Good News, 05.29.2013

Friends – a poem from Rumi which describes Jesus’ life to me.

Love is recklessness, not reason.
Reason seeks a profit.
Love comes on strong, consuming herself, unabashed.

Yet in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
Hard-surface and straight forward.

Having died to self-interest,
She risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

I hope you experienced our Easter – Pentecost/Trinity Season as a rich one:  Seminarian John’s preaching, (Pancake Breakfast), Earth Day, Pr. Elizabeth preaching on Hospice, Mother’s Day, superb Jazz Celebrations, Pr. Bob Lesher’s 60th Ordination Anniversary, Gen Estenson’s 90th Birthday, Pentecost Baptisms and Catechumen Blessings, Bonhoeffer reflections and the Mystery of Trinity Sunday.  Now and then it is important to absorb all the blessings and grace we are receiving, digesting and embodying.

Forum –  Mask Making Slide Show –June 2:  This Sunday Kaleo and Elise will share images from a variety of Mask Making Workshops they have presented.  Many of you have expressed interest and are signing up for the next workshop at Peace on Saturdays June 22 and 29. Engage the Divine beyond, around, and within during these two days of creative exploration and discovery with Kaleo and Elise.  Investigate the manifestations of energy through Chi Kung, discover through guided journeying your own  resources of spiritual inspiration,….and then – create your Mask of Sacred awareness.

Summertime Kickoff Brunch: On June 9 the Peace Council is sponsoring and Thrivent is hosting a Brunch after Worship.  Barb Drohrer-Kline of Thrivent will share some easy ways in which we can steward our resources toward the support of Peace;  Thais Ouzounian will inform us about “We Are All Connected” an organization which benefits medical work offered to disabled and abandoned children in Ethiopia (teachers and retired teachers are asked to join her table for the brunch); and we will get to enjoy each other’s company as we celebrate the arrival of summer.

Please keep in your prayers:  Lori (Lois’ daughter), Steve Jessup, Kirk Bielke (Bev’s cousin), all the children in need of food, education and health care, for those seeking work, those with dementia or Parkinson’s and their caregivers, for spiritual wisdom and the courage to act in ways that will heal our world.

A word from Laurel Galan:  We had a fun and lively celebration in Laurel Galan to celebrate Mother’s Day. We started with a chicken lunch, and then shared songs (Eduardo brought the guitar), poems, games, and did a card exchange among the members. We also gave each of the Mothers a small bouquet of silk flowers. We then shared Peace Lutheran’s card, and our next trip out will be June 20th. You can see pictures of the event here:  Mother’s Day pictures
Con amor, Amanda

June 16 – We will have a fundraising  Father’s Day Basket and Silent Auction Gift Certificates on Father’s Day.  If you would like to contribute items to make these gifts more enticing – please feel free.  The monies raised will benefit our Partners in Nicaragua.

Logic from an Uncluttered Mind….thanks to Jody Larson:

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:   ‘Take only ONE. God is watching.‘  Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
A child had written a note, ‘Take all you want. God is watching the apples….’

Trinity Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.23.2013


We don’t see God — we see everything through God.”

Was Pentecost fiery enough for you?  We were reminded of why it is the Third High Feast Day of the Church Year!  How wonderful to bathe in all the languages – it was the music of heaven.  The baptisms of Rose and Lewis were such a joy.  How deeply our lives are touched by the immersions of the little ones in God who is the Source and Completion of their life’s journeys.  May the Spirit deepen our understanding of the Holy One who is truly Uncontainable and beyond our imaginations!

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday – a celebration of the Mystery and Compassion who shapes our lives in freedom and justice.

Summertime Brunch – June 9: The Peace Council invites you to Kickoff your Summer with friends at Peace and a Brunch after worship on June 9.  Thrivent will help provide the food for the day and we will get to learn about ‘We Are All Connected’.

This Saturday is the Abba/Imma Chi Kung Lord’s Prayer Retreat at San Damiano.  Contact me promptly if you want to participate.  It will be a marvelous day with Kaleo and Elise and myself leading the way.  Lunch is included in the day.

Judy Warner sends this greeting from VirginiaJust wanted to let you know that the Warner Family is as busy as ever and doing well in Virginia.  We’ll be thinking of you this Sunday in particular as Lia is confirmed at our church, St. Michael Lutheran Church, in Virginia Beach.  So many of you had a hand in helping her grow in many ways and I thought you might like to know that she’s reached this point in her Faith Journey.  Nargiz will be watching Lia closely and anxiously waiting for her turn in the limelight in a couple more years, and Graham will probably be trying to sneak extra cookies and seconds on cake at Fellowship.  We won’t have the bowls of flames (one of my favorite things at Peace) but I know it will be a wonderful day in its own way.  I hope you know that my time spent with you at Peace holds a special place in my heart.
Pentecost Blessings to each and every one of you!  Judy, Steve, Lia, Nargiz and Graham, too.

Please keep in your prayers: Lori – Lois McGee’s daughter who is recovering from an appendectomy; Arlene’s son-in-law Steve who is experiencing severe joint pains; our friends in Laurel Galan and Lwamondo Parish; those who feed the hungry, educate our children, and care for the sick; those imprisoned unjustly, our Catechumens.

Louise Bourassa, Executive Director of CCIH/Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, will be our Forum Presenter this Sunday.  The Justice Advocacy Committee asks you to come and learn about the realities of homelessness in our County and how we can assist families in need.

Labyrinth Walk:  35 students from a class at Las Positas came to walk our labyrinth as part of their studies in learning about spirituality.  What a gift to meet them and see them experiencing a labyrinth for the first time in their lives.

Speaking of special meetings – I got to meet Rhodes Baker for the first time this week. What a joy to meet someone who has barely been on our planet for 3 weeks.  Continued blessings to parents Toni and John Baker as well!

Marvelous to have our former Seminarian Emily Weller with us this past Sunday.  She shared exciting news:  She and husband Dan will be moving to New York City for her year’s internship beginning this Fall.  She was glad to see so many friends and grateful for all that she learned at Peace.

Our own Mackie Dobson has prepared a petition advocating significant financial support for education in California. Please sign on if you agree with her!

First Friday Films is coming up on June 7 at 6:30 pm.  The Lathe of Heaven will be shown and you won’t want to miss it.  Invite friends to join you.

Short, Sweet and Cute….Logic from an Uncluttered Mind:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, ‘When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah’.
The teacher asked, ‘What if Jonah went to hell?’
The little girl replied, ‘Then you ask him’.

Pentecost Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.16.2013


“The only thing children want to hear from their parents is,  ‘We are so proud of you.’   The only thing parents want to hear from their children someday is, ‘Thank you for everything you did for me.’  (And neither group gets to add the word – BUT.)  However, for most families I call these ‘Fantasy Conversations’ because they so rarely occur.” 
      Mary Ellen Nowel, our guest musician for Mother’s Day 

Pentecost is the Third High Feast Day of the Church Year and it will be celebrated with Baptisms, Catechumen Blessings, joyous music, exotic languages and Eucharist this Sunday at 9:30.  Imagine if everyone came as on Christmas and Easter!   Spread the word – invite family and friends to join you.  WEAR RED

Congratulations to Thais Ouzounian who won our Mother’s Day Basket!  Thanks to all the members of Peace for supporting our Partnership Committee and the Delegation which will be visiting Laurel Galan, Nicaragua in August.

Abba/Imma Lord’s Prayer and Chi Kung:  Speaking in chorus with the utterance of the Lord’s Prayer and moving in harmony with the ancient practice of Chi Kung, you will be invited to experience the wisdom and compassion of this prayer practice with Pr. Steve, Kaleo and Elise Ching at San Damiano Franciscan Retreat Center in Danville.  9 am – 4:30 pm on Saturday, May 25.  The cost is $60 which includes lunch.  Sign up today: Deepen your prayer practice.

Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (CCIH) Executive Director Louise Bourana will lead our Forum on Sunday, May 26 with a presentation about Homeless Families in Contra Costa County and how we can assist with tutoring and other encouraging skills.  The Justice Advocacy Committee urges you to attend.

Our Youth Group had a fine Yoga for Teens workout last Saturday.  We are discussing ways to keep this practice sustained at Peace.

Pick up a Leaf to support our Website Giving Tree and make a pledge to support our improved website and website presence!

The Pacific Choir (who rehearses at Peace on Sunday evenings) under the direction of Hyunjung Choi will present a Vivaldi Concert on May 25 at 7:00 pm at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church.  You will find this very moving.

May/ June Schedule

May 21—Church Council meets
May 23—Columbarium meeting at 4 pm
May 25—Abba-Imma: The Lord’s Prayer and Chi Kung at San Damiano with Pr. Steve and Kaleo and Elise Ching   (Fliers in the Gathering Hall.)
May 26—Forum: Contra Costa Interfaith Housing
May 29—Orientation  for Nicaragua Delegation by Newell Hendrick  (with Between Cultures)
June 2—Partnership meeting
June 7—First Friday Films:  The Lathe of Heaven at 6:30 pm

Pentecost Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.09.2013


Questions:  Why do all silkworms live so raggedly? 
Why did cheese decide to perform heroic deeds in France?
Why don’t the poor understand as soon as they stop being poor? 
Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?  (Pablo Neruda)

Happy Mother’s Day!  We will celebrate with joy and delight this Sunday.  Plus – Partnership Fundraiser on Mother’s Day:  Raffle tickets will be on sale Sunday for a fabulous Gift Basket for Mom’s Day – soaps, fragrances, an ornate picture frame, a Gift Certificate to a local restaurant and more!  You don’t have to be present to win but you do have to buy a ticket!  Proceeds will support our Delegation visiting Nicaragua in August. 

Thanks to Pr. Elizabeth and Bev for preaching and the Hospice Forum this past Sunday.  It was a powerful and insightful morning.  We will have future sessions with them as well.

Jazz Church West hosted a Grand Celebration for Rev. Bob Lesher on his 60th Ordination Anniversary.  John Calloway and Efrain Toro percussively accompanied Pr. Ruth Lesher as she gave a heartfelt tribute to her father.  Because of John’s fine Latin Jazz Quintet – Clave Unplugged – and Bob’s playful spirit, many guests expressed pure surprise and delight at being honored to participate in such a rare and joyful celebration.  And the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta which followed was devoured promptly.  Congratulations, Bob

Shelter, Inc. ProjectPlease bring your household items, bedding and food to support Jackson Kaplan’s Project in support of homeless families to church this Sunday.  They will be delivered next week.

John Hickman is working and his God and Me scouting badge.  Please offer him your prayers and encouragement.

Eagle Scout Project:  Soon we’ll hear a report from Jack O’Neil about his Eagle Scout Project in support of our Lwamondo Parish Partners.

Abba-Imma/The Lord’s Prayer and Chi Kung:  Kaleo and Elise Ching and I will be leading this one day workshop at San Damiano on Saturday, May 25 from 9:00 – 4:30 pm.  Speaking in chorus with the utterance of the Lord’s Prayer and moving in harmony with the ancient practice of Chi Kung, you will be invited to experience the wisdom and compassion of this prayer practice.  The cost is $60 for the day which includes lunch.  Please spread the word and invite your friends to join you!  Fliers available in the Gathering Hall.

Website Tree:  Pick a leaf this Sunday to support the development of our new website.  Speak with Dabbie, Pat or Jeanne for more information.

Tables of Interfaith Understanding:  Sign up this Sunday to participate in the Dinner Series with I-SRV Friends.  There will be 4 meals together during the next year, with rotating hosting and meal responsibilities.  A great opportunity to deepen interfaith friendships!

Pentecost is May 19 – WEAR RED!

Our Forum on May 19 will host Louise Bourassa, the Executive Director of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing.  Deacon Cindy Townsend and the Justice Advocacy Committee hope you will make it a point to attend.

Please keep in your prayers:   Gail, Miki, Melinda, Rhodes, Rose, all the musicians making such beautiful music at Peace these days for their Recitals, moms around the earth especially those living in poverty, as immigrants and refugees and in war zones.

Martha Mantei and the Broadway Chorus invites you to a Broadway Bash – May 10, 11 and 12:  Amador Theater,  1155 Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton.  Tickets available at:  462-2121 or

Easter Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Good News, 05.01.2013


“Scatter your seeds of compassion as far and wide as possible for…. We must live by the love of what we may never see.”

“Humility is true self-knowledge. God is your being and who you are, you are in God. Self-knowledge does not stop in the mere awareness of our faults and failings; rather our self-awareness must open onto God. Perfect humility is receiving and accepting the unfathomable love of God, the ground of our being, into whom we can release our faults and failings.” (The Cloud of Unknowing)

Happy Birthday, Gen! What a marvelous Party was thrown in Honor of Gen’s 90th this past Saturday. And thanks to her marvelous family for their generosity in creating this lovely occasion. And what a great turn out from friends at Peace!

Congratulations to Toni and John Baker on the birth of Rhodes Patrick Baker last Sunday morning! Everyone is healthy and happy. God’s blessings always!

First Friday Films (FFF): This Friday evening at 6:30 Babette’s Feast will be shown in our Youth Room. This is a superb film about a small community being liberated by the tasteful, graceful cooking skills of a French Chef who ends up in their midst. A true treasure. Invite friends to join you.

Steward – ING: Hope you appreciated the Gratitude/Pride List in our bulletin last Sunday. Additions have been offered and included. The biblical understanding of Stewarding is: Taking responsibility for the world and earth our children’s children shall inherit. How shall we as a community of faith most wisely contribute to this intention?

Preaching and Forum – “Adventures of a Hospice Chaplain”: Hear Pr. Elizabeth preach and lead our Forum which will focus on ‘end of life issues’ and support for caregivers. If we are lucky Bev Harms may contribute too.

“Requiem for a Heavyweight” by Rod Serling: Was great to see the Role Players production of this fine piece in which our own Allison Winter is Stage Managing. What an array of talents our Youth Group has!

Education Committee/Sunday Salon – Bonhoeffer: Our Sunday Salon concluded our reading of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer book (Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy) this past Sunday……all 7 Sessions! A powerful read about one of the true witnesses of the Christian Faith – for all times and most remarkably in Nazi Germany during the 30’s and 40’s. (One copy remains available for anyone interested in obtaining it.) Our thanks to Deacon Linda Benatar for her leadership and the Committee (Charlene, Maili, Libby, and Lynne) for sponsoring quality education events at Peace.

Suggestions are emerging for an ongoing Book Club at Peace. Are you interested? Notify Linda or the Church Office so arrangements can be made.

Jazz Church West/Cinco de Mayo:  Another outstanding jazz event awaits you this Sunday at 5:00 pm with John Calloway and Clave Unplugged.  Of course this is Latin Jazz at its best with a Fiesta Celebration afterwards in Honor of Rev. Bob Lesher on the occasion of his 60th Ordination Anniversary.  Don’t we have cool clergy at Peace—especially when they want to celebrate lifetime achievements by getting down and dancing in the spirit of jazz!

Please keep in your prayers:  Karin Shepanek who mourns the death of her stepfather Vince; our Sunday School, Council and Catechumens, the people of Dacca, Boston, Syria, and Yemen.

Aren’t our newly planted Entrance Beds and Triangle beautiful?  How lovely to watch everything grow in the Spring.  Thanks to our Landscape Committee (Ken, George and Libby) for their efforts.

Tables of Interfaith Understanding:  Please sign up this Sunday if you wish to participate in the 4 Dinner Rotation with interfaith friends from the I-SRV congregations.  Details are available on the fliers in the Gathering Hall.  These are guaranteed to bring joy and insights to your life!

Request to Borrow Rototiller – from Bill and Elana:  Ours went bust and getting it fixed is of no avail. Does anyone have a rototiller we could borrow for 2 – 3 days? We really need to break up the heavy clay soil to get all the vegetables we have grown from seed into the ground. We will come and pick it up and return it at your convenience – we live in San Ramon.  Your Reward: Weekly Fresh Vegetables, Herbs, Fruit & Flowers (of your choice) – throughout the Summer!!!

Torah Celebration:  Last Saturday Beth Chaim celebrated the return of their repaired Torah.  The repair/ mending is an arduous process requiring special skills and organic materials including an ink which is 200 years old.  It is one of the 1,564 Torahs miraculously saved from Czechoslovakia after the German Invasion during WWII.  It was scribed nearly 300 years ago and as Rabbi Dan said,”  It is a vital reminder of the Jewish people who perished in the Shoah (Holocaust); it is a direct connection to a deep and mysterious great luminary of our tradition.”  Our congratulations to the members of Beth Chaim on the return of their Torah to its home.

Partnership fundraiser for Mother’s Day!  Raffle tickets are now on sale for a fabulous gift basket for Mother’s Day:  soaps, fragrances, an ornate picture frame, a hot/cold spa neck pillow, a decorated plate/ cup set,  a gift certificate to a local restaurant (and more)! Tickets are only $2 each or 6 for $10.  You do not have to be present to win. Proceeds will support the delegation to Nicaragua leaving August 12.

PARAPROSDOKIANS:   (Winston Churchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected frequently humorous.  (Thanks to Martha for these.)

1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

7. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

11. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

12. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Easter Blessings,  Pr. Steve