Where the Spirit Is

People of the Spirit,

There are some days when life just seems too much. Too much. I feel it, do you? From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I receive so much negative messaging. Whether it is real and true, it is overwhelming.

And here we are in the San Francisco Bay Area where the sunrise is still around 7:30 am and the sunset around 5:30. Can I just pull the covers over my head and hibernate? Can we not talk about this?

Oh no, wait. This week we heard of the volcano in Tonga, the hostages in the Colleyville, Texas synagogue, COVID COVID COVID. That is just a quick snippet. It can be overwhelming and exhausting. There are stories we will never hear about: black lives and people of color, unjust incarcerations and “oops, we made a mistake” death sentences. And we have our own personal prisons.

Luke 4:14-21 reminds us that “where the Spirit is” we can be set free; there is a call for us to answer. It is not about what we are doing for the church, our church, but what are we doing to answer God’s call?

As a community, we might worry about the life and vitality of the church. It is a very real phenomenon for churches with smaller numbers to large numbers.

Might the answer be to return to the Holy Spirit’s call? What Jesus expressed in Luke 4:18-19?

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The Spirit is upon US.

Peace,

Rev. Michael Cronin

MLK Sunday 2022

Evolving Beloved Community,

I want you to know how I marvel at your perseverance and resilience. In the midst of challenge, you find ways to show up and be there for one another. You continue to withstand difficult times. You adapt and celebrate. Do not underestimate these gifts.

The artist, poet, and minister Jan Richardson wrote:

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
cease.

Let what divides you
cease.

Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
possible
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

This Sunday we commemorate Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  – a modern prophet who sought justice and peace within chaos. He spoke then, and his words remind us now, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Change takes a long time, but it does happen. God, help us to hold out until our change comes.

I invite you to invite a friend and join Island United this Sunday as we celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. King.

Love,

Rev. Michael Cronin

P.S. Don’t forget to join us 8:30 am – 11:30 am on MLK Day of Service, Monday, January 17, via our weekly zoom link as Alexis Lewis presents an educational moment on the 1963 March on Washington!

In You I Am Well Pleased

Happy New Year, Beloveds,

Here we are at the end of the first week of 2022. Where we are and where we hope to be at this time are not in alignment. We are called to hold on to the Advent and Christmas Hope that holds us in challenging times. We got this. We know how to be with, hold up, one another – reaching out in love.

Love. This week we celebrate the “Baptism of the Lord”. In Advent we looked at this Scripture, and we are reviewing it again. Sometimes review is necessary to remind us of truths. It is also a mystery as to how the lectionary and church year align what is going on in our lives.

We have learned that John the Baptist announces the greatness of Jesus, one to whom he cannot compare. “I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.” We have heard about the “Holy Spirit and fire.” And this week, we hear God’s proclamation to Jesus, “You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

“You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Listen for that still small voice of God proclaiming this to you. Feel God’s love enveloping you, and show up for each other as God shows up for you.

I look forward to seeing your beautiful faces in the zoom room as we gather together, celebrating community and worshiping God.

With love,

Rev. Michael Cronin

On the Eve of the New Year

Greetings, Beloved Community,

Can you believe it? The end of the year is here, and we have been together for three months. It was wonderful to be able to gather together for Christmas Eve worship in-person and online. We had the gift of beautiful music and good cheer. My favorite part of Christmas Eve has always been the sharing of the Christ Light and singing “Silent Night” by candlelight. It always touches my heart.

And now, we enter into the New Year and the season of Epiphany – Lent and Easter are just around the corner. In addition to our Sunday worship service this week, I invite you to join me on New Year’s Eve between 5 and 6 pm for a special farewell to 2021 and a welcoming of 2022. Bring your prayers of release and prayers for manifestation.

Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Council and I have unanimously agreed that it is most prudent that we return to worship ONLINE ONLY this Sunday and until further notice. Our health officials are encouraging people to stay home for New Year’s celebrations as it is expected that the current surge will surpass last winter’s numbers in positive cases. Many social gathering places and restaurants are voluntarily closing until there is better information about the spread of the Omicron variant and feel it is safe to reopen.

We are fortunate to have the resources, and we know we can do this. Your health and well-being are of utmost importance to us. If you are feeling any distress, please write to me at [email protected], and we can schedule private Zoom room time.

Good times are here and there are good times to come.

Be strong, take heart.

With love,

Rev. Michael Cronin

The Waiting is Over

Merry Christmas, People of God,

We have done it. We have come through the season of Advent. Christmas is so close we can feel it. We have prepared the way for the mysterious arrival of the Messiah – our Savior and Liberator. God enfleshed.

We have come through one doozy of a year. Though we will be experiencing the ramifications of all that has happened for some time, we are filled with God’s hope, peace, joy, and love. I was comparing my calendar this past week to last year’s. This time last year, I had reflected upon the Magnificat at your Zoom gathering, and this year we will be celebrating Christmas together. God does work in mysterious ways.

I pray that you are as excited to come together, be it in person or on Zoom, as I. Let’s celebrate the arrival of a new world and a new time. Good things are ahead of us.

With love,

Rev. Michael Cronin

Our waiting is almost over!

Greetings, People of Advent,

Our waiting is almost over. In our hopes, we continue to look at the wilderness within, prepare the way, seek joy – and now we are called to open our hearts in love. You already know how to do that.

Each time we come together in community prayer, we open and share the contents of our hearts to God and to each other. It is an act of love. Last week, in addition to all of our other prayers of the heart, Ed Grohe lifted up a prayer for those affected by the tornadoes; two were former members of the congregation, Richard and Ronna in Edwardsville, Illinois. Jan Grohe forwarded as a follow-up to our prayers a note from Richard and Ronna (edited here): 

“We’re all fine but our garage door was a casualty…. The house two doors down from us is uninhabitable. A tree fell on a house around the corner from us but it was empty…. We dodged a bullet…thanks be to God!”

This was a joyful moment of Joy Sunday.

This Love Sunday, we welcome Peninsula Multifaith Coalition president and friend of Island United, Diane Fahrner. Diane will reflect upon Luke 1:39-55, which contains Mary’s subversive song known as “The Magnificat.” Mary in her love gave us the gift of love. And Diane believes Mary’s song is our song.

Whether in-person or on zoom, I invite you to join us as we walk that much closer to Christmas.

Love,

Rev. Michael Cronin

Where is the Joy?

People of Advent,

In this season of waiting, we have been called to examine and prepare by John the Baptist. We have looked at Hope and Peace. Last week, Luke 3:1-6 told us to repent and prepare the way.


This week we look at Joy.

At face value, this week’s text from Luke 3:7-18 is more of the apocalyptic craziness from John the Baptist. He says, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

We might ask ourselves, “Where is the good news? Where is the joy? What does this have to do with Christmas?”

Do you have an answer? Perhaps not. However, we are called to seek.

John continues to cry from the wilderness, exhorting us to look within and change from the inside out. Inviting us into a renewal in a baptism that leads to Joy. The Joy that will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

I look forward to being with you Sunday.
Rev. Michael Cronin

Dear Friends

Peace, Beloveds,

As I write to you, it is the 33rd commemoration of World AIDS Day. Over the years, it has fittingly coincided with the First Sunday of Advent, which is recognized as HOPE. Many of us lived in the “wilderness” in HOPE. This year, World AIDS Day, is smack dab in the middle between HOPE and PEACE Sundays in Advent.

And we always hope for peace.

This year, PEACE Sunday focuses on John the Baptist, the one who calls us from the wild. Luke 3:4 says: As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of God, make their paths straight.’”

A Catholic interpretation offers: To guide our feet into the way of peace. O peace, my heart’s desire! O Jesus, you who are my peace! You who put me at peace with God, with myself, and with the whole world, and thus make peace both in heaven and on earth! (cf. Col. 1:20). When will it come to pass, O Jesus?

Whatever the delivery, peace is the goal. Are you ready to travel into the hopeful wilderness toward PEACE? I invite you to join, whether it be in person or on Zoom, to participate in growing Island United’s advocacy of PEACE.

Peace be upon you,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Dear Friends

Happy Thanksgiving, People of God,

The previous church year has ended. We are giving thanks for what God has given us. This coming Sunday, we enter into the church new year – Advent.

Advent – a time of waiting.

We wait in HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE for the arrival of the Christ, the Messiah, the One who will deliver us from our earthly toils and tribulations. This is what we, and our ancestors, have done over the millennia.

In this liturgical year, we focus on the Gospel of Luke. Luke brings us the child meek and mild, born in a cattle stall witnessed by the lowly shepherds. We are reminded that “pedigree and grandeur” is not how God reveals themself, God – Immanuel, God with us – comes through “the least of these.”

As we journey through Advent, I invite you to engage the “Traveling with Our Ancestors” devotional in addition to weekly worship.

With expectancy,
Rev. Michael Cronin

Dear Friends

Greetings, Friends of God,

The end of the church year is here, The Reign of Christ is with us. This Sunday, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Sunday as I reflect upon Matthew 6:25-33. In this text Jesus tells the disciples (us), “…do not worry.”

In these times it is easy to lose sleep over the events of the world. I have been known to bolt from a restless slumber, yelling various things, and being calmed back to sleep with a gentle touch of the hand from my partner. And then there are those nights, when sleep is completely elusive. And Jesus asks, ” And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

Well, can you? The answer is no. Medical studies have shown us the numerous negative short- and long-term side effects of anxiety on the body, mind, and spirit.

I invite you to join me in giving thanks. Jackie Trombley tells us, “An attitude of gratitude makes space for grace.”

In advance of Sunday, I invite you to join me at the online San Mateo County Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration noted below. Not only can we be a presence of solidarity in mourning, we can also be a presence of gratitude and celebration of our siblings whose lives were taken away too soon due to fear-and-hate-related violence. Island United is also a sponsor of the ceremony.

With gratitude for your presence,
Rev. Michael Cronin