Good News, 11.28.2012

 

Dear Friends in Christ,                                                

            The season of Advent is upon us!  Yet many do not know what it means.  The word comes from the Latin, “ad” and “veni” meaning, “to come.”  And, with only 25 more days until Christmas, it is no mistake that the word, “Advent” has the same root as “adventure.” Just when we are ready to bolt out the door to gather “things” for Christmas, we hear in church that the season of Advent is about waiting…  watching…  expecting…  preparing to receive the love of Christ into our hearts.  Just when we are frantically decorating the house and making lists of things to do, we hear that the season is really about an inward journey in faith.

            Remember what the prophet Isaiah (9:6+) foretold?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

              And when this child’s rule spreads about the earth Isaiah says (11:6+) that,

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat…they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord….”

             Isn’t it encouraging and inspiring to hear these words of hope for new and peaceful ways of relating to each other when God’s Kingdom rules the earth?  Think of friends and families who would be re-united!  Think of countries that would no longer engage in warfare!  Imagine human hearts that are unafraid, filled with joy, and compassionate toward others. Occasionally we get glimpses of God’s Kingdom breaking in here on earth, like in the true Christmas story that follows. 

            It was a few weeks before Christmas 1917.  The beautiful snowy landscapes of Europe were blackened by World War I.  On one side of the trenches were the Americans; on the other side, the Germans.  The shooting was intense across a narrow strip of no-man’s-land.  A young German soldier attempting to cross that no-man’s-land had been shot and had become entangled in the barbed wire.  His pain was so intense that he continually cried out in anguish.  Between shellings, the Americans could hear him scream.  Then one American soldier could stand it no longer.  He crawled out of the American trenches and made it to the German soldier.  The Americans stopped shooting when they realized what he was doing but the Germans continued for a bit.  Finally a German officer realized what the young American was doing and he ordered his men to cease firing.  Now there was a weird silence across the no-man’s-land.  On his stomach, the American made it to the wounded soldier.  Then he stood up with the German in his arms, walked straight to the German trenches and placed him in the waiting arms of his comrades.  Having done so, he turned and started back to the American trenches.  Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder that spun him around.  There stood a German officer who had won the Iron Cross, the highest German honor for bravery.  He jerked it from his own uniform and placed it on the American who walked back to the American trenches.  When he was safely in the trenches, they resumed the insanity of war!  But what a brief glimpse of God’s Kingdom that story gives us, even now!

            There are wars in our world…. our cities… our families… and our own hearts.  Christ came to bring peace through forgiveness and reconciliation, to show us how to make peace, and to help us find “shalom” in the midst of chaos.

            The Christ Child calls us on a journey of the heart that begins in worship with expectation…  wonder… and awe.  After all, whose heart does not melt at the sight of a baby in a crib? But when we realize it is God’s baby… born as The Savior for you and for me, then our hearts open to worship and adore!

May God’s love for each of us, fulfilled in Christ Jesus, be born anew into our hearts this Christmas season!

                        Ps. Mary Ann 

From our Financial Secretary Pam Lane
Some of you may wonder why someone from Livermore drives to Danville to attend church.  Acceptance of all people is very important to me, so I was looking for a Reconciling In Christ congregation, which is what led me to Peace 10 years ago.  What keeps me coming is the people and the feeling of acceptance and giving that emanates from the place.  Everyone is welcome, accepted, cared for and loved no matter what their circumstances.  That’s what I was I was looking for and found here.  There are so many great things about Peace and on this Thanksgiving week, I’m very thankful for Peace and for all of you.  

Enthusiastic Recommendation– On All Saints Sunday, Pastor Mary Ann spoke about the thin veil between heaven and earth.  As an example, she cited a neurosurgeon’s experience when he was near death from a rare form of bacterial meningitis. Dr. Eben Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon who has taught at the Brigham & Women’s and Children’s Hospitals and Harvard Medical School in Boston.   His recovery is not only a medical miracle, but the story of what occurred during his 7-day coma is even more compelling.  His experience is recorded in his book called Proof of Heaven.  Dabbie Bowron highly recommends this book to everyone.

 The 8th annual SRV-Interfaith Thanksgiving Service took place Wednesday evening last week at Beth Chaim.  14 folks from Peace  sang a rousing rendition of Marching in the Light of God (a South African song) with accompaniment by the pianist from the Congregational Church. Libby, Elizabeth and Jack were dressed in their traditional clothes from Venda, SA and Pr. Mary Ann wore a Venda necklace.  The entire service is very inspiring with a variety of prayerful (and thankful) contributions from faith groups in the San Ramon Valley.  Food was collected for the Food Bank and money was collected for Shelter, inc. We’re happy so many from Peace were able to attend!

Martha Mantei passes along an opportunity to see An Evening with Brian Copeland at the Marsh Theater this Saturday at 5 pm. This performance of the play called “The Waiting Period” will benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide and tickets will sell for $55. Brian Copeland is amazing in this solo performance. For details click here.

We’re invited to Beth Chaim for Chanukah on Friday, December 14th at 6 pm.  Let Pr. Steve know if you can attend.

Gary Sponholtz invites us to attend two events where he is singing:  The SF Gay Men’s Chorus will sing a Santa Concert Thursday Dec. 6th at 8 pm at Davies Symphony Hall ; and, the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band will produce the 2012 Dance-Along Nutcracker on Sat Dec. 8 and Sun. Dec. 9 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  More details in the Gathering Hall.

Make plans now to bring family and friends to our Special Holiday Jazz@Peace Sunday December 23 at 5 pm with Taylor Eigsti on piano with Greg Johnson on bass.  This will be a fantastic performance. To download a poster for this event
click here.

Honey from the Monastery has arrived! It is available for sale in the Gathering Hall. Same prices as last year!

Catechumenate Class begins in Advent! An opportunity to deepen our faith through reflection, conversation, prayer and blessings.  We will explore the questions that matter to you and seek to discern how the Spirit is leading you.  We begin in Advent (December 16?) and conclude on Pentecost in May of 2013.   The gatherings and schedule will be decided by the participants.   Pr. Steve and Margareta will lead this series. Speak with them for details.

Farewell from Pastor Mary Ann
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Phil 1:3-6

That verse from Philippians seems appropriate because I am thanking God for you and for the privilege of serving as your interim while Pastor Steve was on his sabbatical.  From my first Sunday at Peace, I felt welcomed and appreciated.  God gave me the gift of presiding at Word and Sacrament in worship but, you may not realize, I also received many other gifts from you, such as: your hospitality, interest in peace and justice, celebration of partnerships, deep commitment to children and youth as well as those in the mature years, and your desire to learn and grow in Christ.  (If I listed all the gifts, this note would be too long!)

Please know that I will keep Peace Lutheran and each of you, in my heart and in my prayers.  I thank you so much and feel richly blessed!

Blessings,  Ps. Mary Ann

 December Calendar

  •  Dec  2– First Sunday of Advent; Pr Steve returns; Welcome Back Dinner at 5 pm
  •  Dec  9– Second Sunday of Advent
  •  Dec  16– Third Sunday of Advent
  •  Dec  23–Fourth Sunday of Advent; Jazz @ Peace at 5 pm special holiday show:
                    Taylor Eigsti on piano with Gary Johnson on bass
  •  Dec 24–Children and Family worship at 5 pm;
                   Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm
  •  Dec 25–Christmas Day worship at 9:30 am
  •  Dec 30–First Sunday after Christmas