Good News, 06.25.09


The truth is that we grow into goodness by being good to others, by being willing to start over again ourselves very time w do less than the world deserves and decency demands.”  (Welcome to the Wisdom of the World, Joan Chittister)

Greetings from Stefan Safsten and the Jarva Roster Choir: Dear Members of Peace, Thank you for all of your support and encouragement.  We have returned safely but our hearts remain in California.  The choir has never before gotten such a good reception! A wide selection of photos from the choir’s visit can be viewed by clicking here.

Our Nicaraguan Concert and Feast is this Sunday at 4 pm.  Hear wonderful music and poetry, enjoy your friends and a wonderful meal, join the 25 people who are already coming and help send off our Delegation with lots of love and joy!!

Heritage Hospitality: Pr. Anita introduced us to her Grandma’s Heavenly Dream Bars this past Sunday.  During the summer and beyond you are invited to share a story of a particular food or recipe that brings you fond memories of your family or any time in your life and then share that treat with us during the Hospitality Hour. The treats can be homemade or store bought. They can be sweet or they can be savory. The purpose is less about feeding us than about sharing a little more of you and your story with us which you will be invited to do during the announcement time and that we will then share in the following edition of “Good News.”  Talk with Anita for details.

My Grandma’s name was Rosina and her parents (as well as Grandpa’s family) came to Oregon from Switzerland where they began a family dairy. Much of my childhood was spent watching and helping (at least I thought I was helping!) Grandma bake breads and cookies for the farmhands or for the tour groups of school children that would visit the dairy every day. Grandma was known by everyone for her hospitality and among her family she was most known for always having a refrigerator stocked with individual ramekins of full-cream, full-egg custard and tins of cookies. Every time I make this recipe for her Graham Cracker Dream Bars I’m flooded with only the best of memories of my Grandparents and childhood.

Graham Cracker Dream Bars

Line the bottom of a 9×13 pan with a layer of whole graham crackers. Cut the crackers so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered to all the edges.

In a double boiler melt:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten

Cook everything above in the double boiler until it thickens slightly, stirring continually. It will take about 6-8 minutes over medium high heat.

1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (or any nut)
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers

While still still warm pour mixture over the graham crackers in the pan. Smooth with a spatula and then lightly place another complete layer of cracker grahams on top. Place pan in refrigerator to cool.

While the mixture is slightly cooling, make the frosting by creaming together:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
a couple squeezes of fresh lemon juice
a teaspoon or more of lemon zest to taste

Spread frosting over the top layer of graham crackers and return to refrigerator until bar cookies are firm. Cut with a warm knife. Optional: Sprinkle finely chopped nuts over the frosting before chilling. Replace lemon juice and zest with vanilla.

Pathway for Peace: Our Native Garden is evolving nicely.  Members have donated pathway materials.  Ro would like to finish the pathway installation project after Sunday’s worship.  Manly men are needed to apply their muscles to this project.  Womanly women can participate too or cheer the men on.

Please keep in your prayers: Denise, Jeanie, Judy, Evelyn, Pam Squire, Marya, Genevieve, Jennifer Fischer, Bob Sweeney, Jerry Slater, Georgia, Catherine, Martha and Roger.

A Memorial Service for Phil Hellsten (Jean Hellsten’s son)  who was affectionately known as Starman will take place at Peace next week.  Details will be announced.

Martha Mantei‘s hip surgery has gone well.  She will be coming home on Friday.  She sends her thanks for all of your prayers.  She’s always been hip.  Now she will be new hip and cool!

Please read and enjoy the article below from our Education Deacon Gil Jardine.  This will help you select and prepare for classes to be offered this Fall. The information concerning Adult Education also appears under “Education” on the top navigation bar. Just click on Adult Education on the drop down.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Adult Education: A Year of Discovery

Starting in the fall Peace Lutheran will be a variety of adult education programs and offerings. The theme for 2009 – 2010 is a Year of Discovery… discovery because this will be a year of learning about what you as members and friends of Peace Lutheran want to learn about and explore in your development as a people of God.

Programs starting this October include:

Rev. Elizabeth Felts will be leading a comprehensive journey through the entire Bible on Sundays after the 10 a.m. service for the entire year. Elizabeth designed this program to familiarize us with the Bible—its content, its people and most importantly its message and meaning.

Maili Malvre will be offering a number of educational programs that take advantage of the amazing cultural resources we have in the Bay Area. She will be leading two to three week seminars and field trips to explore the relationship between art, literature, culture, history and faith.

Gil Jardine will be leading a series of interactive dialogues about understanding the Trinity and its relevance to our lives. The first offering in October will explore the phenomenal best seller The Shack— a novel that offers a decidedly unique and approachable view of the Trinity.

In addition to these initial offerings, it’s a Year of Discovery because the education committee will be actively seeking your input on what you want to explore. We will then make every effort to build and deliver additional offerings based on your needs and interests.

Please share your educational ideas, needs and wants with the members of the Education Committee: Elizabeth Felts, Maili Malvre and Gil Jardine (education deacon)… and if the spirit moves you, you’re most welcome to join the committee and help us create and deliver a Year of Discovery. We’re expecting that what we learn from you coupled with our new programs starting in October will create a strong and lasting foundation for adult education at Peace in the years to come. Please participate and enjoy!

Good News, 06.18.09


The Summer Solstice arrives on Sunday.  Be sure to Walk the Labyrinth if you can this weekend.

The Partnership Committee would like to invite everyone to a fundraising event – a concert followed by an authentic Nicaraguan dinner – on Sunday, June 28th, beginning at 4 pm.  This will be a fabulous event that you won’t want to miss and you will also be helping to facilitate the delegation on July 6th and our partnership with Laurel Galan. The program will include vocal and instrumental music as well as Nicaraguan poetry.  In addition, Dorothy Barnhouse, who spent several years in Nicaragua teaching music to poor children, will share some of her experiences. A suggested donation of $25 will be appreciated, but donations of any amount, more or less than $25, are welcome.  We will sell tickets, so we have an approximate head count for dinner.

Adult Confirmation for College Students:
There will be a 6 week Series on Spiritual Roots, Truths and Exploration from July through mid-August.  If you have college age folks who would like to engage the fascinating questions of God, Mystery, and Life please inform and encourage them to participate.  Contact me if you have questions.  Details about time to emerge soon.

Thanks to our VBS Team for a marvelous week.  You will get to share in some of the wonderful teaching experiences this Sunday in worship.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

P.S. And this note from Pr. Anita. “Please check out my recent blog post on last Sunday’s service and the wonderful lived sermon the children provided after the benediction! It’s shown true once again….the little ones will lead us!”

Good News, 06.04.09

Dear Friends,

In the story of the Prodigal Son the Father wastes as much love on the son as the son does on his inheritance.  “Come home!”  The ultimate theme is not the wastefulness of human beings but the faithfulness of God.

If you were unable to join us last Sunday for our Pentecost Celebration, please take a few minutes to enjoy our Pentecost Photo Album.

Congratulations to our Confirmands: Kristina Whitney, Erik Norton, Taylor Eubanks, Cameron Eubanks, Ethan Hepner, Allison Winter, Aubree Miletich and Landon Shepanek.  Well done!  It has been a blessed year with you, your families, mentors, Christy and Bob Winter as teachers and Pr. Margareta.  Joy, wisdom and continued grace always!

The VBS Team will meet this Sunday after worship during Hospitality Hour.  If you have not filled out the VBS Insert yet please do so this Sunday.  April Miletich needs your assistance for VBS which is happening June 15 – 19.  The Confirmands have agreed to help!

Annie Haines invites you to her Garage Sale on Saturday, June 13 from 8 – 4.  Treasured items are being “released”.  2825 Stratford Dr., San Ramon.  820-5409 if you need directions.

E-Waste Recycle: On Saturday, June 27 from 9 – 4.  Peace will assist with a free Recycling Day for Computer monitors, TVs, Cell Phones, Lap Tops, Flat Screens and Ink Jet cartridges.  (There is a $5 fee for DVD players, printers, fax machines and CPUs.  This is a Fund-raising Event for Peace. Please promote this with your friends and neighbors and co-workers through our flyers or electronic communication!  We will need 8 people to help during the day (2 teams of 4, no heavy lifting.)  Let Raddi or Pr. Steve know if you can help.

Adult Confirmation for College Students: During July and August this summer we’ll have an ongoing series for college students who want to further explore their faith.  This is a great time face real faith questions with new and old friends.  Details to come.

Jarva Roster CDs: Do you want to purchase a copy of Words of Realness or Freedom for the Prisoners (performed at Peace 3 years ago)?  They are available after worship for $15 a piece.  Also 7 copies of Is it Safe?:  Essays by Students in the San Quentin College Program are available for free after worship this Sunday. These copies were given to Stefan Safsten after the Concert at San Quentin Prison.

Here is a lengthier and wonderful article by our own Gun Johnston.  Enjoy!

Järva  Röster`s Visit to Peace Lutheran Church, Danville

On Sunday, May 24 th, 2009 we welcomed the Swedish Choir, Järva Röster  for the second time. Three years have passed since they surprised us with their outstanding voices under the leadership of Stefan Säfsten. His choir comes from Kista, a suburb of Stockhlom,  filled with immigrants from many countries. Their church is adorned with stained glass and inviting  decor, much needed to get the Swedes to go to church.

Stefan has worked with Spoon Jackson, a prisoner for life at Folsom Prison, California, for many years.
Spoon writes the lyrics and Stefan composes the music to this concert named “Words of Realness”, a suite for choir, soloist and orchestra about Faith, Hope and Charity. Several years ago Stefan made their connection and received thoughts on paper from this prisoner, read them and  put them aside.  Upon  picking them up, years later, he could not stop composing  music to Spoon´s powerful words.

Before Sunday service we decorated our Fellowship Hall,  Swedish style, to welcome the choir. My friend Margit and I wore our national costumes, and our Swedish Pastor Margareta had the coffee ready before rehearsal.

All through our service and a baptism the choir sang so beautifully, my heart swelled with pride and JOY, which was  the message of the day, presented by Pastor Steve in his uplifting sermon. I could even sing along when our most treasured summer hymn was sung. Only a Swede can understand how much summer means after a long, dark winter.

We rejoiced with the Collin’s family as their little granddaughter Lucy was baptized as well.  A lullaby was composed and played for the sleeping baby.

Penny Sanders had baked chocolate chip cookies for the crowd. It was fun watching one of the little boys pile them up on his plate and swiftly disappear to a safe place to devour his favorite treat. There was watermelon, honeydews and grapes as well, a feast of all the fruit California has to offer, and  savoured while the choir members mixed with the congregation.

Time for lunch with four different hosts at their respective homes. Guests not allergic to cats came with me along with my special friend Urban, so, so tall. He and his wife came to my house last time they visited Danville. Our soloist-primadonna Rebecca and her husband Nils piled in as well in my  “Gunsan”- Nissan,  cozy and tight.

The fog did not clear, so we had to turn on the heat in my chilly house. My cat opens the door, but forgets to close it! Charlene brought another load, so we were 13 for Indian lunch of curried chicken on Naan bread with Minnesota wild rice, homemade mango chutney and many condiments to top it all off. Yes, it was festive when we took turns around the table to listen to everyone´s history,  both private, workwise and of coarse, involvement with Stefan´s choir.  Many had twenty years or more of singing with Jarva . Pastor Steve rang the door bell and  surprised us for a quick bite and fellowship.

I have to add that these Swedes are so open and charming that you feel like they were old friends. We certainly hope to see them again, here or in the “old country”.

The sun came out, at last, so we feasted on juicy cherries and strawberries dipped in the chocolate sauce I had made early morning before church.

Zhiting, our Chinese exchange student, was among us and played her flute out by the pool, transporting us to paradise, only to be bring us back by the clock and a return to church for warm-ups prior to the concert at 4:30.

Our church filled up, and the sun flooded the sanctuary through the colorful stained glass windows. Stefan had hired local musicians to play the violin, cello, piano and clarinet, while he directed the choir. In our programs we found,  and could follow along, the words composed by Spoon Jackson. Every piece was exquisite and so meaningful . Rebecca´s voice went over dramatically while other numbers were read by her husband Nils. That very couple live on the same street as my best friends in Sweden!

Our hands were warm and red  after the ending  Da Capo, and a standing ovation to top it off!  The classy performance,  where all members knew the lyrics by heart, will be remembered as a special gift from Stefan and Spoon. The choir performed at both New Folsom and San Quentin Prisons. That is Swedish-American history in modern times.

After seemingly endless embraces and praises, it´s again time for food, this time arranged by Pastor Margareta, who was so instrumental in getting the choir to come to Peace Lutheran Church.

A glass of wine was extra welcome after a long day of diligent work, not to mention the cold cuts and potato salad before the busride back to San Francisco.

After taking Zhiting back to Orinda, I only looked at the dishes, to be done the next morning. I simply  laid down  thinking back on this extraordinary day we had been blessed to enjoy with friends , countrymen and women.

I will  sum up the day with Spoon Jackson´s words:


We cannot capture time
It is not contained  in an hour glass
Nor the palms of someone´s
We cannot capture a sweet rainy
nor a glorious sunset
and the sweet sprinkles of a rainy
Moment to moment is all we
When will we start forgiving
ourselves and others
and live and love ourselves
and others?
Moment to moment is all we
When will we stop blaming
ourselves and others
and let others
in this moment, every moment
enjoy each moment.
Take this moment to forgive
yourself, your friend, your enemy
your mom, dad, sister, brother,
partner or lover.
Take this moment to share a smile
With people you don´t know
For moment to moment-this moment is all  we have.”

Spoon Jackson

Blessings, Pr. Steve