Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.26.17

Grace Waves


“Tov” is the Hebrew word usually translated as ‘good’ but it’s core meaning is actually ‘life generating’.  Enjoy this definition when you read the Creation Story or pray/meditate on the Creation Mantra you received Sunday.  This translation invigorates everything!  The purpose and joy of our evolving Creation (like the daily choices we face) is that everything we engage becomes life generating!

Earth Day – “I used to think the top environmental problems were Biodiversity Loss, Ecosystem Collapse and Climate Change.  I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems.  But I was wrong.  The top environmental problems are Selfishness, Greed and Apathy.  To deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation – and we scientist don’t know how to do that.”  Gus Speth

(As I said on Sunday, we in spiritual communities do know how to do this, not because we have solutions but because we know how to begin again, how to turn and return, how to respectfully nurture consciousness.  Isn’t it exciting to build this creative partnership with the scientific community now!)

Bill Carmel wrote an article on ‘Matisse into Diebenkorn  for our local paper about a current exhibit at the SF MOMA.  Over 300 views already.  Check it out at:  Way to go, Bill!

Two Forums – Peace as a Sanctuary Church:  This Sunday we will attune our Listening Skills to hear each other’s stories and learn the formative elements that have shaped our values.  On May 7 Laura Magnani of AFSC will join us to expand our understanding of Quaker historical commitments to justice (Underground Railroad, women’s suffrage, Japanese internment) and how the Sanctuary Movement is contributing to that history.

Healthcare Community Meeting  Saturday, May 20th, 10:30a – 12:00p  Join concerned citizens and allied organizations for an educational forum — Health care is a human right in all industrial countries except the United States.  Come watch the 35 minute documentary Now Is The Time and learn how the United States can join the rest of the world and provide its residents with universal health care.  California is currently taking steps to go beyond Obamacare and guarantee affordable health care to all for life.  Learn how you can be a part of this movement.  Question and answer period will follow screening. Event facilitated by Gerri Field, Health Care Activist, CaPA (California Physicians Alliance) Board of Directors.

The Four Seasons and More Concert performed by the Sycamore Strings Academy was superb.  How luscious to hear such uplifting music wafting and reverberating through our sanctuary.  The 15 young artists playing violins, violas, cellos and bass are incredibly gifted.  Our gratitude to Director (and Peace Friend) Goran Berg for eliciting their best in music and spirit.  (It was tov!)

Mother’s Day Tea at Thyme for Tea on Saturday, May 13.  Reserve your setting with Diane or Pat.

Our Confirmands met last Sunday.  We shared reflections on Holy Week: Seder, Good Friday and the Resurrecting Love of Easter (Mark 14 – 16:8); we examined the ‘spiritual teachings/environment’ of our Sanctuary; walked the Labyrinth; studied the Peace Mosaic, spoke about the dynamics that prompted the horror of the holocaust; and enjoyed earth day moments.  Keep Gracie, Jack, Reese, Nik, Julia, Mark, Kyle, Luke, Julia and Alex in your prayers.  Their Confirmation Celebration will be on Pentecost, June 4.

Defusing Hatred Program – Keep Calm and Defuse the Tension:  Learn nonviolent communication skills in a safe environment and develop tools for responding to uneasy situations and hate speech..  Enjoy and informative, visual presentation followed by conversation and hands on experience through role-play.  We host this program to build communities of care who will protect the vulnerable and targeted around us.

Sunday, April 30 at 7 pm at St. Joan of Arc in San Ramon.  Co-lead by Rev. Will McGarvey and myself.

Wednesday May 10 at 7 pm at Peace with a variety of Community Advocacy Groups.  Same leaders.

KCOV/Korean Church of the Valley:  This Sunday Pastors Daniel and Connie Chung will retire and KCOV will officially close their congregation.  Members of KCOV will disperse to join other congregations.  Of course they are being invited to join Peace as well.  We offer our gratitude for their years of ministry among us and in the San Ramon Valley.

The choral group Chromatica (who was given birth at Peace) will perform this Sunday at 6:00 pm.  Tickets are $20/person.  A beautiful evening awaits you.

The Interfaith Yom HaShoah Remembrance Service at Beth Chaim was very powerful.  The prayer below is offered in honor of the 6 million Jews who were murdered, along with the 1 million disabled people, the 1 million gay people, the 1 million intellectuals, artists and political dissidents, and 2 million Eastern Europeans who were murdered.  May we have the courage to oppose bigotry and protect all who are scapegoated in our time.

The Redemption of Saving Grace

O Lord, remember not only the men and women

of good will, but also those of ill will.

But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted

on us;

Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to

This suffering — our comradeship,

Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,

Our generosity, the greatness of heart

Which has grown out of all this, and when

They come to judgment let all the fruits

Which we have borne be their forgiveness.

(Prayer found by the body of a dead child at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp)

On Resurrection: 

Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history.  —Pope Francis

Easter Blessings,

Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.20.17

Grace Waves

Impending Resurrection:  We pay more attention to dying than to death.  We’re more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death.  Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as the last enemy.  There is a real difference:  the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection.  It’s not from the art of dying but from the resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world.  Here is the answer to Archimedes’ challenge: ‘Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.’  If only a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed.  To live in the light of resurrection – that is what Easter means.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed April 09. 1945
Gratitude for Easter and for all who contributed to the joy!  Thanks to Elizabeth and Teresa for their vocal leadership, to Ginnie and Gary, to Charlene for Children’s Time, to the Altar Guild, John for drumming with the assistance of all the little boy drummers, to Martha and Libby for the Easter Brunch, Elana and Margit for the decorated Gathering Hall and to All of You who Contributed to the Delicious Brunch, and to Seminarians Louis and Ella….and Austin who helped Hide the Eggs –  weren’t the children beautiful!  And to Gary for the Lenten Season video he prepared.  This Sunday you’ll get to see his Easter Video!
Equal Gratitude to Diana Howard for coordinating our Passover Seder and to all who contributed to that incredible evening through story, song, personal reflections shared….. and truly fine dining!
  Taize on My Mind by Susan Gest (poetic gratitude for Lenten Taize at San Damiano)
Veneration of the Cross
Up there at San Dam
Blood and cross and thorns feel real
Smells like Holy Ghost 
Sounds like God the Most
Spring Cleaning – POSTPONED…too many people are unavailable this Saturday so we will reschedule.
Earth Day Worship this Sunday!
“Thanks to our bodies God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.” (This comment by Pope Francis was placed on a plaque in Rome’s Biopark)
April 23
Interfaith Shoah Remembrance, 3 – 4:30 at Beth Chaim.  Commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and those whose lives are on the line today.
Confirmation: 5 – 7 pm at Peace.
Four Seasons and More – A Concert by the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra at 7:00 pm — under the direction of Goran Berg.  Superb quality from fine young artists!
“We shall rise again…..and find an open door….until then our life lies hidden with Christ in God.”
Easter Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.11.17

Grace Waves

Prayer for Holy Week:
Just as your Final Week begins – everything collides together:
The glib attitudes of ‘life on the surface’ with your moment of sublime submission.
You are afraid, anxious, wary of betrayal, tasting despair and anguish.
Here and now is held everything human and all human beings.
Here are you and me.
It is when you have been tested that you know who you are;
You know it, Lord, not me……because my final test hasn’t happened yet.
Lord, we would like to follow you all the way…..all the way to the Cross.
Seder this Thursday at 6:30:  We gather to commemorate our roots, identity and the Lord’s Supper.  We recognize that imperfect people can usher in liberation.  There’s no sense waiting until we are totally pure, psychologically and spiritually healthy.  The healing of the world continues now and it will be accomplished by imperfect people/wounded healers who will transform our lives and world through wisdom, compassion and grace.
Good Friday:  Peace will be open from Noon – 3 pm for prayer.  Contemplative worship begins that evening at 7:00 pm.  “Stay with me, remain with me, watch and pray.”
Easter Day at 10:00 am.  A joyous celebration of new life and new creation!  Our Brunch begins at 9:15 and the Egg Hunt will follow worship.
Keep in your prayers:  Shiva, Nik, Nette, Teresa, Brian McGee, Gun, Nancy, Brian Turner, Sue, Marshall, David, Bob, Ralph, Marlene and Fred, those who have lost parents/loved ones – Alan, George, Ann, Dwane, Maili and Kersti; Ed K. Liz, Peter, Kathy, Jerry, the Confirmation Class; those living with addictions, the people of Syria and the Coptic Church of Egypt.
Spring Cleaning at Peace – Saturday, April 22:  We begin with Pancakes at 9:30 and work from 10 – Noon.  Make your mother proud that she taught you how to use elbow grease!
Culinary Herbs for Warm Weather with Elana: At the Orinda Library, Garden Room, Friday from 1 – 2 pm.
Sunday, April 23
  • Earth Day worship at 10 am.
  • Interaith Shoah Remembrance at Beth Chaim from 3 – 4:30 pm.
  • Confirmation – 5:00 pm
  • Four Seasons and More – a Concert by the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra under the direction of our own Goran Berg at 7:00 pm!
How can we sing praise songs in a world so full of hunger, hatred and war?
How can we praise God when surrounded by negativity and deception?
How can we say ‘thank you’ when suffering is so present and betrayal so near?
We are living in a Dark Time but the Light is here – who can stop us!
Therefore we can live like it is day despite the dark night.
In the midst of so much need and darkness
We are not allowed to be Silent.
Therefore we must sing:  Hosanna in the Highest, Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
(Bishop Karoline Krook)
Holy Week Blessings,
Pr. Steve

Pastor’s Weekly Message: 04.06.17

Grace Waves

Preparation for Holy Week:  “I never intend to become adjusted to bigotry.  I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism or to the self-defeating effects of physical violence.  In other words, I am convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world:  The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”  Martin Luther King
Palm Sunday initiates Holy Week this Sunday when we share the Passion Narrative.
Forum on Sanctuary on April 9:  Our church council and justice advocacy group both recently discussed the idea of Peace as a Sanctuary Church and both groups agreed that we should further explore becoming part of the Sanctuary movement.  As part of this on-going exploration Ron Elsdon and I will facilitate the April 9 Forum on this subject.  All are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Passover Seder/Maundy Thursday – April 13, 6:30 pm:  The Seder Celebrates the core of justice and liberation work in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  It is also the context in which Jesus initiated Communion.  You will experience and enjoy our faith in a profound and delightful way — which you will never forget.
Did you know:  The Exodus (the end of slavery in Egypt) is the first recorded Liberation Event in history!  And the midwives who refused to kill the male babies committed the first recorded act of nonviolent disobedience.
An utterly profound evening with a meal, great symbolic traditions, insights and hilarity.  Taste and See!
Please Sign Up Sunday or email: [email protected].
Good Friday – Contemplative Service, April 14, 7:00 pm:  Come pray, meditate, chant and reflect on this healing mystery into Christ’s transformation of death into new life.
Easter Day – April 16 at 10 am:  Celebrate the joy and the vision of Christ’s Resurrecting Love!  Invite friends.
First Friday Films:  April 7, 6:30 pm – The Brand New Testament — Join us in the Gathering Hall for a screening of this international hit from Belgium on our new smart TV. Written and directed by Jaco Van Doramael, it is a playful, dark satire in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan meets Monty Python. The film takes us on a farcical romp straight through current religious thought to something completely different. The film stars Benoît PoelvoordeCatherine DeneuveFrançois DamiensYolande Moreau and Pili Groyne. It was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards and has been nominated for and/or won over 45 U.S. and international awards. Stephen Holden of The New York Times calls it, “Wickedly amusing! A surreal comedy whose endless visual imagination matches its conceptual wit.”  (Parents are cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for those under 13.)
Spring Cleaning at Peace – Saturday, April 22:  Pancakes at 9:30, Clean up from 10 – Noon.  No experience necessary!
April 23
Earth Day Worship – pray for the renewal and resurrecting of Creation!
Interfaith Shoah Service at Beth Chaim from 3 – 4:30 pm:  A Remembrance of Holocaust Victims and Today’s Victims (Muslims, Refugees, African Americans, LGBTQ)
Four Seasons – And More…A Concert with the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra at 7:00 pm.  Enjoy music by Bach, Bruch, Brahms, Gupta, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and more!   The Orchestra consists of 15 young and gifted musicians under the direction of Goran Berg.  The performance is filled with youthful, bold sound; powerful expression and captivating energy!
Pr. Lucy Kolin will serve as the Interim Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland for the next 3 – 4 months.  She will continue to support/encourage the ministries she’s engaged in at Peace but we won’t see her for this period of time.  Blessings on your work at St. Paul’s!
On April 4, 1967 Dr. King preached at Riverside Church in New York.  In this speech, Dr. King not only spoke out against the war in Vietnam – a risky and polarizing move at the time – but he spoke out against everything that the war represented, a “far deeper malady within the American spirit” that would never be healed unless we moved past Vietnam and toward a “true revolution of values”.  Virtually no one among the Civil Rights leadership supported him in his decision to speak out.  But this speech has become incredibly prophetic for our time.  I invite you to read it both as preparation for Holy Week and as a Reformation Reflection.  Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later on this same day in 1968.
Gratitude to Bruce Silverman and the drummers from Beth Chaim for his/their leadership in our Drumming Service last Sunday.  Those present experienced how grounding and transformative this ancient practice can be in our worship.  The Hebrew Scriptures called drums ‘timbrels’ and they were used endlessly from Miriam, to David, in the Psalms and the Temple for meditation and the uniting of Earth and Heaven. Bruce is teaching a Drumming Class at Beth Chaim and invites members of Peace to join them.  Speak to me if you are interested or contact him at:  [email protected].  Wouldn’t it be marvelous to stir up a Percussion Crew at Peace!
“I do not like the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West and yet are against refugees and other religions.  The sickness Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy.  You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) or Matthew 25 which calls us to ‘feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger’.  To claim I am a Christian and not do these things makes me a hypocrite.  The greatest reformers of the church are the saints who practice God’s Word, he told the group of young Lutherans and Catholics from Germany.  Our traditions have already moved from ‘conflict to communion’.  Now in putting ourselves at the service of the neediest we will experience that we are already united; it is God’s mercy that unites us.”  Pope Francis
Holy Week Blessings,
Pr. Steve