Good News, 06.28.2012


To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
let it go. 
 Mary Oliver 


Friends Mary Ellen and John Nowell return as guest musicians this Sunday along with Dabbie and Jeanie….and maybe more?  

Members of the Youth Group met this past Sunday and will meet again on July 15 at 11:00 am to continue designing plans for their priorities in the Fall.

Elise and Kaleo are once again offering two 20 minute periods of massage and acupressure after worship these next two Sundays to any who would be interested in receiving these gifts.  Please notify the church office if you are interested.

New Justice Advocacy Deacon Cindy Townsend invites all who are interested in Justice Ministries at Peace to meet with her during the Hospitality Hour on Sunday, July 8 in the Youth Room from 11 – Noon.  All are welcome to join the conversation and explore various ways in which we can make the Gospel good news for the poor, the vulnerable and our earth.

On July 22 we will have a worship service in the spirit and tradition of Mary Magdalene whose Feast Day is that Sunday.   Expect a service of intriguing blessings that day.

The financial gap in completing the rebuilding of the Beuster Church in Venda, South Africa (which was burnt down in a fire)  is $50,000 (US).  The labor is being donated by a local contractor there.  If you have ideas as to how we could raise some funds to help close the gap, please let me or the Council Members know.  Our Delegation from Peace will visit there September 28 – October 8.

Here is a Summary of decisions made at our Synod Assembly in May:  Recognized the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators as a partner in the ministry of Christian education;  Asked congregations to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign; Supported Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) and California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, as they discuss a possible merger;  Asked members to advocate for the replacement of the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole in California and Nevada; requested that the 2013 Churchwide Assembly do the same for the 32 states that have the death penalty.

One to ponder:  Corporate profits are at a 50 year high while unemployment is also at a 50 year high.  If it was true that the rich and business were the job creators, we would be drowning in jobs today.  (Nick Hanauer)

Bev and I invite you to an Ice Cream Social at our home on Sunday afternoon, July 29.  Details to come.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 06.21.2012


 “For those who are in Christ there is a New Creation:  The old order is gone and a new being is here to see;  from now on then, we will not consider anyone by human standards.”  (2 Corinthians 5:  16 & 18)

Endless grace – what a gift we received from Mad and Eddie Duran and Aaron Cohen through their musical contributions this past Sunday.  Indescribable and uplifting.  (Eddie who is in his mid-80’s told me after worship that they will be in the recording studio this Fall since, “you just got to keep going”. ) 

The Magic Suitcase with its art supplies for Memo Dominguez is on its way to Nicaragua.  Our thanks to Bill Carmel for organizing this and to all who contributed to making this happen.  Seeds are being sown constantly, only the loose soil is aware!

The new Directory is beautiful!   Thanks to Libby for all the detailed work that was necessary to produce this and to Lois McGee for helping in its collating and assembly.   Be sure to pick up your copy this Sunday.

We will Install the new members of our Church Council this Sunday.  Pray for these leaders of our congregation.

The Youth Group will meet after worship from 11 – Noon on Sunday to plan this next year’s priorities.  Bring your friends…there will be good pizza too!

Here is a portion of a speech by Severn Cullis-Suzuki, then age 12, which was delivered as an address at the first U.N. Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

20 years ago she said:

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. This is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich. And if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicines, shelter, and love and affection.” If a child on the streets who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

I can’t stop thinking that these are children my own age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the favelas of Rio, I could be a child starving in Somalia, or a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India. I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers, ending poverty, and finding treaties, what a wonderful place this earth would be.

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you adults go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for: we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of a world we are growing up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying, “Everything’s going to be all right,” “It’s not the end of the world,” and “We’re doing the best we can.” But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My dad always says, “You are what you do, not what you say.” Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown-ups say you love us. But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words. Thank you.

And 20 years later she says:   I wish to God I could say things have changed…

From Anton Schwartz one of our Jazz Musicians:  My neighbor knocked on my door at 2:30 last night. Can you believe that? 2:30am! Lucky for him I was still up practicing my drums.

Keep your soil loose!  Pr. Steve

Good News, 06.13.2012


 “Faith is a  bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark.” 
 (Rabindranath Tagore, Poet of India who was also the first person to recognize and designate Gandhi as the ‘Mahatma’ – The Great Soul)

So many ways to Pray:  Prayer is not about the words but about the connection with God or being in the presence of God.   In these last weeks and months we have received so many different ways of encouraging our connection with God:  Written prayers which we attached to the Pacem, chanting of the psalms, the Abba/Imma Chi Kung prayer, stillness, Healing Prayer, Pr. Anita taught us how to Sigh, breathing the ancient unspeakable name of **God ‘YHWH’, and the Toning Circle of this past Sunday with Trish Watts and Cynthia Winton-Henry.  All of these means are marvelous.  Use those which work for you.  Remember it is not the articulation of the prayers that matter to God,  it is our prayerfulness.

**The name of God was considered unspeakable for the Jewish community because any attempt to describe or comprehend God was understood to be “in vain”.   God’s identity (like mercy, grace and compassion) is unfathomable and mysterious.  Some people are convinced that YHWH is an attempt to replicate the sound of inhalation and exhalation.  The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God.  This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave this world.

How can we describe the richness of Sunday’s gifts – the music and chants of Trish Watts, Cynthia’s dancing, the stillness and toning prayer; and that evening the new compositions of Gerry Grosz composed for Jazz at Peace and rippling on his vibes……whispers of endless grace?  So precious, so fine….we are blessed.

This Sunday Mad Duran (sax and flutes) will be our guest musician.  She too has played for Jazz at Peace and you may as well prepare for another wonderful worship celebration.

We officially welcome our new Church Council Members:  Diane Kurtz – Treasurer; Cindy Townsend – Justice Advocacy; and Dabbie Bowron – Deacon of Connections.  Thank you for saying Yes to serving Peace in these capacities.

Changes:  Our own Gloria Aver is moving to Vancouver, WA.  Her insights, compassion, humor and spirit will be sorely missed!   Also Rev. Brian Stein-Webber who has served as the Executive Director of our county’s Interfaith Council (I4C) has taken a position at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) where John Brett attends.  Brian’s leadership has been outstanding these past 12 years.  Gratitude to Gloria and Brian for all they have given our community.

Kaleo told me that our Abba/Imma Chi Prayer on YouTube
has received 440 hits in the first 7 days.  It has been picked up by a pastor in North Carolina and he and Elise will teach it as part of a summer school class at PSR Seminary this summer.

After Jazz this past Sunday a first time guest asked me,  “What is this?  What’s going on here?”  I asked for clarification of his questions.  He said, “I know this is a Christian Church but all of the art and the incredible music and your references to a variety of the world’s religions – I haven’t experienced anything like this.  It’s so open.”  I said, “Come back.”

’In the Spirit – Sacred Journeys”  – our beautiful Art Exhibit was well received by the guests who joined us on Sunday evening to Meet the Artists.  How wonderful to see all the connections made and conversations happening.  Bill Carmel has done an outstanding job of assembling this Exhibit which will be here until July 15!  Elise and Kaleo offered a poem and prayer chant as a blessing for the exhibit.   “Preach at all times….when necessary use words.”

Arlene Reed has received new pictures from our partners in Laurel Galan  Their  letter will be inside the bulletin this Sunday.

Dear Interfaith Friends:  I am very pleased to pass along to you the announcement that the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center (SRVIC) will be conducting classes on “Islam 101” every Saturday throughout the year from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The classes will be taught by Imad Abboushi, Outreach Director for SRVIC, and will involve casual discussion about Islam, Muslims, their tenets of Faith, the Five Pillars of Islam and topics such as Women in Islam, and the meaning of terms such as “Jihad” and “Sharia,” all in order to help people make more sense of what they hear and read in the media, perhaps dispel some of the myths about Islam, and to talk with their neighbors about many of the commonalities they all share. The classes will remain informal and are organized on the principle of “just drop in” so that you can feel free to come when you are able, without needing to either confirm that you will be there or check to see if the class will be held that particular week.  Brother Abboushi taught this class at his mosque in Columbus, Ohio, where he was Outreach Director. The SRVIC is located in the office park at 2232 Camino Ramon in San Ramon, southwest of the Crow Canyon Rd. and 680 intersection.  For further information contact Imad Abboushi via [email protected].

Need a Spinet piano?  One is available for free but it must be picked up by Friday.  Contact me immediately if you have a home for it.

A woman at one of the AA Meetings commented to me after the meeting concluded, “Thank you pastor for hosting all of our groups that meet at Peace.  We know your people care about us.   I’ve been coming here for 12 years and I can’t tell you how many women have found hope and God here.  Thank you.”

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 06.05.2012

“I love you more than tongue can tell.”
                                       (Grandma Felts as quoted by Pr. Elizabeth)

Dear Friends:  As I think back on my time among you at Peace, once again I want to shout “Hallelujah!”.  After your blessing on Sunday, I turned to Pastor Steve and said, “This circle of believers, praying for each other, blessing each other, this is what the Holy Spirit had in mind at Pentecost.”  I have learned so much about what God has in mind for church during my time with you.  I am so grateful for the teaching and example of Pastor Steve, but also of the wisdom, humor and healing provided by Pastors Margareta, Elizabeth and Anita.  Wow, what a team!  There are too many memories to mention but I do want to highlight some favorites: the blessing of the animals which included a horse, the Maundy Thursday Seder, the amazing afternoon with the healing prayer team, all the occasions to ring bells and sing with such joy, dancing during Eucharist, the Abba/Imma prayer with Kaleo and Elise, video work with Allison Winter and the rest of the Peace Youth (they inspire my career path and I hope I have inspired theirs!), leading the book discussion with Margaret Beeler, the sage advice and kindness of all our elder leaders, and of course each meeting with my amazing committee.  Their insights and encouragement have formed me deeply.  But perhaps most importantly, my family commented every time they visited about your warmth and hospitality.  What a generous gift of friendship you offer.  Janis and I are hoping to welcome a foster child or two into our home in the coming year and I will begin my internship at St. Paul’s Santa Monica in August.  I look forward to our continued relationships in prayer and support and will keep you posted on my journey.  Thank you again for an incredible year.  Brenda Bos   (PS – I preached in my home congregation today.  Everyone thinks I’ve improved.  Thank you Peace Danville!)

June 10:  This Sunday Rev. Mary Ann Fiene who will be our Sabbatical Pastor will join us for worship.  This is your first opportunity to get acquainted (or for some of you reacquainted) with her.  With her visit and along with other preparations already in motion by various ministries (Council, Healing Prayer, Women’s Group) we intend to design a smooth transition for the Fall.

Trish Watts will be our guest musician this Sunday.  She is a gifted singer from Australia who on rare occasions has gotten to sing at Peace.  You will enjoy and be transformed by her music.

Our Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday too.  It will be quite brief focusing on  the election of new Council Members.

Meet the Artists – In the Spirit… Sacred Journeys:  Sunday evening is your opportunity to meet the artists whose fine works adorn our sanctuary.  You will get to thank them and members of I-SRV who are sponsoring this Exhibit which reveals to our Valley Community the inspiring truths and profound spiritual art which thrives here and yet too often goes unseen within our own community.  Concurrently the Jazz Church West will host Gerry Grosz and his Jazz Kitchen at 5:00 pm.  Gerry has been inspired to compose 4 works because of his experiences at Peace.  This will be a grand evening.  Please invite your friends.

Thanks to all have contributed to purchase art supplies for Memo Dominguez our Nicaraguan Entre Culturas partner and leader.  Jeanie Locklear’s daughter Rachel will be able to deliver the supplies directly to him in Managua in mid-June.

Pr. Anita has decided to conclude her Children’s Ministry work with us after 7 years.  Of course this breaks our hearts because the quality and commitment of her work has been so good yet  we can only be grateful for the wonderful gifts we have received.  And though we will all miss her Children’s Time we have to admit that after seven years one is allowed to make changes.  New leaders will emerge….are you one of them?  Anita,  we love you more than tongue can tell!  Thank you!!

Our thanks to Julie Arnone who gave the Foreverism – Social Media presentation this past Sunday.  New insights were appreciated by all the participants.  Julie is also offering her assistance if you have social media questions or would like for her to review your resume or website.  We are blessed with an abundance of gifts at Peace!

Please keep in your prayers:   Julie Gillespie on the death of her mother; those who are grieving the death of loved ones; Barb, Micki and Jonathan, Ruth, Sarah, John Sarracino, Gloria Aver who is moving to the Northwest; the homeless; the unemployed; those living with addictions; the people and especially children of Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.

Congratulations to Pr. Margareta and Jan Johansson on the birth of second grandchild Mateo!

The Abba/Imma Chi Prayer can be found at:

Congratulations to Felicitas Michael on her recognition as the Employee of the Year at San Ramon Regional Medical Hospital!  Feli, we are proud of you!


Lutherans Concerned—San Francisco Bay Area will be sponsoring a Sierra Pacific Synod contingent in the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco.  We will  gather on the streets of San Francisco on June 24 at 9:00 am to celebrate an open-air Eucharist together with our sisters and brothers from The Episcopal Church, as well as with our own Bishop Mark Holmerud and Bishop’s Associate Nancy Nelson.  Imagine openly proclaiming the love of Christ and our mission of reconciliation to over 1 million people! If anyone from your congregation would like to march with us please join us.  Watch our Facebook page for details as the date gets closer:

Congratulations to our High School Grads: Taylor Johansson and Abigail Vass.  Also to Ted Hobden who is graduating from the University of Idaho Law School!  (I told him Confirmation would be advantageous!)

ARF Adopt-a-thon:  This Saturday and Sunday all dogs and cats are Free!  ARF is located at 2890 Mitchell Dr. in Walnut Creek (east on Ygnacio, left on Oak Grove, left on Mitchell).  The hours are from Noon – 5:00 pm.  Greg Grebe encourages you to spread the word.

I hope you are enjoying the bulletin cover art work of the Trinity by Richard Caemmerer.  It will take weeks and months to absorb this soul-engaging work on the mystery of the Three in One or Communion in Union.  Additional copies will be available this Sunday.

Trinity Blessings,  Pr. Steve