Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Can these bones live?


Seeing all the loss in the valley of dry bones, God asks the prophet Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” It seems odd that God is asking the human what is possible. Or, maybe God is asking if the human has faith or hope about what we see as possible.

This week, as we journey with Jesus toward death and resurrection in the Gospel of John, we experience the “raising of Lazarus” from the dead. The friend he could have saved while healing the blind man but didn’t. But then he did. How is this possible?

Impossible? We have been told that with God, all things are possible. I’m possible, you’re possible.

Hope helps us navigate the impossible. Good times and bad times, we hold onto hope.

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

Keep the faith,
Rev. Michael Cronin

who sinned?


From 1991 to 1997, Saturday Night Live used to have an interstitial segment called “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey”. I used to think it was a character, but it turns out he is a real humorist. One of the segments projecting a cloud still life had this voice over:

If a kid asks where rain comes from,
   I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.”
And if he asks why God is crying,
    another cute thing to tell him is
“Probably because of something you did.”

It is one of those ouch funnies. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure many of us grew up with a similar theology of blame. Some say Original Sin or predestination. No matter how you parse it, “We done wrong.”

I’m not going to lie. This week’s Scripture is problematic. It is the passage where Jesus encounters and heals the blind beggar. The disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Even though Jesus replies, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him,” it smacks of ableism and a malady that must be healed in order to be whole. It is still embedded in our operational systems today.

In our need to make sense of the human condition, we can ask questions like, “Whose fault is it?” or make assumptions like, “This happened because….” Where is God in all of this?

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 10 am, either in the room or on Zoom, as we reflect upon John 9:1-41.

Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. This Sunday is also a Congregational Meeting. You must be present in the room or on Zoom to win, no proxies! Please attend so we can attend to church business. BIG LOVE



The news this last week has been telling us that we are drought free. Regardless of the current conditions, I am a product of the 1970s California drought that brought us the phrase, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Water conservation is part of my ethos. 

Regardless of the news and the abundance of rain today, our lives can feel metaphorically arid – in the dry wilderness. We are thirsty for the knowledge of God’s presence. Maybe we feel abandoned by God.

Or maybe we forgot the living waters that are always available to us if we but drink.

This week, we will look at John’s story of “Jesus and the Woman at the Well.” I look forward to seeing you at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom as we ponder “seeking: Will you give me a drink?” Are you willing to ask?

Come with your thirst,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Beginning Again


This time last year, we had just returned to the sanctuary after the round of COVID that asked us to stay home for another three months and social distance. I had started October 4, 2021, and we had four months of slowly coming back together. It was a new experience for all of us. I learned Island United traditions through trial and error followed by kind words of grace. It has been an exciting time coming together with you and getting to know you.

Here we are a year out, and we are still settling into a new groove. We are still figuring out what post-COVID church looks like. Some congregants have moved and not returned. We have new friends and members of the congregation. I believe there is a lot of promise.

And in that promise of renewal, we are constantly being asked, “Do we truly believe in new beginnings? What do we need to let go of, and what do we need to embrace?” These are some of the honest questions that we will be looking at this week to move deeper into faith and mission. 

This week we look at John 3:1-17 and meet Nicodemus, a Pharisee and keeper of Jewish law. Having met Jesus and seeing him in action, he has questions. He brings them to Jesus in the dark of night.

The IUCFC website states that “our calling is to be an inclusive family of God in this particular place and time. We believe that bold and faithful living involves seeking and questioning, not dogmatic answers. Bring your doubts – this is the tradition of the United Church of Christ. We hunger for spiritual experience. We don’t check our brains at the door, we open our hearts in love.” To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, we come with our heads full of brains and shoes full of feet…in embodied love.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am, be it on Balclutha or Zoom. Invite a friend to the journey.

Let the caravan begin,
Rev. Michael Cronin



As I write to you, Brent and I are settling down at home after the Island United and Congregational Church of Belmont Ash Wednesday service that we hosted. It was a lovely service in which Rev. Jim Mitulski reflected upon Isaiah 58:1-12 in which God declares what sort of fasting is pleasing to Them. He invited us into asking questions, examining what we need to empty ourselves of that will lead us to be the Resurrection, the change in the world today, 2023.

The Lenten theme is “seeking: honest questions for deeper faith.” Each week we will examine the scriptural texts with a different question. This week we ask the question, “Who will you listen to?” as we look at Matthew 4:1-11: “Jesus is Tested in the Wilderness.” We talked about it a little bit to give context to another passage we reflected upon. This week we will look (wait for it!) deeper into the specific text.

I look forward to seeing you – be it on Balclutha or Zoom – at 10 am Sunday. Invite a friend on the journey.

Prick up your ears!
Rev. Michael Cronin

You are a light. You are the light.

Dazzling Ones,

In his book, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, Congressman and Civil Rights Leader John Lewis wrote, “You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light.” 

Over these past few days, there has been much conversation around the Florida ban on Critical Race Theory. In a January 10 2023, Newsweek article Fact Check: Did Ron DeSantis Ban AP African American Studies in Florida“, it was written: “Last year, DeSantis prohibited educators from teaching critical race theory in K-12 classrooms, part of a bill he said would put an end to “corporate and educational indoctrination in Florida“.

Even though Florida has gotten the lion’s share of the press, there is a concerted effort throughout the country to suppress Black History, which is, indeed, American History. It is a history that we must listen to in order to understand the richness and complicated existence of the United States. Just like the Roman powers and the colluding religious leaders of the time failed to erase the life and ministry of Jesus, these “Christian” attempts will not succeed. Ultimately, truth will prevail.

When? Not long….

I invite you to reflect upon Matthew 17:1-9, “The Transfiguration”, with me this Sunday as we learn a little bit about the legacy of Mr. Lewis and the voices that continue to be lifted up for our listening. See you at 10 am on Sunday, on Zoom or in the room.

Shine on!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Justice & Joy

Shirley Erena Murray wrote the beautiful For Everyone Born” which has been sung by congregations for more than two decades. The refrain goes:  

  “and God will delight when we are creators
                of justice and joy, compassion and peace:
                yes, God will delight when we are creators
                of justice, justice, and joy!”

I like to think God’s delight in us is unconditional and God is especially delighted when we are creators of justice and joy. With every breath, we have the opportunity to create a more just world. Sometimes it is as easy as a thought. More often, it takes some work.

Last month, the “Chat n Chew” Book Group – which meets every Tuesday at 1:30 pm on Zoom (see below) – read The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama. It is an inspiring memoir read about being vulnerable, striving to be better, and the peace that comes from honoring one’s own humanity and the humanity of others. As the saying goes, “Justice is not just us.”

I look forward to being with you Sunday at 10 am as we look at the challenging passage from Matthew 5:21-37. The inclination is to turn away from it, but that would also avoid a possible lesson. I know I need to learn something. How about you?

Come on along,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Keep our siblings in Turkey and Syria in your prayers of comfort and love. As I write to you, the earthquake death toll tops 12,000. Please also consider making a donation to the UCC appeal:


Tasty Ones,

Have you been feeling a little more “salty” lately? I might be. It is so easy to be upset and annoyed these daze (yes, that spelling is intentional). 

In these times, I hold on to the LOVE of God, Brent, and our family, which includes Island United. No, really. You, your history, and who you are now give me life. 

As we enter into Black History Month and Lent, I pray that we will be able to open ourselves and look within to deepen our relationship with God’s justice, peace, and love for all of us.

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

Spice it up,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Blessed Are You?

Blessed Ones,

Last Sunday, in addition to our “Moment of Silence” in solidarity with Ukraine, we held the victims of gun violence in Monterey Park and Alhambra, CA in prayer. There are so many that we could not name but still hold in our hearts.

Monday brought us closer to home with the announcement of the Half Moon Bay shootings. Cultural analyses presented this week ask us to look deeper than gun control but into the cultural pressures and alienation experiences. Digging deeper into and facing the truth of how we got here is hard and painful.


Every moment, we are blessed/cursed with the opportunity of assessment and change. How can we be more blessed? How can we affect a change toward love in this earthly plane?

Revelation 21:4 says “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Until that day, we’ve got work to do.

Blessed are you, Island United, who persevere through the pain toward the realm of God.

I look forward to seeing you in person or on Zoom this Sunday at 10 am as we look at Matthew’s “Beatitudes”.

Be blessed,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Phisher or Fisher?


Phishing. Merriam-Webster defines a phisher as “a person who tricks Internet users into revealing personal or confidential information which can then be used illicitly.” How do I access your wealth for my benefit? 

Fishing. Many of us are familiar with the Matthew 4:12-23 text where Jesus says to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” The analogy brings people into the love of God and community, working toward the good will of all. 

Are we phishers or fishers? 

What are we doing to bring each other closer to the Realm of God?

I look forward to spending time with you, in person or on Zoom, this Sunday at 10 am as we reflect upon Matthew’s fishing story.

Get out your reels!
Rev. Michael Cronin