Art Comes to FBCPA

Jazz musiciansAs you walk through our hallway you will notice our new photography installation! Thanks to the vision of Pastor Rick, Gregory, and Susan Bradley we now have 20 photos framed and displayed on our walls. These photographs were taken by Susan (and a few of her students) on trips to Africa, Cuba, and Haiti. They capture vividly and movingly some the people whom she encountered on her travels. A gifted photographer is a regular part of our community, including our Mission Task Team.

Juve Ramirez did a wonderful job of hanging each picture and, on the Work Day, Dan Cudworth and Doug Lee helped place each picture into its frame. This is a church family effort and it surely does look great! We are excited to introduce this project as we use our hallway as “gallery space.” This exhibit will be up for a while; then we hope to display the art and work of others within our church community. So, if you want to participate please let one of the pastors know.

The visual arts will help us explore other ways of learning and knowing God as liturgy and dialogue are but some of many ways to experience the divine. We are practicing a “sacred-seeing” for stories to be shared that humanize others and help us to see the sacred handprint in all people, places, and things. Join us in getting lost, and possibly found, in these photographs.

woman and tent

A Note from Pastor Gregory (5/2016)

Gregory StevensBlessed are the peacemakers, the Christ calls us this May! Blessed are those who make peace, who actively pursue the making of a more peaceful, just, and beautiful world. It is a call toward an active and lively faithfulness to God in Christ Jesus. Our faith is less about spectating and more about engaging in practices of loving compassion.

That’s what we’re about and that’s what we have to look forward to this month! Rick and I have been planning a full calendar of creative worship ideas, Sunday school ideas, adult spiritual formation activities, documentaries, community events, and much more for our entire church family to journey to a more just and peaceful world. Follow our church Facebook page and hallway Bulletin Boards for a broader range of local events related to peace and justice in our city.

Susan Bradley and I have been conspiring on an art show for our bare hallways and I am very excited to say that it will most likely be up this May! She has traveled the world and captured some amazing images that tell stories of beauty, of pain, and of the sacredness of our human interconnectedness. We hope to continue this as a rotating display for other artists and art forms. Please contact me with suggestions.

I am also working on developing a web presence by teaching myself how to build websites (I have had previous experience, which has helped). It also helps to save money and to further learn a valuable skill. Being in the Silicon Valley, it is extremely important to have a great website that welcomes the stranger to explore “who you are” digitally. In trying to create a queer community group in Palo Alto and a queer community with Geoff Browning at Stanford I am working on developing two websites that will brand our vision for the digital age. From here I can work on the social media websites Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

These are just a few highlights of what is happening in my world – let’s grab coffee to conspire even more goodness!

Much Love,

Pastor Gregory

 

Pastor Gregory Says… (4/20/16)

Gregory StevensWe are heading into our last Sunday of Earth Month and I’m excited to introduce you to my former Florida youth group student, Elise Willis. She is now working for the City of Palo Alto in our Urban Forestry Department. Our programming will begin in the Parlor and then Elise will lead us around our church campus to explore the various greenery God has gifted us with. We often forget that it is the lush greenery, the trees and shrubs, the wild animals and their interactivity within these ecosystem (us included), that keep our lungs pumping with fresh air, our bellies full of nutrient rich foods, and our bodies healthy with their many remedies; hence our quest to live in healthy and right relations within these lively and wild ecological systems! I look forward to see you there.

Susan Bradley and I have also been working on an art exhibit that will be going up in our long hallway in the next month – expect wonderful things very soon!

On April 26th I will be cooking for the UCCM Stanford students, they request a vegetarian meal for 15. I usually cook the meal in our church kitchen and bring it over to the students in the evening. Would you be willing to help pitch in a helping hand? Email me if you are interested: gregory.stevens@me.com

“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”  1 Thessalonians 2:8

Going to hell

As I said to the Bible study on Tuesday, “This week we’re going to hell.” Of course, I didn’t mean literally, but this week’s theme in We Make the Road by Walking is “Jesus and Hell.” Both Hebrew scripture and the New Testament use language of judgment and punishment. These are among the most challenging texts in the Bible. I confessed to the Bible Study group that I find Mathew 25:31-46 a particularly difficult passage. How easy it is to walk by or even step over the “least of these” without even seeing. The parable’s punishment for failure to see is particularly harsh.

I don’t think the story’s intention is to scare us onto the “straight and narrow,” but it is a powerful challenge to wake up and pay attention. Luke’s story of the rich man and Lazarus follows a similar trajectory. The rich man’s sin is not his wealth per se; it’s that, day after day, he steps over the destitute Lazarus without seeing him. “Let those who have eyes see and ears hear,” Jesus reminds his followers over and over. I don’t believe that Jesus or God desires that anyone “go to hell.” The challenge, the invitation, is to wake up, to pay attention, to practice compassion and to live love.

In Adult Spiritual Formation, Susan Bradley will be sharing with us from a couple of trips she’s made recently – one to Haiti to teach photography to young Haitians and one to Cuba with a group of musicians. This session may well open our eyes to parts of the world with which we are not sufficiently familiar.

See you Sunday at 10:00 AM. Bring some others along to share the day.

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.

Pastor Rick