Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message – Page 2

Love One Another

Beloveds,

Depending upon the translation and researcher lens, the word ‘love’ is used anywhere from 310 to 645 times in the Bible. Researchers often include details on the five different types of love – agape, philia, eros, storge, pragma – as well as God’s love for us and our command to love one another. And then, there are the characteristics of love such as patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, etc. And then….

Needless to say, love is important. The last words of the Beatles song, The End, are “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

This Sunday, we continue with the Johannine Farewell Discourse in John 15:9-15, where Jesus’s commandment is “love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I look forward to reflecting upon this with you, be it at 1130 Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream. No better time than this week to bring friends!

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Check in with yourself and loved ones! Love heals.

Prepositions

Friends of God,

In John 15:1-8 in the New Revised Standard Version Update Edition pericope, Jesus uses “Abide in me and I abide in you“ multiple times. Then I started singing “Abide with me”. And then I got all ‘what’s up with the different preposition usage?’ I sought a quick internet search refresher, and I impart the learning upon you.

I visited the site of the International English Language Testing System teacher, Akram Khan. Here is what he wrote: “There are a number of preposition words that change the meaning of a phrase when used with a particular word. For example, you can use “Abide” with different prepositions, and you will get a different meaning every time. You can see the examples below:”

1.  Abide at (place)
Example: I will abide at the railway station till the train arrives.

2Abide in (house)
Example: They have been abiding in my house for the last three years.

3Abide by (decision)
Example: She will abide by my decision positively.

4.  Abide with (person)
Example: He will abide with his friend Sara in all circumstances.

God lives in us, and God endures with us. 1 John 4:16 says “God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them.” There is work to be done around the love stuff. And then there’s the vineyard and pruning.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom and livestream as I delve deeper into the text that starts with “I am the true vine, and my Abba is the vine grower.”

With love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Earth Day 2024

Fellow Earthlings,

As I write to you, it is a lovely 68 degrees. The butterflies are doing their air dance. The hummingbirds are zipping about. The pollen level is moderate … achoo!

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article on April 5 that “climate change is causing high pollen counts to happen earlier and last longer, causing misery for seasonal allergy sufferers.” https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/allergies-pollen-bay-area-19384579.php. I hope that you are not one of us!

Speaking of the idea of “one of us”, this Sunday we will be looking at John 10:11-18, also known as “The Good Shepherd”. Jesus talks about knowing his own and his own knowing him, as well as bringing new sheep into the fold. In the multicultural and “think globally, act locally” world of 2024, what does being one of us mean? How can each of us be good shepherds, creating a sense of belonging, extending an invitation or hospitality, celebrating our individual and communal faith journeys, while being good stewards of creation care?

I look forward to sharing some thoughts with you this Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha, Zoom, or livestream. Invite a friend.

Baaah!
Rev. Michael Cronin

Peace be with you

Beloveds,

Imagine if every greeting to one another started, “Peace be with you.” What might change within us in a world filled with fear and insecurity? Many years ago, while having a conversation about security, I responded to a friend, “Security is an illusion.” To which she responded, “That may well be, but it is an illusion I would like to foster.”

When Jesus says as he appears to the remaining disciples in Jerusalem, who are presumably hiding in the upper room in fear of the authorities, “Peace be with you. Why are you disturbed?”, he is inviting them to find the peace within while in the midst of struggle. He was there to show them that death does not have the last word. Following Jesus is not a secure venture, but there is peace to be found.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom and livestream as we dive deeper into Luke 24:36-48, Jesus’s last appearance to the disciples before ascending into Heaven. Invite a friend!

Peace,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Here’s my heart

Risen Ones,

Happy Eastertide! Are you still basking in the glow of the Resurrection? After four services, I took a moment to go into the tomb for rest.

This week will be our final stop with Peter while riding the rails of faith. We will be visiting the Gospel of John and the moment when Jesus first appears after the empty tomb on the shore of Lake Tiberius. Peter gets another chance to redeem himself when Jesus asks three times, “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.”

I look forward to reflecting on this passage with you this Sunday at 10 am, be it at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom or Livestream. Share your glow with a friend!

Shine!
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. If you would like to participate in the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition April 14 live reading of MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail at Trinity Baptist Church in San Mateo, please RSVP with the link in the related block below. Thanks!

And I hope

Beloveds,

So much going on!

Thank you for the beautiful installation service and reception last Saturday. Our guests had a great time. I had a great time. I hope you did as well. We are now officially conjoined in covenant with a future full of hope.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of the Last Supper prior to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Tonight, we will be joining other local UCC churches at the Congregational Church of the Peninsula to sing “The Last Supper” sequence from Jesus Christ Superstar, receive Holy Communion, and sing some more. We’ve planned a beautiful Good Friday service at the Congregational Church of San Mateo featuring reflections on The Seven Last Words paired with excerpts from MLK, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a result of his arrest on what is called The Good Friday March. We will all convene again for a Holy Saturday Vigil at College Heights UCC. We hope to deepen our relationships with God and each other as we commemorate these important moments toward the Resurrection of Easter.

We like to sing “… the thrill of hope…” when referring to Jesus’ birth and Christmas. Easter, too, is an entering into hope. Hate, oppression, and death do not have the last word. We always have the opportunity to begin again, to be born anew.

I hope you will join in person, Zoom, or Livestream for the Holy Week services at 7 pm. I look forward to celebrating the Risen One on Sunday at 10 am – be it in person, Zoom, or Livestream – as we welcome guest vocalist and friend Carly Ozard.

Always looking on the bright side of life (even though I can’t whistle),
Rev. Michael Cronin

Songs of loudest praise

Fellow Revelers,

This Sunday, we will wave palms and sing loud hosannas in commemoration of Palm Sunday. Hosanna, save us! We are on the last stops as we ride the rails of faith with Peter.

This is a moment in Scripture (John 12:12-16) when Peter is not explicitly mentioned in his travels with Jesus. So, we have to imagine. Is he part of the procession contingent, maybe walking with the other disciples behind Jesus as he rides in on the donkey colt? Or maybe an onlooker, waving palms and singing, “hosanna!”? As we prepare for Sunday, I invite you to think of a moment when you might have been at a parade, a concert, or a large gathering where the energy of the crowd and the moment engulfed and swept you up.

I think of San Francisco Pride Parades – marching with different contingents, being greeted and propelled by the nearly 1 million celebrating bodies, and being in the raucous crowd along Market Street, waving, hooting, and hollering in celebration as the contingents pass. They are different and yet same experiences – moments of time that become etched in memory and future tales.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am at 1130 Balclutha or on Zoom or Livestream as we hoot and holler in the sanctuary, commemorating this moment in time. Spread the excitement; tell a friend.

Love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Please consider attending the Maundy Thursday (Belmont), Good Friday (CCSM), and Holy Saturday Vigil (College Heights) services as we travel through the Passion into Easter. Not doing so leaves a gap in your experience!

Teach me

Life Students,

This week, Peter asks Jesus, “When a sibling wrongs me, how many times must I forgive? Seven times?” Jesus gives him – and us – the answer: “Seventy times seven.”

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. A tall order.

We human beings rub up against each other. And that friction can cause hard feelings. Jesus tells us, “The truth is, whatever you declare bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In other words, work it out or carry it with you. Another tall order.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Forgetting can lead to repeating. What relationships in your life have derailed and need to be put back on track – reconciled and repaired? What do you need to let go of so that your vibration is harmonious in a discordant world?

Let’s have a look as we continue riding the rails of faith with Peter this Fifth Sunday in Lent at 10 am on 1130 Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream. Maybe we can learn something. Extend an invitation.

Learning alongside you,
Rev. Michael Cronin

I’m fixed upon it

Faith-filled Friends,

In the song, Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, Emile de Becque sings about seeing a stranger across a crowded room and knowing she is the one, finishing with the lyric, “Once you have found her, never let her go. Once you have found her, never let her go!” It’s a lovely sentiment, but as much as we might not want to, eventually, we have to let people go. In the book The Measure by Nikki Erlich, people open their front door to find a small wooden box waiting for them. This box holds their fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years they will live. The story unfolds as the characters’ decisions and fates interweave with one another. A Chat ‘n Chew Book Group member said, “You can make choices, but you can’t determine the outcomes.”

At this week’s stop on the rails of faith with Peter, we arrive at Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus is explaining what is in the future, and Peter rebukes him. Jesus utters the famous, “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

Peter has found a teacher and friend, a beloved. He wants to hold on to the lives they have built. Jesus has laid his faith, and Peter does not want to let go. I know that feeling – knowing that a beloved would pass, a relationship would change. Wanting to hold on; fearing the loss of what is and facing the unknown. Wanting to avoid the pain and suffering. It’s highly likely that you have too. How do we find hope for the moments when our world unravels and we feel lost in our faith?

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am on Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream as we look at what we can be “fixed upon.” Invite a friend along for the ride!

Yours,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Praise the mount

Faithful Ones,

Happy February 29, 2024! Here we are in Leap Year, riding the rails of faith with Peter and his Wandering Heart during Lent. It seems appropriate that last week our Scripture story focused on stepping out on faith – taking the leap.

Charles F. Glassman writes in his book, Brain Drain – The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life, “Today, I plan to take the leap. No matter that my heart beats a little fast, my knees feel a bit shaky, or my voice quivers. Today, I plan to take the leap that will launch me on the right path.” In taking a leap of faith, we can have profound revelations.

This week, we make a stop in Caesarea Philippi. In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. It is his statement of faith. What is yours? Has it changed?

The UCC states, “Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Is that true?

I look forward to seeing you Sunday at 10 am on Balclutha, Zoom, or Livestream. Invite a friend along for the ride!

With love,
Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. If you want to learn about Leap Year, visit https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/why-do-leap-years-have-366-days