Pride Sunday 2019: Three Reflections

Reflections by Sharon Heath, Andrew Ramer and Bart Shulman

A Story Of Liberation

by Sharon Heath

Every year at Passover, Jews remember and re-tell the story of their slavery in Egypt and how God rescued them from bondage and brought them into freedom.  The ritual retelling of the Passover Story is called a Seder.  What I am about to tell you is the story of the passage from bondage to freedom of gay men and lesbians in the U.S.  It is our Passover Story.

As I look around this room this morning, I’m struck by the fact that very few of us can remember how it was before Stonewall.  Many of us have lived in San Francisco so long, or were born so recently, that we can barely believe that the Love that Will Not Shut Up was ever the Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name!  So I want to tell you a short story about How It Used to Be and How It Changed.

Continue reading

Earth Moment

By Karen Kreider Yoder

FMCSF’s Green Team gave this “Earth Moment” on June 2, 2019.

If we cannot acknowledge the problem and mourn, we cannot change our actions and heal the Earth. 

When I was a young girl in the 1960s, humans began producing plastic. Since then, our plastic use has grown steadily. 

From 2000 to 2010, humans produced more plastic than ALL the plastic produced until then. 

Plastics are so durable that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports, “Every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” 

Continue reading

Sermon: Becoming Spirit-filled witnesses

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Pentecost Sunday, Acts 2:1-21

There is so much going on in this text that it’s hard to know where to start this sermon:

  • with the violent wind
  • or flames of the Spirit
  • or people speaking in other languages
  • or the prophetic words from Joel, with their apocalyptic imagery…

So I will start at the very beginning, “When the day of Pentecost had come.”

What was Pentecost to the Jewish people who were gathered? We know what Christians say about it. That it’s the birthday of the church, but it was a holiday long before Christianity existed.

Continue reading

Earth Moment

By Jim Musselman

FMCSF’s “Green Team” gave this “Earth Moment” on Sunday, May 19.

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old high school student who lives in Sweden. She is a climate activist who has organized an international school strike to fight climate change. Greta gave a speech about climate in London on April 23rd. Here are a few things she said:

*****

We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing. Now we probably don’t even have a future any more… You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to… Around the year 2030   … we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.  

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

*****

Continue reading

Earth Moment

By Kinari Webb

FMCSF’s “Green Team” gave this “Earth Moment” on Sunday, May 5, 2019.

If we cannot mourn, we cannot heal.

Since a human walked on the moon only 50 years ago, earth has lost 60% of the animals it had then. For a moment think about your favorite animal.

Now mourn with me so many fewer elephants, praying mantises, warblers, butterflies, orangutans, sharks, and fish.

[silence]

Here are some small things you can do:

1) Help rebuild the food chain and be healthier yourself by eating organic.

2) Help reduce climate change and promote more sensible use of land by eating less meat.

3) Support a carbon tax.

4) Partner with rainforest communities so that they have their needs met and can protect massive biodiversity and the lungs of the earth.

5) Fight for justice because we will need everyone’s wisdom and strength to bring about the great turning towards living more sustainably with our earth.

May it be so….

Greening our Fellowship Time

By Karen Kreider Yoder

Dear Congregation,

We are trying to eliminate single-use plastic in our lives, and to that end, a snack team recently prepared the fellowship hour snack as free from single-use plastic as possible.  It was quite a challenge, as most of our food is packaged and delivered to us from a distance in single-use plastic, rather than local and seasonal.   

Continue reading

Sermon: The Gifts and Perils of Calling

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Luke 4:21-30

I think it was sometime in 2012 I was invited to speak during an evening, student-led, chapel service at the conservative Christian college from which I graduated. This was about 7 years since I had graduated, so the current students didn’t know me, but some of my friends were on staff and many of the professors remembered me. I had been student body president and very involved in campus life while in college. I had also worked on staff as a Resident Director for two years after graduating. Although I had changed a lot since my college days, it still felt like a homecoming.

I was invited to speak by a friend who was on staff with the campus ministry department. He had heard me speak in another venue about faith and identity and thought it would be a good message for the students. I was looking forward to the opportunity because I felt like I could say things that would challenge the students who thought they had all the good Christian answers.

Continue reading

Sermon: MLK Sunday

By Chude Allen and Rachel Stoltzfus

Chude Allen:

On June 9, 1964 I stood in front of the pews of an Episcopal church in a small town in Pennsylvania. I was about to go to Mississippi to be a freedom school teacher as part of what is now called Freedom Summer. I asked the parishioners for donations and their prayers.

When I was in Mississippi I wrote my parents that when I returned I wanted to speak again in the church, that I believed God would speak through me. My minister, however, would not allow me to speak during a service, only in the parish hall at an evening educational. Today is only the second time ever I have spoken during worship.  Of course Spirit does not only appear in places of worship, but there was and is a power that comes when we join together in acknowledgement of something greater than ourselves.

Continue reading

Sermon: Holy Spirit Subversion

By Joanna Lawrence Shenk

Luke 3:15-22

Today I want to pick up where we left off last week with these words at the end of Sheri’s sermon: “In our present time, when paranoid kings rule, and when the life of the planet is literally at stake, I think it is more important than ever that we come together to listen for the Spirit and to seek the Spirit’s guidance.”

She continued, “I think we need more than our conscious intellect, our rational mind, to get ourselves out of this mess we are in. I think we need to hear the Spirit’s voice in many ways, new ways, perhaps ways we haven’t been as attentive to before, as we observe the glimmers of light that have appeared in the dark and move toward them, together.”

What does it mean to listen for the Spirit and seek the Spirit’s guidance? How do we do this with more than our rational mind? What might the Spirit illuminate and how will we respond in this season of Epiphany?

Continue reading

Feelings List

During our “Speaking the Truth in Love” series, we talked about the importance of sharing our feelings rather than our thoughts (or judgments) when speaking our truth. It is sometimes difficult to figure out the two, however! This Feelings List from the Bay Area Nonviolent Communication chapter can be very helpful with that. You can find out more about their work at www.baynvc.org. The List is used with permission.

Education Hour: Saying What You Mean

Much of this content comes from a course on “Mindful Communication” taught by Oren Jay Safer. Much of it will be in his book, Say What You Mean, which will be released in December.Intro:

Don’t try to internalize all this information — you can’t all at once. Take the one piece that really makes sense to you and run with it. Obviously, in the flow of a conversation we’re not able to think through all this. But the purpose of doing this is to train. Just like we do with any other task. 

Quote: “Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations, but fall to our level of training.”  (Bruce Lee)

When we are trying to learn how to play an instrument, we slow things down — we play scales, we learn the fingering.  All this is meant to give you a structure to practice with when you have the time and space. It develops your capacity to do it in real life within the flow of a conversation.

Why Am I Talking?  Continue reading

Education Hour: Transformative Listening

Most of this content comes from a course on “Mindful Communication” taught by Oren Jay Safer. Much of it will be in his book, Say What You Mean, which will be released in December.

To come from curiosity and care, to understand, means to be able to listen. It feels good to be listened to! To be heard. This is absolutely universal. Listening is usually where the bottleneck happens in a conversation. It’s not in the fluency or skill of our speech. Listening well can take us really far in a conversation. If we really know how to listen, we can help clean up a mess or de-escalate a conversation.

Continue reading