A Church that Serves
With fires raging all around the Bay for the last week, people in the South Bay really wanted to help. Some grassroots efforts popped up on social media trying to coordinate getting donations to the evacuees. It was apparent that many were evacuating to friends, family and hotels in the South Bay.
Monday the decision was made to turn the Fellowship Hall into a donation center for fire victims. The idea was that people could drop off their donations at the church and we would be open for evacuees to come choose what they needed from the supplies. The staff met on Monday night to organize a layout for the room that took Covid precautions into mind. Tuesday morning there were already donations to stock a store. People were reaching out online, by phone and email asking how they could help. Donations arrived in droves by car, by van, by mail. By Thursday we were instructing people that we could not take ANY more items, only gift cards. We also asked for volunteers and they have been coming too. From the neighborhood, from local churches and service groups, and even evacuees themselves.
Even though it was exhausting, and a bit overwhelming, to deal with the sheer number of donations, it has been wonderful to give the evacuees a little relief. Most are hesitant when they arrive. Used to being independent, accepting help can be an emotional experience. We set the Hall up like a shop, so evacuees can choose what they need or want. It's been especially gratifying to see the kids find a toy, book, or art kit to help them pass the time in their temporary housing.
Thank you Prince of Peace for not only opening your hearts, but also your buildings, your time, your wallets to your neighbors in their time of need! You are an example of living
Celebrating our Confirmands
During the Sunday, August 23rd, worship service we celebrated our Confirmation students. Originally planned for early June, we had hoped that by pushing the service into August, we would be able to celebrate in the traditional way, with a combined worship service and lots of joyful music.
By now you know that there is nothing traditional about 2020. Yet we were still able t to hear their inspiring faith statements through a special socially distanced affirmation of baptism service, and (as always) some amazing music featuring Juanita Harris, our PoP Teen Band, and Michael Touchi.
The service is available for viewing on our YouTube Page or by clicking the link below.
Pastor Nate's Call to Serve
This week’s mini-Dove Tales is an overdue update on my efforts at following an internal call by joining the Navy as a Reserve Chaplain. The last time I spoke about this, it was January, just before what would have been the final interview in their hiring process
In stepping out to follow the call I’ve been feeling, and sharing that process with you, I was blessed far beyond the personal growth it has given me, because you have been with me through this. Quite a few Prince of Peace folks have been keeping me in prayers, or shared stories about their service, or the passion they have followed or failed to follow,, or concerns about faith and the military, and because of that I’ve grown closer to you and love you more.
Unfortunately, I was not chosen to serve after that January interview. This was disappointing and frustrating, however, I believed then, and still believe now, that my place is to follow this call wherever it goes, regardless of outcomes.
So far, that has turned out to be a good thing. Missing out on military service 6 months ago meant that I have been able to be here with you all, and focus on being your pastor, instead of being away in training. That’s a pretty great tradeoff. :)
It’s been six months since that interview and I’ve reapplied for service in the Navy Reserves. This is my final attempt to do so. I have no idea if this will go anywhere. If I am asked to enlist, training will start in January. If not, then this particular journey is over, and that is ok. God has been faithful and brought good out of this process all along the way so far, and I have no doubt that God will continue to do so.
I hope and pray that each of us is fortunate enough to follow whatever call we are hearing. Whatever the outcome might be, I promise the journey is worth it.
A Lament on Grief
On Friday the 31st of July, I presided at the committal and burial of a long-time Prince of Peace member. It was a beautiful and moving service, with family members sharing stories of gratitude for how their loved one touched so many lives, committed to hospitality and welcome, and gave time and energy to many faith and church communities throughout life in Saratoga. The member was laid to rest in Madronia cemetery near the office building under a magnificent oak tree. It is a beautiful spot, made holy by God and the love shared for the people buried there. You are invited to take a walk when it is convenient for you and say your goodbye’s. The family has hopes for a full Celebration of Life service when it is safe and legal to do so.
This is the second funeral that I have been part of since COVID19 and shelter in place began, the other was for a member’s friend. I know I do not have to tell you all of the ways that the grief of losing a loved one in these times when some of our most treasured rituals and basic human needs of touch, smiles, handshakes and even presence have been deemed unsafe (and in some places illegal). While I certainly respect the law and follow the rules, I think the isolation of these times and lack of ritual can sharpen and prolong our grief. As I have pondered this reality and, like many of you, dealt with the loss of loved ones, I have noticed that the other socially distanced ways that we care for one another in our grief have deeper meaning. Text messages, cards in the mail, showing up to wave through the window, masking up and knocking on doors, and even talking to one another on video call. It is certainly not the same, and when COVID clears we will have lots of collective grief to share. But also, like the disciples who were in the upper room, distraught after Jesus’ death, we too will get a glimpse of the Risen Christ. It may not be as we expected, and some of us may doubt it is Jesus. But the undeniable peace of Jesus that passes all understanding will come to us. It might be masked for now, but it will come. God always shows up.
Peace be with all people who grieve in these lonely times. As always, Pastor Sara and Nate are available if anyone would like to talk, pray, and lament together.
Almost one year ago, in September 2019, Prince of Peace established (and then ratified in January 2020) a new endowment, the PoP+Zion Endowment, focused on empowering this church and its members to do better things in the world through supporting the aide we give to local agencies, the larger church and by caring for this property and increasing its capacities to serve the needs of this church and our neighbors.
I write to you today, in thanks, as the work of this endowment is about to officially begin - with the (hopefully) finishing stages of our sewer repair and Sanctuary roof re-shingling.
As most of you have experienced, Prince of Peace’s property is due for some infrastructural attention. This church community (and particularly the ever-hearty Wednesday Work Crew) has done an amazing job of tending to these repairs as we have been capable, but now, with this endowment, we can choose longer-term solutions than we have been able to in the past.
This is not sexy or glamorous progress, but it is essential to enable us to reliably do more - especially for the housing insecure, but not only that portion of our community. A reliable infrastructure allows us to dream bigger about all our next steps: more community access to campus through concerts, visiting speakers, or other community events, shower or laundry facilities for those who need, or other dreams we might now reasonably entertain.
Thank you, Prince of Peace, for this investment in your community. The fruits of your work are beginning.