Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Off with his head!

Companions on the Journey,

Many of us are familiar with Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Alice’s main antagonist is the Queen of Hearts. Wikipedia posts that she is a childish, foul-tempered monarch whom Carroll himself describes as “a blind fury” and who is quick to give death sentences at even the slightest of offenses. “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. โ€˜Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking around.” It is said that she represents egotism and narcissism syndrome. Hmmm, sounds like a familiar personality?

If you guessed King Herod, you are correct!

This Sunday we will be looking at Mark 6:14-39 and the beheading of John the Baptist. The grisly story is the filling between last week’s story of Jesus’s sending out the disciples two-by-two to heal and next week’s story of their successes in what is known as a Markan Sandwich. Ann will be sharing her sure-to-be dramatic reading of Scripture from Bellevue, Washington, via Zoom.

I look forward to seeing you at 10 am Sunday on 1130 Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream. Bring a friend and share the fun.

’til then,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Shake It Off

Happy Independence Day!

Today, as we celebrate July 4th, I am keenly aware of what lies ahead over these next months. I thought about the Declaration of Independence and the clauses about “long train of abuses and usurpations” and the tyranny exhibited “over these States”, which forced the colonists to “alter their former system of Government”, and “all men are created equal.” Well, some then … and still.

We have been reading The Women by Kristin Hannah. It is a novel about the women who served in Vietnam, who were often ignored and not talked about. My dad served in Korea from 1962 to 1964. On Memorial Day, a number of names were lifted up in memory of those who served in different conflicts in the name of Democracy. It is my hope that these people, my dad and your loved ones, did not serve in vain. We as a country have big decisions ahead of us. I hope we will make them with love and grace.

We know that conflict has been a part of the human condition since, well, forever. Jesus walked the earth teaching the ways of love, peace, and freedom from oppression. Today some people seek power, dominance, and exclusion in the name of Jesus. What they propose, as I mentioned last week, is not very Christlike. And throughout his ministry he faced derision (especially in his hometown) and ultimately death. We – with the help of the Holy Spirit – are called to carry on his mission of love, even in the face of derision and conflict, with courage.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am on Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream as we look at Mark 6:1-13 when Jesus says, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house” (6:4). He then tells the disciples to travel lightly. “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them” (6:10-11). Essentially, shake it off and move on to the next place in their mission.

Who thought sharing God’s message of love and inclusion with the world would be so challenging? But that is what we are called to do. Even when we have to shake off the rebuke of those claiming to speak in the name of Jesus.

Remember that we are interdependent and invite a friend.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

We Are Family (I got all of you and me)

Beloveds,

We have come to the end of another Pride Season. I just got off of an Open & Affirming Coalition virtual support space for license & ordained UCC clergy Zoom call. Not that I have to be reminded, but I am grateful to be amongst you. I missed being with you in person terribly last week. There is still a struggle within the wider denomination for queer clergy to be embraced and celebrated.

There is still healing to be made in what has become known as a liberal and sometimes radical faith movement.

This week we are looking at Mark 5:21-43, the story of the hemorrhaging woman and the raising of Jairus’s daughter. Stories of healing, power used for good, family of origin and chosen family, belonging. We know that the church can be harmful and/or healing, inclusive or exclusive. Do we use our power for good?

Pending a negative test result, I look forward to seeing you at 10 am Sunday on Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream. Reach out and invite someone and extend the family of healing and belonging.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Please continue to hold Congregational Church of the Peninsula, Peninsula Multifaith Coalition, and all who were touched by Rev. Kristi Denham, as well as her repose, as they navigate the grief of her passing.

Peace! Be Still!

Companions,

I don’t know about you, but there are nights when my brain just doesn’t shut down (usually Saturday) and I can hear the tick-tock of the digital clock. Now, there are some mad skills in that ability. I lie there wondering if what I have to say is relevant or whether I’ve omitted something important. Ukraine, Gaza, Haiti, Racism, Xenophobia, White Christian Nationalism…

I wish I could be like Eleanor Rigby and leave my brain in a jar by the door next to her face.

This week, we look at Mark 4:35-41, when Jesus calms the windstorm on the water with “Peace! Be still!” He then asks the disciples why they are afraid. “Have you still no faith?” May I not be struck dead by lightning, but in my experience it is possible to have faith and still be afraid. I think about Christian theologian Paul Tillich writing, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”

Couldn’t the same be said about fear? With my fears, I have pushed forward trusting in God’s presence. What do you think?

I look forward to seeing you at 10 am Sunday at 1130 Balclutha, on Zoom or Livestream. Bring your questions and a friend.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Another big thanks to Carly Ozard for her musical gifts offered last week. Wishing our Black siblings a Blessed Juneteenth.

Sowing Seeds

Beloveds,

Last week I wrote to you from the Annual Meeting of the Northern California-Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ in Fresno. It did indeed get to 109 degrees – dry heat ๐Ÿ˜‰. The theme was “Making All Things New”. There was a lot of excitement in the air about our new Settled Conference Minister Rev. Davena Creer Jones, the revival of the conference, and what lies ahead. There was a celebration of the Sacramento Marshallese Ministry, which was recently granted full standing in the conference. We were sowing the seeds of the future.

This past weekend several of us from Island United participated in the San Mateo Cluster Open & Affirming Congregations of the UCC contingent at San Mateo Pride. It was a lot of fun. We also heard guest preacher and friend of Island United Rev. Gwynn Fuqua deliver a powerful reflection on Mark 3:20-35, talking about the intersectionality of Black History, Queer families, “Ode to Billy Joe” related to the murder of Emmet Till, and God’s Abundant Love for all. This coming weekend will be the Third Annual Juneteenth Celebration held by the Foster City Association of Black Residents from 1 pm to 5 pm in the Wind Room at the Foster City Community Center. This was the first of the (now) many events happening throughout the county. IUC has proudly sponsored this joyful gathering since the beginning. Sowing the seeds of love.

It just so happens that the text for this weekend is Mark 4:26-34 โ€“ The Parable of the Growing Seed. In a time where seeds of fear and hate are bearing noxious weeds attempting to choke out love and inclusion, it is important that we continue to sow seeds of love and understanding that flourish into beautiful life-giving plants. We will also be gifted with the presence and voice of my dear friend, and exotic flower, Carly Ozard. I look forward to seeing your bright shiny faces at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha, on Zoom or Livestream. Sow invitation and radical hospitality and watch us grow.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Chosen Family

Beloveds,

I write to you from my air-conditioned room in Fresno. It is nearly midnight and 79F. The low will be 68 as we prepare for temps of 105 and then 109. It’s the Annual Meeting of the Northern California-Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. A family reunion, if you will.

On this Second Sunday of Pride Month, the lectionary text is Mark 3:20-35, where Jesus, looking at those sitting around him, proclaims who his mother and siblings are. One could say “chosen family.” Each week that we come together, I am reminded that we are a chosen family. We choose to return and accompany each other on our faith journeys โ€“ good and bad, happy or sad.

I look forward to Sunday as we welcome my seminary sister Rev. Gwynn Fuqua and her wife Faith as they join us for worship. I hope to see you at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha, on Zoom or Livestream. Invite a friend and extend the family.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

June is bustin’ out

Beautiful People,

I pray that your Memorial Day was peaceful and meaningful, and you felt the Holy Trinity throughout the week.

Pride Month is here to let us know that Ordinary Time is anything but. The rainbow of diversity celebrates and shines. As part of the San Mateo County Cluster of Open & Affirming UCC Congregations ((Island United, CCSM, CC Peninsula, & College Heights), we are in our final logistics and planning stretch for San Mateo Pride on Saturday, June 8. There will be a small parade procession from 2nd Ave. & B Street to Central Park on 5th Ave., followed by an ambassador booth.

If you haven’t already, please consider and let me know if you would like to march and or be a booth ambassador for an hour or two. It’s a wonderful family friendly event with an opportunity to mix and mingle with our sibling congregations who seek to welcome LGBTQ+ folx into our communities. Talk to me!

This Sunday, we will look at Mark 2:23-3:6 โ€“ Jesus’s healing of the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. It is both a commentary on “law” (restrictions on behavior and activity) and civil discourse (which seems to be anything but civilized) as well as slowing down to listen for God in our midst. Very timely as we enter further into the political season of 2024. Gird your loins!

I look forward to seeing you at 10 am on Sunday at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom and Livestream. Invite a friend.

Share the love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Grits

Beloveds,

I’ve shared with you the story of my friend from New York traveling through the South and experiencing the ubiquitous grits. At one diner, he decided to ask the waitress, “What are grits?” The waitress stopped to ponder and became noticeably perplexed. She offered this answer, “Well, grits is grits!” Food for our bodies.

It’s that time of the year when we celebrate the Doctrine of the Trinity. Considered to be one of the central Christian affirmations about God, it proclaims the unity of Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. And we all go “Uh huh” and move along. “Well, the Trinity is the Trinity!” Food for our souls.

Both mysterious and available everywhere at all times.

This Sunday, we will look at John 3:1-17, Jesus’s meeting in the night with Nicodemus and their discussion about being born again. Jesus utters the famous John 3:16: “Yes, God so loved the world as to give the Only Begotten One that whoever believes may not die but have eternal life.”

You might say, “Well, what does one have to do with the other?”

Join us Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha, on Zoom or Livestream as we delve into the mystery. Bring a sidekick sleuth!

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Voices of Pentecost

Hello Church!

I write to you from beautiful Zephyr Point on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe (see pics below). I am here for a Worship Design Conference soaking up the brilliance of guru Marcia McFee and basking in the mystical energy and beauty of the lake. Calm and peaceful … and creative.

It is an interesting confluence that this conference happens as we enter Pentecost. There are upwards of one hundred worship leaders โ€“ pastors, musicians, design specialists โ€“ from 23 states and 11 denominations. “We are Methodists, United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Churches, people from California, Nebraska and Tennessee, Texas and New Jersey, 10 New Mexico and Colorado, Ohio and the parts of Connecticut and Missouri, as well as visitors from Illinois โ€“11 all Christians, or a cohort of Unitarians โ€“ Church of the Brethren and retirees, too. We hear them preaching and singing, each in our own language, about the marvels of God!โ€

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha, Zoom or livestream as we celebrate the Pentecost story and the birth of the Church. If you know the Lord’s Prayer in another language or can find one you’d like to speak, bring it and we’ll speak them together as a beautiful cacophonous polyglot. Invite a friend to the party!

With a fire in my heart,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Wear red, yellow, or orange if you got it. We’ll be a church on fire.

Movin’ on up!

Happy Ascension Day, Theophilus (Lovers of God),

Here we are forty days after Easter on what is called Holy Thursday. Jesus has completed his time of earthly presence, making room for the Holy Spirit, and takes his seat at the right hand of God. The disciples are blessed by Jesus and receive another commission to continue the work once they “have been clothed with the power from on high” โ€“ the Holy Spirit.

Theologian Karl Barth tells us that the Ascension is God’s “yes” moment. God is saying “yes” to God’s people after being amongst them. Think about it, Jesus, Emmanuel โ€“ God is with Us. Returning to God represents the reconciliation between God and God’s people.

As modern disciples, we are called to say “yes'” to God by following the teachings of Jesus and being instruments in the ascension of love. Being God’s “yes” to all creation.

I look forward to seeing you at 10 am on Sunday, be it at 1130 Balclutha, Zoom or Livestream. Share the love with a friend.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. In honor of Mother’s Day, bring a photo or memento of a mother figure important to you for the altar.