Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Love One Another

People of God’s Heart,

Fifty-five years ago, from June to October 1967, upwards of 100,000 young people came to San Francisco for what would become known as “The Summer of Love”.

The “hippies” embarked on a spiritual and meditative journey, rejecting the conformist and materialist values of modern life, embracing sharing and community. “Get Together” would become known as the hippie national anthem:

Love is but a song we sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells the disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love one another. Build beloved community. That is what we are repeatedly called to do.

Do we always follow the commandment?

Join us, either in person or on Zoom, this Sunday at 10 am as we look at this scripture and celebrate community.

🧡  Rev. Michael Cronin

Tra la, it’s May

Greetings, People of the Journey –

Yes, indeed, it is May. The trees have leafed out, flowers are blooming, and antihistamines are de requérir. Soon, June will be bustin’ out all over, and my white bucks will come out of the closet for the season.

We continue on our journey of Eastertide to Pentecost. We celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. This Sunday is also Mother’s Day, a celebration of those who have been the mother figures in our lives, not bound by gender or genetics. We all have the capacity to be nurturing and life giving.

Last week we heard Jesus’ plea to feed his lambs, to give them care. This week we further examine the Gospel of John and Jesus’ claiming his fold, those who recognize his voice and follow him. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. Do you hear him?

I pray that you will join us in person or on Zoom at 10 am Sunday.

Peace,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Don’t Look Back

Travelers on the Journey –

At the New Year, many make resolutions. Coming through Lent and Easter, the thoughts of transformation and new life course through our brains. After experiencing the death of loved ones, we often speak about how we will change our views and actions in life. Quite often, we return to the old familiar patterns.

This week’s scripture from the Gospel of John features the disciples returning to fishing, yielding nothing, and Jesus appearing to tell them to try casting the net on the other side of the boat. D’oh! The resulting haul reminds us of the stories about the feeding of the four- and five thousand. Doing something differently and following the teaching of Jesus toward the unknown consequences.

In the Chat ‘n Chew Book Group, we have been reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It is an excellent read, soliciting much conversation about the perceptions we have about our lives and the choices we did or didn’t make. One of the observations that has repeatedly come forth is that we can make choices but, no matter how carefully made, we cannot control the outcomes.

Something to ponder.

I pray that you will join us either in person or on Zoom at 10 am this Sunday to further explore what it means to follow Jesus.

Happy trails,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Never a Doubt

Greetings, Easter People –

What a wonderful celebration we had Sunday. Visitors and CEO’s (Christmas and Easter Only) joined us to share the joy of Easter. It was a lovely day, which allowed us to have a social hour under the wisteria. We enjoyed Italian cakes, finger jello, coffee, tea, and each other.

Our journey through Eastertide toward Pentecost, “The Birth of the Church,” has begun. Death has not had the last word, and the story continues. Our own stories continue to develop.

This week we will travel with our old friend Doubting Thomas. We all know him. He sits on our shoulder from time to time and mutters in our ear, calling us to question or naysay. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Christian theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”

I pray that you will join us this Sunday at 10 am, either in person or on Zoom, as I reflect upon Thomas and what he has to say to us today. Also, remember the Congregational Meeting will follow the service this week.

Until then,
Rev. Michael Cronin

“An Expansive Life”

People of the Resurrection –

We have come through a six-week journey in Lent. Rather than contracting and giving up in penitence, we have sought God’s expansive love that names us holy and beautiful. We have looked at what it means to be “Full to the Brim.”  We can only give from that which overflows.

Tonight (Maundy Thursday at Congregational Church of Belmont) and tomorrow (Good Friday at Congregational Church of San Mateo), we expand our congregation by sharing worship with a total of ten other congregations over the two days. I hope that you will be able to join in person or via Zoom. Both services are integral toward our first in-person Easter Sunday in two years.

We have proven to be a resilient people of resurrection. I am so glad and honored to be with you.

With love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

“Even the Stones Cry Out”

Greetings, Travelers on the Journey –

Many of us know how it feels when an oppressive power tries to silence us and deny our existence, and the importance of documentation of our lives and history. This documentation can be through the census, art, books, and other artifacts. We are witnessing it in Ukraine as they try to save art and cultural pieces from destruction by Russian troops, the oppression of Uighur Muslims in China, the banning of books and the teaching of Critical Race Theory, the criminalization of bodily autonomy, and the constant attempt to roll back other equality issues.

And we say, “We were and are here. We will not be silenced nor erased.”

As we enter into Palm Sunday and Holy Week, let us think about what must be said, what can’t be silenced. In the Gospel of Luke 19:39-40, the Pharisees, who are in collusion with the Roman Empire, attempt to get Jesus to stop his followers from shouting joyfully and celebrating in the midst of oppression. And Jesus responds if they were silenced, the rocks would still sing. You can’t stop creation. 

I look forward to singing loud hosannas with you in person or on Zoom.

With love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

“Brazen Acts of Beauty”

Dear Ones,

Last Sunday night was the 94th Annual Academy Awards. It is a night where Hollywood pays homage to itself and heightens the aspirations of those watching. For years, the “Red Carpet” has been one of the highlights. Who is wearing what made by whom? Setting an aesthetic to which none of us could never live up to.

I have friends who watch every film, follow the trends, and social media post “play-by-play” commentaries on the event. In the past, I was one of these people who was entranced and enthralled by the “glitz and glamour,” the aspirations of working in film, and hobnobbing. These days it holds not so much interest. In fact, we didn’t even tune in. When five o’clock Sunday evening came, I was already in my jammies with my head propped up by pillows while I app-skipped through my tablet.

Said tablet also displays pop-ups of “Breaking News: so-and-so wore this, so-and-so won this, so-and-so said this, so-and-so did that….” Of course, the unfortunate Rock-Smith incident blew up the internet and has been part of the social discourse throughout this week. Others, trying not to let that steal the night, focused and created memes about another sweet occurrence, Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli presenting the Best Picture Award together. With Liza in a wheelchair, Gaga whispered, “I got you” to which Liza responded, “I know.” Indeed, a lovely moment. However, one of the most beautiful moments was Jessica Chastain’s acceptance speech for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rso0yrwO2s. Here is a transcript excerpt:

“Right now we are coming out of some difficult times that have been filled with a lot of trauma and isolation. So many people out there feel hopelessness and they feel alone. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s touched many families. It’s touched mine and especially members of the LGBTQ community who oftentimes feel out of place with their peers. We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us. There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world.”

“In times like this, I think of Tammy, and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love. We’ve talked about love a lot tonight. I’m inspired by her compassion. I see it as a guiding principle that leads us forward. It connects us all and the desire that we want to be accepted for who we are, accepted for who we love, and to live a life without the fear of violence or terror.”

“For any of you out there who do in fact feel hopeless or alone, I just want you to know that you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you.”

Truly a beautiful message and commentary. With all that has gone on and continues to go on, we are invited to be inspired by radical acts of love, to witness brazen acts of beauty. This week, as we move closer to the cross, I will reflect upon John 12:1-8 “The Anointing of Jesus.” This moment also includes the kerfuffle, a conflict between Judas and Jesus, interestingly enough over expensive perfume applied with Mary of Bethany’s hair. Mary has shown an extravagant and intimate love for Jesus. Judas will have none of it. Jesus tells him to chill out.

Where in our lives do we live and commit brazen acts of beauty, and where are we miserly and stingy – withholding grace and love? Something to think about.

I look forward to seeing you in person or in the Zoom room.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Thank you, Rev. Michael Vincent and Janet Hollingshead, for being with us last week. Truly a gift!

“Prodigal Grace”

Gentlepeople, 

In last week’s reflection on the barren fig tree, I mentioned my discomfort with the use of “there but for the grace of God go I.” Because it is used to convey humility in the light of someone else’s bad fortune, it begs the question, “Do you think God’s grace was not with that person?” God’s grace freely given.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I like to look words up in the dictionary. So I did. From https://www.etymonline.com/word/prodigal:

prodigal (adj.)
c. 1500, of persons, “given to extravagant expenditure, lavish, wasteful,” a back-formation from prodigality, or else from French prodigal and directly from Late Latin prodigalis, from Latin prodigus “wasteful,” from prodigere “drive away, waste,” from pro “forth” (from PIE root *per- (1) “forward”) + agere “to set in motion, drive; to do, perform” (from PIE root *ag- “to drive, draw out or forth, move”).

God is the prodigal. Extravagant and lavish in grace and love. I also mentioned that God does not call us a waste of soil, space, time, energy. We are called worthy, even if we do wonder. God ‘s grace and love is with us in our wanderings, our doubts and fears, questions of faith, and returns.

Speaking of a return, I invite you to join us this Sunday at 10 am in person or on Zoom, as we welcome retired former pastor of Island United, Michael Hollingshead, as he shares his reflection “The Prodigal in All of Us.” I look forward to seeing you. Tell a friend!

Peace,
Rev. Michael Cronin

“You are Worthy”

Companions on the Journey,

From the day we are born to the day we die, there are hopes and dreams which often become expectations and measurements by which we live. Whether they be magazines and advertising, social interactions, we can internalize these things as worthiness or being of value.

Research professor and author Brené Brown writes, “The important thing to know about worthiness is that it doesn’t have prerequisites. Most of us, on the other hand, have a long list of worthiness prerequisites—qualifiers that we’ve inherited, learned, and unknowingly picked up along the way. Most of these prerequisites fall in the categories of accomplishments, acquisitions, and external acceptance. It’s the if/when problem (“I’ll be worthy when …” or “I’ll be worthy if …”).”

And then, of course, this sense of being worthy can bleed into our beliefs regarding the Love of God. Some “God fearing” people will support this notion, treating others as less than. Giving up on their own. Bless their hearts.

This week we will be looking at “The Parable of the Fig Tree”, the story in which Jesus dispels this notion. We ought not let others determine our value or worthiness in God’s heart. Rather than cutting people down, we ought to be a part of God’s unconditional heart of Love. A love that nurtures toward flourishing and thriving.

Whether in person or on Zoom, I hope to see you at 10 am Sunday.

With love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

“Full to the Brim – Under God ’s Wing”

Lenten Travelers,

As we enter our second week in Lent, we are invited into the truth that we are “under God’s wing.” Again, we are told this. 

The authors of our “Full to the Brim” Lenten/Easter series tell us:

“God is our refuge. There is nothing that can separate you from God, or could keep God from gathering you in, protecting you fiercely.”

“You are a precious child of God. God longs for you. God will gather you in. No matter how much we try to separate ourselves from God, God will run to protect us. God’s love for us is fuller than we can imagine.”

Do we really believe it? Let’s look at it together this Sunday.

All Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin