Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Healing

People of Renewal,

It’s been a rough number of years. Sometimes it feels as if we just can’t catch a break. There’s always something.

After a two-year hiatus, this weekend Island United is participating in the Foster City Summer Days community event as a sponsor and booth participant. We’ll be there Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm at the Foster City Rec Center. You can still sign up to be a booth ambassador by emailing Rev. Michael at [email protected].

As we navigate a new way of being together in the world and prepare to invite people to Homecoming, there may be a need for physical restoration or some “stuff” that needs to be let go in order to be our full welcoming selves. I invite you to participate in our Healing Service this Sunday at 10 am.  For those present in the room, dissolvable paper and pen will be provided so you can write down whatever healing or request you need to be released in water and given over to God. If you are attending via Zoom, prepare a piece of paper you can shred, burn, or flush. It is all holy.

Remember to mark your calendars for Homecoming Sunday and Picnic on September 18. Invite someone who has not been home awhile or someone who has never been to Island United and might be in an unrecognized search of a home.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Strife

Beloveds,

Raids. Primaries. Division. Oh my. 

The Florida home of the former inhabitant of the White House was raided this week. The owner and family were also deposed in New York by the Attorney General regarding business practices. There have been protests by supporters and opposition. Agitators threaten civil war.

We have seen Republican primaries putting forward MAGA candidates as we move closer to midterms. Many talk about the raids and other inquiries as un-American and undemocratic, yet fail to see those same critiques apply to the very actions being questioned. Bases are becoming fired up, and threats are looming.

There is no doubt that there is strife and division among us. 

This week we revisit Luke:12:49-56, the lectionary text used during Advent, the apocalyptic Jesus who said, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (12:51). It is a challenge to revisit something so recently reviewed, but I trust the wisdom in it. I invite you to join us Sunday at 10 am in person or on Zoom.

Also, please plan to attend next week’s Healing Service. After these past years, continuing to return to our sanctuary space and going out into the community to invite people home, it is a good time to ready the house through letting go of what no longer serves and healing the body, mind, and spirit – whatever that may be.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Chicken Little

Faithful Friends,

“The sky is falling!” The world is coming to an end. Do you remember this imminent disaster story? Apocalypticism is part of the Christian story that unexamined becomes problematic and leaves us living a life in fear.

Fear. Such a pesky thing. It can be a positive and negative motivation. Over the years, we have experienced the negative results of perpetuating fear. In Luke 12:32, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Parent’s good pleasure to give you the realm.”

We live in days that capitalize upon our fear. Is that where you want to be? 

I invite you to join us in person or on Zoom on Sunday at 10 am as I reflect upon Luke 12:32-40.

Be not afraid, you are loved!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Wealth

Generous of Spirit,

We have so much for which we can be grateful. And, we can forget. Inflation, volatile stock markets, supply chain shortages, material desires, can keep us in an endless loop of scarcity and aspiration. The more we have, the more we want; the more we want, the more we have to have—the proverbial “keeping up with the Joneses.” We become possessed by possessions, if you will.

This week, we will be looking at Luke 12:13-21 “The Parable of the Rich Fool,” who asks us to question: “What is enough? Are we enough? Where is the room for God? Where is the room for God’s desire for us and creation?”

In a December 10, 2015, Today Show interview, just a month before her 70th birthday, Dolly Parton spoke of her life and legacy. She said, “We always made jokes and said we didn’t even know we were poor till some smart aleck up and told us. We didn’t have any money, but we were rich in things that money don’t buy. You know, like love and kindness and understanding.”

I look forward to seeing you in the room or on Zoom Sunday at 10 am.

Be rich!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Teach Us to Pray

People of Prayer,

I believe in prayer. Many times a day, I pray. And, I let it go without expectation. Or, I try to do so.

What does it mean to you for prayer to “work”?

This week, I will reflect upon Luke 11:1-13. A disciple asks Jesus to teach them how to pray, and we are offered Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. We each have a version that is most familiar to us. There are a number of alternative versions that have been introduced over time. We have used some of them at IUCFC.

I look forward to sharing my reflection with you this Sunday, July 24 at 10 am – in person or on Zoom.

P.S. We celebrate Lee Lamkin’s 90th birthday. Happy Birthday, Momma!

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Le quatorze juillet

Bonjour chers amis,

Liberté, fraternité, et égalité! Liberty, fraternity, and equality! Today, our French siblings celebrate their independence and culture. On Metro News UK, it is written that “similar to the American Revolution, the French Revolution was influenced by ideals spread by the Enlightenment movement around the concept of inalienable rights. This included taking back freedoms and challenging the status quo.”

And the movement continues. And the challenges continue. Thank you for being you and playing your part in the liberation story.

Liberation is a process. And we must continually pay attention and not be distracted.

This week, we are looking at Luke:10:38-42, the story of Martha and Mary. A story of hospitality and being distracted, losing sight of what hospitality, kindness, and forgiveness mean. Rev. Dakota Brown will share her reflection on this story with us on Sunday. I look forward to seeing you at 10 am, in person or on Zoom.

À bientôt,
Rev. Michael Cronin

July 5th

People of Spirit,

I pray that your 4th of July was festive. Brent, his sister Liz and her wife Holly, and I spent Independence Day with my aunt and uncle in Glen Ellen. While Brent stayed and hid under the bed with my aunt and uncle’s fur baby Tucker, the rest of us went into Sonoma to sit and lay in grassy fields enjoying snacks and refreshments with several thousand people to watch the SVFD fireworks extravaganza. Unlike those we usually get on a regular basis outside our window at midnight, these were welcome, and fun was had.

When I turned on the radio Tuesday morning to hear about Highland Park, Illinois, my heart sank. Just like us, people were attending an Independence Day event replete with a parade and fireworks. Unlike us, thirty were sent to hospital and seven were killed. In a matter of seconds, a toddler became an orphan. 

A New York Times article https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/05/us/highland-park-parade-shooting.html finished: “Abandoned strollers and empty lawn chairs, some with half-consumed drinks in the cupholders, were lined up along the sidewalk. A child’s bicycle was discarded along the curb. And a cheerful-looking balloon, left alone in the grass, said ‘God bless America’.”

Two different experiences of Independence Day.

On Sunday we sang “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies.” I spoke about some of the history behind the poem that became the hymn. The second verse contains this plea:

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

One hundred twenty-nine years later, there is still work to do. Dear God. Help us. Save us from ourselves.

May God keep you until we see each other on Sunday.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Oh, say can you?

Seekers on the Journey,

Some observations of current events as we commemorate the Declaration of Independence:

On the heels of the SCOTUS ruling that just reversed Roe v Wade, robbing a woman of bodily autonomy, Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. The separation of church and state is being further eroded. While we were waiting for SCOTUS to rule as to whether the Biden administration could end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that sends certain people seeking asylum and freedom in the U.S. to Mexico to await their cases, we hear about, as CNN reports, “53 people died in what one Homeland Security Investigations agent called the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history. Some victims could be younger than 18. ‘This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,’ said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.” On Tuesday, with her deposition, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson dropped the bombshell that confirmed what so many knew to be true about the machinations around the January 6 insurrections.

Ukraine continues to fight for its democratic sovereignty. Our Black sibling voices are being suppressed. And there are all the other struggles for freedom we don’t hear about.

As we come into the Independence Day weekend and all the fireworks that will upset our furry friends and those with PTSD, the famous “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” lyric from Me and Bobby McGee popped into my head. I decided to research what these words penned by Kris Kristofferson, made famous by Janis Joplin (posthumously released), might mean. Interestingly enough, I found an e-article source from another former British colony: India. In their online hindubusinessline.com “Just Another Word?” article of August 14, 2020, Sarthak Kaushik offered this quote from a Kris Kristofferson interview. “It definitely expressed the double-edged sword that freedom is. You may be free, but it can be painful to be that free. But maybe at the very end, when you leave, you will be free when you’ve nothing else to lose, you know, when you’re gone.”

When it comes to pain, I’ve been known to quip the English translation of the old French saying: “Il faut souffrir pour être belle.” Beauty is pain. Jesting aside, the journey toward freedom is painful. And it appears that humanity still hasn’t fully attained freedom.

And then, there is Jesus, the one through whom God has been offering us freedom.

This Sunday, I will be reflecting upon Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. Jesus tells the disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Do we listen? Do we keep true to the command to love each other as we love ourselves? What does it mean to follow Jesus and honor God?

I look forward to seeing you in person or on Zoom at 10 am on Sunday.

Tune in and not out,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Oh, Freedom

People of Justice and Liberation,

Juneteenth, Pride, Fourth of July. Celebrations of freedom three weeks in a row. 

On August 3, 1857, Frederick Douglass delivered the “West India Emancipation” speech, which gave us the quote: 

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Many of you know that I went to the Northern California Nevada Conference Annual meeting last weekend. I connected with old friends and made some new ones. When I spoke of serving Island United, eyes lit up and fond well-wishes were extended. The main theme of the conference was REI-J: racial equity inclusion justice. I thought to myself, “Boom! Already there and working on it.” And we still have work to do. The important thing is that we are part of the larger whole that seeks and celebrates the freedom of all peoples. In the Juneteenth Celebration acknowledgment Alexis delivered last Saturday on behalf of Island United, we quoted Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

No truer words have been spoken. And the truth is that nobody is free. The continued oppression can be traced to our religious heritage. Let’s continue to work toward our emancipation from those chains that bind rather than free.

Please join us this Pride Sunday as I reflect upon Paul’s letter to the Galatians and his complicated journey of liberation.

Fly your freedom flag,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Breaking Free

People of Freedom and Justice,

This Sunday, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, and Pride month all come together at Island United. On Saturday, the Foster City Association of Black Residents will be hosting a Juneteenth Celebration at Leo J. Ryan Park Lagoon Patio from 2 pm to 5 pm. I have been honored to be a part of the Planning Committee along with Alexis Lewis, Mr. Bill Stewart, and other members. Were it not for the Northern California Nevada Conference meeting at Sonoma State this weekend, I would be there to join in the celebration.

As Island United is a sponsor, I hope many of you will represent, celebrate, and show solidarity with our African American siblings, as we work to a full freedom that cannot be denied. Alexis will be bringing an acknowledgment from me on behalf of Island United. There will also be speakers about the past, present, and future of the Black community.

If you haven’t already sent your RSVP, please send to [email protected] so the organizers can get a headcount and plan for food. It’s going to be great!

Keep on keepin’ on!
Rev. Michael Cronin