Pastor’s Weekly Message: 01.28.16

Grace Waves

Friends:

The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.  It is wordless: Beyond words, beyond speech, and beyond concepts.  Not that we discover a new unity….no, we discover an older unity.  My dear sisters and brothers, we are already one – but we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are.    —Thomas Merton, Monk

Our Recognition Ceremony for the performers in our UN 70th Anniversary Celebration will be this Sunday, January 31 at 6:30 pm.  A Slide Show of the event at Grace Cathedral and Mini- Concert will be included in this happy evening.  A reception follows.  Please come and honor the artists who paid tribute to the leadership and wisdom of Dag Hammarskjold.

New Friends of Peace Dinner precedes the Recognition Ceremony from 4:30 – 6:00 pm in our Gathering Hall  New friends (and old friends) are welcomed. Your RSVP helps.

Our Peace Survey was distributed initially this past Sunday.  Already 30+ surveys have been submitted.  It will be available the next 2 Sundays.  Or you can use this link to complete it online:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LMY2QBH.

Our Youth Group met this past Sunday at the Schoening’s home – 8 families and 12 kids – a joy to be together.  Pr. Margareta taught a session on the practical elements of prayer.  It was well received because we discovered not only a variety of ways to pray but that we have all been living inside our prayers for a long time.  What a blessing the Spirit is stirring up through these happy family connections!

The Justice Advocacy group met last Saturday.  A dozen people gathered to reflect on our commitments and where we our faith is leading us.  There was a very fine energy and vitality experienced among us.  Future congregational updates about how to participate in justice activities will come to you on Sunday mornings through “A Pinch of Salt”!

Forum – Exploring Cultural Values:  Philippa Erlank will continue her teaching this Sunday on the shaping of cultural values – ours and other folks.  The dozen + folks who gathered last Sunday were engaged by the conversation and exercises.

Our Annual Congregational Meeting will be on February 7 following worship.  Your participation is valued.  (There will be no conflict with the Super Bowl!)  Our Peace Council will be present during the Hospitality Hour then to converse with members and friends of Peace about their areas of ministry.  An excellent opportunity to deepen your awareness and appreciation.  The 2015 Annual Report and the Budget for 2016 will be distributed this Sunday, January 31 so you can read them in advance our meeting.  Your 2015 Financial Statements are in the mail.  Our thanks to the Assembly Team who collated all of these materials for us!

Sabbath Class:  “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” (Isaiah 30: 15)   The Lenten Season begins on February 10.  We will use The Sabbath book by Wayne Muller as our theme and guide during the Forums and Soup and Sacrament gatherings.  The book is filled with life changing and life saving exercises!

First Friday Films – American astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and left behind on a Mars mission in 2035. Against all odds, he must find a way to survive and contact NASA scientists to rescue him. Join us and you will hone your ability to empathize and be rewarded with hope from unlikely sources. Rated PG-13, run time 141 minutes. Popcorn during, discussion after.  Friday, February 5 at 6:30 pm.

Have you seen this news item about the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and Pope Francis?  He is visiting Sweden this October to acknowledge the significance and the healing of the rift which began 499 years ago.  The link enclosed gets you to a fuller article.  Bishop Antje who is hosting the Pope is a good friend of Pr. Margareta’s.

http://news.yahoo.com/pope-francis-visit-sweden-october-mark-reformation-anniversary-113851358.html

2015 Christmas Giving Tree Summary and Global Partnership Update

This year there were three choices for Giving Tree before Christmas:

purchasing Christmas gifts for a family at the Mountain View shelter (run by Shelter, Inc.);

purchasing Safeway gift cards for the families at the shelter; or donating to our partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua, and/or,  Lwamondo Parish, Venda, South Africa.

 The response was amazing once again:

16 Peace families adopted 11 shelter families (15 adults and 29 children).

We had 21 Safeway gift cards which  Shelter staff distributed by size of family.

The three families who delivered the gifts and gift cards to the shelter in Concord were most impressed with the number of people managing to fit into the house which has been converted to a shelter.  When we arrived families were sitting around the tables in the common room and some of the children helped carry the gifts to their family.  It was a moving experience to meet these families.  We also know that there is high turn-over because shelter staff are constantly looking for more permanent housing for families and some of our families had moved in the few weeks since our list was created.

We sent $995 from Giving Tree to Lwamondo Parish in South Africa, which is a group of 10 large and small churches spread over several towns and villages in Venda state in northeast South Africa, and $1055 from Giving Tree to Laurel Galan in Nicaragua. Our Partners have traditionally used this gift to expand their loans to families with a small business, such growing a garden plot,  or raising chickens or pigs for sale, or even buying corn when the price is low for an all-year tortilla business.  The drought in Nicaragua caused the staff at Between Cultures, who work with our friends in Laurel Galan, to suggest that the money from last Giving Tree be spent to buy staple foods such as rice, beans and cooking oil.  This purchase was made early in the summer. Peace also sent an additional collection ($800) for food to Laurel Galan in early November as the drought continued and crops and livestock were dying. Lwamondo Parish has also experienced drought as well as high unemployment.  The churches in Lwamondo Parish have a very active social ministry to their members as well as many refugees from neighboring Zimbabwe and Mozambique who are also experiencing high unemployment.

Thanks to Maili for the delicious birthday cake!

Blessings,  Pr. Steve