Feeling heavy-hearted about the reality in our world today? Watching the news and listening to the anger-filled tirades being launched in our country leaves me feeling hopeless too, on some days.
Many days; if I am honest with myself.
As I was reflecting on this struggle, I received a text message from one of our members, “Still hopeful?” I smiled, what a gift to have someone check on me. A few minutes later, I ran into one of our members on campus who showed up to check on a small fix on the property. We had a long conversation about how we each were heart-broken about the enormities of the problems that our world and country are facing.
And yet, as I stepped back and reflected on the week as a whole - participating, on behalf of Prince of Peace in a Zoom call to create meaningful conversations and relationships in our Silicon Valley community, helping formulate our next online faith education, speaking with staff about how we continue to be a voice in the world, seeing Cathy and John picking up lunches to be delivered to the Family Shelter, and all the emails going around about how we are staying connected to one another and our neighbor
… it struck me right in my heart…just like Jesus and his disciples were a small crew of people who believed that the world could be better, so, too do we. As much as we are facing an incredible amount of discord and systemic issues, we are, as a faith community, one of the many communities and individuals who are slowly, deliberately doing the “next right thing” as Anna sings in Frozen 2. When all seems lost, all we can do is the next “right thing.” This is what Jesus shows us, time and time again in scripture. He cared for and healed those in his immediate proximity, he did what was right, one person, one crowd at a time.
At the beginning of the year, during our Annual Meeting, Prince of Peace took a step to do the “next right thing.” We voted unanimously to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation. After months of hard work, education, and self-work, we voted through a new welcoming statement and committed ourselves to a deeper level of openness, hospitality and ally-ship.
And since then (pandemic aside) we have been working hard to ensure that the language we use, the property we steward, and the people who encounter us know that we (although not perfect) are trying to be a community that supports our LGBTQIA+ members and friends. We are passionate about modeling a more just and diverse community, and we care deeply about how all humans are treated regardless of their citizenship or life’s circumstances.
I am proud of the ways that we are living into that welcome and hospitality. We can always be better, of course, but in the midst of a time when anger and frustration are so common, please remember that it is the cause of love, most clearly lived out in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, that will help us turn the world upside down as the book of Acts writes.
In this month where our country celebrated PRIDE, may we be a voice for healing for those who have been hurt by Christianity, may we continue to be a community that offers hope to a world that needs it.
Although this year has been filled with cancelled events, changed plans, and seemingly never ending bad news, one bright spot this summer is that our youth will still be able to attend our annual summer camping trip to Rock ‘n Water Adventure Camp.
We have made sure to be extremely cautious with our plans and procedures, and have made sure to follow all state, county, and ACA guidelines for our week away. We feel that we will be able to make this trip happen safely, and legally, for the individuals going, and our continued prayers will be with all of those who were unable to attend. There is no right or wrong answer in these situations, and every family is different, but we are glad to be able to provide this opportunity for our middle school and high school youth.
One special note is that our 4 graduating high school seniors will all be able to attend, and will be able to celebrate their last summer of “being a youth” together, and will have some chance to blow off some steam, before they begin their exciting and inspiring new adventures.
Our week will consist of rafting, hiking, canyoneering, faith formation, relaxation, and community time together. We are asking for your prayers of safety and support as we navigate through God’s creation, and discover more about ourselves, and each other.
We will be leaving from Prince of Peace on Sunday, the 28th, and we will return on Friday, July 3rd. We look forward to worshipping with you all on that Sunday!
If you would like to help support the youth by defraying some of the cost of the trip, donations can be made to our Youth Ministry CLICK HERE.
Thank you so much for your loving and nurturing support of our youth!
Director of Youth and Service
Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.
In this week’s Gospel passage for our worship Jesus looks out upon the crowds in their need and sends out the disciples, to do for them the good works of the reign of God - Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons - and Jesus has prepared the disciples for this task. However, the disciples are explicitly forbidden from gathering any of the various necessities any traveling person would think to have on hand. Why? Well, as we look around us and the very weight of these momentous days and the challenges of responding not only faithfully but also effectively, I don’t know about you, but I take a whole lot of comfort in knowing that we have this loving community in which we can wrestle over these questions, concerns, fears and hopes.
I think perhaps that Jesus denies the disciples the security of traveling supplies because the work we are called to do - to create a more loving, engaging, inclusive, healthy community here on earth - we literally cannot do this without working together, relying upon each other, and by necessity, leaning on one another through agreement and disagreement. Loving someone must mean something more and greater than either agreement or service. It’s a reciprocal relationship - more than quid pro quo or market of exchange. It’s more. It has to be more.
And because of that, we also need to know that we are going to be involved with more than only addressing the troubles of today. We can’t do that all the time. No one can. We will still be a community that plays and prays with each other. We will continue to joke when we can, and live with joy together in the time God has given us, and these times can be part and parcel of our sabbath rest, which renews us for the work of making our living together more closely resemble the reign of God.
And so, even with all that is happening around us, you will continue to see fun events for this Prince of Peace community, and we sincerely hope as many of us as possible can take part, because when the fun times are over, there will be work to be done. We are going to do what we can to help grow and strengthen the reign of God here for us and our neighbors and it’s work we can only do together.
- Rev. Nate
Greetings PoP Community: The staff have been spending a lot of time listening, praying, and pondering what our call is as a faith community in light of recent protests and demonstrations regarding the death of George Floyd. Pr. Nate and I preached together on this topic on Sunday and have appreciated all of the people who reached out to communicate your passions, grief, and sense of helplessness.
One of the gifts that this church, Prince of Peace, has is a hospitable and welcoming culture. We are a warm and friendly bunch…and we love one another. It is evident in so many ways. And we are strong, too. Over the past 5 years as we have navigated hard conversations about identity and a windfall of money, we have tried to listen deeply and walk together in this. When we do not agree, we do so with grace and kindness. In short, it is my heartfelt belief that as a congregation we are equipped to have the hard conversations about racial justice, privilege, and what our responses can be. Pr. Nate and I are putting together a series of guided, faith based conversations on race that we can have in groups of 8-12, either online or (for some groups who are medically ready) at one another’s homes in backyards. It is our hope that these conversations may provide education, personal transformation, awareness, and a faith active in love.
As I mentioned earlier, the sin of racism is not new in our world, and indeed the ELCA has been a church body working hard to provide its congregations and leaders with resources to have these conversations. No matter where you are in your journey of awareness of the racism in our country, we are hopeful that you will join in these small groups. We will most certainly utilize our gentle gifts, our love for one another, and the teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ to help us navigate the way. Sign-ups and more information will be coming mid-June.
In the meantime, keep an eye on our Facebook page. We have already participated in Online Vigils, community protests, and will be representing PoP at the Saratoga Black Lives Matter Gathering on Saturday. Please, as always, reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.
-Rev. Sara & Rev. Nate