Pastor’s Weekly Message: 09.30.15

Grace Waves


Dissecting and examining the phenomena of God’s creation is good but misleading because you learn about these things but you don’t really know the beings.  I want not only to observe but to know living things, and this implies a dimension of primordial familiarity which is simple and primitive and religious and poor.  Merton

St. Francis Blessing of the Animals:  This Sunday we celebrate God’s profound affirmation of the whole creation and all its creatures through the simple and mystical life of St. Francis of Assisi.  The Pope chose his name because of all the saints in history Francis best seems to communicate the humanity, compassion and wisdom of Christ.  Your pets are invited to join you for worship and/or the Community Blessing which will go from Noon – 2:00 pm in our Courtyard.  A Note from Laurie England:  I’ve been asked to help coordinate the Blessing of Animals this year.  I had to bring my dog Betty to brunch and worship last Sunday – turns out Betty enjoyed the brunch and everyone loved her!  She brought special joy to an elder parishioner Mary, it made her day to visit with Betty. Betty was invited to the altar during the children’s session. It was so awesome to be a part of the children’s prayer with Betty.  

Congratulations to and please pray for those serving on our Church Council in new positions:  Chuck Fisher, President; Margaret Beeler, Worship Deacon; Pat Leong, Connections Deacon; Dennis and Pamela Baum, Stewarding;  and Monica Laurlund, Youth and Family Deacon.

Aging Gracefully:   Our group meets on Tuesdays at 1 pm in the Sanctuary.  They have begun reading “The Book of Forgiving” by Desmond and Mpho Tutu.  New members are always welcomed. (Chapters 4 – 6 for next week.)

Remember the Sabbath – Finding rest, renewal and delight in our busy Lives:  Copies of “Sabbath” have arrived and you can pick yours up on Sunday.  Rabbi Dan and I are asking that you read this book prior to the beginning of our class on Tuesday, October 20, 7:30 pm at Beth Chaim.  The call to remember the Sabbath shared by Judaism and Christianity is not only wise – it may save your life – especially in a world now addicted to stress.  Author Wayne Muller will join us for the final class on November 17.  The cost for the class is $60 which includes your copy of Sabbath.

The Interfaith Council of CC expresses their gratitude for our hosting the International Peace Day Concert on September 20.  It was a fine occasion with musical contributions from Solaris and ‘Certitude’ a Baha’i Chorus, poetry and dance, speakers Rev. Dave Sammons, Pr. Margareta and Fr. Tom Bonacci and reflections from Dag Hammarskjold.

Please keep in your prayers:  Tom, Jim, Kaleo, Ed, Pope Francis, Pr. Bob Lesher, those who died on the Hajj Pilgrimage, for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Goals, Syrian refugees; those seeking employment, children with disabilities, for those with addictions, caregivers, those searching for a connection with God, for open-heartedness, for friends.

Shoe Box Ministry:  Nette invites you to begin bringing shoe boxes to Peace for our annual drive to support children in need.

Jazz Church West celebrates Eddie Duran’s 90th Birthday and the Opening of our 11th Season (Mad and Eddie played for our very first Jazz at Peace event!)  Come join in an incredible evening of music with superb musicians and lots of surprises for the evening.   This Sunday, October 4 at 5:00 pm.

Traction Bainting – October 10 and 11:  Come join in the creating of a wonderful piece of Community Art.  It will happen in our church parking lot.  Details to come.

First Friday Films – “My Neighbor Totoro” (This Friday):  Please join us to explore a film which is beloved world-wide because it shows what co-existing in harmony with nature looks and feels like. On the late Roger Ebert’s ‘100 Greatest Films’ of all times list. Hear the voice of Dakota Fanning in this 86 minute film hand-drawn by master animator Hayao Miyazaki. Rated PG, ages 5 and up. Join us for popcorn, and light refreshments. Elana encourages you to check out the trailer for a preview because – you’re never too old to be young again, right?!

Advance Calendar –  Tyme for Tea and Co. Witches Brew Ball:  High Tea for the Women of Peace:  A Halloween Tea in time for Halloween, on Sunday, October 25.  Fliers are in the Gathering Hall.  Speak with Diane Kurtz or Pat Leong for details!

If you have or know of friends who have “old fencing” which is going to be replaced, please contact Thais.  Husband Greg uses this fencing material to create frames for her art now.  The fencing is valuable!

Little League Baseball is a good thing because it keeps the parents off the street and the kids out of the house.  Yogi Berra

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 09.17.15

Grace Waves


COME – whoever you are!  Wanderer,

worshipper, lover of learning.


This is not a caravan of despair.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken

your vows a thousand times,

still and yet again

Come, Come, Come – Come Home!

It’s time to Come Home – you don’t have to qualify, earn it, deserve it, pass a test; just come home to God, to yourself, to your joy, to the unconditional compassion that wants to set you free.  Come home to the laughter and the wisdom which makes everything else worthwhile.  Come home – bring your excuses, your faults, your irritating habits…and the amazing gift of who you are – come home.  Come home to the love and the friends that make you happy.  There is no right time, there is only now.  Come home!

Homecoming is this Sunday, September 20 with our New Worship time at 10:00 am.  A Potluck Brunch begins the day at 9:30.  A brief Congregational Meeting to elect new Council Members will follow worship.

The International Day of Peace Concert sponsored by the CC Interfaith Council and hosted by Peace will be celebrated this Sunday at 4:00 pm.  Fr. Tom Bonacci in his promotion of this event wrote “We take this opportunity to thank Peace Lutheran for all the work they have done over the years to make peace a reality in the lives of so many people”.  If you are attending please “play the host” and welcome as many guests as you can.  A lovely concert awaits you and it is free.

Keep in your prayers:  Prayers of gratitude for Laila and the safe delivery of Luke Hardy Johnson, Grace and Karl as they mourn the death of Rosalie, Grace’s mom; Fidel and Heidi, refugees, those who have suffered through the fires and firefighters, and those who educate our children.

“Living alone?  Contact TELECARE to receive a daily reassurance phone call with a friendly hello from a trained volunteer from the Assistance League of Diablo Valley.”  Know anyone who would appreciate this daily connection?  Notify the church office and we will get them connected through Linda B. and friends.

Meditation:  Thursday evening at 6 pm we will have sitting and walking meditation in our sanctuary.  All are invited.  If you are new to this practice, Pr. Steve will provide instruction.

“Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”:  Our Forum for September 27 will be a discussion based on this article by Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer, poet and philosopher.  This was his response to the attacks of 9/11 and his article has been reprinted in 73 countries and seven languages.  Copies will be available this Sunday or can be found on our website –  This is a constructive reflection leading us toward cultural healing and recovery.

“Aging Gracefully” continues on Tuesday afternoons at 1:00 pm.  Come experience and enjoy the wisdom of this group lead by Pr. Margareta.

The Justice Advocacy committee met and here are a few highlights: Martha attended an excellent AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)workshop in Livermore  for caregivers; Linda (Elsdon) has been active in enrolling participants in CalFresh (food stamps) at Loaves and Fishes in Martinez, and, with Ron, at the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek, Food Bank barrel Donations are always gladly received; Ken is planning a forum on stress reduction; Libby gave an update on Laurel Galan, Nicaragua – they would love to have a delegation of 6 people from Peace next summer; Norma continues to volunteer with a team that provides lunches for about 50 homeless people each Monday at the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek, she also participated in an Interfaith Council role play activity on poverty/homelessness;  Ron is delivering another series of career workshops at FCI Dublin; Bev participated in a presentation at John Muir on the book Being Mortal, which is also the basis for a weekly series at Peace, she also plans to see if she can identify someone who could deliver a forum on the new, Dying with Dignity initiative in California, in the New Year; Linda (Benatar) described participating in the Assistance League of Diablo Valley; Gun also reminded us about the plight of refugees in Europe, with Lutheran Disaster Response (mentioned in the bulletin) as one means of providing support.  Steve shared Nancy Carlston’s suggestion of possibly adopting a refugee family.  Our thanks to Ron and Linda for Chairing our Justice Advocacy Committee!

Martha and AFSP Walk Out of Darkness:  On September 27th, I will be walking with other survivors of suicide loss and those who continue to struggle with mood disorders.  We walk from Mission Creek Park, along the Embarcadero to the Oakland Bay Bridge and back.  This wonderful venue gives our cause lots of visibility as we seek to help reduce the stigma associated with suicide and  mental illness.   Please have a look at my page below at the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I ask for your prayers, good wishes and, if you are able, your contribution to this worthwhile cause.  If you would like to walk with me, click on Tri-Valley Starz on my page and follow the instructions to join the team.

Bill is taking the Veil Tapestry to the Methodists Congregation in Alamo for the month of October.  It will keep circulating during the year through all of our Interfaith Congregations.

Our St. Francis Blessing of the Animals will be on Sunday, October 4 from Noon – 2 pm.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 09.09.15

Grace Waves


Beyond obedience – attention fixed on the goal…
freedom from fear;

Beyond fear – openness to life; and

Beyond that – Love. —Markings, Dag Hammarskjold

Enjoyed “Catch you Later” – want to read it?  Author Boris invites you to his home this Friday at 4 pm for a group discussion about his recently published novel.  Address:  247 Pulido Road, Danville, CA. 94526.   (We are the second last house on the left hand side as you head up the hill on Pulido Road.  Feel free to pull into the driveway and park in front of the garage. Tel.  925 718 8001)  Look forward to seeing you on Friday at 4 pm!  (Come even if you haven’t read it.)

Justice Advocacy meets shortly after 11 during the Forum Hour this Sunday, September 13.  All members of Peace are invited to participate this conversation reviewing our current ministries.  Ron and Linda will lead the discussion.  (New Introduction to our website Justice Blog:  Ethical conduct and Social Justice are the fruits of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel.    People of faith are called to open our eyes and hearts to the cries of those who suffer unjustly and to act compassionately for and with them.   The purpose of our Justice Blog is to hear and present our various perspectives in order to clarify our thinking and commitments.  Speak the truth you know in love.)

Homecoming Sunday is September 20 when our New Worship time begins at 10:00 am.  Always good to get all of us back together after the summer’s diaspora.  We will have a Potluck Brunch that day at 9:30 – bring something tasty to eat.  A brief Congregational Meeting will follow our worship to elect new Council Members.

That same afternoon we will host an International Peace Day Concert at 4:00 pm.  The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa sponsors this Annual Concert.  This year 7 choirs will be participating with a special tribute to the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations.  Join us for this lovely occasion of interfaith music, understanding and joy!  Spread the word.

It is time for an updated Peace Directory.  If your contact info has changed during 2015 please notify the Office or write the changes on the Directory Copy next to the Hospitality Table these next 2 Sundays.

Please keep in your prayers:  Jim and Joan, those with dementia, Nancy, caregivers, our children and grandchildren, refugees, for confidence and clarity in the faith we’ve been given; for friends at Beth Chaim as the High Holy Days begin next Monday with Rosh Hashanah.

Tai Chi for the Intrepid begins Thursday, September 10 at 7 pm at Peace.

“However much driven by self-interest, the market still depends absolutely on a community that shares such values as honesty, freedom initiative, thrift, and other virtues whose authority will not long withstand the reduction to the level of personal tastes that is explicitly the core of the’ individualistic philosophy of value’ on which modern economic theory is based.   If all value derives only from the satisfaction of individual wants, then there is nothing left over on the basis of which individualist want satisfaction can be restrained.  Depletion of moral capital may be more costly than depletion of physical capital.  The market does not accumulate moral capital; it depletes it.  Consequently, the market depends on the community to regenerate moral capital.”  (For the Common Good, Herman Daly and John Cobb)

Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, N.Y.  POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA:  Member states of the United Nations concluded their negotiations on Aug. 2 on a proposed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development titled Transforming Our World, “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.” The document, which sets forth 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, is set to be adopted at the end of September when state leaders convene for the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015. LOWC has been monitoring the negotiations and will be continuing to follow the implementation phase, including the development of target indicators by 2016 and the establishment of review mechanisms.

Blessings,  Pr. Steve


Pastor’s Weekly Message: 09.03.15

Grace Waves


Blessed is one who sees their own weakness, and blessed is one who, when seeing a flaw in someone else, takes responsibility for it.


Because – half of any person is wrong and weak and off the path.  Half!  The other half is dancing and swimming and flying in the Invisible Joy.”   —Rumi

First Friday Films:  In this sequel to the Golden Globe nominated film, the transplants who were tourists in India are now residents. They have morphed into a family of choice, and are busy encouraging each other as to what kind of life they choose to lead while continuing to help Sonny (Dev Patel). Brilliant cast, colorful India and a great story, all building up to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious wedding finale. Run time 122 minutes; PG rated. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after. Click on the trailer for a sample. Please pass this on to anyone you think might enjoy it!

Community Letter from Laurel Galan for our brothers and sisters at Peace Lutheran Church:  We are so joyful to write you this letter to thank you for the spiritual and physical gesture that you offered to us with the donation of basic grains. This donation really came at an opportune time, and is a great blessing for us and for our families, due to the situation of drought that we are facing.

We were so glad to receive your letter and know that you are always thinking of us and wanting to know what is going on in our lives. It doesn’t matter the distance between us; what is important is that we are in contact. We pray to God for you all and your families, that He keeps us united as one family and one Spirit.  We received your letter and read it aloud together with much love and care. Micaela is grateful for the prayers for her son Esau, and that you continue to pray for him. She is so happy for this and for the fact that Esau’s health is improving.

We are praying to God for rain, because the drought is so strong and we are worried about our water situation. We do have enough water though to meet our household’s needs and for our animals. This year we haven’t lost any animals yet, thanks be to God.  But if it doesn’t rain soon, it would be the most terrible situation that could occur for our crops. If we don’t have a harvest, we don’t know what we’ll do.

We desire blessings for you from on high, and may your hearts be filled with the Peace of Christ. We pray for you all in our meetings and in our church services,

Your Sisters in Laurel Galan

Keep in your prayers:  Nancy who has been released from the hospital, Jim and Joan, Thich Nhat Hanh, all the refugees, for the capacity to listen, bear with and understand.

Tai Chi Chuan Classes – a 12 week series taught by Pr. Steve begins next Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 pm at Peace.   All are welcome to explore this ancient martial arts form which harmonizes breathing, physical balance and clarity to produce ‘meditation in movement’.  Fliers are on the Kiosk.

Embodied Prayer Series with Kaleo and Elise Ching and Pr. Steve begins next Wednesday Sept. 9 and goes through Oct. 14 at San Damiano from 6 – 7:30 pm.  East meets West:  draw from Judeo-Christian, Taoist and Buddhist resources; learn Qiqong, Acupressure and Centering Prayer.  Fliers with details are in the Gathering Hall and on the Kiosk.

Justice Advocacy meets during the Forum Hour on Sunday, September 13.  We will start shortly after 11.

International Peace Day Concert at Peace on Sunday, September 20 at 4:00 pm.  The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa sponsors this Annual Concert.  This year 7 choirs will be participating with a special tribute to the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations.  Join us for this lovely occasion of interfaith music, understanding and joy!  Spread the word.

Labor Day Reflection:  “The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving as before at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.”  Wendell Berry (Faustian Economics)

There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell ’em.”  Yogi Berra (American Existentialist Philosopher….and catcher.)

Blessings,  Pr. Steve