Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Binoculars, Lenses, and Mirrors

People of Vision,

As I write to you, the air quality index in San Francisco is down to 87 from a high of 197 today, Foster City is 156. Normally, I can see the Pacific and twenty-six miles out to the Farallon Islands Marine Reserve. Today I can’t see a mile in the distance. My heart goes out to all those who suffer the wildfires in Oregon, and I give thanks for the first responders in the midst of it all. Please stay inside as much as possible until the air clears.

This Sunday, we have the gift of hearing my former pastor, mentor, many years friend, and now colleague Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon in the pulpit sharing a word. The title of her sermon is “Binoculars, Lenses, and Mirrors”. She will be reflecting upon Mark 12:38-44. Given the title, I can only imagine the visionary wisdom that she will share with Island United.

I look forward to seeing you at 10 am on Balclutha or Zoom. Invite a friend to hear this fantastic prophetic voice.

Looking forward to seeing you,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Please plan to stay after service for Penny’s presentation: “Affordable Housing on Faith Land: New opportunities for the Church to embrace justice!”

Rooted in Love


Last Sunday, we celebrated Homecoming Sunday. The choir returned with their offering of “Home” from The Wiz, featuring Wendy Tobias. Rowe & Tim provided a truly delicious rainbow-themed vegan buffet. Thank you, Rowe & Tim! I continue to look forward as our loved ones return from their travels and share their stories.

We mentioned that we began our season of stewardship with the theme “Rooted in Love”. As the community garden begins to take shape and Challenge School prepares the space for school to begin in October, I’m excited to see what our roots of love will produce.

This weekend, the UCC is commemorating the annual Just Peace Sunday. The website post says, “Just Peace is not a destination, but a path requiring awareness and constant vigilance to resolve existing and developing conflict in ourselves, our families, our communities, our institutions, and our world. This path requires non-violence when possible and even when impossible to engage in love and restraint. Just Peace envisions a renewed, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable world free of violence.”

It seems as though our “I’ve been meaning to ask…” work this summer keeps fruiting with opportunity. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom as we reflect upon Matthew 18:21-35 – “The Parable of Forgiveness”.

Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Please set aside a moment tomorrow – September 15 – to hold 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and the memory of the four little girls – Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson, as well as the surviving sister Sarah Collins Rudolph in prayer on this 60th year since the hateful event. May we pray for love to take root in the heart filled with hate.

Home 2023


As a kid, summer seemed to fly by so quickly. The end of August came in a snap. At the same time, excitement began to build for a return to school and a new educational adventure. Now that I am older, it seems that all time flies by even more quickly. We just recognized Memorial Day and then Labor Day was upon us in an instant, and the season of white shoes is over. And it is time to return home.

This weekend we celebrate Homecoming Sunday. Some of us have returned from summer travels, and some of us are still traveling or beginning travel adventures. If you are like me, when I return to SFO after a time of travel, I get a warm feeling and thoughts of gratitude for being able to live where we do. It really is a gift. And so is Island United. What a gift to have this spiritual home and the collection of personalities that give it life.

Not only is this an opportunity to celebrate the spiritual home we share, it is also an opportunity to invite friends who – for whatever reason – have not been with us for some time as well as those who might be looking for a spiritual home. In these somewhat challenging and isolating days, I believe there are people seeking to find a safe space to be, to nurture and be nurtured. We can offer them Island United “Aloha!”.

In the spirit of creating home, we will be looking at Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. It is his letter to the exiles in Babylon telling them to make their homes, grow food to eat, and create families. A church community can be just that place of home, spiritual sustenance, and created family.

I look forward to seeing you at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom at 10 am Sunday.

Home awaits,
Rev. Michael Cronin



Today marks the 121st day since the Writers Guild of America began their strike on May 2. While one of the major talking points has been the new landscape of streaming and AI residuals, the main issue is about a more equitable minimum compensation “in all areas of media, increased residuals, appropriate TV series-writing compensation from pre- to postproduction, increased contributions to pension and health plans, the strengthening of professional standards and the overall protections for writers, and more” (from Vulture). It is said that, with inflation, pay has declined 14% of the past five years. I don’t know about you, but a decline in my pay would be a hardship for me.

After the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978, Holly Near wrote “Singing for Our Lives”, aka “A Song for Harvey”. The song quickly became an anthem for the LGBTQQIP2SA community and the struggle for rights. The song simply starts, “We are a gentle, angry people and we are singing, singing for our lives” with variations such as “justice-seeking” and “land of many colors”.

During our time of silence before community prayer last week, we included the commemoration of the March on Washington. It was a massive protest march that occurred on August 28, 1963, when some 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Also known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the event aimed to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. It was also the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s now iconic “I Have a Dream” speech (from The History Channel).

How do we demonstrate God’s love? The aforementioned gatherings that show our care for our colleagues, neighbors, and those beyond our immediate circles are one way. Other ways include the little acts of love we do for each other and taking a stand for social justice. In the Gospel of John 15:9-17, Jesus commands, “Love each other.”

This week, we are going to have a conversational style reflection on the gospel text, as we close the “I’ve been meaning to ask…” journey with the question, “How do we demonstrate God’s love?” I look forward to your stepping into brave space and sharing your personal reflection. See you at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom at 10 am Sunday.

Marching on,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Happy Labor Day!

Road Maps


Over the past eight weeks, we have been following the map of “I’ve been meaning to ask…” toward a goal of being present for and listening to each other and deepening our relationships. Last week, we had a detour moment as we gathered with the Congregational Church of the Peninsula in Belmont. We are creating new roads of inter-congregational relationship.

This week we return to our map with the questions, “Where do we go from here?” and “How do we continue this work?” Afterward, we will continue on the journey together with the insights we have gained that have updated our personal and communal navigational systems. Our mission (adapted from Star Trek) is “to further explore our strange and wonderful spiritual worlds; to seek out abundant life and new ways of being; to boldly go where no human has gone before!”

I look forward to seeing you at 1130 Balclutha and on Zoom at 10 am Sunday as we continue our journey.

Onward! Excelsior!
Rev. Michael Cronin


Resilient Ones,

Every day and moment we are presented with something new, are invited to grow, question, and think differently.

Last week we had an extra wonderful worship experience as The Congregational Church of the Peninsula joined us for our Sunday celebration. We came together to further examine “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” with questions about how to feel whole, remembering a feeling of care. It was, by far, the liveliest of conversations. The gift of the voice of combined angel choirs was transcendent. We had a delightful agape gathering afterward.

This week, on Sunday, August 20, Island United has been invited to visit The Congregational Church of the Peninsula at 10:30 am in person or via Zoom (see below). For those who have the ability to attend in-person, please do. If you are unable to attend in person, please join via the link provided below. Brent will also be at Balclutha from before 10 am until 10:30 am to redirect people. Community building takes many forms.

When we return to Balclutha on August 27, we will resume our exploration of “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” with the question “Where do we go from here?” We shall have been here, there, and everywhere to get to that question.

Bending with you,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. This Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20, is also FOSTER CITY SUMMER DAYS. It is not, nor will it ever, be too late to participate as a booth ambassador. 11-5 Saturday, 11-6 on Sunday. One minute or many minutes of your time is welcome. Your presence is a gift.


Friends on the Journey,

I’m a fan of children’s books. In their simplicity, they can be very profound. An all-time favorite is Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. Another is The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein. The latter is a story about a circular-shape-like creature that is missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself. It doesn’t like this and sets out on a grand adventure searching for the perfect piece to complete itself.

“And as it rolled
it sang this song—
Oh I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece
I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece
Hi-dee-ho, here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.”

Consumerism would like us to believe that to be whole we must have XYZ. Social structures tell us that we must have certain degrees from schools of a certain pedigree, or make oodles of money, to be successful. We can have all of it and still be out of balance, not whole. Have you ever known someone who has what we would call “everything” and still continues to amass bright shiny objects to fill a void? I’m reminded of Citizen Kane with Orson Welles.

This week, we welcome Rev. Jim Mitulski and The Congregational Church of the Peninsula to Island United as we look at 2 Timothy 4:9-18 and ask the question “How can you feel whole?” I hope you will join us this week at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom. A light lunch will be served after the service. I also hope that you will join us next week at 10:30 am as The Congregational Church of the Peninsula welcomes Island United to their sanctuary at 751 Alameda de Las Pulgas (off Ralston) in Belmont.

Until then, keep on singing!
Rev. Michael Cronin

You Can Get What You Need


In an era of “no prisoners taken” politics and a world seemingly in constant state of turmoil and tumult, we can become cynical and jaded, apathetic and nihilistic. With that thought, the 1969 Rolling Stones anthemic song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” comes to mind. Coming at the end of an era where idealism turned to frustration and disillusionment, innocence turned suspicion, it was a “balm in Gilead” to heal the sin-sick soul.

In times of extreme hardship, our belief in good and the presence of God and God’s faithfulness can be put to task. When we are thrown off course from what we planned or wanted, can we get what we need?

This Sunday we ask the question “What do you need?” using the story of Job 2:11-13. His friends show up in his distress. This comes with its own problems. Perhaps you have a memory of a time when someone extended care for you and the feeling you had. Bring it for intimate discussion this Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom. There will be private breakout rooms for those attending via Zoom.

Rev. Michael Cronin

Hey God, are You there?

Dear Ones,

In our day-to-day lives and all the goings-on in the world, it is easy to lose sight of God’s presence in our lives. Sometimes, we wonder if we are even seen. It can be defeating.

Even in those moments when we might feel disconnected or disenfranchised, remember that God sees you, hears you, and loves you. God never gives up on you. In these moments, I also like to remind myself of the beauty that surrounds me and that kindness is….

Last week, we asked, “Where does it hurt?” and “What makes your heart hurt?” This week we continue with the question “Where is God in the midst of this?” We examine Mark 1:29-34, 40-45 and the stories of Jesus healing people, his wanting to be under the radar, and his being exposed.

I look forward to being with you at 10 am Sunday at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom.

See you then!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Everybody Hurts


Ernest Hemingway wrote: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” In 1992, the band R.E.M. released the song “Everybody Hurts”. Some of the lyrics are:

“When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
Everybody hurts sometimes…”

‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts.”

Quite often, when we are having a bad patch, we feel that we aren’t fit for human consumption. We are embarrassed and hole up. To keep up appearances, we don’t come to church – which is exactly the opposite of what church should be about. Our sanctuary is a space where we can celebrate each other in joy and hold each other in sorrow.

We talk about being a safe space for the most vulnerable, and – as the song intimates –we all have our moments. In those moments, rather than succumbing to shame, call on God, call on me, call on your community. As another song sings, “That’s what friends are for.”

I invite you to continue the journey through “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” as we explore “Where does it hurt? What makes your heart hurt?” We are diving deeper, and our sharing will be riskier. Our key text this week will be 1 Samuel 1:1-18. I look forward to seeing you at 10 am on Sunday at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom. Tell a friend. Bring a friend.

Cheer up companions! 
Rev. Michael Cronin