Good News, 11.1.2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you aware that we will celebrate All Saint’s Day this coming Sunday?  During worship we will remember the “saints” who have gone before us, particularly our friends and family who have died this past year.  We will also consider the question: What is a saint?  Who is a saint?  Two stories about children and saints may provide some insights and points to ponder…

Saint Simeon the Stylite:  There is a story of a little boy who was learning about saints and became fascinated with St. Simeon the Stylite who lived in ancient times on top of a sixty-foot pillar in Syria.  Surely this was a man to imitate!  So he immediately went into the kitchen, put a chair up on the kitchen cabinet and climbed upon it.  He stayed there all morning but finally came down.  His mother, who understood what was happening, said to him, “Don’t feel bad about this.  At least you have thought about saints.  You have made an attempt to imitate one and that is more than most people do… but you must remember that it is almost impossible to be a saint in your own kitchen.”

 A tour of the cathedral:  Seven year-old Evelyn’s class went on a field trip to the near-by cathedral to study saints.  When she got home, her parents asked her to describe what she saw.  She told about seeing saints as marble statues and wood carvings but she said the ones she liked best were in the windows – beautiful windows of many different colors.  “The saints,” she said, “let the light shine through!” 

What a wonderful way to describe saints – the people who let the light… the Light of Christ, shine through them!  These people, young, old, famous or not, let their lives be “set aside” for God.  They are not perfect by any means but keep their eyes on Christ and pray that their lives will become a blessing to this hurting world. 

Come, celebrate All Saint’s Day on November 4!

            Pastor Mary Ann

Time Change this Saturday night/Sunday 2 am.  Be sure to set your clocks back one hour (or you will be early for everything)!

Thanks to Morgan Bach (Richard Caemmerer’s granddaughter) for her helpful and informative talk at Peace last week after worship!  She related the precarious situation of a Palestinian village, Al Aqaba, in Area C of the West Bank where she lived and taught for a year.  Despite a demolition order from the Israeli military that would level 97 percent of this Jordan Valley village, including its  kindergarten, and nearly all homes, the hamlet of Al Aqaba is writing a different scenario for its future.  The first step was a design planning session last July that produced house designs, a financing strategy for new homes for Palestinian families, and a village plan to guide long-term growth.  Morgan will be launching a “Speaking Tour for Palestine” by attending the Students for Justice in Palestine conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan!  The East Coast segment of the tour will likely be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, but Morgan will be speaking in the Bay Area, throughout California and back home in Washington State before Christmas.
To see Morgan’s promotional video and support the tour:  This video is the next-best thing to hearing Morgan speak last week!

Last week was also Reformation Sunday.  Karl Pfeiffer sent amazing resources for The Luther Decade “Luther 2017–500 Year of Reformation”.  An excerpt:

In earlier centures, the major anniversaries related to the Reformation were celebrated separately according to political and confessional divisions.  Luther was presented as a popular German hero and the celebrations were used by Protestants as a means to establish distance between themselves and Catholics.  The Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 aims to achieve the opposite:  it is to be defined by openness, freedom, and the ecumenical spirit.

More information and inspiration is available on the website

Our delegation to Lwamondo Parish in South Africa who returned the first week of Oct.  gave their  Report to the Congregation during worship last week.    Elizabeth Hunter-Ashley, her son, Jack O’Neil and Libby Flynn had met Pr. Steve in Johannesberg. Then they travelled by commuter plane and van to Lwamondo Parish in Limpopo Province.  It was Pr. Steve’s fourth visit, but the other delegates were there for the first time.  As Elizabeth observed, “Partnership is much like Reformation Sunday.  Nothing is ever the same following our experiences.”  Jack stayed with Muthuphei’s family, who has teenage sons. He spoke of the jolting experience of seeing a freshly butchered pig in their garage . [This area of South Africa is such a mixture of traditional (e.g. home butchering) and new (e.g. homes all-electric appliances).  Libby shared an email from  Mudzunga Farisani, who entertained the delegation soon after they landed at the airport in Polokwane.

Much appreciation to the delegation.  I was also impressed to see Jack O’Neil being part of the delegation.  I hope he had a good time as well.  Partnership is so important in our lives.  There are times when we take things for granted;  after each visit, both the hosts and the partner will see things differently.
You will recall that we have just emerged from an apartheid era;  the message that you have brought is for both Black and White South Africans.  It is a message of reconciliation, that indeed both blacks and whites can live together in harmony.  Much appreciation.”

Calvin Neswiswi is the current Partnership chair at Lwamondo Parish.  He is also a childhood friend of Dean Tshenu Farisani and he accompanied  the Peace  delegation to Beuster to meet with Tshenu and the Beuster Church Rebuilding Committee.  Our delegation was somewhat surprised that the new church is in very early stages of construction.  The foundation is done and bricks have been made for the walls.  It was clear that the project is waiting for funding.  The check that the delegation brought, representing money from the Peace budget as well as individual donations,  was gratefully received. 
 Calvin has visted Peace and  also accompanied Peace members on a delegation to our partners in Laurel Galan, Nicaragua.  At the Farewell ceremony,  he spoke of a “Triangle Partnership”: Lwamondo, Laurel Galan and Peace.  How international and how inspiring!

Amanda at Entre Culturas  forwarded  a letter from our partners in Laurel Galan. We recently sent them $500 from the Peace Justice Advocacy budget.

The community of Laurel Galan really appreciates the donation of economic help that you all sent to Laurel Galan. May God bless you, keep you in His care, and help you in your work. Brothers and sisters, we have decided to utilize the help that you sent now, because we don’t have a good harvest, and because of that we are going to give a portion of the total amount to each member for the needs that we have in each of our houses. We discussed this with the entire community, and some are going to use it for food, and others for medications, because some in the community are sick.

Relationships with Laurel Galan are being maintained by our prayer partnership as well. 

Finally, there are two  important Interfaith events in November: 

  • the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County is having their annual potluck on Nov. 18 at 6 pm at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek.  Is there someone who would like to volunteer to be the Peace contact for interfaith work?
  • we are going to participate at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Beth Chaim on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 pm.  Please come and join us as we lead the group in the South African song ” We are Marching in the Light of God.”

Keep the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti, Cuba and the US in your prayers!

Blessings to all.