Pastor’s Weekly Message: 07.30.14

Grace Waves


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you – and I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire; and if I do I trust you will lead me by the wise road….though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. —Thomas Merton


“I Stand at Your Gate”:  Thanks to Christine Hartmann and Bill Carmel for the new Art Exhibit at Peace.  Its inspiration was to give trafficked children courage and hope.  Give yourself the time to savor and absorb this Exhibit.  Feel free to invite friends to come and experience it with you.  Copies of Christine’s book will be made available in the future.

10 members of Peace participated in the Mock Job Fair at FCI Dublin this week.  Keep the inmates and the guards and all their families, and Chaplain Ashforth in your prayers in addition to the ongoing development of our Prison Ministry.

To the Members of Peace from the CC Food Bank:  Friends, thank you for your donation of 145 pounds of food on July 10.  Your donations equate to 116 meals which will brighten many faces.  We serve 149,000 people each month and distribute over 50,000 pounds of food every working day.  The children, seniors, and low-income hungry Thank You!  Together we can end hunger.

Congratulations to Elise and Kaleo on the publication of their new book “The Creative Art of Living, Dying and Renewal” – Your Journey through Stories, Qiqong Meditation, Journaling and Art.  Copies will be made available to the friends of Peace in the near future.

Our First Friday Films will take the month of August off.  No film this Friday evening.

For the people of the Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Gaza and for the impoverished of our world:  “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” Pres. John Kennedy.

This year our St. Francis Animal Blessing and Pet Festival will be on Sunday, October 12.  Greg, Chuck and Pam will begin inviting you to help organize in the near future.  (Does a dog have Buddha nature?  Mu.)

Gary was completely surprised by his belated birthday celebration this past Sunday and especially the gift of his brand new Blue Boa!  (Thanks, Ken!)

Keep in your prayers:  Annegret, Mark, Ali, Ari, Yael, Elias and Kelly on their wedding, friends of Peace traveling in Estonia, Berlin, Brazil , the Czech Republic, Hawaii and other part of the globe, all the suffering children and those who believe violence can cure social ills.

Bev and I thank you for your prayers for our family while we are on vacation and celebrating Elias and Kelly’s wedding in August.  (Great preachers and music will be coming your way in August!)

“God is found when He is sought and when God is no longer sought He escapes us.  God is heard only when we hope to hear Him, and if we cease to listen He ceases to speak.  His silence ceases to be vivid and becomes dead, even though we recharge it with the echo of our own emotional noise.”

Let me seek then, the gift of silence, and poverty and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer:  where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all. —Merton

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 07.25.14

Grace Waves


I trust you had a good experience at Loaves and Fishes.

If any of you are here this Sunday and think your kids (or you) would like to share impressions/highlights from the day, please let me know.

It would be fun for the Peace folks to hear what was experienced and learned.

Thanks,  Steve


Pastor’s Weekly Message: 07.18.14


In light of our Night Ministry Tenderloin Tour:

Nothing is so rare as to see  Misfortune fairly portrayed:  The tendency is either to treat the unfortunate person as though catastrophe were his/her natural vocation or to ignore the effects of misfortune on the soul—as if to assume that the soul of the person who suffers misfortune can remain unmarked by it.  This deception is a great benefit to the observer who merely want to pass by. —Simone Weil

Our Youth will join Charlene at Danville Rehabilitation this Sunday and serve lunch at Loaves and Fishes next week. Please keep them and their life in the Spirit in your prayers.

The Justice Advocacy Committee will meet at Linda and Ron Elsdon’s home this Saturday, July 19 from Noon – 2:15 pm.  All are welcome.  Please send your RSVP to: [email protected].

There was strong interest expressed this past Sunday from members of Peace in learning about Interview Coaching at FCI Dublin.  We will receive details about this ministry in the future.

Need a good read?  The Iliad,  ancient epic and first piece of Western literature by Homer, has received a new translation by Stephen Mitchell.  It is an excellent presentation of this powerful and poetic classic.  You may also enjoy reading Simone Weil’s essay ‘The Iliad:  The Poem of Force’.   In this commentary she writes: ‘The powerful are never aware that power is limited.  It is the tiny interval of reflection that stirs our consideration and realization of our brothers, sister’s and enemies humanity.  Where there is no room for reflection, there is no room for either justice or prudence.  The abuse of force is the soul of the epic.”

Keep in your prayers:  Mark, Ed, Sunghee, gratitude for Gen and Lanie who are getting stronger; those traveling, those who encourage us, the people of the Middle East; the farmers and artists and sages who feed us.

The Night Ministry will celebrate its 50th Anniversary on Sunday, November 16 at 3:00 pm at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  Anne Lamott will be the guest speaker.  ‘Wing It’ will perform and the Volti Choir will sing.  I am part of the Planning Committee which is designing this festive service.  All the members and friends of Peace are invited to attend.  Night people and street people will be in attendance too.  A fundraising dinner at Delancey Street will follow that evening.

Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London where a Prof. Peters who did not disguise his animosity toward Gandhi, frequently “argued” with him.  One day, Prof. Peters was having lunch in the dining room of the university.  Gandhi came along with his tray and sat down next to him.  The professor said, “Mr. Gandhi, you do not understand….a pig and a bird to not sit together to eat.”  To which Gandhi replied, “You do not need to worry then professor, I will fly away,” and he moved on to another table.

Summer blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 07.09.14

Grace Waves

Dear Guardians of Joy and Praise:

If you want to befriend the Divine Wow, you must not only be willing to change ceaselessly — you have to love to change ceaselessly.  Lucky you:  All of creation is conspiring to help you live like that. —Rob Brezny

Interview Coaching at FCI Dublin on July 30:  If anyone would like to meet briefly after the service at Peace on Sunday, July 13 to discuss approaches to interview coaching  just let  Ron Elsdon know.

Night Ministry Walk Around:  Members of our Youth Group strolled the streets of the Tenderloin in San Francisco on Wednesday night with the Night Minister Rev. Lyle Beckman.  (Pr. Lyle has preached at Peace over the years.)  Perhaps you will learn soon about their experiences on the streets.

Need Inspiration?  Check out our Peace website.  Amazing contributions from thinkers, artists and poets at Peace as well as the courage and joy received from viewing the many ways in which we manifest our highest aspirations!

“The Justice Advocacy committee is meeting at Ron and Linda Elsdon’s home in Danville at noon on Saturday, July 19.  All are welcome.  Please e-mail Ron and Linda at [email protected] (if you haven’t already done so) if you would like to come.”

Keep in your prayers:  Mark, Annegret, Gen, the wife of Fr. Chris, the children fleeing to our country to find safety and their parents; our youth and their parents; those who are traveling; and gratitude for those who have found work.

Just a reminder if you are available to save Friday at 6:30 pm for a fascinating film, The Triplets of Belleville. Written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, his mesmerizing hand-drawn animation (not CGI) tells a quirky tale of how an old woman with a club foot and a very fat dog become superheroes. When Madame Souza’s grandson is kidnapped while competing in the Tour de France bicycle race, she is assisted by an eccentric singing trio to save him. If you enjoy fine hand-drawn animation, quirky surrealism and snappy cabaret music, this is the film for you! Run time 80 minutes; PG 13 rating; free. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after. It received two Academy Award nominations in 2004. Surreal Comedy would be the best way to describe it – you will not be bored!

From the Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda

Is it true that the vests are preparing to revolt?

Who sings in the deepest water in the abandoned lagoon?

Why do all silkworms live so raggedly?

Why is it so hard, the sweetness

of the heart of the cherry?

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?

Blessings,  Pr. Steve


Pastor’s Weekly Message: 07.01.14

Grace Waves


Paradoxes:  A drink that bubbles in empty glasses.  An amplifier that magnifies silence.  A path that grows over after every step. A book that can only be read in the dark.


Deep in the forest there’s an unexpected clearing which can be reached only by someone who has lost their way.
—Tomas Transtromer, Nobel Laureate for Literature

What a fitting celebration we shared with Brock for the conclusion of his Internship Year among us and the inmates of the FCI in Dublin.  No one will forget Pr. Margareta’s “Encouragement from a Wise Chaplain”, children’s time, ‘Eternity’s Hammering Blows’, the poetry of Tomas Transtromer, the clip-clopping of horse’s hoofs, the neighing of clergy and “Happy Trails to You”.  Thanks to Brock for a good year, to his Committee and the Members of Peace for gifting Brock with a solid year of pastoral formation.

Inverse Ratio or The Case for the Necessity of Poetry, Paradox and Metaphor:

Intellectual debate, once a characteristic of our country’s political discourse, has withered.  We have been seduced by the demand for popular appeal, believing we must fit ideas into the sloganeering machine of mass communications – communicating only in the childlike vocabulary and simplistic sound bites of the commercial media.  We have forgotten as Dwight Macdonald wrote, that “as in arts and letters, communicability to a large audience is in inverse ratio to the excellence of a thoughtful approach.” This is not a good thing:  as in art, spirituality and theology, mass appeal is a deforming and crippling factor.  Nor is popular appeal an eternal rule:  in the past, the ideas of a tiny minority – sometimes reduced to the vanishing point of one individual, have gradually come to transform the ideas, views and priorities of their fellow human beings.  Banishing complexity – pushing difficult or unfamiliar ideas to the margins – in order to promote the cultural embrace of simplification, reduces public discourse to speaking in predigested clichés, opinions and slogans.  Neither intellect nor spirit is utilized.  This assault on original thought paves the way for disaster.

Letter from Laurel Galan, Nicaragua:  There was a lovely celebration of the women in Laurel Galan for Mother’s Day. They were so appreciative of the letter and cards and notes from Peace Lutheran. Luis read from Proverbs 31, The Portrait of a Godly Woman, to celebrate the women of Laurel Galan. Dona Amanda prepared a chicken lunch (each community member contributed a certain amount of money, and they also used some community funds). Between Cultures brought a cake to celebrate as well, and Isaura organized games for the women to play. Some of the children recited poems that they had memorized for their moms.   We will be going to Laurel Galan tomorrow. Since they liked sharing the lunch together so much, we suggested that tomorrow each woman bring her own lunch (we requested no one bring meat, so that they don’t go out of their way), and we will bring a drink, and share lunch together before the meeting. During the meeting we will evaluate the Mother’s Day celebration, as well as work on a community letter from Laurel Galan to Peace Lutheran, and see if anyone has letters to send to their prayer partners.  Hope you are well, enjoying these summer months!  Amanda

Keep in your prayers:  Lisa, Gen, Nina, Jasmine, David, Ari, those seeking employment,  the members of our youth group, and those who pray for us.

Members of Peace are travelling around the planet this summer – Europe, Asia, South America, the islands, the mountains and the northern heights of Fresno.  Keep them in your prayers.

Lamento (by Transtromer)

He put the pen down.

It lies there without moving.

It lies there without moving in empty space.

He put the pen down.

So much that can neither be written nor kept inside!

Go seek your own poets, artists, dancers and storytellers to nourish your soul this summer so that you may become enchanted with life once again!

Happy Trails to you.  Pr. Steve