Greetings from Church of Peace 10/18/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

The Ladies of Peace are gearing up for their fall rummage sale, which will be Nov. 2nd and 3rd. The following message is from them, detailing the particulars – and letting us know when and where they would appreciate help.

FALL 2018

CHURCH OF PEACE RUMMAGE and BAKE SALE Friday, November 2nd 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Saturday, November 3rd 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Bag Sale – Saturday from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Table set up - after coffee hour on Oct. 28th for about one hour Rummage Sale Setup Help and Donations accepted
Mon. Oct. 29 - Thur. Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Or call Carol at 238-0514 for other arrangements Take Down is on Saturday Nov 3rd after 2 p.m. to put things away. Lunch will be served to helpers during set up and sale Bakery items may be brought in anytime on Wed. Oct. 31st or Thur. Nov. 1st – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bake now and freeze it for the sale Bakery, Poster Distribution and Volunteer sign-up sheets are on the bulletin board in the Narthex This Rummage Sale Benefits All Of Us. Everyone Can Help in Some Way!! Thank you



The following is Jack’s Musing:

Stewardship Musing

Since arriving at Church of Peace UCC earlier in the year, I began thinking about Stewardship. It seems the church is running in the red. I wanted to understand why. The Stewardship ministry talked about what it has done in years past. I asked them about why they thought people gave to the church? The ensuing discussion was interesting. After, we talked about possibly doing something different since giving is off. The ministry supported the idea. And so, we decided that we would focus on not giving to raise the church budget. Rather, our focus will be on giving to God.

My take on Stewardship is this. The majority of us in the church like to be asked to give our time, our talent and our treasure. When asked to give, I believe people want to give their gifts in the belief that they are doing something good for God and for their church. Some people do not like talking about money unless you can put a face on a dollar and say with integrity how that dollar will be used. That is true for me.

I have worked in Association, Conference, and Denominational Stewardship leadership. After forty years of doing stewardship work, I find that involving every member of the congregation in the consecration of our individual gifts, not to the church’s needs, but to God, leads people to greater generosity. I am happiest when giving generously to my fullest ability.

Over the years, I served congregations with no endowment and several with large endowments. People have told me, they withhold their giving when they know that their church has endowment funds that can be and are withdrawn to support the mission of the church. I am appalled when they tell me that. In essence, they are saying, “I will be stingy with what I have until the church uses up its resources.” I think that is silly. I give generously, especially when the church exhibits fiduciary responsibility by maintaining reserve resources for the good of the church and uses some when emergencies arise. I have never given a penny to support the budget of the church. I give because I have experienced grace and abundance every day of my life.

I asked personally, that this year, the Stewardship ministry consider giving the congregation an opportunity to make a significant change in how we think about giving. I believe it is boring to give to meet a budget. The challenge for me is to give generously, with my heart and mind, to God, in thanksgiving for the abundance I have experienced my entire life. I told the Stewardship ministry that we should not ask for, “equal gifts from our members and friends,” but rather ask for “equal sacrifice from one and all.”

I’ve seen that our giving is running behind this year. Some may be thinking a financial crisis is looming. I do not believe that for a moment. I believe it is possible that some have believed the lie that we live in a world of scarcity. The truth for all of us is, we live in a world of abundance. We are manipulated by the dominant culture to constantly make us afraid that there will never be enough. I would love to believe at Church of Peace, that this is not true.

On October 21, 28 and November 4, members and a group from of our congregation will tell us why they love our church, what it has meant to them and why they choose to give to and support the mission of the church. I know I can count on you to participate. Since being your interim pastor, I have enjoyed seeing a gracious spirit building each week as we worship together. I do believe that at Church of Peace, there is a move of the Spirit afoot. It makes me believe some days, that, “God Is Still Speaking.” I continue to believe in, and trust the promise that the Holy One is among us.

Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 10/11/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Wow – we are so fortunate! Don’t let this amazing 2018 autumn get away from you without getting your fill of it – indulge in it! The beauty around us is breathtaking – let’s not take it for granted!

Church of Peace is a busy place, as usual. Today we are again hosting the Life Line Screening organization for their health screening event – until 5:30.

Don’t forget that this Sunday is our YMCA Fun Day. Our Stewardship Team has set up the day for our church to use the Fond du Lac YMCA free of charge for the day.

Remember that COP offers a $1,000 scholarship to full-time post-secondary students who are COP members in good standing. If you know of anyone who would qualify – application deadline is November 15 of this year.

Be sure to pick up a bulletin this Sunday – it’s filled with lots more information and announcements.

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Xenophobia

Most of us know what Xenophobia is. It is simply put, “the fear of the stranger.” It is, “the fear of people not like us.” My pop, (Joseph A. Cordaro), was Sicilian and stood all of five foot, four inches in height. First off though, my pop was a World War II veteran and following the war, a high school math and physics teacher. He taught me a lot about life. One of the things he taught me was that it was okay to be friends with people not like us. In his home, I experienced xenophobia I had not known existed at that time. In 1955, we moved to a suburb on the south side of Chicago. In our grammar school there were many first generation Mexican kids who attended school with me and my sister and brother. I attended sleepovers at my new friends’ homes. Their parents though would not let them come over to our home and I didn’t know why.

When I went to their homes, their parents spoke Spanish and a bit of broken English. I thought it was amazing. One day, my school became fully integrated. A ten year-old black boy came to our school and was the first African American to ever be enrolled there. His name was Paul Neely. I liked him and invited him to come home with me after school one day. Paul only stayed an hour that day. However, the eyes of the curtain twitchers in the neighborhood saw him coming to and going from our house. That evening, when the neighborhood men returned home from work, a group of them came to our door and told my pop that blacks and Mexicans were not welcome in our neighborhood and they would not allow it.

Of course, my pop was the shortest man on the block. He went out and told these neighbors that we could and would have anyone in our home that we wanted to invite. He came back into the house when our threatening neighbors left and said, “You can invite Paul to visit again.” I did. I was frightened of my neighbors that night. Those neighbors threatened our family. It was years later that I realized the word for those neighbors was, “xenophobe, someone afraid of the stranger.” It was years later, in hindsight, that I remembered how very proud of my pop I was. Being Sicilian, growing up in America, could not have been easy for him. His parents knew no English; his family was short and had a dark southern Mediterranean skin color. Add to that the deep-felt prejudice in America against recent immigrant families and you get the picture.

To be fair, pop took the side of all people marginalized by society. I add this; he was a man of incredible faith and took the words of Jesus’ new commandment in the gospels as his marching orders. He was willing to love God with his heart, mind and spirit and his neighbor as he loved himself. What a man! I have spent much of my life following his death in 1974, attempting to find half the character I saw in his life.

I think it is peculiar that forty-three years later, our species has not greatly advanced. We continue to fear people who are different than we are. We fear people of different religions, skin color, pedigree and the like. We are afraid of gays, lesbians, transgendered, and bi-sexual people. We do not mix our friendships with people voting differently than we do. Yet, we are called by texts two thousand years old to love one another. Someone in a church told me once that he loved Jesus, however he was angry that Jesus would say something like that.

Getting back to my south side of Chicago upbringing; twenty years after the time I am writing about, anyone who could not tolerate change had moved away and took their xenophobia to another place. There was no opening a barricaded mind and heart. How sad that they could not love. Loving takes risk, learning, faith and courage and without loving it is impossible to be a follower of Jesus. We are called to love one another as God, according to the four gospels, loved us. End of story. That is the challenge of authentic faith. That is the choice we are forced to make every day. Today, I choose again to walk this path. I hope you will choose again to join me. It is how I choose again to remind myself of the person I am. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 10/4/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our Bazaar was a success, due to the all-out effort of so many helpful and dedicated COP members. The friendliness and cooperation that was apparent to our visitors speaks very highly of Church of Peace!

Stay tuned for the Ladies of Peace church-wide rummage and bake sale – coming up in a month.

Yoga class will begin this Wednesday evening. Wendy Petak is the teacher; the class will go from 6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

COP will again be hosting a Life Line Screening day on Thursday. A discount is available if scheduled ahead at: 1-877-380-1743.

We will have a Fall Clean-Up morning – later this month. Mark your calendar for Saturday, Oct. 27.

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Beauty I once asked an eighth grade student if she thought she was beautiful. Her response to me was, what do you mean? I said, are you beautiful? She became defensive for a moment as you might imagine. She went on though to describe beauty in its many facets and surprised me by the complexity of her answer. I was humbled by the fact that beauty for her had nothing to do with clothing, looks or cosmetics. Her answer was not even about anything regarding her, but rather how she perceived the world about her. It was far and away the best answer to my question that I could ever imagine from a thirteen year old. Recently at the coffee shop a guy walked in and greeted me. We talked about the weather and what not. I saw that his arm was in a sling and asked him, who broke it. He replied, “I fell off a ladder and broke it at a trade show”. Being persistent, I wondered what he was doing at the trade show and he told me he was putting up a booth in order to sell his art. He told me he was a glass maker. Having been to the island of Murano which is a part of greater Venice, Italy recently, I wondered if he had visited the glass blowing workshops there. He surprised me by naming a couple of artists he studied with and how much he loved Murano. My wife and I loved our hours on the island of Murano. We enjoyed seeing glass blown in old- world fashion by a glass artist. Even more so, my wife enjoyed my purchasing wine glasses to transport home for her enjoyment and memory of our being in Venice. We loved even more the laid- back nature of the island. People take the vaporetto (water taxi) to and from work. At noon everything closes down and folks walk to their favorite place for lunch and then return in a leisurely way to work. After work, they take the vaporetto home. As I was talking to my new friend, we spoke of a mutual appreciation of the way people work in a culture and world not our own. In Italy, I didn’t see time clocks to punch to make sure you are not cheating the boss out of five minutes of time. I am sure that in Italian industries they do have time clocks, I just didn’t see one. The sense of work has more to do with pride and what you are creating that leaves one with a sense of beauty and completeness. Cultures are different, to be sure. On the one hand, a laid- back culture like Italy seems to get the job done. Of course they do not do it with a rhythm and style like we do it in the United States. We go crazy about deadlines and getting the job done. We want the world to run the way we do things without regard that there could be other ways of doing business. In Italy my ex-pat (Americans living abroad) friends say nothing works here (in Italy). And yet I saw craftsmanship everywhere and buildings that have stood for many hundreds of years. I saw city workers working with paving stones repairing streets and the streets were beautiful. The apartment we lived in was built in the sixteenth century about the time the Spanish were invading the Americas. Of course, the interior has been redone a few times, but not the stone it was built with, nor the stone stairs inside the building. My present home was built ninety-eight years ago and has been redone many times. It was built with different materials and no doubt will be here a while longer. One of the things that intrigue me is my pessimism about where I live. I am sure it is the result of culture shock after living in a totally different culture and environment. I have glorified Italy and France and often overlooked the beauty around me. The neat homes, tidy yards, graffiti-free buildings and clean air you can breathe are lovely. I also think that in this community people take their families seriously and do the best they can for them whether rich or poor. I appreciate that public education is a right and not simply a privilege. It is beautiful to me that many folks in the community care about their neighbors and their wellbeing. I find too, in this place, pockets of culture, and an appreciation of the fine arts; music, art, and drama. Not everyone appreciates that, however, it is here for the taking should one so wish. I have told family and friends that I have a rule. I call it, “rule number one”, and it is that not everyone thinks like I do. Its corollary is, they probably do not want to. When I am conscious of this rule and its corollary I can be a bit gentler with others around me as well as looking for the beauty in their lives. I can equally apply this rule to the different cultures I have experienced and find an appreciation for each one. For the culture I live in here in Wisconsin, I can equally appreciate the beauty surrounding me daily. I will work at that. Although tonight, I’m thinking about the yellow snow to come outside my home and berms of ice that look like they will last forever. Then I thought about the beauty of a crocus blooming, and the voice of a robin singing and I will be reminded this is paradise. I want to see the world through eyes like that. I believe I am better doing so. The question remains, are you beautiful? Am I? No matter what the world has told you, if you believe in your own beauty no matter what life has stuffed down your throat or what you may be experiencing today, you can see beauty each time you take a breath. Remember, breathe in and out and see what is about you. Enjoy that. I will. By the way I am beautiful and I think you are too. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 09/27/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Happy Fall! Be sure to take time to enjoy this season of colorful beauty and harvest bounty in Wisconsin.

It’s bustling at Church of Peace. The church is bursting at the seams with the Bazaar Committee’s preparations for this Saturday – and all the donations from our parishioners and from generous business owners.

Be sure to plan to be here with a little spare cash. Your stomach will be filled with all the many food choices. And you can be sure you’ll leave with lots of treasures from: Yesterday’s Treasures, our General Store, the unbelievable jewelry collection (with rock-bottom prices, I might add) – our amazing collection of raffle baskets – and so much more! And there are many things for the kids to enjoy, including a visiting police canine (K-9 unit) and fire department personnel with their truck – from the City of Fond du Lac. Even an on-site, live puppy adoption group. The hours are 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Oh – and calling all helpers! Can you lend a hand (and some energy) to assist the Bazaar Committee with “take-down” immediately following the Bazaar – at 3:00 p.m.?! This group of people have worked so hard to prepare for this event. Please show your appreciation, and lighten their work load. (The church needs to be tidy again for Sunday service!)

The Messenger will be available tomorrow. Be sure to avail yourself of all the information and announcements packed into it.

Barbara

Greetings from Church of Peace 09/20/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to the family of Lillian Huecker. Lillian passed away on Friday (September 14). Her funeral service will be at Church of Peace this Saturday, September 22.

We’re having a fall food drive to re-stock our food pantry shelves. Please bring your contributions any time the office is open, or on Sunday when you’re here for service. Thank you!

Hurricane Relief Donations: The United Church of Christ has a UCC “Emergency USA Fund” which provides disaster relief and rehabilitation programming within the United States. If you would like to donate to this fund, Church of Peace will collect your check or cash that you designate as “Hurricane Fund”.

Bazaar set-up will be after worship this Sunday. We will need lots of hands and muscles to make the job quick and easy for everyone. Thank you, in advance!

Please do not bring rummage sale items at this time – we do not have storage space. We will specify a date for those items to be brought (in mid-October) – for the Nov. 2-3 Ladies of Peace Rummage Sale.

The COP eBay Group donates all of their proceeds to our church’s General Fund: $1,000 so far!
Questions? Or if you’d like to help – Call Sharon at 906-9917 or Carol at 933-3070.

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Bad Day at the Pulpit I was chatting with my daughter the other day. I told her I had visited a church on the weekend and was sadly disappointed with my experience. I had been restless and wanted a place to be calm and listen with the best of myself to ancient understandings of truth. I know, in my mind’s eye, I hear you say, “You are a minister, and you should go.” But, since I retired from the clergy I have become selective with my time. I desire not so much passion or entertainment, but rather thoughtfulness, honesty and a word in time to help me make sense of the world I live in. I thought upon retirement that my life might become a bit easier. I thought I might reduce stress and enter the golden years with joy and certainty. All I am saying is I needed something. So I arrive at the church and sit down in a comfortable pew, listen to the organ prelude music, meditate and calm myself. I found the minister to be pleasant with his black dyed hair and jewelry on each wrist. The children’s message was cute, and he talked to the congregation as if each person was his very best friend. During the moments of prayer for the community of the church and the larger world I found myself focused. I offered my own prayers of intercession for family members and friends. I find the occasion of doing so to be positive for me. Then, the time for the homily arrived. I was eager to hear what this pastor thought. He jumped right in by telling the congregation that he was going on holiday for two weeks. One week his elderly mother was coming to visit, and the next he was traveling to see a child that lived some distance away. This took ten minutes. He then spent five minutes looking at a text he never talked about. He never said what he thought or believed about the text. Mercifully, he sat down and the service ended. I looked at my spouse and said something like, “Get me out of here.” I left feeling empty, not challenged, and thinking no wonder the church is in decline. I realize that the experience of a sacred service in any tradition is not about me. It is not even about the congregation attending. It is about understanding something sacred, touching something beyond my grasp and finding myself in the presence of the holy. I do know what is happening in the membership is important, and that people who attend want to feel good about themselves. The upshot is that nothing critical is ever said or even broached. The one thing necessary is never approached and everyone leaves untouched, unmoved, and actually not respected by the clergy. That morning in a strange church I decided not to return. Why bother? If the church does not stand for anything, at least in the sense of the Christian tradition, why bother? If it does not stand in the gap for the broken and the needy who does it stand for? Why pay any attention to it? If I do not feel the presence of that which is wholly other and have my strong defenses broached, how can I change? If the ritual is empty and vacuous, is that not a definition of hell? I have many clergy friends around the country that will tell you that I have a low tolerance level for a worship experience that means little or nothing. They have higher tolerance than I do for crap. I generally, if not engaged, will leave in the middle of an experience that is set up to be drivel. One female pastor friend that I admire was being married in a large church. The ceremony was nice, but the pastor said and did nothing that added to the sacredness of the service. She came to me later and said, “Thank you for not getting up and leaving.” I felt awful that she would think I would do that. However, I wanted to do just that. I attended a number of worship experiences earlier in the year that made me clap my hands, sing, and shout. At those services, I’ve made decisions concerning my time and the direction of my life. In each experience I found myself fully alive and committed to love and service. I, in a word, was moved to be a better person. It was, as author John Shea writes, “An Experience Named Spirit.” I felt the presence of the Holy One. I knew I would be different following this divine human encounter and wanted to be. Through the years I have tried to give a lot, redress my failures, sins and flaws. I would be nothing without having done so. It is in the midst of these encounters that I have found direction, hope, and completeness. To say it clearly, it has helped me be a better man and pastor. This for me is as necessary as breathing. As a Christ follower, this may be what informs the best of me. It does not matter one’s tradition, background, whatever. What matters is that the head and heart are engaged at the core of one’s being. It requires the core of oneself to be fully involved in order to make a difference wherever we are following the experience. I will remain open to that which is authentic and engaging, and look for places that afford that which I cannot find in the world at large. I will attempt to be one that listens deeply. I will not sit through ritual that does not require anything of me other than that which is rote. There I have said it. I feel better now. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 09/13/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to Peggy and the family of David Laehn. David passed away on Monday. His visitation and memorial service will be Monday, September 17th at Kurki-Mach.

Church of Peace is having our Fall Food Drive. Please help to re-stock the pantry shelves. We will have a table set up in the Narthex all week for your donations. *Also: please note that we are well-stocked on canned vegetables.

We are asking that you please wait to bring your “Yesterday’s Treasures” until the week of our Bazaar. We don’t have storage space, and we want to keep our church building attractive. You may bring them – starting Sunday, Sept. 23rd –as we will begin set-up after Worship that day.

“Yesterday’s Treasures” is still in need of more helping hands for their set-up on Thursday & Friday, Sept. 27 & 28. They also need more helpers to work in their booth on the day of the Bazaar. Call Sharon: 920-906-9917 or Wendy: 920-322-1975. Thanks!

If you would like to donate, even an hour or two of your time, on the day of the Bazaar – whether in the kitchen, or elsewhere – your help will be most appreciated. Call the church office for a list of the booths – or call Nancy Pahnke: 920-269-4885. Thanks!

Our Church of Peace Core Values Workshop was held last Saturday morning, with Rev. Jack as the facilitator. There were 28 in attendance. The following is from Matt Moore, Church Council Secretary: Church of Peace Core Values Workshop Saturday, September 8, 2018

The workshop began at 9:00am with 28 people in attendance along with the facilitator, Reverend Jack Kraaz. A roster of attendees was recorded.

Rev Jack began the workshop with an explanation and purpose for the workshop – to identify the core values of Church of Peace. Rev Jack read through a handout titled “Finding our Core Values” which compared the results of having ambiguous core values versus having clear, articulated core values. He reminded all attendees that core values are not mission statements or goals. They are behaviors.

Rev Jack asked all attendees to review a second handout that contained a list of several different values and circle their top ten. The attendees then broke into five groups. Each group worked separately to choose 10 values agreed upon within the group. The groups discussed and shared those values. Rev Jack then asked each group to identify their top seven values, top five values, and finally their top three values. The top core values identified included: love, community, spirituality, growth, faith, acceptance, change, leadership, and mission. Additionally, each group worked together to identify three negative values of Church of Peace. These included: history, selfishness, criticism, disrespect, division, turmoil, close-minded, lack of stewardship, lack of member connection, spitefulness, tradition, non-participation, financial, and lack of change. Rev Jack held discussion on the negative values and what happened to knock Church of Peace out of homeostatic balance.

Each group then selected the five core values from the list of the top core values of each group. All groups combined, the top five core values were identified: faith, growth, community, love, and acceptance. Each group was asked to draft a sentence incorporating these five words that encompass the core values of Church of Peace. Each group shared their sentences with the entire team. After Rev Jack shared two more handouts that provided examples of how other churches shared their core values, Rev Jack and all attendees worked together as one to create a final core values statement. At Church of Peace we practice our faith through acts of love and acceptance, creating growth in our congregation and wider community.

All attendees were in agreement that the core values statement will be an attraction for a future pastor to see and make him or her want to come to our church and our community. Rev Jack will use the core values statement to teach confirmands. It is to be an extravagant welcome in grace, love, and peace at Church of Peace. Core values can be a basis for Sunday school teachings. Rev Jack will put the core value statement in his Thursday emails and in bulletins and newsletters.


The following is Jack’s write-up:

Core Values: By now you’ve heard the news about the Core Values workshop last Saturday, September 9th. It was a memorable morning in that the room of participants talked openly about history, behavior, and hope for the future of the church. At the workshop every participant had an opportunity to have a voice and express choices about the future of the Church of Peace. The outcome was that the participants chose a Core Values statement that all joyfully chose to embrace. From a wide variety of words, the group chose five. They are, faith, love, acceptance, growth and community. The group further put these five words into a sentence that they believe best represents the Church of Peace. That sentence became the value statement that best represents our church. Core Values you see are about how we behave as a community. They are values that become operant as a way of being together as well as what is strived for as a community.

The sentence that the group came up with is simple and potent and is going to be used as the church continues to live in the present, while moving into the future. The sentence reads; “At the Church of Peace, we practice our faith through acts of love and acceptance, creating growth in our congregation and wider community.”

This statement is how I see the future of the church and its health. We will be modeling our future around this simple sentence and looking regularly to see how we are doing as we live into it.

Last Saturday I was enthused by the love, deep commitment, and faith I felt as we worked together. Thanks for being you. The future is at hand. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 09/06/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

A lovely day out there today. It feels like fall, although fall will officially begin nearer to the end of this month. School is again getting into full swing.

We’re gearing up here for the season, as well. Sunday School begins at Church of Peace this Sunday – at 10:00, after service. You may pick up registration forms in the church office, or fill them out on Sunday.

Loaves & Fishes will be served by Church of Peace this upcoming Monday (Sept. 10). We have a sign-up sheet in the narthex – and can still use a few more to help with cooking, serving or clean-up.

Pastor Jack is hoping for a good turn-out for his Core Values Workshop this Saturday morning. We hope you will be there. And please, spread the word – it is open to everyone at Church of Peace. The following article explains the purpose of the workshop:

Core Values Workshop

I have been with you at the Church of Peace a little over three months now. In that time, I have been received graciously and I appreciate that. However, I have been concerned about the Core Values of the church, and how an outsider might view them. I believe a visitor might look at us and wonder what it is that drives the church, how decisions are made and whether or not people truly respect one another with all our differences.

For that reason, with the support of the Council, I am hosting a Core Values workshop in the Fellowship Hall this Saturday morning September 8th from 9 AM- Noon. This workshop is open to everyone in the Church. It is my goal that your voice will be heard Saturday morning as we look at who we are and come to terms with that. I believe the result will be very positive and helpful for our future as a church.

Ambiguous Core Values often result in: poor planning, a preoccupation with trivial matters, low morale, broken relationships, timid and slow decision making, squabbling over matters of personal taste, constantly deferred decision making, and so-called traditions that keep churches from moving forward.

On the other hand, clearly articulated Core Values result in: higher morale, ability to plan for the future, quick resolution of disputes, healthier relationships, a focus on the “big picture,” rapid decision making, and an easier entry for new members.

Those are the two pictures I will present this Saturday morning. I hope we can play together with the process of discerning step by step what the Church of Peace might identify as its Core Values, past, present and future. I am sure you will want to take some time and join us for this exciting and informative morning. I look forward to seeing you then. I literally mean it when I say, “It will be nothing without you.” Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 08/30/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to the family of Margie Kaiser, who passed away on Tuesday evening. Margie’s funeral service will be here, at Church of Peace, on Saturday at 11:00. Visitation will be from 9:00 to 11:00. There will be a luncheon following the service.

Mark your calendars for Monday, September 10 – Church of Peace will be serving Loaves & Fishes. A sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board; your help will be appreciated in any one of various capacities on that day.

Sunday School begins on September 9th. You can pick up registration forms in the church office; they will also be available on the first day.

Confirmation Orientation will be Sunday, September 16 – after Sunday Service. A letter has been sent out to the 7th and 8th grade students.

The Red Cross blood drive is going on here today until 3:00.

Have an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend! Church of Peace office will be closed on Monday in observance of Labor Day.

Check Sunday’s bulletin and the new September Messenger for all the ways that you can contribute to our upcoming COP Bazaar.

Pastor Jack has not added a Musing to this week’s Thursday Letter, as you will find it in the new September Messenger.

Blessings, Barbara!

Greetings from Church of Peace 08/23/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

We have a lengthy Thursday Letter for you today. The first item is “A Note from Pastor Jack” – he discusses his plans to host a Core Values workshop for parishioners. Secondly, we have an update and important message from the Bazaar Committee. Jack’s Musing, called “No-Change Contract” will follow at the end.


A Note from Pastor Jack

Coming into the life of Church of Peace UCC is new to me. I am looking at the Church through the eyes of someone from the outside who wants to know what drives the Church and how the Church sees itself. One of the most important tasks before me, and before you is, how we define ourselves and whether or not that definition is congruent with how we actually are.

For these reasons, I am planning to host a Core Values workshop in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday morning September 8th, from 9AM-Noon. This workshop is open to everyone in the church. With something this important, it is my hope that your voice will be heard as we look at whom we are and come to terms with that. I believe the result will be positive and helpful for the future of the church. It will also help to define our ongoing work together.

Ambiguous Core Values often result in: poor planning, low morale, broken relationships, timid and very slow decision making, a preoccupation with trivial matters, constant squabbling over matters of personal taste, constantly deferred decisions, and so called traditions that keep the church from moving forward.

On the other hand, clearly articulated Core Values result in: higher morale, ability to plan for the future, quick resolution of disputes, healthier relationships, a focus on, “big picture” items, rapid decision making, and easier entry for new members.

These are the two pictures I will present on Saturday morning September 8th beginning at 9:00 AM. I hope you will choose to participate and play with me in the process of discerning step by step what Church of Peace UCC might identify as its Core Values. I can promise you this; the morning will be exciting, inclusive, informative and help to clarify the future of the church. This morning will be literally less without you. Please join me for this informative and crucial morning.

Refreshments and beverages will be served. See you then, Pastor Jack


CHURCH OF PEACE TO HOLD 46th ANNUAL BAZAAR - SEPTEMBER 29, 2018

Bazaar chairpersons have been meeting monthly to plan this year’s September 29th event. The time will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We need YOUR help to make this wonderful event a huge success!

THE FOLLOWING IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT INFO FOR ALL CHURCH OF PEACE MEMBERS:

We will have an area at the downtown Farmer’s Market on Aug. 25, Sept.1st, 15th and 22nd — from 8 a.m. to noon. We will need at least two people to hand out fliers and display a few items that will be sold at the bazaar. We have Aug. 25th covered. We’ll need to set up, starting at 7:30 a.m. and have our area ready by 8:00 a.m. Please call Nancy Pahnke at (920) 269-4885 if you would be able to man this area.

Thanks to Eric Rebedew for arranging to have a fire truck in our parking lot so our young people may tour it and talk to those watching over us. Little helmets will be given out.

We will also have the police canine (K-9) unit giving children friendly demos.

Children will also be able to paint a small ceramic piece for $2.00 to take home with them.

Jewelry Booth is in need of donations and will take perfume, unused and unopened make-up, and jewelry of all kinds. They welcome watches, bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces – actually any piece of jewelry. (Broken pieces are still being accepted, but ASAP, in order for Denny Smith to make repairs.) Please drop off at church or call Denny at 922-1635. Starting Monday, September 24, Denny and Faye will be in the Multi-Purpose Room every day at 9 a.m. and could use your help setting up the fancy jewelry.

Heavenly Handbags is also looking for donations of clean, gently used purses, wallets, cosmetic bags, tote bags and scarves. There is a plastic tub located in the Narthex outside the Food Pantry. If you have any questions, please contact Cheri Welch at 920-238-5139.

General Store is in need of ice cream pails with or without covers, paper bags, produce, jams/jellies, pickles and crafts of all kinds.

Bakery and Candy – how many of you really like homemade bakery and candy? We’re sure many of you have some good recipes for things that you would like to make to share with our guests. Please mark your bakery if it is sugar free, gluten free or with/without nuts. Bakery and Candy really goes fast.

Book Nook will be featuring books of all kinds, including recipe books, and magazines. We may also have someone there to read to our young people while mom/dad shop.

Yesterday’s Treasures has items that are like gold to some! We have items of all kinds. Your donations in this area are greatly appreciated.

Silent Auction / Raffles. There will be a special raffle of 2 hand-made dog houses. The Bucket Raffle and Silent Auction need donations ASAP (no later than September 17) such as store gift cards, restaurant gift certificates, sporting event tickets, sports memorabilia, handmade woodworking items and any other new items, homemade or purchased. All items should include your name, phone, and the item’s value. Questions? Please contact Connie Olson (920-904-5616) or Pat Hanke (920-979-0054).

Pet Corner will feature couch doggy beds, doggy bandannas, doggy biscuits, doggy blankets and a lot of other items for dogs and/or cats. Use your imagination and help fill this area. Applications will also be taken for the “Lucky Dog Small Breed Rescue” for adoption of puppies.

Fishing Game for kids, at 50 cents a try, “like in the olden days” – a prize every time! Bring a food pantry item — and you can try for free.

Food Court from 9:00 - 2:00: will feature special Mac ‘n Cheese, Hot Dogs, Chili, a Potato Bar and a Sundae Bar. Thanks to Terry & Peter Hoffman who will be our cashiers.

Take-Home Caramel Apples and Popcorn can be enjoyed at church or at home.

D O Y O U R E M E M B E R THE F A M O U S K N E E P A T C H ES F R O M
A F E W Y E A R S B A C K ? I S T H E R E A N Y O N E R E A D Y T O
V O L U N T E E R T O T A K E T H I S P R O J E C T O N ?

HELP IS REALLY NEEDED, ESPECIALLY IN DINING AREA — AND SET-UP AND TEAR-DOWN. Set-up entails setting up tables, racks, etc. for all of the booths on Thursday, September 27 at 1 PM. Help with take-down will be needed at 3 PM on Saturday, September 29. We will be taking down and packing away tables, racks, etc. This would also include any other physical assistance that our booth chairpersons may require. PLEASE CALL NANCY PAHNKE OR BARB GUSTAFSON WITH QUESTIONS, OR TO VOLUNTEER. THANK YOU! REMINDER TO ALL – LAST COMMITTEE MEETING WILL BE SEPTEMBER 10th @ 6:30 P.M. WE WOULD APPRECIATE IF ALL CHAIRPERSONS WOULD ATTEND


No-Change Contract

For years, I worked with congregations, families and individuals regarding change. Often, the system or individual I was working with was living with a no-change contract. Often the system or individual was plugging along in disarray and systemic dissatisfaction. Although the person or system was asking for help to change something, the system/person would do whatever was possible to remain stuck in non-productive behavior and ultimately sabotage whatever change they said they wanted.

Maybe it is human nature to remain in misery. However, through making a change, a system/person could find happiness. By a simple change in behavior, outlook, or relationships one could have a whole new outlook on life. I have often underestimated the cost of making a change. The cost is often not financial, although finance may be involved. The cost is often risking moving into an area in which a specific outcome cannot be guaranteed. Often the fear of some form of abandonment is at the core of said or desired change. Some species on the planet, (Impalas for instance), will not leap to safety if they cannot see where their feet will land. Fear often keeps people locked in place too.

I’ve often found myself backing away from pushing others toward what I see as a logical outcome that might produce the desired change someone says they want. I have to remind myself internally that it is important to not push them to take a risk until they can visualize the change itself. For many, continued suffering is a life experience that they can bear because they have no sense of the freedom of choosing to learn to live another way. In a sense, some people take great pride in their suffering, even when another choice can be made to mitigate a situation that is not making them whole.

A man recently asked me how he could become a better man. I took him to a mirror and had him look at the person looking back at him from that mirror. I asked him if he loved the person he saw? He said, “Sometimes I do, but not always.” I loved his honesty. But, then he said, “I want to love myself more.” I explained to him that it was possible but that the cost of doing so was to hear what Jesus taught his followers. I told him that when Jesus taught folks the royal law, he said, “you must love God with all you have and you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (St. Mark 12: 28-32)

Lost in our modern era is the love of self. We have been taught that self-love is pride. But, Jesus commands that we love ourselves. I believe we have in the church been taught something that is wrong. The heart of the gospel suggests that unless we love ourselves in our core, then we cannot love another. Jesus gently invites the likes of you and me to give our self-loathing a rest and claim the Holy One’s undeserved forgiveness and grace. Change may not happen in an instant. Over time though, the results of practicing self-love will change everything. This means for you and me that we change by practicing a new behavior. I have to practice this daily because I want to change. I want to be healthy in body, mind and spirit as long as I live. Some of us are ready, some are considering change, and some of us will resist change until the day we die. My life is too short to not risk changing. I do not have the time to be miserable. Somehow I believe at your core you do not either. “Oh, go ahead, go throw a kiss to the person looking back at you in the mirror and to the best of your ability forgive that one his/her sins.” It is a new day for you and for me. If you should begin acting on the above, let me know. It is the work of a lifetime and worth every bit of energy you put into doing so. A no change contract in life debilitates and weakens individuals and systems. Whether it is the church, a family or an individual, choosing to change while difficult, leads to mental, emotional, spiritual health. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 08/16/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to the family of Bonnie Giese. Bonnie passed away on Tuesday.

Don’t forget – we meet for this Sunday’s worship at Taylor Park for Outdoor Worship, followed by a picnic/pot luck lunch! Bring a dish to pass, along with lawn chairs. Sub sandwiches, water, plates and utensils will be provided. Friends of Taylor Park will sponsor a free swim from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., for members of Church of Peace.

On Tuesday, the Ladies of Peace has their outing to Neenah and Oshkosh; they’ll leave from church at 9 a.m. Contact Bonnie for questions or to RSVP: 922-6734 or davedenslow@yahoo.com.

There will be Bible Study next Tuesday.

September Messenger articles are due on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Aug. 26, there will be a Youth Trip to Fondy Sports Park at 6:00 p.m. More details will be upcoming.

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Bone Tree

I recently finished a book titled, “The Bone Tree.” It is written by one of America’s great young writers, Greg Iles. The book is not for the faint of heart. It is an eight- hundred-page novel. That is not what disturbed me. I love reading a long novel and getting lost in story and characters. What made me queasy reading the Bone Tree is the subject matter, which is the deep-seated racism in the Southern states of our country and the on-going deep-seated racial tension present in America for hundreds of years now. Mr. Iles talks about prejudice and bigotry in a manner I understand. For example, I would love to see prejudice and bigotry abated. I would like to see the love and grace promised in the gospels and the book of Acts, where strangers, foreigners, and all kinds of human beings are reconciled to one another by love and grace alone. It began with Jesus and carried on with the clowns (the disciples) following him around the Levant (holy land).

So, I do not know if I recommend reading Iles’ book to you. If you are ready for a turbulent ride that will disturb you, wake you at midnight thinking and not letting go until dawn, then by all means read it. It is dark, unrelenting, passionate, at times confusing, beautifully written and unremittingly driven to its final conclusion. I loved it. Funny thing, in a recent New York Times column, one of my favorite writers, Nicholas Kristof, wrote about racial preferences. He said, that within a fifth of a second the human brain processes racial preference. And, the preference for our group is generally noted first. This is so for different races. However, when different races are well integrated it is less so. There is a test site that will help you determine your preferences and how skewed your preferences might be. The link is below. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

I visited some friends two years ago on the south side of Chicago and experienced at firsthand the ugliness of racism. The reason for the visit was a celebration of their son’s success. While there, someone started talking about “niggers”, “jigs” and “jungle bunnies.” The reason for this horrible language was an attempted mugging of the wife. In a moment, my friends had lumped an entire race of people into racial stereotypes. I protested. I was angry enough to take my bags and leave their home. Later, I tried to point out that it was an individual and not a race of people that had attempted robbing the wife. When I left, we were awkward with one another and the relationship is still not fully healed. But I simply cannot and will not tolerate racial slurs and the denigration of people not like me. I believe that family was expressing slurs that keep hatred and division alive. They are Bible-believing racists. Good news has not yet transformed them.

Since being your transitional interim pastor I have been amazed at the grace you have shown to take risks and entertain change. I compliment you for this.

Back to this book, The Bone Tree. If you do not want to spend a week reading it as I have, you may want to visit the public library and at least read parts of it. I recommend pages 737 through 758. This passage left me emotionally drained but convinced that it was the best reading I have done this year. In these pages, Iles describes the funeral of a Caucasian journalist that takes place in a black church and the responses of the congregation. I believe you will be as deeply moved by it as I was. It speaks of the action that we, as followers in the path of Jesus, are called to walk. Actually, it is not a Christian thing at all. It is something all sentient humans can and should be about. Healing human wounds in a diverse society can only be done when our hearts are involved. That is not for the faint of heart.

Maybe I’m naïve, but I believe with deep passion that every time we speak truth to power something positive changes in our world. When we take baby steps, we are learning to walk. I want to walk with my neighbor. Don’t you? Again, thanks for who you are and what you are becoming. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 08/09/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

We’re hoping that everyone has been able to find enjoyment in these wonderful summer days of Wisconsin. Be sure to put it into your plans to attend our own Church Picnic on Sunday, the 19th. The Stewardship Committee guarantees a lot of fun for that day. Ladies of Peace is planning another one of their summer outings for Tuesday, the 21st. Contact Bonnie to RSVP: 922-6734.

Let’s again recognize those who have been coming in throughout the weeks to keep up with the maintenance of our beautiful landscape. We very much appreciate your time and effort – and sweat!

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Being Ashamed of Your Past Is Absolutely Insane. Learn From It. Don’t Let It Debilitate You. New Day. New Love. New Mind. Every Morning. KUSHANDWIZDOM “Chocolate Socrates”

My daughter Rachael posted this on her Facebook page. I do not know who Kushandwizdom are nor what Chocolate Socrates is. What I know, having experienced shame myself, a time or two is, allowing shame of a past experience to run rampant destroys the best of us.

Not to worry, I will not describe the shaming moments of my life. I do not need to know yours either. However, if you have never felt shame, you must be fairly lonely and isolated. Sad. Most of us, even the most serious, religious, and intelligent among us are not immune to memories of shame. For example, I have a new friend I met this week. The first thing this friend said at the beginning of our dialogue was, “I used to lie, cheat and steal.” I responded, “me too.” I wondered why we began a dialogue with our pasts and the remembrance of shame? I think, maybe, at the beginning of our dialogue my friend was setting ground rules. The ground rules are, integrity first, and foremost. If it is safe to tell the truth, we can go from there. My friend may have been saying, if you are put off by the past, then maybe we cannot talk about anything of substance. Or maybe this friend felt the need to warn me about past mistakes so I wouldn't expect too much of the relationship.

This person is not a slave to the past, personal imperfections, peccadillos, or how others have chosen to define his life. This friend is too busy living in the present moment. I like this friend’s self-definition of how he has become with himself and others. He does not judge himself by voices that victimize. He lives out of grace and reality. He is constantly reinventing himself. Somehow, I do not believe that came easily to him.

I have another friend who is weighed down with guilt and shame for some unknown reason. She does not feel like she is ever enough. She feels she is not smart enough, pretty enough or good enough. She is a practicing Christian, and for the life of her, cannot forgive herself for something she cannot or has not identified. I don’t get it. Forgiveness is a basic practice among many Christians I know. Love yourself as you love your neighbor. How can one not live out that simple practice? Instead, many people of the Christian faith practice being powerful and looking good. The reason for that seems, to my eyes, that if you wrap yourself in the illusion that you are okay and do not wish others to see you as you really are, nobody will know you are human and flawed. I think my friend may have unresolved issues concerning her sexual orientation. Being told all her life that it is wrong to have feelings for someone of your own sex, and that it is not okay to be whom and what you are has left her in limbo. What would people think if they knew she harbored such thoughts? So she has lived her life with guilt and shame. She may not have embraced her deepest truth, because family and church prohibited her from doing so. Insane, don’t you think? I do. I am a big fan of the phrase, ‘come out, come out, wherever you are.’ No need to contemplate suicide because you are different than others. No need to feel guilty or ashamed of being human. However, such a change, going against a lifetime of negative teaching, fear, and shame, takes courage and would certainly be the biggest decision of her life.

I have another friend with whom I had a beverage recently. He is angry, often depressed, negative, cynical, and often recalls in dialogue the shame he experienced in his family of origin, his childhood, and in his church with priests. My friend is very bright. He is a responsible leader in the community. Whatever we talk about seems to cycle back to the experiences of shame. The root of shame, I remind him is that it is about us. It is not always about what we have done. Often it is about what has happened to us in our spheres of influence. It is a wound that keeps on giving no matter how it came to be. In counseling, he is being taught to show himself mercy and let the past go. He is learning to laugh at himself and simply have fun. Beautiful.

I am not framing my thoughts about shame today in religious or spiritual terms. This is so much bigger than faith, although faith can really mess with your head. That is, because religious people often ram their biases down one’s throat. Culturally people remain stuck, spinning their wheels and being unable to let shame go, and this bothers me. I have, through the years said to past guilt about something I did and shame about how I feel about myself, “I am sorry.” I decided, I cannot change the past, but I can be a better man beginning now with the choices I make today. I can reprogram myself to be fully me. On the back of my former smart phone, I had a sticker that simply said, “Keep Calm/Be Yourself.” I think that’s good advice for anyone who’s not a sociopath.

To all my friends who continue to feel the pain of past shame I say, “Love yourself.” You can’t be that bad: I’m your friend, after all. Someone knows most of your little secrets. Those that are not known and yet remain repressed do not need to kill loveable you. Choose to let them go. Open your hands, release them, you honestly don’t need them. They, my friends, are not you or me. Choose today to not let shame define you. Choose today to not let the past define you. There is new love, new light, and a renewed mind, waiting for you each new morning. Embrace it and give up insanity.

I think, and believe that, it is possible for each of us to find the love of our lives. That love of course is you. You are the love of your life. Past programming does not have to define you. You can choose today to let that go. You can redefine love and find joy and delight just by breathing. I believe it is also possible to begin to see the cosmos with new eyes. I have friends who have disappeared from my life for a time only to reappear later. Often I am amazed when I see how these friends have metamorphed. Many have traversed difficulties and past shame and found for themselves something new. One friend came out and embraced his sexual orientation and made a life change. His former spouse accepted this as well as his children. Today, he is thriving and writes without a darkness that bordered on insanity. I love him more than I ever did. When he realized how important he was, especially to himself and began the non-competitive journey toward truth and self-love, he emerged a different person.

Another friend in chaotic distress told me she was arrested for petty theft. She couldn’t get it together and talk. After an hour she put it in perspective. She looked at her own self-misery and feelings of abandonment, calmed down, and began loving herself again. In a similar manner in the film, “The Identity Thief”, the main character played by Melissa McCarthy, comes to terms with her past shame and abandonment. In so doing, she takes responsibility for her behavior and resolves her shame. She then finds herself capable of having real relationships.

It may be that rudimentary change is necessary. Even observing others living non-shame based lives can help. Then, choosing to live life without shame, finding a community to support the reach toward freedom, and listening to voices that are authentic seem to be a common key among folks I have watched come out of a place that controls their lives and history. If that doesn’t happen, insanity—or at least, misery —could be the other option.. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 07/02/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to the family of Malita Patchett who passed away on Tuesday evening. A funeral service will be held at Church of Peace for Malita on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be from 9:00 to 11:00. A luncheon will follow the gravesite service.

Please note that our Food Pantry is getting low on funds. If you can help with a contribution, please designate your giving specifically as: Food Pantry. Thank you!

If you know of a parishioner who is not getting our emails, have them get their email address to the church office: churchofpeaceucc@att.net Our monthly newsletter is online at www.uccchurchofpeace.org

Some members have been getting our newsletter (the Messenger) by US Mail. If you are able to pick up your copy at church, or can get it online – be sure to have Barbara take you off the mailing list. (We’ll save postage.) Thanks!

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Salt and Light The beatitudes are found in Matthew chapter five. Just following presenting the beatitudes, Matthew has Jesus say these words, “You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.” The words are spoken to people who live in a land occupied by the Roman Empire, and who are ruled by a religious theocracy based around the Jewish temple. Among those of you reading these words, many of you would say, you are somewhat spiritual and not religious. So, you may be asking, “why bother reading on?” I would say it is because you and I are a lot like those ancient people living in a confusing time, where it is difficult to know what is what. Today we live in a country where illusion dominates the landscape. Ours is a country where the Supreme Court says that a corporation is a person, where the poor are blamed for their poverty, where entropy is the order of the day, where people question hope, where people call their president the anti-Christ. It gives you pause. Then Matthew places these words in the mouth of Jesus who tells us in the indicative, “you that hear these words are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.” I read these words and thought to myself, me, and you? Salt is no good by itself. It is constantly used to enhance something else. Light is necessary to see. A little goes a long way. If you are still reading, I want you to know it is not to convert you. It is rather to say that in the midst of the insanity of the age we live in, I have seen you make a difference by being uniquely you. If you are my friend, I like to think that you are different, odd. You add something to every conversation, you do not just fit into a mold, and you are a bit of an enigma not only to others but also to yourself. Because you know me, I believe that is how you might describe me. The fact is, when you enter a room I never know what to expect. I generally have watched you struggle with how to be, how to frame your thoughts, how to embrace your enemies, how to make a difference to the environment, how to be generous with your substance, etc. Maybe I am crazy, but I care about you because I constantly see you changing, engaging, dreaming not about how your life could better, but how we could all be better. Some of you teach children and adults, some of you are counselors, some ministers, some working as leaders of companies large and small where you have accepted responsibility for others. Some of you are artists, musicians, and healers. Some of you are stuck with time clocks, and are struggling to move away from lives where those with power yank your chain and manipulate your time and day-to-day life. Some of you have depended on food stamps and help from others to survive while working as hard as you can to make ends meet. You want to give your life away to something you perceive as being bigger than you imagine. One of you said you wanted to give your life to your art. In that alone you are enhancing and enriching the world. My point in writing this is to say that you are not living for wealth and power, the illusion of every time and age. Your personal compass drives you to be better. You model that in such a fashion that, I want to be a better man. You are salt and light. In and of yourself, by your nature, you make me happy to be alive. You make the world better. You heal me. You make a difference even when you question your purpose daily. You get out of bed each day and face it to the best of your ability. I think I would be nothing without you. It would be safe to say, you have capacities the world cannot survive without. I received a call two years ago that said a good friend had died after battling cancer. I began grieving when I received this news. My friend was larger than life. I met my friend on the basketball court in a former lifetime and had not seen him for thirty years. He worked as an industrial plant manager. He was a fisherman, ran trap lines and was a real sportsman. He was also a serious all around tough guy. He would often beat the crap out of me on the basketball court. He loved me but would never say those words. As I got to know him, his family and nature, I discovered a person I loved and admired. About thirty-two years ago a group of people I served, decided to bring a couple out of the former communist Poland. They were in a camp having escaped from Poland after participating in the overthrow of their government in the 1980’s. When this couple arrived, we needed to quickly find jobs for them. I turned to my friend and he said he would help but that he would treat the husband with no favoritism in the plant he managed. He would take a chance with this man who could not speak English and treat him like all his employees, with fairness and discipline. He did just that. Thirty-two years later, the former Polish refugee, is a successful businessman. My friend took a risk; he was pure salt and light. He helped make the world a better place. What more can I say? Although I had not seen him or his family in many years, I am letting you know that in my life and times, I watched someone be rich, true and use his capacities for something greater than himself. Enough said, shine on my friend and never forget who and what you are in this world, “Salt and Light.” Again, and I mean it, “I would be nothing without you. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 07/26/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Our condolences to the Debra Coon family and the family of Diane Reiter. Their mother, Marie Jones, passed away on Friday, July 20. A funeral service is being held on Saturday in Mellen, WI.

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Abundance or Scarcity If you perceive the universe as being a universe of abundance, then it will be. If you think of the universe as one of scarcity, then it will be. Milton Glaser

I often think about what a tricky thing perception can be. I am sure you remember the glass half empty/glass half full debate. It is about how you perceive the liquid in the glass. For many, the glass is always less than half full and you fear you will run out, while for others, it is half full, thus there is plenty. I generally am on the side of believing that the glass is half full, and that the universe is abundant as science is teaching us constantly. I am glad I am in a UCC congregation. Here, I can freely believe that we have not yet scratched the surface of the mysteries beyond our knowing.

I held a fragment of moon rock recently. I was blown away by the anomaly of that piece of rock being on the earth. I am blown away by the gravity wave recently discovered and its implications for science. Having dinner with two Physics teachers awhile back, my excitement about this discovery had me tingling. I am sure some idiot believes that gravity waves should be weaponized, and is trying to figure out how to do so now. After all, one needs to protect one’s resources or get a corner on the market, because there is not enough to go around. And, after all, me and mine are more important than you and yours.

My point is this, it is summer. It is the time of year that we do not think about giving and harvest. For me it is also a time that I believe the Holy One has done and is doing the impossible. It is a time when our imaginations should be running out of control. But, due to being stuck in the mode of scarcity, we place ourselves in a little box labeled just that, scarcity. We place limits on our imagination and go through our lives saying there is not enough. However, when we counteract the fear of scarcity with a vision that there is abundance all about us, we begin to experience everything we see and explore as being new and graced with unexpected possibility.

I am a dreamer. I live in hope. I hate standing around and wasting my time thinking I do not have enough. I literally work toward imbuing my mind’s eye with the belief that, “there is enough”, and that the universe is miraculous. I do not think I am important in the grand scheme of things. I think I participate in making the world a better place. I practice living and giving away myself in the belief that that is what matters. I want to know more than I do now. I want to always remain on the edge. I want to imagine the shape of things to come with whatever capacities are at my disposal. I am a person of faith. I believe that as I model grace, and generosity, I am influencing outcomes larger than myself.

Congregations are often faced with choices. Those that believe in abundance change whatever they touch. I have witnessed Congregations that practice scarcity, and have watched them whither and die. Sometimes, it gets confusing. I for one, cannot abide the idea of scarcity. The basis of scarcity is fear. I believe that love casts out fear. Where there is love, there is no room for scarcity or fear. So, I believe the universe is a universe of abundance. I hope you think so too. I also believe that the glue in the universe is love.

My mother, who passed eight years ago said, “Jack, there is enough love to go around for everyone.” At the time we were discussing whether or not she took the wrong baby home from the hospital. She said, “I don’t think so.” She added that, “although I did not think, or oft behave like my siblings, because of the miracle of love, she was sure the right baby left the hospital with her that day.” You see, the universe is differentiated. There is endless variety to behold, enjoy and yes, love. It is abundant when we open our hands and celebrate all that is there on which to feast.

The Church of Peace is no different. The only thing that can keep the Church struggling financially is the practice of scarcity. However, being a congregation committed to love, grace, and generosity our practice must be abundance and a willingness to see through the eyes of the one who fed the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd. For you and me, it is time to choose which God we serve. The God and father of Jesus, the creator of the universe, practices making what to our mind’s eye impossible, possible.

If you can, open your mind to possibility. There is enough. If you come to church on Sunday morning, I’ll have a wee surprise for you, one and all. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 07/19/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Know someone who is searching for a church home?

Invite them to worship with us – or to an event here at Church of Peace. Reach out!

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Mind the Gap

When in England a short while back, my wife and I learned how to navigate London via the “Tube.” It was great fun and I enjoyed the experience. There are trains going everywhere underground and above ground also. However, I was stunned on every train ride I took to hear British politeness come to the fore. For example, as the train arrives at the platform, a voice rings out, "Please mind the gap." The gap of course is the space between the platform and the floor of the coach you are entering or exiting.

Sometimes there was no worry about falling into the gap. The gap was small and there was no issue. On some trains though, the gap between the coach and the platform could swallow a leg, arm or suitcase. This was especially so on the Piccadilly line which we took often. However, never let it be said that British sensibilities do not reign. I began habitually minding the gap or as we say in America, “looking before I leap.” It got so that every time a voice said "mind the gap", I could hear British/American comedian, John Oliver making a fist and yelling, “Mind the gap, Jack! Mind the gap!”

Day to day, we all live in ignorance. We are unaware of some things, not because we knew them once but have forgotten them, but because we never took care (or were able to) learn them at all. We don’t pay attention to the gaps in our lives. Often we find ourselves dropping into gaps that could be perilous. Trapped in emotion, confusion, stubbornness, and projection, we find that we have difficulty functioning at our best or indeed at all. Maybe you find that you should have studied more when in school, or realized that understanding English and the difference between verbs and nouns is important in writing sentences. Faced with a lack in your education, you may have found a need to return to school, to study grammar, to fill that gap.

At times we think we know something until faced with someone who actually does. To fill that gap would require you or me to check our information, correct it if need be, and free ourselves from living with that gap. I know something about astrophysics, but not enough to talk about what I know. It is a gap from time to time I try to fill by reading about the subject. I’m trying to mind the gap. It really is okay to acknowledge that there are gaps in our lives. When conscious of the gaps in understanding, knowing, working, and playing, you and I have a choice. We can fill in the gaps using resources at our disposal, or allow the gaps to remain. If we choose the latter, it is important to mind them. That in and of itself is knowledge of a kind.

Although a history major in college back in the 1960s, my education left me woefully unaware of the early beginnings of racism in the United States. I was exposed to, Jim Crow laws and rules that relegated blacks to second-class citizenship. I was aware that the indigenous population in our country was subjugated, and that the truth about the cowboy and Indian movies I grew up watching is that, the stories were fabricated, favoring the way white Americans viewed other races. Only recently have I thought about the distortive way we tell our history.

I attended grammar and high school with Hispanic and African Americans and had many friends of both races. I really liked and admired many of them. However, when I arrived in high school, I saw them self-select along racial and ethnic lines. Throughout high school I maintained relationships with these friends and saw most of them segregated from white college-bound students. Following high school graduation, to my shame, I lost track of virtually every one of them. I was not conscious of the gap between their non-white world and my white world. Only recently have I identified the gap. Bryan Sirchio, a UCC minister, talked about the, “Doctrine of Discovery”, at a conference I attended recently. I have since the conference been researching that, doctrine. (See Steve Newcomb, Five Hundred Years of Injustice). It all goes back to Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) in 1493. Alexander VI issued a papal bull allowing Christian people in foreign lands to subjugate non-Christian populations and conquer the land in the name of the European Christian country. Non-Christians were thought to be less than human, and therefore could be enslaved or killed.

In 1823, the United States, in a Supreme Court decision (Johnson v McIntosh), allowed the continuance of the same practices that European (Christians) used in conquering non-Christian peoples. Due to the fact that the American colonies had been established by Christian nations, America could continue adhering to the, Doctrine of Discovery.” The 1823 Supreme Court Decision has not been struck down as far as I am aware. We all know the legacy with which we continue to struggle.

It is no wonder there continues to be racial tension, and continuing distrust among differing races in America. White Americans in the North and the South, practiced a historic learned behavior (prejudice), brought to these shores by “colonizers” over five hundred years ago. We have not yet unlearned the prejudice with which we have grown up.

I struggle deeply in my heart with the continuing distortions of white entitlement and racial divisions everywhere. That gap could be changed as is being done today in Canada through the, “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” which calls on “Church and State”, to publicly, acknowledge complicity in the racism that created the mistreatment and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples.

In the United States, a 2013 documentary called, “Some Girls” examines the way Latina girls see themselves, and follows them as they become aware—and accepting--of their mixed heritages. It presents the positive change that children in America experience when, in learning about their history, they can see themselves as different and beautiful as they are. The documentary examines the history of racism in the Americas, and the subjugation of the populations from which these girls evolved. The whitewashed history, many others and I learned in school didn’t tell the whole story. “Some Girls” is a moving documentary that is beautifully done and humbling to watch.

Today, I’m aware of the troubling gap left in my education, a gap that allowed me to live a long life which left me ignorant of the cultural gap between me and those considered other (non-whites). My premise for closing the gap is, to acknowledge my historic inability to open my eyes (ignorance) and see my neighbor as myself. That five centuries ago, European Christians created the, “Doctrine of Discovery”, and brought us to the place we are now in America is distressing. I am repenting (turning around) of that viewpoint, and am determined to work for justice in regard to my non-white neighbors.

I don’t know about you, but I know about myself, I want to mind the gap. Who knows, maybe I can avoid stumbling if I can maintain and increase my consciousness. What I find myself struggling with, though, is the recurrent voice of scolds telling me to mind the status quo. Telling me to mind my own business and get over the past even though the much of the past lives on in the present. That behavior, makes me angry and resentful. I stop listening to such voices. I know that those voices are often biased by their own life experience. But, I simply cannot hear those voices because of how patronizing their self-righteousness sounds in my ear.

Back to London: The British are great at putting phrases just right. In a pleasant manner they simply and politely remind you to pay attention to the gaps around us. Carry on. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 07/12/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Summer continues to be busy at COP – whether it’s our neighbors visiting for Loaves & Fishes, the Food Pantry and Salvation Army’s bag lunches – or members volunteering their time with the outdoor landscape or the eBay group, church history and records, regular maintenance work or inspections, improvements, Council meetings, Bazaar planning, etc., etc.! It’s a dynamic place. And Sunday Service brings it all together.

Thank you, as always – to those of you who give your time! And let us know if another of you wants to help.

If you know of a member who is not getting this email with Pastor Jack’s musings, have them get their email address in to the church office: churchofpeaceucc@att.net

A long-time member of Church of Peace has passed away – Willi Melchert. Be sure to remember him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

The following is Jack’s musing:

Domestication

I have been a minister for many years now. I have observed the church and church folks for well over half my life. Wherever I have served, people have attempted to domesticate me. Parishioners hear me give a message about Jesus healing someone and they want to put me on a board or committee at the hospital. If I have preached good news that is to release captives, feed the hungry, or transform a community, people say, that will cost money. I have made people uncomfortable talking about renewal of body mind and spirit. Sure enough, someone will attempt to stuff a rag in my mouth in order to tame me. I have been told that I am impetuous; speak globally about many issues from war, to women’s rights concerning choice over their bodies, to racism, to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered issues. I have been told not to talk about things like that and yet I read my Bible and it seems I stand in a long tradition of those that believe that is exactly where the Holy One would have me speak. I am known for speaking up when it comes to the marginalized, the little ones, and the last and least.

I think if I was quiet and muted in some fashion, I might have been better liked or something like that. Again though, as I read the Bible, it seems that Jesus is always upsetting the applecart. He tells the righteous, pious and good, that the sick, weak, poor and marginalized need care. Jesus never says that they should pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make their own way. He tells us to feed them.

John the Baptist preached that people should turn around (repent) and be baptized. When he was not domesticated like a house cat, he was beheaded. When John was murdered, the gospel says Jesus came preaching, saying, “The Kingdom of God is near.” He told people to look, see, believe and follow. Then, he too was killed on trumped up charges by religious authorities and the government. Jesus disciples, following his lead, come after him and they too spoke clearly about the nearness of God’s presence in Christ. The religious authorities and the government did the same to them.

Thomas Long said, “When the world rises up to be the world, Jesus rises from the dead.” Today, all too often we come to church and experience domestication. My premise is, where we find domestication, or someone hell-bent on running the show, the gospel rises up. Good news breaks through barriers and resistance because you cannot tame it, channel it or domesticate it. The power of grace will not be domesticated! It will change something because God’s kingdom is near. I hope to talk about this matter on Sunday. I hope to see you then. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 07/05/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Here’s hoping that everyone enjoyed their 4th of July. And that you’re all handling this summer heat!

Bible Study will begin again on Tuesday – at 10:00.

A big “Thank you!” again, to those helping with watering and weeding, especially through these stressful weather days! We welcome anyone who can help out.

The following is Jack’s musing:

Atypical I became enamored with this word back in 1978 when I took a course titled, “The Atypical Family.” Back in those dark ages the typical family was defined as a family with a mother and father and two point four children. In the course, The Atypical Family, we studied did not fit the typical norm. That especially included families of divorce, families with less than two point four children or more than two point four children. The family system I came from was, you guessed it, atypical. Mother and father divorced in 1949, mother remarried in 1953, three children with an additional child born in 1954. In ever so many ways my family was privileged because my step father, a world war two veteran, had an education and taught math and physics at the high school level. My mother married up. So I was told. In the class I was taking, I became aware of deviations from the statistical norm. In America there were growing numbers of single parent homes, where one or the other parent was absent. There were homes in which one or more children were adopted. Other homes were shattered by violence and forms of abuse and children were growing up in surrogate environments, without biological parents. I was in this exciting class precisely because the world I lived in was atypical and the families around me were atypical, as was my own. However, because of being in this class I became better prepared for the change coming in American society. It was more than I could imagine. I woke up one day recently, thinking about what had become typical. I opened my eyes and found that what was atypical back when I was a graduate student is typical today. Families come in every shape and form. Marriage by definition is changing. Today, the marriage of persons of the same sex is recognized and homosexuality is no longer considered deviant. The courts are involved to a greater degree in protecting children. What a country! Diversity among the population, while a threat to some, is thrilling to others, and I believe is offering the opportunity for everyone to be fully included as part of the whole. Families that were not defined as typical thirty or forty years ago are more the norm today. When I enrolled in this class, my children were eight and four, both daughters. I was a pastor of an evangelical church. The theology of the church no longer fit the person I was emerging to be. It was difficult to fit the atypical crises I encountered weekly into a small box into which all people fit. You were either intact or all right, or you were suspect as not being all right. Life was seen through the prism of this duality that in many ways left one in or out. That system made it possible to, judge, isolate and even condemn those that did not conform to what the system insisted a person be. In that system being atypical was suspect. Maybe that is the human condition. I wanted more. I was talking with my daughter recently. She was interested in what her IQ might be. I told her, and although she is quite gifted and has an above average IQ, she wanted hers to be higher. She is not satisfied that she is okay as she is, atypical herself. She does not understand that we are all atypical in thought, manner and life. Typicality is learned, and observed. She does not quite see that as she is, she is perfect. That is the issue. We are all different, atypical. It is difficult to fit oneself into a box that claims one size fits all. There are forces in the American society that would like to turn back the hands of time. Put society in a bottle that looks like the 1970’s. I for one am pleased that we have choice. Change is natural. Human beings have evolved, maybe in a manner I do not approve of always but they have evolved. A few years back inter-racial marriage was against the law. Today, having parents of different race and religion is seen as an acceptable way to be family. Working through the stressors and barriers to acceptance is the difficulty. Bias seems to be a constant. I love that gay and lesbian children are coming out of the closet at earlier ages. I love that families seem more accepting of their children that do not fit a social norm which their parents may have desired for them. It is refreshing to see that in this country we have the right to express our differences freely and that change is acknowledged. As a pastor, my theology has emerged at a different place today than where it was forty years past. It fits the person I’ve become. I hope you too are on a similar path of consciously welcoming others no matter the path they choose or the state of their atypical personhood. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 06/28/18

Greetings from Church of Peace!

Sunday will be a communion Sunday, and the beginning of July. We wish everyone a wonderful Independence Day to commemorate on Wednesday.

Again, we would love to have your help with watering and weeding the church’s outside plants and flower beds. A big “thank you” for all the help thus far from: Harry Lange Cheri Welch Sharon Terrill Denny Smith Diane Reiter Renee Kiefer We really appreciate you!

And a “shout out” too, to our eBay group. They’ve volunteered many hours learning how to list items for sale on eBay. Already their efforts (and your donated items) have generated several hundred dollars, which is going into Church of Peace’s General Fund.

A member of Church of Peace, Carol Moon, passed away on Tuesday evening. Be sure to keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

If you would like to get our monthly newsletter, the Messenger, online – go to www.uccchurchofpeace.org

Here is Jack’s musing:

Giving and Receiving Hospitality

Hospitality begins when we perceive others and ourselves as strangers in a community of welcome. Seeing the presence of the Holy One in the other enables us to welcome Christ into the midst of the community, with all the costs and joys of discipleship. It is there that change can happen. Gentle, attentive, patient and consistent care is necessary to create a community where members are intentional about seeking and welcoming all, especially those whose abilities, experiences, and cultural traditions are different from the mainstream of the current community.

In a community of hospitality, the whole community becomes aware, sensitive, and open to divergent cultural practices. It reaches far beyond the limits of the familiar in our highly mobile world. The whole community transforms both the newcomer and the community itself.

People ask why the church in America is languishing. I believe it is languishing because it refuses to break out of its fascination with the past. It chooses to do what it has always done which in the 21st century no longer works. It could change by doing what the gospels tell us to do, and that is to follow Jesus into the realm of caring, and loving those the world believes are other than we are. A week ago I was in Canada staying with Muslims. I was also among poor indigenous people who gave me and my wife love and grace. With them, we not only found common ground but a mutual love for one another and a common respect for the particularity of our different faith traditions. Together we were able to abandon the common fear we were taught and love one another.

Our fear, keeps us from growing into the new being that at the edge of our consciousness we know is our purpose for existence. When we cast off our fear and see someone we consider to be the other, you and I can love that one as God in Christ loved you and me. For any church to have a future, it must enter the dangerous, unknown territory of change and trust anew the grace, and love of God and neighbor to be our guide.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning when we will have the opportunity to participate together in the ongoing revolution of practicing our faith with one another. Hospitality is a key practice in order for the church to not only survive, but to thrive. It must be both given and received. It is the work of a lifetime. Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 06/21/18

Greetings from Church of Peace,

Summer has finally arrived, after a lovely spring. As we mentioned last week, we will be continuing to have Sunday services in the Fellowship Hall.

We still need volunteers to keep our many beautiful flowers and trees watered throughout the season. Let us know if you can help. (Bring some friends to make the job easy and fun!)

The following is Jack’s Musing:

Broken

The great twentieth century American playwright Eugene O’Neill said, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue!”

O’Neill was born in the late nineteenth century and obviously used dated gender specific language appropriate to his time. Nonetheless, what he said makes sense if you think and have the capacity to look around long enough to perceive the state of people in your sphere of influence. In my world, I am aware of many people that are broken. I would be lying if I suggested that at different times of my own life, I was not broken. I believe, at your own core you may experience being broken from time to time.

It seems not a week goes by that someone in congregations I’ve served, my family, or circle of friends is not facing a personal crisis that they might describe as taking them to the breaking point. Many are simply shattered by the many complexities of life. Over the course of my life I have seen people young and old, at their wits end choose to end life. It is often related to bad choices, bad advice, fear of not having resources to face the future, the embarrassment of believing that as they are they are not enough, or some form of mental, physical or psychic abuse. Overwhelmed by bitterness, anger, fear, slights real or imagined, they find themselves feeling trapped and utterly hopeless. Eugene O’Neill was spot on saying human beings live by mending. I mean, if we cannot mend, why live. I see mending as a human option for most if not all.

When hope is gone, and you cannot see a way around or through the darkness, it is easy to create a catastrophic expectation that everything you feel, see, and know is aligned against you. It is at those moments especially that we wish the veil would be lifted from our eyes and we could see something else. But, locked in a part that has not worked for us, or is no longer working for us, we continue to do the same thing again and again. We could see something else. In many cases, we are too lazy to do what is necessary. What is necessary to create change has been for me, an “internal will” to do so.

For instance, if my friendships are not enhancing and enriching me in my core essence, why don’t I change friendships and begin the process of healing mind, heart and body. It takes work of-course and is not done lightly. The mending happens when I have awakened and do whatever is necessary for my health and wholeness. Actually, I have done this on two occasions. Both times I did it for my mental health and survival.

As my late friend, psychiatrist, and mentor, Bob Henry often said, all you need to do is this, “Reprogram yourself.” I decided what I wanted for myself and looked at how I had been programmed by my family of origin, my church, my schools, and my friends. I looked at the actions in my life and how they affected who I was and decided whether or not I liked the results. When I did not like the results, I changed the programming. It is possible to do. I know many that would just as well stay trapped and continue to moan about their existence, and how others keep them the way they are. They blame health, circumstance, and conditions surrounding themselves. They choose to remain trapped and to continue doing damage to themselves and others.

I ask myself again and again, why? To what end would someone waste possibility. It is not in my power to rescue anyone or make him or her take steps to heal themselves. It is only possible when you or I choose to begin the process. The great news though is there is still time for you and me. O’Neill ends his quote saying, “The Grace of God is glue.” This grace of God is a phrase used lightly in society and often linked to the religious. If you are not religious, it is possible that unexpected mystery can surprise you when you are not looking? That is grace in my minds eye. The grace is in reality, favor you do not deserve. As Roman Catholic writer and theologian John Shea has said, “grace may well wound you from behind.” It may tickle you unexpectedly when you think nothing in the universe and your small place in it can change anything. It may force you to rethink where you are going. Grace, unexpected, is rich, however it is encountered and is the very glue that continually mends life.

I have experienced this grace often. As I continue my life journey, I expect this glue to carry me. I look for it daily and expect it to be the glue that grounds me. I often find myself opening my hands, and saying to the universe, “help.” Thinking about grace seems to open my mind to endless possibilities. As I mend and heal, I can choose to avail myself of the presence of grace or to hide from it. It is a daily choice. I choose to mend the remaining broken places in my life. It is, as I have been heard to say, the work of a lifetime. It is a practice I choose daily (to stay alert, awake, alive). Choose well my friend. Even if you have chosen and nothing made sense, you can choose again. It is only too late if you choose it to be so or you are at the end of your time.

Jack

Greetings from Church of Peace 06/14/18

The Mission Trip group will be back on Saturday. Sunday is Father’s Day! It’s likely going to be a warm (almost summer) day on Sunday. Worship will be held in the Fellowship Hall. And, as decided by the Church Council, worship services will be held there through August.
We continue to need volunteers for watering our many flowers and trees outside the church. We have a sign-up sheet, if you can help. We,ve become aware that Dan Griffin is in the hospital; the family would appreciate your prayers.

The following is Pastor Jack’s “Musing.”

Pedestaling and Patronizing

One of the things I detest is when someone pedestals me. When another person tells me that I am something and puts me on a pedestal I find I am trapped in a role that I’m forced to live up to. It is very uncomfortable in that place.

Conversely, when someone is patronizing to me, they are saying they are better than I am. At that moment I’m being looked down on. They trap me in a place where they want me to feel that I am inadequate or less than they are in their view.

The point is, there is no way for me to relate to those who behave like that. I have included an attached diagram for you to look at. It was created by Karl Olsson in a book titled, ”Meet Me On the Patio.” Dr. Olsson’s theme in that book is, human beings cannot relate to one another if someone separates themself from you based either on being more or less than you or me. His premise is, we can only discover one another based on our common humanity. It happens when we discover one another’s hopes, dreams, loves, passions, pain and sorrow when we can approach each other where there is no threat related to your or my inadequacy. It takes relationships to equal the playing field.

I will play with this theme on Sunday morning and hope to see you at church. The service will be nothing without you. See you then. Jack

Church of Peace UCC 158 S Military Rd Fond du Lac WI 54935 (920)921-8215

Greetings from Church of Peace 06/07/18

Greetings from Church of Peace! By now, many of you will have met our Interim Pastor, Jack Kraaz. You will find him every Sunday celebrating worship at Church of Peace, and soon he will be having regular office hours.
Our Mission Trip group will be spending the whole week at Henderson Settlement in Kentucky. We wish them a wonderful experience! They leave this Sunday morning and will return Saturday.
The following is Jack’s “Musing”:

Some years ago I read Paulo Coelho’s beloved novel, The Alchemist. It is a story about a boy who goes looking for treasure. He discovers that the treasure was right where he began his quest. The story is worth reading again and again. It is a reminder that in each one of us there is a treasure.

For the most part the treasure is buried, forgotten, lost, ignored and sad to say, wasted. I would guess that is why we gave up dreaming at some time in the past. However, I believe that we should all go on a treasure hunt and root around inside of ourselves for the treasure that is our own.

St Paul, in II Corinthians 4, talks about treasure in in earthen vessels or clay pots. I would venture to say that he was talking about you and me and rediscovering the treasure that is in us. This treasure makes all the difference in the world.

As service ended on Sunday, a woman approached me. She reminded me about an old story I attribute to Anthony deMello, a wonderful Jesuit writer and teacher who died in 1987. deMello tells the story of, “a water bearer in India who had two large water pots, each hung on either end of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For two full years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had had been made to do. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and, in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Wherever you are on your path through life, even if your pot is cracked, remember that you have a unique treasure in yourself and that the world would be less if you do not share it.

I hope to see you this coming Sunday when I will play with the theme of “Belonging.”

Jack