Good News, 04.30.10


To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. From You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, by Howard Zinn

This Sunday we will celebrate our Partnerships with Laurel Galan, Nicaragua and Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa. Delegations over the years have nurtured our friendships and shaped our experiences of the Gospel. Experiencing the Gospel through “3rd World” eyes, ears and hearts deepens the meaning and necessity of God’s grace. Many blessings await you.

“Living in a Liberated World” is an Interfaith Conference happening at Peace on Saturday, May 15 from 10 – 4. A variety of spiritual leaders and artists will address how we can live as Hope-Bearers, Wisdom Gatherers and Earth Stewards in this time. There will be music, drumming, art and Labyrinth Walking (and lunch) also. The cost is $25. Check out the flier on the Kiosk and sign up.

IMG_0953Such a blessed Earth Day Celebration we shared this past Sunday. A reflection on the Cosmos from Bob McNair, Children’s Time, the rainstick, plants on the altar, water poured in the font and on the new plants in our Native Garden as a prayer for the whole earth – made for quite a festive 40th Earth Day Anniversary. We will be hearing and learning more about conversations with the Solar Richmond people in the near future too. Have you heard that people in Bolivia are composing an Earth Rights Charter in the spirit of the UN Declaration on Human Rights created some decades ago? We can keep learning, can’t we! See more photos from Earth Day at Peace!

The Women’s Group will meet at Gun Johnston’s home on Wednesday, May 12 from 10 – Noon. All the women of Peace are invited.

It’s not too late to join the Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus class on Sunday mornings at 9 am. Fruitful and inspiring discussions are happening. Don’t miss out.

In Letters to a Young Poet Rilke says “Things are not nearly so comprehensible and sayable as we are generally made to believe. Most experiences are unsayable; they come to fullness in a realm that words do not inhabit. And most unsayable of all are words of art, which–alongside our transient lives (and grace)–mysteriously endure.” O you who are of Infinite Value, look for the beauty and mystery in everything you live.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.22.10


As often as you can, take a trip out to the fields to pray;  all the grasses and flowers will join you.  They will enter your prayers and give you strength to sing praises to God. – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

This Sunday we celebrate Earth Day.  You will learn about the Elegant Unfolding of the Universe.  Ro invites you to wear work clothes and help plant some new plants in our Native Garden after worship.  You may also do some further earth work after that if you choose.  We may receive some news about Solar Richmond from Dave, Jeanie, Parisa and Ro as well.   In preparation for Sunday please enjoy the sun, the flowers, the aromas, and the breeze that surround you; sipping clean water; and walking on an earth that supports you every step of the way.

Congratulations to Ethan Hepner on obtaining his Black Belt last Saturday!  Way to go, man.  He’ll be breaking boards for us in worship soon.

Martha Mantei reminds you that The Great Choruses of Broadway are being performed on May 7, 8 and 9.  Discount coupons are available in the Gathering Hall on the Kiosk.

Living in a Liberated World: On May 15 we will host a gathering for those in the Interfaith Community who want to live as Hope-Bearers and Earth Stewards in challenging times.  Building on the riches of our Holy Convergences we will explore how to live beyond religious differences into a shared Spirit of Wisdom.  Flyers are on the Kiosk.  Invite your friends.

The following poem is for all of you who are feeling like “cast down sheep” – flat on your back with legs flailing in the air wondering when will I get back on your feet….. This is also a gift from Good Shepherd Sunday and Psalm 23.

Manifesto:  The Mad Farmer Liberation Front – by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay.
Want more of everything ready-made.
Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.  And you will have
a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
That you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees
every thousand years. Listen to carrion–put your ear close and hear
the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.

Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade.
Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.15.10

Easter Exultet

Shake out your qualms.
Shake up your dreams.
Deepen your roots.
Extend your branches.
Trust deep water
and head for the open,
even if your vision
shipwrecks you.
Quit your addiction
to sneer and complain.
Open a lookout.
Dance on a brink.
Run with your wildfire.
You are closer to glory
leaping an abyss
than upholstering a rut.
Not dawdling.
Not doubting.
Intrepid all the way
Walk toward clarity.
At every crossroad
Be prepared
to bump into wonder.
Only love prevails.
En route to disaster
insist on canticles.
Lift your ineffable
out of the mundane.
Nothing perishes;
nothing survives;
everything transforms!
Honeymoon with Big Joy!

~ James Broughton ~

Thanks to Jody and Dick Larson for the above poem. Their grandson Chase was recently baptized at the Easter Vigil Service.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: Come learn about the parables of Jesus and how they would have been heard within his original Jewish context. This fascinating 3 Class Session with Deacon Gil Jardine begins this Sunday at 9 am. It is ideal for Sunday School parents, those eager to learn about Jesus in his home culture, early birds, and inquisitive spiritual beings.

Earth Day Celebration: Ro Lo Bianco invites you to wear work clothes and help plant new plants in our California Native Garden after worship on April 25th. If you are willing to provide some additional manual labor in the garden after the plantings that would be appreciated too.

50 years ago this past Sunday Gun Johnston participated in the choir which sang for the First Ordination of a Woman as a Minister in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. What a remarkable event and breakthrough for the church! How controversial and necessary. (It was another 20 years before the first Lutheran woman was ordained in the United States.) As Dana Squire commented, “I didn’t know Gun sang in a Children’s Choir.” Thank you, Gun, for standing up and singing Grace into New Realities!

Please keep in your prayers: Georgia, Doug, Randy, Taylor, Sheila, Linda, Curt’s father, Jerry Slater, Dee, Marlene, Judy, Karen, our Chaplains Dwane Michael and Mark Howard, those struggling with addictions or mental illness, our Catechumens Susanna, Jeanie, Gil and Libby.

Why do I always forget? After preaching on the text for Sunday morning about fear locking us behind closed doors – that same evening for Jazz at Peace a most torrential rain storm didn’t prohibit the assembling of a wonderful gathering upon whom: the sun immediately shone when the music began; who experienced a most exquisite calm and peaceful music; and whose hearts – locked inside of anxiety and stress – eventually could accept the wounds of our solitude as pathways for spirited transformation. What a mystery we live inside of.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Please note: The audio of Sunday’s sermon is available here.

Good News, 04.09.10


When the heart yearns for something, the distance one has to go to get it matters not at all.

Our Holy Week and Easter Celebrations were simply wonderful.

Many blessings were appreciated through our Psalm 23 Soup and Sacrament evenings.  Thanks to Dana and Joan Squire for the suggestion of Psalm 23. The Seder with Beth Chaim was quite memorable. The Good Friday Faith Walk was profound, disturbing and important. We celebrated Chase Cummins Baptism at the Easter Vigil with poetry, silence, light and laughter, the Eucharist and the music of Alice O’Sullivan.  Angels – keep rolling the stones!

Easter, the Koreans had a Sunrise Service with 200 people from several congregations; the children made delicious cupcakes – guided by sugar free parents and Pr. Anita; flutist Diane Sangster and Sue Field created gorgeous music;  Pr. Margareta’s Women’s Prayer was a special gift; my father was able to participate in the Eucharist with us; a double Challah loaf of bread was prepared…ever so tasty and resurrecting.  The Courtyard was cleaned, weeded and filled with flowers;  the Children’s Egg Hunt was a success.  A full house with new and old friends.  Thanks be to God for Easter!

The sermon from Easter Sunday is available for you to listen here [audio:]
You may also download the mp3 file to listen to at another time on your computer or to transfer to an mp3 player. Simply right mouse click here and select “save link as.”

The Partnership Committee invites you to join them at Karl and Grace Pfeiffer’s home after worship this Sunday for a lunch meeting.   This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about our friends and faith partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua and Lwamondo Parish, Venda, South Africa.

Jazz at Peace hosts the Paul Scheffert Trio with special guest artist Khalil Shaheed this Sunday, April 11 at 5 pm.   A spirited, lovely event is coming our way.

Please keep in your prayers: Sue Field on the death of her mom and Linda Heggen on the death of her father.

A new Tai Chi Class begins on Thursday evening from 7 – 8 pm in  the Gathering Hall.  You are invited to drop in and observe or participate in a class or two to see if this is your cup of tea.  It can only make you sharper, quicker, more agile, balanced, centered and graceful.  You might like it.

Perfume the wounds of this world with grace!  Christ is Risen!
Pr. Steve

Good News, 04.01.10


The Good Friday Tree bears upon itself thousands of scars and wounds.  Yet in spite of them all, it has continue to heal the sick, to bring hope to the desperate, to comfort the oppressed, to guide the lost, to free the hungry, to shelter the poor, to inspire the anxious, to illumine the intellectual, to challenge the fearless, to save the condemned and to meet the needs of every generation and every human situation.  What a tree!

It is with a view to Christ that the human heart was created, an immense jewel-case, vast enough to contain God himself…The eye was created for the light, the ear for the sounds, all things for their own purpose, and the longing of the soul for reaching up to God. Paul Evdokimov

Today begins the Triduum of Holy Week – the crucial focus for the Christian community on the life-giving Pascal Mystery of the Trinity.  These are days for prayer, reflection and worship which encourage our participation in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  In some traditions this is known as Still Week.  Come to as many worship opportunities as you can.  Each one is unique and transformative.

Maundy Thursday:  In the format of our Soup and Sacrament we will have a simple meal of soup and bread, share concluding reflections on Psalm 23, celebrate a Last Supper Eucharist and prepare for Good Friday. Join us at 6:30 p.m. in the Gathering Hall.

Good Friday Faith Walk: From 6 – 7:30 pm you are invited to come to Peace, enter through the Courtyard and experience a self-led, guided meditation based on the transforming experiences of Jesus last day.  You can walk this at your own pace.  Children can accompany you.  This is a powerful contemplative journey.

Easter Vigil: On Saturday evening at 7:30 pm our Vigil begins in the Gathering Hall.  This is a profound evening of dark and light, ancient and contemporary, basking in calmness and energizing delight filled with meditative moments and high hilarity.  We will celebrate with the Catechumens and enjoy a Baptism and Eucharist together.  You will never forget this evening!

Easter Day our worship is at 10:00 am.  Fantastic music and joy awaits you.  Invite your friends.

This word from Pr. Anita:

Easter Cookie and Cupcake Decorating
During our regular Sunday School hour, from 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.,  the children will be decorating cookies and cupcakes to be shared during the hospitality hour following worship. Children will be meeting at the Frosting and Sprinkles Table in the Gathering Hall at 9:00 a.m. (You might consider slipping a jumbo tee shirt or another form of frosting protection over their Easter outfit). There’s room for any and all children, ages 3 and up!….and…
Easter Egg Hunt
Immediately after worship we’ll have our annual Three Minute Clean Sweep Easter Egg Hunt! At least I think it takes almost three minutes for the kids to gather up all the eggs. If the weather cooperates the hunt will be held in the front courtyard and in the event of rain we’ll hold it in the sanctuary as soon as we can clear the house and scatter the eggs. We’re going to be recycling the plastic eggs this year and so there will be a couple red plastic buckets where your kids can put their eggs after they empty the sweet contents into their bag OR you can return the eggs on another Sunday.

Blessed Triduum!  Pr. Steve