Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.30.16

Grace Waves


God is the human person fully alive.

(Irenaeus of Lyon, 3rd century)

Easter was a joyous day enriched by our music, children, the orchid display, the friends present and all the laughter.  The energy buzzed around our Hospitality Hour too – thanks to all who contributed.  The Egg Hunt was delightful to observe.  As Charlene’s 2 year old granddaughter Twyla said, “Hooray for Genius!” (which is her word for Jesus).

Creation Awareness/April Forum Series:  Our study and reflections about Pope Francis encyclical “Laudato Si/Care for our Common Home” begins this next Sunday.  Please join in this important conversation for our time.

Joan Eychner and family invite you and all the friends of Peace to Tom Eychner’s  Memorial Service this Saturday, April 2 at 10:30 am.  A reception follows.

FFF/First Friday Films:  Trumbo, a 2015 biopic about America’s preeminent screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who refused to testify before the congressional House Un-American Activities Committee. This resulted in a prison sentence and his being blacklisted as a communist. He, along with other writers, fought to end Hollywood blacklisting which lasted from 1947 to 1960. Academy Award nominated Bryan Cranston stars along with Helen MirrenJohn Goodman, Louis C.K. and Diane LaneTrumbo plumbs the spiritual practice of justice, along with exploring imagination, love and play. Run time 124 minutes; rated R, under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Join us for popcorn during, discussion after. Free.

Generating Generosity – Making a Difference with our Time, Talents and Energy:  Saturday, April 9, 10:30 – 12:30 which includes Brunch!

“I have always counted on the kindness of…….my friends of Peace.”  (Blanche Dubois in ‘A Streetcar named Peace).  Our Stewarding Team invite you to:  Identify the values that are most important to you. • Explore ways to share your resources to make a difference. • Discover what is meaningful for you and create your generosity plan.  Ways to support your family, church and community will be explored.  Join in!

“The Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin (FCI Dublin) will be holding Mock Job Fairs for inmates on Wednesday, April 27.  The morning mock job fair will be in the prison from 8:00 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m.  The afternoon mock job fair will be in an adjacent minimum security facility (the camp) from 11:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m.  You can volunteer for either one or both events.  Those volunteering for both events will have lunch at the prison after the first session and then will be escorted to the camp at about noon to join the group there for the remaining interview practice time. The purpose of the day is to:

  • Give inmates realistic experience where they can learn and improve their job seeking skills.
  • Assist FCI Dublin develop valuable contacts with employers, and enhance the credibility of FCI Dublin programs with inmates and the community.  This will help employers change their viewpoint about inmates and inmate programs, and look more favorably on hiring ex-offenders, after being exposed to the prison and the inmates during the job fair event.  This can contribute directly to the ability of inmates to get and retain jobs and be successful in the community.

FCI Dublin is seeking both individuals to assist in interview coaching and resume reviews, and hiring organizations at the event.  If you would like to volunteer to provide interview coaching or resume review (or if you are aware of an organization that may wish to participate) please contact Remegio Tibunsay at FCI Dublin, at [email protected] by April 13 so Remy can provide you with a form to be completed and returned by April 15.

If you have any questions about the experience of volunteering at FCI Dublin please contact Ron Elsdon at [email protected] .”

Please keep in your prayers:   St. Marks Lutheran Church near Falls City Nebraska (the home church for Elizabeth Hunter Ashley) who closed their doors on Easter Sunday after serving the community for 133 years — gratitude of course and in every death we look for what new creation Christ will raise up;  for our children, for Fred, Ralph and Pr. Bob; for those who pray for us; and for a deepening of the truth and joy of our faith.

Jazz Church West:  This Sunday at 5:00 pm we host flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny and his Quartet.  You will get to experience the meaning of the word ‘mellifluous’.

Easter Joy! Pr. Steve



Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.22.16

Grace Waves


Seek first the reign of God and everything else will fall into place.


You are salt and light for the world.


My own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.  —Jesus

“Where are the responsible ones?  Who are they?  I long for the virtues of courage and honesty:  For civil courage and the discipline of dissent are being trampled beneath the mobs and the masses; and ultimate responsibility in dark times asks not ‘how shall I extricate myself from this terrible situation but how is the coming generation to go on living?’” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “After Ten Years” – 1943).  His questions are why we need Holy Week.

Holy Week 

  • Maundy Thursday Communion worship is at 7:00 pm on March 24.
  • Good Friday – God Hangs on to Us:  Worship will be at 7:30 with a Telling of the Passion Narrative in John’s Gospel.
  • Peace will also be open from Noon – 3 pm, come pray for our congregation and world.

Easter Sunday is March 27 at 10:00 am.  A joyful service with brass and percussion and more! A Potluck Brunch follows with of course our Egg Hunt for the children.

What a Weekend!  God speaks in such a variety of voices:

Our Early Communion Class, kids and parents walked the Labyrinth.  It was so peaceful to sit in the center in the stillness and enjoy a quiet conversation.

The Youth Group met – they practiced their egg hunt finding skills and reflected about the meaning of Holy Week.

The Men’s Group met on Saturday and savored Jesus’ journey and teaching shifting and healing us from domination to communion.

Kenny Washington and Trio sang us into such sweetness.  Ella Fitzgerald is considered the greatest scat singer; Kenny is considered the spiritual son who inherited her astounding scat gift.

“Fables and Fantasy’” gave us a concert filled with rich and profound music and the insights of ancient and modern fables.  Our thanks to Gary for making this happen.

Thanks to our Palm Sunday narrators and musicians:  Ceil, Charlene, Dennis, Elizabeth, John and Austin, our Sunday School Teachers Pat and Charlene, and Pr. Margareta.

Our AED/ Defibrillator Training was appreciated, valuable and a success last week.  The following have been certified:  Nancy Carlston, Margaret Beeler, Diane Kurtz, Pat Leong, Libby Flynn, Ken Budesa and myself.  If you are already certified, would you please notify our office so we have a comprehensive list of CPR/AED trained members.  Thank you.

Please keep in your prayers:

Drew, Joan, Gun, Liz, Joan, those in mourning, those in their final days,  those who have lost loved ones to suicide, those troubled by anxiety, illness or addiction, for our Early Communion Class – Collin, Brady, Patrick, Dylan, Evan, Sydney and Jake; for our Youth Group and Men’s Group; the hungry, those seeking God’s grace and embrace, in gratitude for the normalizing of relations with Cuba; for Refugees, and the people of Belgium; for our Partners in Lwamondo Parish and Laurel Galan, Nicaragua.

Joan Eychner invites the members of Peace to Tom Eychner’s Memorial Service
on Saturday, April 2 at 10:30 am.

Making a Difference – Sharing your Time, Talents and Treasures:  Chances are, you already share your time, talents and treasures. So how can you make your generosity even more meaningful? Join us for a 60-minute educational discussion and find out how to make intentional choices around your generosity that align with your values.  Barbara Droher Kline of Thrivent will host this workshop at Peace on Saturday, April 9 from 10:30 – 12:30.  The session is free and includes a tasty brunch as well.

Has your Book of Blessings proven helpful?

Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was assassinated on March 24, 1980.  This week that date marks our Maundy Thursday celebration.  He wrote this prayer the year of his death.


 We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.  Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.  No statements say all that could be said.  No prayer fully expresses our faith.  No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.  No program accomplishes the church’s mission.  No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

 This is what we are about:  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

 We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enable us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

 We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders – ministers, not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future not our own.  Amen.

Blessed Holy Week,

Pr. Steve



Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.17.16

Grace Waves


Christ is the peace between us…..who has broken down the barriers which used to keep us apart, by destroying in his own person the hostility between us.  His purpose in restoring our peace was to create a single New Human/Humanity; and through the cross to reconcile all in God in one Body.  (Ephesians 2: 15 – 16)

We are about to enter Holy Week – the passionate mystery in history which transforms broken hearts into compassionate beings.  In this final week of Christ’s life which we celebrate together, nothing can be explained but it can be experienced.  I invite you to participate in as many of these services as you can as we journey to and through the Cross to an unimagined resurrecting which longs to lift up the present and the future.

Our Holy Week Schedule:

  • Palm/Passion Sunday -we begin this Sunday in the Courtyard at 10 am.
  • Maundy Thursday worship is at 7:00 pm on March 24.
  • Good Friday worship will be at 7:30 with a Telling of the Passion Narrative in John’s Gospel.
  • Easter Sunday is March 27 at 10:00 am.  A joyful service with brass and percussion and more! A Potluck Brunch follows with of course our Egg Hunt for the children.

If you are willing to take a dozen plastic eggs home this Sunday, fill them with goodies and return them on Easter morning, that will be appreciated!

Saturday, March 19

  • Peace Men’s Group meets at 8:30 am in the Gathering Hall.
  • Palm Sunday preparations at 10 am.
  • Early Communion Class meets at 4 pm at the Kurtz home.
  • San Ramon Jazz Library Series at Peace hosts vocalist Kenny Washington at 8:00 pm.

Palm Sunday, March 20

  • Worship with Congregational Procession at 10 am
  • “Fables and Fantasy Concert” at 4:00 pm with the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.  Potluck Reception with the Band follows!! Bring something tasty.
  • Youth Group at the Laurlunds at 6:00 pm.

I was asked by a member of Peace to convey what Christ’s Peace is.  Here are 4 realms/experiences of Peace that we get to share in our community.

  1. The Contemplative “experience” of peace reveals a oneness or intimacy with ‘wholeness’ that is inexpressible and enriching. This peace communicates the deep down truth that everything really is “all right”.
  2. Relational peace refuses to allow the mistakes of others to define who they are for us.  As Gandhi said, “It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.  But to befriend the one who regards himself as your opponent is the quintessence of true religion.  The first is mere business.”  This is the realm of mercy and forgiveness.
  3. The Justice which creates peace on the societal level is equally difficult and generous.  It requires courage to expose social deceit and unmask exploitation.  The Peacemakers are “blessed” because they endure becoming scapegoats.  Peacemakers are often targeted as the “problem”, ridiculed for not taking sides and punished for not being silent.  Again  Gandhi (who was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount) made clear:  Truth and nonviolence are two sides of the same coin. The fundamental absurdity of our time is believing violence can cure violence.  Peace is gutsy enough to make life possible for the exploited.
  4. Spiritual peace in the Christian tradition honors peace as the Work of Christ whose crucifixion simultaneously means his destruction by death and yet his death is the death of the grip of death.  Reconciliation with life, self, God, others and creation is possible – now!  It leads to wisdom and joy, liberation and caring for others.  All this through a peace which the world cannot comprehend.

These four experiences are of course inextricably interwoven together, we taste these various dimensions at different times.  Peace is dynamic, creative and as the Hebrew word Shalom denotes – the harmony and vitality of persons in community who share the fullness of life together.

Lenten blessings, Pr. Steve



Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.10.16

Grace Waves


Take no thought for the morrow…. Jesus


The future is an irresistible subject.  How can so many people of certified intelligence have written so many pages on a subject about which nobody knows anything?  Perhaps we need a book on – the end of the future.  I have noticed that most of the bad possibilities I have worried about have never happened.  And so I have taken care to worry about all the bad possibilities I could think of – in order to keep them from happening.  You may call this superstition, but if I did not forestall all those calamities, who did? —Wendell Berry

What blessings we get to experience in our Family Services:  the joyful baptism of Ariel Rose, the blessing of our Early Communion Class, the Garzon family prayer and Sunday School stories!

The Peace Men’s Group got off to a good start with 10 men participating.  We have decided to meet twice a month and will meet next on Saturday, March 19 from 8:30 – 10:00 am at Peace.  Thankfully Ed Sanders will prepare breakfast!   Join in the conversation and mutual support.

Our Early Communion Class has been initiated.  How lovely to see our children learning with such enthusiasm.

AED / Defif Training at Peace on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:00 pm.  Margaret Beeler, Diane Kurtz, Mike Nichols and Pat Leong invite you to this Life Saving /Heart Saving Training.  If you have questions please speak with them.

 I trust The Sabbath and your Book of Blessings are graciously deepening your Lenten journey.

Keep in your prayers:  Joan Eychner and her family on the death of Tom;  Fred, Ralph, Bob, and all caregivers; loved ones who are struggling, those seeking spiritual peace.

Fables and Fantasy – March 20, 4:00 pm at Peace:  The San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band performs this exciting concert at Peace on March 20.  All of this is due to our own Gary Sponholtz!  Please invite friends to join you for this great occasion.  Fliers available for you on Sunday; forward the electronic flier you have already received.

Holy Week Schedule:

  • Palm/Passion Sunday – March 20 at 10 am
  • Maundy Thursday – March 24 at 7:00 pm
  • Good Friday – March 25 at 7:30 pm
  • Easter Sunday – March 27 at 10 am with Brunch and Egg Hunt to follow!

International Women’s Day:  Globally, an estimated one-in-three women will experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse in their lifetime. At its core, this global epidemic is fueled by traditions, beliefs, and practices that view women as less-than-equal to men. On a larger scale, these acts have led to the creation of systems that infringe on the rights of women. Women and girls in developing countries experience particularly high rates of gender-based violence. Some of this violence is perpetuated in the form of battery, honor killings, rape, trafficking, and female genital cutting.  We request and urge you to contact your member of Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA); legislation that will help prevent violence against women and girls overseas.  ELCA Advocacy

Time Change this Sunday – Spring Ahead!

Lenten blessings,

Pr. Steve


Pastor’s Weekly Message: 03.04.16

Grace Waves


It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. —James Thurber

Our Family Service is this Sunday at 10 am.  Come celebrate the Baptism of Ariel Rose Pancoast and the joy of all our children!

The Peace Men’s Group will meet this Saturday, March 5 from 9 – 10:45 am at Peace.  Join in the conversation and mutual support!

Our Early Communion Class begins this Saturday at 3:30 at the Kiley’s home.  We are pleased that 7 children are involved.  More can join – speak to me if you are interested.

AED / Defif Training at Peace on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:00 pm.  Margaret Beeler, Mike Nichols and Pat Leong invite you to this Life Saving /Heart Saving Training.  If you have questions please speak with them.

Get and read your copy of The Sabbath this Sunday.  It is a profound way to deepen your Lenten journey.

First Friday Films/FFF – this Friday!  Join us to view A Little Chaos (2015), which is “An enchanting costume drama about beauty flowers, love, grief and impermanence,” according to Spirituality & Practice. Set in the time of King Louis XIV when he was commissioning his gardens at Versailles, Kate WinsletMatthias Schoenaerts and the late Alan Rickman (Professor Snape to Harry Potter fans) shine as they explore grief, gardens and the way we can bless or hinder each other. Winslet’s character, Sabine De Barra, is chosen to build the Rockwork Grove, a special outdoor area with a ballroom and fountains. Run time 117 minutes; R rated (must be 17 or accompanied by a parent or adult guardian). Popcorn during, discussion after.

Fables and Fantasy – March 20, 4:00 pm at Peace:  The San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Band performs an exciting concert at Peace on March 20.  All of this is thanks to Gary Sponholtz!  Please invite friends to join you for this great occasion.  Fliers will be available for you this Sunday and next week.

Choice Dollars:  Thrivent Financial members have until March 31 to direct any remaining 2015 Choice Dollars. After that date, Choice Dollars® will expire.  You can make a positive impact  by directing your Choice Dollars to Peace Lutheran Church.  Thank you!

The Jazz Church West hosts composer/bassist March Shelby and vocalist Tiffany Austin this Sunday at 5:00 pm.  “I’ve had the honor and privilege to visit the Juvenile Justice Center in San Francisco every month for the past 2 1/2 years.  I have also performed several times at San Quentin and the San Francisco Women’s County Jail and I’d like to share inspiration from the experiences in the music I’ve written and arranged around this subject of spiritual care in prisons.”  Marcus /What better place than the Jazz Church West!

Holy Week begins with Palm/Passion Sunday on March 20.  Easter will be celebrated on March 27!

Lenten blessings,  Pr. Steve