On Earth Day, Commit to the Great Turning

By Rivera Sun

demonstrationViewing the destruction of the planet and our natural systems as a form of violence, Campaign Nonviolence – a long-term movement to build a culture of nonviolence – engages people across the country in working toward sustainability, renewable energy, reducing meat consumption, supporting local food, and many other practices of living nonviolently on this beautiful Earth.

As we commemorate Earth Day on April 22, we are called upon to recommit to protecting our planet to ensure that the human species and our fellow beings will have a long-term future. Founded in 1970, Earth Day is an internationally celebrated day, honoring the natural systems of the planet, and a day of action in support of climate protection.  The commemoration was first proposed by two different people, peace activist John McConnell, who created the iconic Earth Flag, and Senator Gaylord Nelson.

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Eco-Education

candle and globeBy now we are well into Earth Month. On Sunday, we celebrated the God of creation in music and word. The big collage of “interconnection” that we started during worship is completed and hung on the hall wall. By all accounts the conversation with Elizabeth Singleton went well during the Eco-Education Hour. We might even look at the beginning and call it “good.”

This Sunday we will return to the first creation story of Genesis 1-2 to consider the place of human being in creation. Sometimes we take the instructions to have dominion, to rule and to subdue too literally. We think we are little gods and do with creation whatever we want. But the psalmist marvels at creation and asks just who are we that the creating God would consider us at all. What if God has crafted human being for loving, caring, co-creative relationship? We are not to be “over creation” as much as we are to be “of” it, recognizing God’s presence in every atom and wave. To have dominion is to respond to what is by affirming its goodness and embracing it with joy.

Eco-education will be incorporated into the “Every Day – Earth Day Potluck” right after Worship and Sunday School. Everyone is encouraged to bring vegetarian or vegan fare to share. Hopefully this will be an interesting and fun experiment for us all. After dinner, we will share a taped conversation that Pastor Gregory had with Tripp Fuller, entertaining theologian and Program Director for the Hatchery in Los Angeles. Their conversation is about how we might entertain a more creative imagination in considering how we as Christians live in and care for this world.

Come Sunday morning at 10:00 AM for worship, study and shared community. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us in the joy of this Earth Month Sunday.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick

Earth Month

Earth in your handsEarth Month started off with a “big bang” last Sunday thanks to Pastor Gregory’s passionate leadership. His sermon focused on an “Easter Ecology,” making connections between John’s account of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples and the indomitable spirit that infuses all creation with life. Thanks also to Greg Griffey who led our “Eco-Education” hour by asking as to consider the significance of place in our lives. As a child of Appalachia, Greg has a particular attachment to the “hills of home.” Some of what he shared was grounded in Wendell Berry’s love for place. Each person present shared where he or she was from, giving us snapshots of the diversity of place that is possible on this planet.

Wednesday evening we will be showing a film, “The Story of the Universe.” This will be a great opportunity for us to gather, share and learn together. I urge you to come and join in the experience as part of our project to learn to love and care for creation.

Sunday we will spend time re-visiting the familiar words of the the first chapter of Genesis, “When, in the beginning, God was creating…” What is creation for you and me? How do we see it? How are we part of its fundamentally interconnected reality and not some entity over against? God seems to love the earth and care deeply for creation. If we are made in God’s image and likeness, how are we to love the earth and care for creation with that same God-infused spirit?

This week’s Eco Education Hour will feature an on-line conversation with Elizabeth Singleton, eco-theologian and graduate of Claremont School of Theology. Dr. Singleton is a mentor of friend and mentor of Pastor Gregory. She is taking time from a busy schedule to spend time in conversation with us. I hope we will take advantage of her generosity.

Come Sunday morning at 10:00 AM for worship, study and shared community. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us in the joy of this Earth Month Sunday.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick

Holy Week: Death and Life

easter_cross.fwEaster Sunday was surely a day of celebration as we looked to claiming our own “ressurection power” to make a difference in this world in the name of the risen Christ.  Thanks to everyone who helped make it a special day – to Jan, Daniel Ha, Daniel Ramirez, Dominique and the choir with extra singers for wonderful music; to Pastor Gregory fo his work with the children and youth and fo his work, alongside Carolyn Shepard and Soo Kim, in making the Sanctuary so beautiful; to Laurie Cudworth, Thelma Tuttle, the Satterlees, among all those who helped with the lovely brunch; and to Chip Clark for – well, only he knows all he does! I agree with Thelma Parodi and Pastor Gregory in the their celebration of our wonderful church “family.’

With the advent of April comes a special emphasis on “Loving the Earth.” Since Earth Day is April 22, this seems like the right time to take up our opportunities and obligations to share with God in good stewardship for all of creation. Pastor Gregory is taking the lead in this programming with some wonderful offerings from people whose life and work is focused on loving the earth. I hope you will “think outside the box” – that is, consider participating beyond your own version of “church as usual.”  I know I will.

Worship will be focused on loving the earth as will the education hour afterward. Even if you don’t usually attend Adult Spiritual Formation, I think you will want to take advantage of these sessions. There will be a couple of film nights for the whole family on the first and third Wednesdays and an all church Earth Day pot-luck on April 17. There are selected books in the library, if you want to do some background reading. “The Earth is God’s and the fullness thereof.” Let’s gather as a community to learn and to celebrate.

This Sunday Pastor Gregory will be preaching on “Easter Ecology,” following John 20:19-31. The education hour will feature Greg Grifffey, who is a farm boy from Appalachia and a fan of the great American essayist and poet, Wendell Berry, in addition to being a hospice chaplain. He will share with us about spirituality and love of the land.

This would be an especially good time to invite others to join you in sharing these experiences celebrating creation and loving the earth. Join us at 10:00 AM for family worship and communion, followed by adult education and Lunch Bunch at 12:45. Let’s carry the joyous spirit of Easter throughout these 50 days of Eastertide and beyond.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick

 

Pastor Gregory Says… (3/23/16)

El Palo Alto
El Palo Alto

Palo Alto is known for its urban canopy with over 36,000 city-city-owned trees. One of the first things Thelma Tuttle told me when I first moved here was about “El Palo Alto,” the 1,100 year-old coastal redwood tree that our city is named after. I later learned on a tour of Professorville, (thanks to Lynn Hunwick for this great find!) that it was the Palo Alto Women’s Club who nurtured the many trees lining the newly forming dirt roads by carrying milk cans full of water in horse-drawn buggies to irrigate trees they planted. Many years later in 1986 Palo Alto became a Tree City USA and has since employed a certified arborist to further the development of tree life, diversity, and care. Little did I know that my own story would weave into the tangled roots of Palo Alto’s Urban Forest. Last Tuesday I met with one of the more recent staff members in the arborist department of the city, her name is Elise, and she also happens to be a former student of mine from a youth group in Florida. We talked for a good two hours about our shared loved for the Christian tradition and for nature. I am excited to say that she will be joining us in April to share with us some of her story and some of her knowledge about the trees on our church campus and in our neighborhood.

Pastor Gregory Says… (3/16/16)

Gregory Stevens signatureDan Cudworth, Greg Griffey, Jason Carrier and I met at the local dive bar across the street to talk about what has been brewing in my heart and within the community over the past few months. We dreamed together the possibility of making Earth Day into Earth Month. Palo Alto has been a hub of ecological thinking and practice: from bike boulevard to going carbon free by 2030, we see our church coming alongside this same vision as it reflects caring for the  God’s beautiful creation. We will bring this discussion to the council.

I have also been troubled by the lack of queer community in Palo Alto and the surrounding neighborhoods. In our time together we imagined creating a community and safe space for queer people of faith and of no-faith at all to discover together goodness, truth, and beauty. Now that we have decided on some fairly concrete ideas I will get to work! May this next step in our process be blessed by your prayers and support.