:  A Remembrance of Holocaust Victims and Today’s Victims (Muslims, Refugees, African Americans, LGBTQ)
Four Seasons – And More…A Concert with the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra at 7:00 pm.  Enjoy music by Bach, Bruch, Brahms, Gupta, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and more!   The Orchestra consists of 15 young and gifted musicians under the direction of Goran Berg.  The performance is filled with youthful, bold sound; powerful expression and captivating energy!
Pr. Lucy Kolin will serve as the Interim Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland for the next 3 – 4 months.  She will continue to support/encourage the ministries she’s engaged in at Peace but we won’t see her for this period of time.  Blessings on your work at St. Paul’s!
On April 4, 1967 Dr. King preached at Riverside Church in New York.  In this speech, Dr. King not only spoke out against the war in Vietnam – a risky and polarizing move at the time – but he spoke out against everything that the war represented, a “far deeper malady within the American spirit” that would never be healed unless we moved past Vietnam and toward a “true revolution of values”.  Virtually no one among the Civil Rights leadership supported him in his decision to speak out.  But this speech has become incredibly prophetic for our time.  I invite you to read it both as preparation for Holy Week and as a Reformation Reflection.  Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later on this same day in 1968.
Gratitude to Bruce Silverman and the drummers from Beth Chaim for his/their leadership in our Drumming Service last Sunday.  Those present experienced how grounding and transformative this ancient practice can be in our worship.  The Hebrew Scriptures called drums ‘timbrels’ and they were used endlessly from Miriam, to David, in the Psalms and the Temple for meditation and the uniting of Earth and Heaven. Bruce is teaching a Drumming Class at Beth Chaim and invites members of Peace to join them.  Speak to me if you are interested or contact him at:  brucesilverman6@gmail.com.  Wouldn’t it be marvelous to stir up a Percussion Crew at Peace!
 
“I do not like the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West and yet are against refugees and other religions.  The sickness Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy.  You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) or Matthew 25 which calls us to ‘feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger’.  To claim I am a Christian and not do these things makes me a hypocrite.  The greatest reformers of the church are the saints who practice God’s Word, he told the group of young Lutherans and Catholics from Germany.  Our traditions have already moved from ‘conflict to communion’.  Now in putting ourselves at the service of the neediest we will experience that we are already united; it is God’s mercy that unites us.”  Pope Francis
Holy Week Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.29.17

Grace Waves

Friends:

Mud paste daubed on a blind man’s eyes…

“I have come into this world for this reason—to provide Clear Discernment; so that the blind may see (and see what’s really happening) and those who claim to see—may become blind.”  Jesus (John 9)

From Pr. Elizabeth – Dear Friends of Peace:

Thank you for the beautiful send-off last Sunday — the prayer with laying on of hands, the gifts, the delicious cake and the words of warm affection from each of you for me and Abigail.  We shall  never forget it, shall never forget you and shall never forget the part you played during the last 10 years in the manifestation of God’s grace in our lives.
With faith, hope and gratitude, Pastor Elizabeth
Healing Prayer Sunday:  All we can do is offer gratitude for the wounds shared, prayers heard and strength received through the healing graces of the Spirit.  “Where two or three are gathered I am present.”
Family Service – Drumming this Sunday at 10 AM.  Enjoy restoring our ancient worship roots with your kids and families as we celebrate percussive possibilities through Ezekiel’s ‘Dry Bones’ and the story of Lazarus.
Our Maundy Thursday Seder – April 13 at 6:30 pm – 20 people already Signed Up!  This ancient sacred Jewish Meal commemorates the Exodus from Egypt – the movement from slavery to freedom. It is the first recorded Liberation Story in history and it became the Meal at which Jesus initiated Communion – the meal of mercy and justice. Enjoy an evening of stories, songs, feasting, solemnity and hilarity.  Sign up on Sunday or at:  office@peacejourney.org.  If you wish to assist with the Meal Preparations, Diana Howard and her Committee are coordinating the details.
Forum on Sanctuary on April 9:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary Church and both groups agreed that we should further explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate the April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Compassionate Migration Policies:  As Lutherans, we heed the Bible when it tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether our neighbor lives in our community or across the world. Our faith has compelled us to help resettled refugees since 1939, more than 40 years before the U.S. government created the refugee resettlement program. Today, we continue to do ministry with the most vulnerable, whether they arrived through our refugee program or came to our southern border to seek safety. We know that migrants and refugees strengthen our congregations, our communities, and our nation. Pray for Clear Discernment; act with compassion.  (ELCA Justice Advocacy)
In the first month following last November’s election the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 1,094 hate crimes or incidents, the majority of which were anti-immigrant, followed by anti-Black, then anti-Muslim and then anti-gay incidents.
Interfaith Yom HaShoah – Sunday, April 23 from 3-4 pm at Beth Chaim / In Solidarity:  The Voices Silenced, the Lessons Learned.  As we remember the Victims of the Holocaust we will also remember those who have been targeted recently.  Keynote Speaker – Jim McGarry, Educator in Religious studies specializing in Ethics, Social Justice and Holocaust Studies.
Earth Songs”  We experienced an amazing concert with the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.  Music inspired by Zion National Park, Montana, China and Ansel Adams charged the performance with intriguing sounds/instruments and an uplifting spirit that simply carried the audience away. Gratitude to Gary and Austin for coordinating (and muscling) this event into reality.
And as Ken said:  What a beautiful evening we all shared this past Sunday. Gary is such a blessing to our church.  Who could tell the straights from the queers? We had just one group of very happy polite people.  How times have changed in our lifetimes — Gay is no longer unique, it’s just a different part of the norm.
First Friday Films:  April 7, 6:30 pm – The Brand New Testament — Join us in the Gathering Hall for a screening of this international hit from Belgium on our new smart TV. Written and directed by Jaco Van Doramael, it is a playful, dark satire in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan meets Monty Python. The film takes us on a farcical romp straight through current religious thought to something completely different. The film stars Benoît PoelvoordeCatherine DeneuveFrançois DamiensYolande Moreau and Pili Groyne. It was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards and has been nominated for and/or won over 45 U.S. and international awards. Stephen Holden of The New York Times calls it, “Wickedly amusing! A surreal comedy whose endless visual imagination matches its conceptual wit.”  (Parents are cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for those under 13.)
Lenten Meditation Options:  Walk the Labyrinth; Gaze on the Transfiguration Painting, Pray/Meditate underneath our Tent of Revealings; read the Psalms.
Jazz Church West hosts The Erik Jekabson Quintet this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  Ever been curious about what the Berkeley Jazz School faculty band would sound like?  This is it….and it was the inspiration of our own JazzCat Ed Klitsch!  So many ministry dimensions have evolved through our Jazz Church:  the inspiring music itself in our unique sanctuary, the formation of creative groups (Saxophonistas), pastoral care, new friendships, the prayers, the Receptions (rare opportunities for people to honestly connect), and hovering all about a Spirit of Joy dancing in the Wonders of Life’s Preciousness..

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath:  it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes….”
—Shakespeare

Merciful Lenten blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.22.17

Grace Waves

Friends:
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.  Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” –  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel  (This quote conveys the Spirit of last Sunday’s Confirmation Class through the interplay of Body Wisdom with Cynthia Winton-Henry)
Healing Prayer Service and Forum this Sunday – Come to receive prayer for yourselves or loved ones who are ill, stressed, recovering from surgery, longing for wholeness or suffering due to these troubled times.  The Healing River of Grace will renew us.
We bid Farewell to Pr. Elizabeth Felts this Sunday.  Please come to share your gratitude with her for her gifts of teaching, preaching, healing and spirit.  Abigail gets to be with us too!
Earth Songs” – the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performs this Sunday at 4 pm!!  Spread the word with all your friends about this Dynamic Concert.  It includes a celebration of the Photography of Ansel Adams.  Experience the Joy of this energizing music.  If you can assist with the Reception please let Gary or I know.
Drumming for Family Service on April 2.  Bruce Silverman will lead our worship that day.  Pure joy and celebration as we restore our connection with ancient worship roots. There will be a Rehearsal for those who would like to learn some of the basics on Saturday, April 1 at 11 am.  Don’t think you have rhythm….check your pulse and get back to me!  Bruce is an excellent teacher!

Passover Seder, Thursday April 13 at 6:30 pm.  This ancient sacred Jewish Meal commemorates the Exodus from Egypt – the movement from slavery to freedom.  It is the first recorded Liberation Story in history.  And it is the Meal at which Jesus initiates Communion – the meal of mercy and justice.  Diana Howard is coordinating this Holy Week event and she asks for your assistance.  Sign ups will begin this Sunday and you may invite friends from beyond the Peace Community.  You will be transformed by this evening of stories, songs, solemnity and hilarity.
Ending Hunger/Bread for the World: Right now, the world is facing its greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945. We are staring down the outbreak of famine and near-famine conditions that is unprecedented in modern world history. Twenty million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen in the next six months, if nothing is done.  The proposed new budget would slash lifesaving programs that serve poor and hungry people, including dramatic and disproportionate cuts to vital U.S. foreign assistance. Slashing these programs — which make up just 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, or one penny on the dollar — wouldn’t balance the budget or pay for significant new domestic spending. But it will come at the cost of human lives lost to hunger and malnutrition.
Forum on Sanctuary:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary church and both groups agreed that we should explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate our April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and are encouraged to come.
SAP (Serenity at Peace) RISING:  Yes, I am having fun with this title – how many of you are Saps?  The life blood of trees, yes…and within this word the hint of an ancient Latin root word….to become Sapiential = Wise.  Enjoy absorbing this Lenten Sapiential Reflection on The Reign of God:
     It helps now and then to step back and take the long view.  The Reign of God is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision.
     We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.  Nothing we do is complete, which another way of saying that the Reign always lies beyond us.  No statement says all that could be said.  No prayer fully expresses our faith.  No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.  No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
     This is what we are about:  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
     We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
     We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders – ministers, not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future not our own.  Amen
     (Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, assassinated March 24, 1980)
Our Lenten Taize Wednesday evening services at 7:00 pm continue at San Damiano Retreat Center throughout March and on April 5.
The Gospel of Consumption – the Negation of your Lenten Practice.
“You want it.  You want it bad. Sometimes so much it hurts.  You can taste it. You feel like you would do anything to get it.  Go further than they’d suspect.  Twist your soul and crush what’s in your way. Then you get it. And something happens.  You become the object of your desire.  And it feels incredible.”  (advertisement for perfume in Macy’s window.)
Sapiential Lent,
Pr. Steve

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