Good News, 01.31.2013


 “There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible but in the end, they always fail.  Think of it:  always.”  (Mahatma Gandhi – assassinated January 30, 1948….the year after the British peacefully transferred power to an independent India and left)

 Partnership Sunday:  This Sunday we get to celebrate with our friends in Venda, South Africa and Laurel Galan, Nicaragua our partnership and commitment to the Gospel.  Lovely music, new stories and fresh perspectives are coming your way!

 Our Annual Meeting is scheduled for February 10 after worship.  Pick up copies of the Annual Report, Budget and proposed By-Law changes this Sunday.  Your review ‘in advance’ will be helpful.

 Mardi Gras Party!  On February 10 the Horn Section of the SF Gay and Lesbian Band (aka – The Dixieland Dykes) will join us for worship and a celebration of Mardi Gras at 5:00 pm that evening.  This will be a Potluck – and you are encouraged to bring any Cajun dish…..or any food you enjoy eating …….to this event.  It’s a time to relax, enjoy good friends and great music!  Of course you can invite friends from beyond the congregation as well.

 Please keep in your prayers:  Nancy, Melinda, Ed, Don Smith, Jonathan, Lisa, Spoon and all who pray for us.

 The Youth Group will meet next on Saturday, February 9 from 1 – 3 pm at Peace. 
(The pattern will be 2nd Saturday afternoons and 4th Friday evenings.)

 Worship and Partnership Committees:  On February 17 the Worship and Partnership Committees will meet during the Adult Forum time after Hospitality Hour to fine-tune the organizing of their ministry tasks.  Anyone who wants to join the Altar Guild, Ushers, Choir, Sound Board Team, Counters, Lectors, Breadbakers,  etc.  will be welcomed!

 Mularo,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.23.2013


 UNMASKINGFirst of all, you have to keep unmasking the world around you for what it is:  manipulative, controlling, power-hungry and in the long run, destructive.  The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this – you have to dare to say to yourself:  “These feelings I experience, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself.  The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am a chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”  (Henri Nouwen Life of the Beloved)

Our thanks to Rhonda and Mmabatho for their fine presentation on the experiences of racism at our Adult Forum this past Sunday.  Layers of insight were revealed and there is much more to learn.  Future Forums with them will be scheduled during Lent.

This Sunday’s Adult Forum:  Sabbatical Highlights from Pr. Steve and an introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The Annual Congregational Meeting is after worship on February 10.  Annual Reports have been prepared by the Council – please pick yours up on Sunday.  The Budget and By-Law changes will be distributed next week.

Partnership Sunday – February 3:  Our annual Partnership Sunday is simultaneously celebrated with Lwamondo Parish on the first Sunday of February.  The Adult Forum will be led by members of the Partnership Committee.

Time for a Mardi Gras Party!  The Horn Section of the SF Gay and Lesbian Band (aka the Dixieland Dykes) will join us for worship on February 10 and for a New Orleans style/Cajun Cuisine Meal at 5:00 pm that afternoon.  It’s a time to relax and enjoy each other before the season of Lent begins that next week.  Feel free to invite friends to join you for this wonderful celebration!

Chromatica Choir Concert:  Chromatica is a local  choir singing classical works, who rehearse at Peace on Monday evenings.  They would be delighted if you attend their concert at Peace this Friday, January 25 at 8 pm.  Reception will follow.

 Sabbatical ReadingsHere is a list of the books I got to read while on sabbatical which also made this such a time of enrichment.

The Complete Writings of St. Francis and St. Chiara (St. Clare) of Assisi
A Sense of Direction — Gideon Lewis-Kraus
No Gods but One:  Deuteronomy – Fr. Daniel Berrigan; 
A Brief History of Thought – Luc Ferry
The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver; 
Wisdom Jesus – Cynthia Bourgeault;  
JFK and the Unspeakable – James Douglass
Selected Poems – Tomas Transtromer; 
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
Mighty be our Powers:  How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War – Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Peace Prize Winner and a Liberian Lutheran!)
Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas; 
The Death of the Liberal Class – Chris Hedges
The Holy Thursday Revolution – Beatrice Bruteau; 
In the Darkness before Dawn:  Selected Poetry – Thomas Merton
The City of David : History and Archeology of Ancient Jerusalem – Ahron Horovitz
By Heart: Prison, Poetry and 2 Lives – Spoon Jackson and Judith Tannenbaum;
The Power of Habit – Duhigg;
 A People’s History of the US – Howard Zinn
Arctic Dreams – Barry Lopez;
Tai Chi magazines; and Guide Books

 Best Movie – Lincoln;  Best Documentary – The Dust Bowl (Ken Burns); Best Ecological Presentation – Moholoholo by Brian Jones at Kruger Park;  Best Liturgy – San Damiano, Italy.

 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January/February Calendar

  • Jan 29 (Tues)–Education Committee meets at 4:15       
  • Feb 3–Partnership Sunday    [also Super Bowl–go 49ers!]           
  • Feb 10–Congregational Meeting after Worship  
  •              — Mardi Gras Party with food and live music at 5 pm
  • Feb 13–Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30 pm
  •    Feb 17–Jazz @ Peace featuring Kenny Washington &  The Marcus Shelby Trio at 5 pm 


Epiphany Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.17.2013

Friends – Julay!

“I confess I am not afraid of tension…constructive nonviolent tension is necessary for growth. We are not the creators of tension; we merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. All racism distorts the soul and damages the personality – of oppressor and oppressed. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. Progress never comes inevitability – it comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of people willing to be co-workers with God. The time is always ripe to do right.”
 (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King)

Season of Light/Sunday Adult Forum: You are encouraged to make the Sunday Educational Forum part of your Sunday morning rhythm. It will follow our Hospitality Hour and go from 11:10 – 11:50. This Sunday two members of Peace will share their personal stories of racist experiences in our current times. This will initiate an ongoing series in which we as people of faith can be sensitized to the troubling and life-threatening dynamics of racism in our time. Your attendance and listening hearts are desired.

The Youth Group is getting together for Tacos and Planning on Friday, January 25 from 7 – 8 pm. We’ll meet in the Peace Youth Room. Parents will gather at the local Starbucks for java and conversation during that time. The Youth Group will meet regularly on 2nd Saturdays (1 – 3 pm) and 4th Fridays (7 – 8 pm) of each month.

I am happy to announce that we now have a Yo/Fam (Youth and Family) Committee: Ceil McCloy, Rhonda Turner, Jeanne Kaplan and Pat Leong. Seminarian John Brett will be involved. This will greatly enhance the work of our Youth Ministry. Now is the time to build this group up. Thanks to all who are contributing to our youth development through actions and prayers.

Child Care: We are blessed to have two of our teens who are providing Child Care during worship every week now. Spread the word.

Gary Sponholtz is performing with members of the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. this next Monday. Congratulations, Gary!

Our own Jasmine Durant is offering Private Tutoring for students in K – 12. Areas include Academic subjects (math, science, computer skills, language and ESL), Fundamental Study Skills and Specialized Services for exam preparations. You can reach her at [email protected] or 708-8544.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor Martyr, Prophet, Spy – A Sunday Salon Series of 7 Sessions (meeting at 4 pm on Sunday afternoons in member’s homes) will begin in late January or early February. This biography about Pastor Bonhoeffer (who participated in one of the plots to kill Hitler) will deepen our understanding of his struggles and context as we explore the meaning of the faith in our day. All are welcomed to join in this engaging study.

Keep in your prayers: Nancy Carlston recovering from knee surgery, Karin Shepanek whose father William recently died, Melinda Howard who is dealing with an aggressive cancer, Jonathan who is also facing an aggressive cancer, Mary Lou and the residents of Diablo Lodge who are living in quarantine from the flu; Cliff, Joe’s sister, Lisa, Bob Worthington, our Youth Group, Catechumens, Council, partners in Lwamondo and Laurel Galan, friends with Alzheimer’s and dementia, the Newtown families, and those in prison.

Mardi Gras Party – a great Dixieland Party is coming our way on Sunday, February 10. Reserve the date. Details to come.

January/February Calendar

  • Jan 20–Adult Forum: Personal Stories of Racism 
  • Jan 22 (Tues)–Healing Prayer Team meets at 7 pm
  • Jan 25 (Fri)–Catechumens meet at 4 pm
                           Youth Group meets from 7-8 pm for Tacos
  • Jan 29 (Tues)–Education Committee meets at 4:15       
  • Feb 3–Partnership Sunday
  • Feb 10–Congregational Meeting after Worship  
  • Feb 10–Mardi Gras Party with food and live music at 5 pm
  • Feb 13–Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30 pm
  • Feb 17– Jazz @ Peace featuring Kenny Washington & The Marcus Shelby Trio at 5 pm

Julay! Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.09.2013


 “I, Paul, have been entrusted with this special grace of proclaiming to all the unfathomable treasure of Christ and of throwing light on the inner workings of the mystery kept hidden through all the ages in God the Creator of everything.  The purpose of this was that now through the Church the powers and principalities of this world should learn how multi-faceted is the wisdom of God.”  (Ephesians 3)

 Thanks to Kaleo and Elise Ching for the marvelous Mask Making workshop with our Youth Group.  It was a profound journey with so many discoveries and much creativity along the way.  There were so many fine insights shared by our Youth of which you will get to learn more during the Epiphany Season.

The Parents of Youth Group Members will meet after worship at 11:15 this Sunday.

 All Saints by Robert Ellsberg is a collection of biographies of saints (one for each day of the year) from cultures around the world, who have lived from 3,000 years ago to our contemporary times.  It can be used as a Daily Meditation book (each story only a page and ½ at the most) or as an exquisite way to learn the History of the Church through those have brought the Incarnation of Christ to birth in their own lives. It’s a real ornament!  15 people have signed up to get a copy and Members of Peace have offered to purchase copies for those not able to afford a copy now.  Please notify me of your interest by this Sunday so we can order the copies next week.

Meditation on Thursdays from 5: 45-6:30 begins again this Thursday.  This also includes walking meditation during this 45 minute period.

Tai Chi Chuan Classes also begin this Thursday at 7:00 pm in our Gathering Hall.

 It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
(Here is a delightful story, a reflection on the meaning of Christmas by our own Gun Johnston.  It is a wonderful example of what it means to Incarnate the Birth of Christ in our lives.  You will find it a real ornament!)

After two wondrous weeks in Bolivia and Colombia, I left tropical Cartagena via Bogota and San Salvador, three flights with far too many hours of waiting in between. It was Christmas night and shops closed at the airports for employees to spend time with loved ones. It felt pretty lonesome after having been with a group of travel friends for so long. I kept on thinking that I had to be somewhere anyway, so no big deal but to test the old patience. South America´s  Avianca and Taca Airlines were on time and served good food, so I  only suffered from lack of sleep and had time to people watch and solve  crossword puzzles.

 The skies were clear when we approached SFO after lots of rain. It looked like sparkling jewels of welcome home. We had a smooth landing at midnight, eventually got the checked in luggage and got through customs. It is amazing when everything works perfectly. There are so many complaints, but I am in awe of transportation where so many people are involved to make for a safe and certain outcome.

 Eric had booked a Super Shuttle service to bring me home, since BART doesn´t run that late, and I could hardly expect friends to pick me up on a Christmas night. Icy air met me by the beautiful decorations of lights showing off the Golden Gate Bridge. No shuttle in sight, so what to do? By now I had been on my  way for twenty four hours and was SO tired! While I was pondering what to try next, the blue and gold van pulls up! The young driver reassures me that somebody will take me home, but he has to coordinate with the other vans and passengers. After some time we got going, the van all filled with weary,  silent travelers who only wanted one and the same thing, getting home to a comfortable bed!

Crossing the San Mateo Bridge I kept on looking up to the skies for Santa´s sleigh. He must have taken the Polar Route , and I was disappointed. The first load of passengers got off in the hills of Hayward, and the next group hesitantly guided the driver way up to northern Berkeley. Now it was only the driver and Grandma Gun left. I started up a conversation to make sure he wasn´t going to fall asleep. We got to talking about our backgrounds, and, to my amazement, he tells me he came from Bhutan six years ago.

When I took a closer look, I could certainly see he was Bhutanese all over, young and good looking! When I told him I had been to Bhutan he almost drove off the road! In the years away from his mountainous Himalayan country he had never met anybody who knew where it was located let alone having been there. When I mentioned Timpu with the barking dogs at night, and the fact that I had visited every Zong monestary and climbed up to the Tiger´s Nest, he was almost in tears!! His name is Nirvan,  and he drives travelers at night in order to go back to school and study Community Planning. I was in awe of this young man, so hardworking. He says he might not go back to Bhutan to work but only to visit family. We covered the present situation of violence in Oakland where we were driving around at night.

 All of a sudden my driver discovers that he will run out of natural gas for his van driving to Danville and then picking up a passenger in Concord back to SFO. He can only fill at the airports! It sounds like third world country to me. By now it is past two a.m. and not much of a choice, when I agreed to let him go to Oakland Airport for a fill-up. There certainly wasn´t much traffic but an occasional veering drunk driver to avoid. It was interesting to watch the procedure of filling gas, and with a sigh of relief we hit the road again, now worrying if he will get to Concord by 3:30a.m.where he has a scheduled pick-up. During this drive Nirvan  thanks me profusely  and assures me I will receive good Karma for the good  deed of not getting upset but let him make up for his mistake of not getting enough gas earlier. With the stress he encounters during long hours I didn´t have the heart to reprimand this well- mannered young man. I truly felt blessed that we had met and could share his home country of Bhutan. The law of Karma is closely related to reincarnation. It states that every action of a person, no matter how small it may be, influences how his soul will be born in his new incarnation. Maybe it will work on my back pain as well? I can use all the good Karma I can get.

 Time will tell, and in the meantime I  treasure the memory of this moonlit Christmas night when I met Nirvan from Bhutan.

Blessed Epiphany,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 01.03.2013

Happy New Year! 
Here is a letter to our partners in South Africa which shares some of the Advent/Christmas highlights!

To our Brothers and Sisters in Lwamondo Parish—Christmas Greetings from Peace Lutheran Church!

We send greetings from everyone at Peace to our friends in Lwamondo Parish and the Beuster Deanery.  We have been very busy since our return and we understand you have also been busy with end of the school-year activities.

We also extend our greetings to our friends at Vhuronga Parish.  We so appreciated the opportunity to visit Kruger with Margaret and the hilarious presentation of the courtship dance at the Farewell Ceremony for Elizabeth, Jack, Libby and Pr. Steve. We cherish the gifts we received from the Vhuronga representatives, the traditional dress with traditional jewelry and  heritage dolls.

Elizabeth, Jack, and Libby each shared a story about their visit to Lwamondo on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 31.  Elizabeth created two storyboards with photos.  Libby created a slideshow.  We will prepare a longer presentation for Partnership Sunday, February 10.

 We also featured South Africa in our contribution to the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on the night before Thanksgiving on Nov. 21, when Elizabeth and Libby dressed in traditional dress and a group of about 15 people from Peace sang Marching in the Light of God.

 Pastor Steve returned from Sabbatical on Dec. 2.  That evening we had a Welcome Back dinner for him and as well as a Thank You dinner for Pr. Mary Ann Fiene who was our pastor during the Sabbatical.  Pr Steve shared details of his Sabbatical at the dinner and each Sunday since has included stories about Lwamondo as well as Assisi in Italy during his homilies.

 Our Christmas celebrations were preceded by Advent.  Each Sunday of Advent involved a different group in lighting the candles on the Advent wreath.  The first Sunday was our elders, the second Sunday was our parish Council, the third Sunday was the family of a newly baptized child and the fourth Sunday was the Catechumen group [a group formed to deepen the faith of those attending].

On Christmas eve we had two services: the Children and Family worship at 5 pm and Candlelight and Communion at 10 pm.  The first service featured many Christmas carols telling the Christmas story with Mary and Joseph.  We had a doll instead of a real infant because no babies were just the right age this year.

Elizabeth sang several solos at the Christmas eve 10 pm service.  We had other vocal music as well as flute and piano accompaniment by Peace members.  It was quite beautiful.  Christmas morning was a quiet service with about 40 members attending. 

This Sunday we will be celebrating the Epiphany.  

We have both had national elections since our delegation visited in October. Barack Obama was re-elected here as President in November.  We read that President  Zuma was also re-elected.  We will continue to pray for you in South Africa, as you pray for us, in working to create a moral society with more jobs for wage-earners.

We look forward to hearing from you. We send our love and wishes for a Happy New Year to you all.

Keep each other in prayer!
This Sunday we will celebrate the Epiphany with the wise ones.

Paz,  Pr. Steve