Good News, 10.27.2011


“I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me, to see the beauty of the world through my own eyes.”  (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

While it has been an intense season October has also been a month of incredible blessings for us:  St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival; the launching of another unique jazz season; the profound and immensely Healing Prayer Service; the insights of the Science and Religion event; the liberating WOW Service at Beth Chaim; the joyful celebration of Small and Tall with our children and families; the delightful addition of Seminarian Brenda Bos to Peace for this next year;  and the anticipation of Reformation this Sunday….it’s hard to get much richer than this.  God is gracious!

Our next Taize Contemplative Prayer is this Friday evening at 7:00 pm.  Come gift yourself with beautiful chants, stillness and calm, scriptural insights and loving prayer.  Invite family and friends to join you.  We are publicizing this with many congregations in our Valley.  Our thanks to the Healing Prayer Team for sponsoring Taize.

Sunday’s Adult Education Class will examine and discuss the Reforming Movements in the church today.  You might have additional ones to contribute!  Join us in the Gathering Hall or choose to join in Bible 365.  Either way you will become wiser!  (Note:  Nursery Care is now available during the Education Hour for kids 3 and under…thanks to our teens!)

And this note from Pr. Anita: “This Sunday during the hospitality time we’ll be having our second annual more- sweets-than-you-should-ever-eat  Halloween Snack-A-Rama! The theme for this year’s table, and yes, I like food with a focus, is “Spiders, Bats, and Pumpkins, O My!” You might want to consider a couple laps around Lafayette Reservoir or a hike to the top of Mt. Diablo before Sunday in preparation. See you then! “

It is unlikely that Martin Luther had Latin Jazz in mind when he envisioned the Reforming Church but that is what you get to experience this Sunday evening with All Nite Soul and John Calloway from 5:00 – 7:30 pm.  John is an outstanding musician and person.  You will love his flute playing creativity.  If you want to bathe in happiness, improvisation, and soul-uplifting joy then come…..or you can sit at home and watch the news.  Margit Johansson doesn’t even like jazz and she hasn’t missed a Jazz at Peace evening in 7 years.  Be like Margit – be a cool Lutheran.

The Annual Meeting for the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County will take place on Sunday, November 6, 6:00 – 8:30 pm at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on 1650 Ygnacio Valley Rd. in Walnut Creek (across from John Muir Hospital). We will meet in the Mullen Commons.  There will be an International-Theme Potluck Dinner – best eating on the planet.  Bring something you enjoy.  We’ll learn about the Winter Nights Program,  hear about our ministry at Juvenile Hall and receive a report from Rev. Brian Stein-Webber.  Carpooling from Peace can be arranged.  Contact the office if you would like to attend.

Regarding Interfaith Relations: I suspect that interfaith dialogue begins with friendship.  How much would I know about Sikhism if I had read it in a book – as opposed to hearing the music and chants of Amar and Sybomar Khalsa who have lead worship at Peace?   This reminds me that I must continue to deepen connections  so we can fuel our interfaith understanding and commitment with love and familiarity instead of merely with principles and a watery ‘ought-to.'”  (comment from a friend of Peace)

Language makes a Difference: The term “bank teller” originated in the wake of the 1929 (Oct. 29) stock market crash, when banks began hiring low-paid workers to “tell” throngs of frantic depositors that their money was gone.   At least they had the courage to tell people.

“Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.” Francis of Assisi

Keep Reforming,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 10.22.2011


“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” (Isaiah 30: 15)

“I doubt I will have an experience like this again until I enter heaven.” So said Pr. Margareta after last Sunday’s Healing Prayer Service. All present experienced a profound depth, an opening of the soul, an environment thick with the compassion we call grace. It was a pure blessing of the Spirit. God desires the healing of our hearts, the wholeness of our lives and the reconciliation of our world. The wounds of Christ are signs to us of God’s commitment to heal us – even through our own wounds. A strange path this Mystery of Christ and yet…. on Sunday, we felt the embrace of a grace which will never let us go. Thanks be to God.

Opportunities for Stillness: There are several ways at Peace to experience the stillness, calm and focus which ground our life and faith. 1) Taize Contemplative Prayer occurs on the 4th Friday of each month at 7:00 pm. The next one is October 28. This service is held in candle light with beautiful chants, scripture and a time of silence. The Healing Prayer Team sponsors Taize. 2) Meditation is held on Thursdays from 5:45 – 6:30. Feel free to drop in when you can. Instruction is available if desired. 3) A time of Retreat was suggested after last Sunday’s service. I will look into scheduling one for us. San Damiano, located in the hills of Danville offers a variety of Retreats throughout the year. Check our Kiosk for their offerings.

The Small and Tall Family Service will be celebrated this Sunday at 9:30. A wonderful blessing for our children, grandchildren and all our families!

Our thanks to the Science and Religion and Healing Prayer Teams for creating the afternoon with Dr. Marilyn Schlitz and the Contemplative Healing/Book Signing Party with Rev. Fran Geddes. Additional copies have been purchased if members would like to read Fran’s book.

All Nite Soul will be a Latin Jazz Extravaganza with John Calloway on Sunday, October 30 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. A variety of your favorite Jazz Artists will be dropping in as well. Face painting – in the spirit of Halloween – will also be available!

Three Reflections on Stillness
Contemplative prayer has nothing to tell you except to reassure you that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart…you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations.” (Thomas Merton, monk)

Sabbath and the Gnats: “The 3rd Commandment enjoins quietness of heart and peace of mind. This is holiness because here is the Spirit of God. Unquiet people recoil from the Holy Spirit, they love quarrelling and argument. They do not allow the silence of the Sabbath to enter their lives. In the Sabbath of the Heart God says, ‘Ease your restlessness, quiet the uproar in your minds; be still and know that I am God.’ (Ps. 46) When we refuse to be still we are like the Egyptians tormented by gnats. These tiniest of flies, always restless, fly about aimlessly, swarm at your eyes, giving no rest. They are back as soon as you drive them off – just like the futile fantasies that swarm in your minds. Keep the commandment – beware of this plague.” (St. Augustine)

Space for Realness: My students’ hearts, souls and spirits long to speak, to have a voice and a quiet place, a chance to express their often unexpressed and unknown selves in poetry and prose. Sometimes my fellow prisoners are not aware of this fact until they are sitting in a class writing. That is what happened to me decades ago, at San Quentin, when I trusted my gut and signed up for a poetry class. I open my class with silent writing. This silent writing is a form of free expression any subject. This silent period can last 20 – 50 minutes, depending on the flow of their pens on paper. Amazing prose and poetry can come from this process. Such a space to create as a group and as individuals is a rare and appreciated thing in prison.

Being a poet and teaching artist in prison, I know the importance of this space and place to stay human and to share their own realness in their own voice. This writing offers my students a safe and cool place to bring down their masks and be human and real, and to allow that which connects them to all human beings anywhere to come out in an art form.

People not in prison would be shocked at how open, human and real these souls, hearts and spirits become to the arts when suffering, or flowing through a prison existence. The arts can save you and sustain you through decades of hardness and inhumanity. The writing helps to cope with, and even prevent, many tragedies, and often can create a reservoir of peace, hope and forgiveness. The power of the arts can open some up to feeling and caring again – to being human again. Perhaps a state lost since childhood: the endless depths of that childlike love, creativity and realness. (Spoon Jackson, poet/author of Words of Realness, who is serving a life sentence in New Folsom Prison; 3 members of Peace are now corresponding with Spoon on a regular basis.)

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Muriel Ruykser

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 10.13.2011


“I believe that grace’s empowerment is present in all true healings, in deliverances of all kinds, and in any movement toward wholeness and love and freedom, however great or small.  It is present in physical and psychological healing, in social and political reconciliation, in cultural and scientific breakthrough, in spiritual deliverance from evil, in religious repentance and  conversion, and in the ongoing process of spiritual growth.  It is present where love really grows.  In very situation, grace enables us to make necessary initial changes and to continue, over time, to nurture those changes in creative, constructive ways.”  Gerald May, MD

Quite a marvelous weekend is coming up for us.  Many opportunities to grow, learn and celebrate:

Saturday the WOW (Witness our Welcome) Service – our 10th Anniversary – will be held at Beth Chaim at 4:00 pm. This annual gathering celebrates the lives and ministries of GLTBQ people in our interfaith congregations.  Should be some great music at this occasion!

Sunday morning our Healing Prayer Team has helped design a unique worship for St. Luke’s Healing Sunday.   This is a blessed opportunity to enfold all of the people and concerns of our hearts in the grace-filled experience of healing prayer.  It is also a chance to give thanks for blessings experienced in the midst of difficult times.

Members of the Healing Prayer Team will also lead the Adult Education Class on Healing Prayer:  How it impacts my Life and FaithBible 365 continues to be a source of joy, insight and struggle.  You can join that class any Sunday you choose.

Sunday afternoon our Science and Religion and Healing Prayer Teams sponsor Transforming our World View:  Integral Perspectives linking Body, Mind and Spirit with Dr. Marilyn Schlitz of the IONS Institute.  This will be a time of insight and delight – followed by a Book Signing Party with Dr. Francis Geddes author of Contemplative Healing and mentor to our Healing Prayer Team.  Be good to yourself – give yourself the best – expect to be transformed.  Invite your friends.

Our next Small and Tall Family Worship – designed and focused on our little ones – will be on Sunday, October 23 at 9:30 am.  “Let the children come to me!”

Our next Taize Contemplative Prayer Service will be offered on Friday, October 28 at 7:00 pm.

On Reformation evening October 30 All Nite Soul will liberate your body-being with some of the finest Latin Jazz on the planet through the artistry of John Calloway.   Don’t miss out on the rhythms, melodies, intricacies and happiness!

And this word from Pr. Anita: “On Sunday, October 30, I’ll be hosting the Second Annual Halloween Hospitality Hour. Come hungry and ready for a spook-alicious time!”

The Interfaith Council of CCC invites you to our Annual Interfaith Multicultural Potluck at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Walnut Creek (opposite John Muir Hospital on Ygnacio) on Sunday, November 6 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.  A tasty evening promising you surprising connections of heart, mind and spirit.

Congratulations to Tomas Transtromer (Swedish Poet whose poems we utilize) on the receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature!

The family of Kurt Ericson send their gratitude to the members of Peace for our prayers and friendship with Kurt, and for the Memorial Service and Reception this past Monday.  Thanks to Pr. Anita and Libby Flynn for coordinating the reception and service details and to all who contributed to the day.  A time of healing has begun.

“Surely Yahweh’s mercies are not over, God’s deeds of faithful love are not exhausted;  every morning they are renewed, so great is God’s faithfulness.  ‘God is all I have,’ I say to myself, ‘so I will put my hope in God.’  Wherever there is grief God acts in mercy out of faithful love for us.”  (Lamentations)

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 10.07.2011

Pastor Steve is on Retreat this week (returning Sunday afternoon) so these few notes are from Libby…

Thanks to Greg Grebe and Committee for a marvelous St. Francis Blessing of the Animals Festival last Sunday.  What joy, calm and lovely energy! Greg reports that it was a “good day with focus on the animals. All the exhibitors I talked to were really glad that they came and want to do more next year.”

Kurt Ericson’s family sends this message:

We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of  support and love during this very difficult time.  Kurt  was loved by many! His laughter, compassion, humor and love for his family and friends will always be remembered and greatly missed!!

Kurt’s Memorial Service will be Monday, Oct. 10 at 3 pm.  Members of Peace are invited.  If you can bring something for the reception, send Pr. Anita an email or give her a call by Sunday.

Bartlett Tree Service removed the large Siberian Elm near the Memorial Garden on Wednesday.  The workmen confirmed that the tree was rotten in the trunk and also on top and needed to be removed for safety reasons. Their stump grinding specialist will be here in a few days to dispose of the stump.

We still need more Sunday School teachers and more people to count the collection.  Call the office 648-7000 or talk to Pr. Anita or Pr. Steve.

Get these October events in your calendar:

  • Oct. 9    Seventh season of Jazz Church West/Jazz @ Peace begins with the Erik Jekabson Quartet at 5 pm
  • Oct. 15  Tenth annual WOW service at Beth Chaim at 4 pm. “Baby we were born this way!” See flyer on kiosk.
  • Oct. 16  St. Luke’s Healing Prayer Service at 9:30 am and Brain, Health, Wholeness–The Science/Religion/Healing Teams at 4 pm
  • Oct. 23  Small and Tall Family Service at 9:30 am
  • Oct. 28  Taize Contemplative Prayer Service  at 7 pm
  • Oct 30   Reformation Sunday Service at 9:30 am and
  • All-Nite Soul 5-9 (?) pm–Latin Jazz Jam with John Calloway

Blessings to All!