Good News, 12.28.2012

Merry Christmas!

After the seas are all crossed, (as they seem already crossed,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplished their work,
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,
Finally shall come the poet worthy of that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.
           Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Thanks to all who made our Kids Mass and Christmas Services such a joyful celebration:
Musicians – Gary Sponholtz, Dabbie Bowron, Jeanie Locklear, John and Mary Ellen Nowel.
Singers – Elizabeth Hunter Ashley, Libby Flynn, Bev Harms, Martha Mantei.
Percussionists – John and Noah Ashley and Jack O’Neil.
Angels and Wise Ones – Jack and Ava Grant…..and all the children.
Christmas Tree – Charlene McPherson, Margaret Beeler and the Altar Guild.
Sacristan/Stage Hand – Ed Rethers.
Bulletin production – Libby Flynn.
Clergy – Revs. Margareta and Elizabeth.

See you for the Mask Making Workshop on January 3 and 5 from 9 – 5 pm. It will be so cool!

Happy New Year…….let it be!

Pr. Steve

Good News, 12.19.2012


No Room in the Inn….for times like these:   Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited.  But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it – and yet He must be in it, Christ’s place is with those for whom there is no room.  His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, those who are denied the status of persons, the eliminated (like children).  Christ is present in this world; mysteriously present with those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.  Christ hides himself in those for whom there is no room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Christmas Schedule

Christmas EveThe Origin of Christmas – Worship for Children and Families at 5:00 pm;  Candlelight and Communion with special music – 10:00 pm.

Christmas Day:  Feast Day with Communion at 10:00 am.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Christmas Choir will be rehearsing after worship on Sunday.  All are invited!

What a blessing it was to share Fiona’s Baptism celebration with 4 Generations of her family.  Keep Fiona, parents Toby and Chris, grandma Charlene and great-grandma Edith in your prayers.  (I think Edith’s Golden Prayer Shawl matches the Roshi’s Golden Bib; and thanks to Fiona and family for initiating our LuBu dialogue!)

Keeping it Real:  Two women in the Danville Community recently contacted me with requests for help.  1) One woman has a child, has been divorced and owns her own home in Greenbrook but is finding the costs prohibitive.   She is hoping to find another single woman with a child or children who might want to share the home.  Please let me know if you have people to recommend.  2) The other woman needs a place to stay.  She can’t afford the typical, first/last/deposit right now but will be able to do so in January.  She is hoping someone might be able to recommend an apartment, mother-in-law or guest house that could be rented in exchange for considerable reduced rent.  She is willing to cook, clean, organize; whatever might be needed.  She is  retired, formally educated, doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs and is currently living in Walnut Creek.  Again, please let me know if you have any recommendations!

Please be aware that Resources are Available for families with angry or disturbed children.  Too often people cover up and/or receive the social message that they should cover up these profound needs.  But in these last decades we have learned how to address, how to work with and how to heal these painful needs.  Professional resources are available!  If you or family and friends are experiencing deep troubles with children please contact me or other clergy at Peace so you can be connected with appropriate professionals. 

Kathy Wills, artist and friend of Peace, has suffered a family tragedy.  Parker, a son in his twenties, was paralyzed from the waist down after an accident a few weeks ago.  The family medical bills are already far beyond $100,000.   If you would like to contribute to a fund to help defray some of their medical costs you will have the opportunity this Sunday.

Thank you to all who gave through the Giving Tree Gifts and delivered them!  Here is a Story from one of the Shelter, Inc residents.  (More stories are available if you wish to read them.)  Kelsie and her daughter arrived in November.  Two weeks later she shared with me (the Shelter supervisor) that her 14 yr old brother had been homeless and on the streets for the past 4 months.  We told her to go get her brother and bring him to the shelter to live with her.  So we have a 22 year old young mother raising not only her toddler but her brother as well.  Lucas just had his 15th birthday and has been able to attend school regularly since joining his sister.  Kelsie just took her GED test and is expected to pass with excellent scores.  She dreams of being a doctor and wants to enroll in college as soon as possible.  It is amazing to watch Kelsie.  She handles this responsibility of child and brother with grace and a great deal of maturity.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent:  This Sunday we celebrate the Annunciation of Mary, the Magnificat and the joy of Elizabeth and Mary.   On that evening at 5:00 pm there is a special Jazz Church West event with Taylor Eigsti, a superb pianist.  You may enjoy this as a special Christmas Gift to family, friends and yourself.   To download a copy of the flyer for this special event click here

A Mask Making Workshop for the Peace Youth Group and Adults is being presented on January 3 and 5 (from 9 – 5) at Peace.  If you would like to participate and want further details please speak to me.  Fliers are available here and posted in the Gathering Hall.

Good News, 12.12.2012


On Spiritual Aviation:  During Vatican II in the early 60’s, Pope John XXIII asked the monk Thomas Merton to reflect on the Monastic Communities contributions to the larger church.  I trust you’ll appreciate Merton’s response:

 The first duty of honesty is to admit frankly that we know nothing of ‘spiritual aviation’.  When I first became a monk, I was more sure of “answers”.  But as I mature in life and solitude I am aware that I have only begun to seek questions.    I have been summoned to explore a desert area of man’s heart in which explanations no longer suffice, and in which one learns that only experience counts.  I have learned that one cannot truly know hope unless he you have found out how like despair hope is.

 God seeks Himself in us, and the aridity and sorrow of our heart is the sorrow of God who is not known in us, who cannot find God’s self in us because we do not dare to believe or trust the incredible truth that God could live in us, and live there out of choice and out of preference.

The contemplative is simply he or she who has risked her mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our poverty and incompleteness.  The contemplative has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to 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 explanations.

December 16
This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of Fiona Morris (McPherson).   What a joyful day you can expect.  As a special guest we will have with us Roshi David Weinstein of the Pacific Zen Institute where parents Toby and Chris have done some study.
Please return your Giving Tree Gifts this Sunday so they can be received by Christmas.
Help us decorate our Christmas Tree after worship.  Carols and goodies to be enjoyed!

Want to be part of our Christmas Choir?  All those interested are invited to one Grand Rehearsal after worship on December 23Let Gary know.

Youth Group:  7 members of our Youth Group will be ‘up in the air’ on Wednesday night at I-Fly.  Talk about spiritual aviation!

The Women of Peace have decorated our Gathering Hall.  Many thanks.  I will keep you updated with their future plans.

The Christmas Pageant will be outstanding on December 24 at 5:00 pm.  If you have children, grandchildren or youth who would love to be part of this please let me know promptly.  Our rehearsal will be on Saturday, December 22 at ????? [time to be announced]

Congregational Visits:  It is wonderful getting reconnected with everybody.  Please keep inviting me to meet with you when the time is convenient for you.  January is perfectly fine and welcomed.

Please keep in your prayers:  Fiona, the homeless, our children, people with disabilities, the people of Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Israel; and, gratitude for the International Human Rights Day.

Architectural Tour – 8 – 10 people participated in the Tour.  A historical context always enriches one’s appreciation of the present ‘realities’.  So many people contributed in so many ways.   Notes were gathered for the occasion and we hope to make them available to members of Peace in the near future.

Christmas Schedule:  Christmas Eve Pageant at 5:00 pm;  Candlelight and Communion with guest musicians at 10:00 pm.   Christmas Day at 10:00 amInvite your friends!

Thank you for your prayers for me and our congregation during my sabbatical.  Please don’t stop.  And thank you for my birthday gift and song this past Sunday.

Advent Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Greetings from Brenda Bos

I wanted to send an update to the congregation:  Janis and I welcomed a 16-year-old foster son named Joshua in September.  He is from our neighborhood and has been able to stay in his high school.  He is imaginative and funny and teaching us way more than we are teaching him.  We are all hoping this moves toward adoption.  

My internship at St. Paul’s in Santa Monica is going very well.  My congregation has about 100 members.  If all goes well, I will be eligible for call in October, 2013.  (My supervisor is just back from a sabbatical as well.)

Peace to all my friends at Peace,

Brenda Bos, Vicar, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Santa Monica, CA

Good News, 12.6.12


So good to be home again.  Your Welcome Home Dinner was magnificent.   Grazi !  I will have much to share with you in the upcoming weeks and months.

 What a blessing to have members like Margaret Bender and Gen Estenson in our midst.   Such a touching moment when they lit our Advent Candle this past Sunday.  From generation to generation the faith is passed on.   Thanks to Pr. Margareta for the beauty and the prayers which inspired the Prayer Shawls which so gracefully rest upon and surround Gen and Margaret.

 This Sunday I will lead a Tour through our Sanctuary and Gathering Hall identifying some of the architectural roots, symbolic expressions and construction stories that permeate our sacred space. This will happen during the Adult Education Hour.   Having spent so much time among the churches, chapels and basilicas of Italy prompts my wanting to share these elements with you and how our sanctuary has emerged out of the designs of our Christian history.

 Catechumens:  Are you hungering for a deeper spiritual exploration:  maturing experiences of reflection, prayer and conversation?  The Catechumenate Program will fit your need.  Running from Advent/December through Pentecost/May of 2013 this ancient teaching/prayer practice will lead you to a more profound experience of your faith through teachings, small group reflection, prayer, ritual blessings and Spiritual Direction.   Pr. Margareta will co-lead the group with me.  Talk with either of us if you are interested.  The group will decide when we meet so the schedule accommodates the flow of our lives.  You do not have to be a spiritual genius – just have an open heart!

Women of Peace–The Women of Peace are gathering Wednesday December 12 from 10-noon to share conversation, tasty goodies and to decorate the Gathering Hall for Advent and Christmas.  All ladies are invited!

From Arlene Reed
      Almost fifty of us gathered together Sunday evening to welcome Steve back from his sabbatical while also celebrating his upcoming birthday and recognize Pastor Mary Ann’s service during the time Pastor Steve was on sabbatical.  We all had a wonderful time socializing over wine, appetizers, dinner, and dessert.  The evening concluded with slides of Pastor Steve’s time in an ancient medieval town where St. Francis and St. Chiara (Clare) lived.  He experienced deep spiritual nourishment there.
      Your donations of $330 provided for all the expenses of less than $200 so we are able to donate the remainder to our Partnership Fund.  Special thanks to our three youths, Ben, Cameron, and Ryan, who worked from beginning to end.  Cindy Townsend our Justice Advocacy Deacon did a great job as chair of the committee and Libby was there throughout whenever we needed help.  Elana did wonders with our floral table decorations and John provided our get acquainted game.  Thanks to them and all of our helpers – Annie, Ro and Parisa, Jeanne, Peter, and Jackson, Adele, Linda, Charlene and Edith, Bev, John, Martha, Sherry, and everyone else who made the evening such a success.  Several have commented about how much fun the evening was and that we should have more of these evenings of socializing together.

     Some of us wore traditional costumes and the Church was decorated with cloths from our sister communities.  Pastor Steve had joined our South African delegation at the Johannesburg airport and traveled with them to Lwamondo Parish. We had hoped to say something about how our relationships with Lwamondo Parish in South Africa and Laurel Galan in Nicaragua have so deepened our awareness, faith and the blessings of the Family of Christ among us.  But….more of that in January.

Arlene Reed

From our Sabbatical Pastor, Mary Ann Fiene
 I say thank you, thank you, for all you did for me and for all you gave to me – the orchid, the card, the gift card and much, much more!  Your kindness and generosity have touched my heart.  I will miss you.  (However I intend to return occasionally.)  I am praying that you continue steadfast in God’s Word and continue to deepen in Christ’s Spirit that you are able to follow God’s will for your lives and the life of Peace Lutheran congregation.  My love always,  Ps. Mary Ann

  December Calendar

  •   Dec  9– Second Sunday of Advent; Walking Architectural tour of the church after worship
  •   Dec 11–Church Council meets 7 pm
  •   Dec 12–Women of Peace meet 10-noon; Youth Group outing to I-Fly: gather at Peace at 6:30 pm
  •  Dec  16– Third Sunday of Advent; Tree Decorating after worship
  •  Dec  23–Fourth Sunday of Advent; Jazz @ Peace at 5 pm special holiday show:
                    Taylor Eigsti– please share Jazz cards with friends!
  • Dec 24–Children and Family worship at 5 pm;
                  Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm
  •  Dec 25–Christmas Day worship at  10 am
  •  Dec 30–First Sunday after Christmas

  Several people requested the Thomas Merton piece on Time that I shared in last Sunday’s Advent homily. 

 Merton was convinced:  if you let the hours of the day saturate you, and give them time, something will happen to you.  One of the best things for him was “being attentive to the times of the day – when the birds began to sing, to distinguish their voices, to watch the deer come out of the morning fog, feel the rising of the sun, smell the aroma of the earth.”  The reason we don’t take time or give ourselves time is our feeling that we have to keep moving.  This is a real sickness.

 We must approach the whole idea of time in a new way.  We are free to love – to mature, to understand, to grow.  We live in the fullness of time (kairos) – this is one of the gifts of the Gospel.  Every moment is God’s own good time which has been redeemed and renewed.  The whole thing boils down to:  Giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek.  We don’t have to rush or chase after it.   It is there all the time – these deep longings of our hearts point the way.  And if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.  There is in all this a sense of the unfolding mystery of time, a reverence for gradual growth.

 This notion:  giving ourselves to the experience of ‘another’, allowing it  (the person, moment, relationship) to communicate its essence, allowing it to say what it will, reveal what it will rather than trying to trap it, bring it into the confines of myself, altering, changing and conquering it by the possession of it, this shifts our orientation in a most profound way.

 Pace e Bene,  Pr. Steve