Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message – Page 2

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

You’ve Got a Friend

Beloved Community,

Last week, I talked about Pentecost as an in-between time. What is in the wake of what was and preparing for what will be. We can end up confused, fearful, and mourning. And, like resurrection and transformation, it is not a one-time occurrence. We are constantly in a state of birth, rebirth, and growth.

And in all of it, who is there? God who became flesh among us through Jesus and breathes through us by the Holy Spirit. God who longs to be in relationship with us. Who through Creation, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit blesses us and continually reveals God’s self to us.

Interrelational, communal, bringing together. For me, this is the purpose of gathering on Sundays. We who seek the Spirit of Truth and Love gather together and bounce off one another, building bonds that help us survive and thrive in a world that can be isolating and bewildering. 

God through the teachings of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit manifests in us. Reminding us that we always have a friend. We are never alone. We are held in truth, love, and grace.

I look forward to seeing you this Trinity Sunday as I reflect upon John 16:12-15 and the work God continues to do through us, together, by the Holy Spirit.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Tongues of Fire

Hello Church!

Today, Alexis and I attended the ceremony for the raising of the new, to Foster City, Progress Pride Flag. There was a small but joyful crowd of community members joined to commemorate the beginning of Pride Month. I was proud to know, and that others knew, that Island United was instrumental in getting the first flag raising done in 2019. The Progress Pride Flag (2018), based upon the iconic rainbow flag from 1978, which was relatively new to the world when I was a “gayby”, is a redesign that celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ community and calls for a more inclusive society. The chevron included in the design connotes “moving forward.”

We are indeed moving forward. We have come through Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. We are celebrating the birth of the church born of the Holy Spirit and moving into the second half of the church year. In the story of those of different languages able to hear and understand each other, there is not only fulfillment of a prophecy but a promise of hope and newness. And God knows we can use moving forward into more celebration, understanding, hope, and newness rather than slipping back into dour, ignorance, despair, and the dead stale ways of being.

For me, this Pentecost and Pridetide are particularly important because at this time last year I was beginning the process of major change in my ministry. I was stepping out from a “comfortable” place into the unknown. Moving forward. And had I not made that decision, I might not have been called to you and your blessing.

“Excelsior! Upward and onward to greater glory!”

I look forward to seeing your tongues of flame and celebratory selves this Sunday at 10 am, in person or on Zoom.

Happy Pentecost & Pridetide,
Rev. Michael Cronin

God, are you there?

Gentle people,

I write this as I emotionally prepare to attend a community vigil at the Foster City Rec Center Gazebo to honor the victims and take action to end gun violence on Wednesday evening. As we are still reeling from the Buffalo mass shooting, we have heard of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults were killed and another seventeen were wounded.

We have been told that there have been twenty-seven school mass shootings since the beginning of the year; there have been two-hundred fourteen reported mass shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive. This is insanity. Where is the moral and political will to enact sensible gun control? Where is God in all of this?

As we approach Ascension Sunday, we might think of God above us and at a distance. I like to think of God over us, God enveloping us, God with us, God within us. God is not in the distance but here, crying with us, calling and moving through us to do the necessary work to put an end to this senseless carnage. Don’t look up. Look within.

What are you willing to do toward ending gun violence?

I invite you to the check-in and prayer tonight (link below). This is an opportunity to be with each other and hold each other as we navigate our emotions around this issue and our day-to-day lives.

I also look forward to being with you, be it in person or Zoom, on Sunday at 10 am. 

Stay strong,
Rev. Michael Cronin

I.JUST.CAN’T.

Beloveds –

It seems that we’ve had a series of “mama said there’ll be days like this” lately. Last Saturday we had the hate crime shooting at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo; Sunday, the Geneva Presbyterian Church shooting in Laguna Woods; the baby formula shortage; the ongoing war in Ukraine; not to mention the heinous responses by certain politicians and television personalities. It can be too much and make us want to hole up and hide away from the world, rendering us to a state of “I just can’t.”

I was particularly touched last Sunday when Alexis expressed her sadness and anger that made her think about staying home but she chose church as a place to come find solace. It reminded me of how people tend to stay away from church when things are not well rather than being in community and sharing the burdens and pain. I’ve done it.

Being sanctuary when life is challenging is one of the best things a church community can be. Every Sunday the love inside the room at 1130 Balclutha is amazing. Invite friends to be a part of it. Be present and don’t miss out. With God, you can.

I look forward to being in your presence Sunday at 10 am.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin