April 9, 2013

Thanks again  for the grand celebration on Sunday. I am honored and appreciative. As I have been saying repeatedly since Sunday, “I have much to live up to.” I am grateful to Jennie Girard of City Council Member Kernighan’s office for supplying me with with the word “aspirational” to describe my feelings. I am also grateful to be in a community that make such striving possible.

This Sunday there will be a congregational meeting following worship at which artist Eric Powell will present the proposed artwork for the Sanctuary which he and the Sanctuary Art Committee have continued to refine and envision following the initial proposal presented last September. With the committee, I find Eric to be a marvelous artist, a great listener and a superb synthesizer of ideas. I look forward to introducing him to you.

My sermon, taken from Revelation 5: 11-14, will be “At the Cross after Easter.” Recognizing that the Scripture portrays the resurrected Jesus as both the same as, yet different from, the Jesus who was executed on the cross, I will speculate a bit about what became of the cross itself. In advance of Sunday let me  note that in Christian tradition Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, found the true cross while on a (326-328) mission to the Holy Land to build churches and establish relief agencies for the poor and that the cross possessed great power. While Helena’s discovery and subsequent display of relics purporting to be pieces of the true cross my be more hopeful legend than true history, they do represent our ongoing hope that the cross which was a tool of cruel torture, is now, at least in our spirits and in our imaginations, a source of life and hope.

Prayers of the Congregation

  • Prayers for those whose bodies need strength and healing – Bette Pancoe (The Rehabilitation Center of Oakland – formerly Rounsville Convalescent Hospital, Sybil Alexander, Charlotte Evans, Ted Evans,  Keith Paramour for his grandparents, Barbara Bowman, Carol and Steve Leichter, Brenda McCarthy for the Maldanado and Dews families, Art Ferguson, Cecil White, Joni Nomura, Sandra Dunn, David Broadnax, Chuck Johnston for his partner Kevin, George Lee for Sylvia, Edna Dorenzo, Virginia Damretzky, Al Johnson, Jamie Reid, Kay Baxter’s friend Abbott, Rae Rita Thompson’s father, Celestine Bennett’s son Michael, Dave Gattey’s brother Phil and sister in law Linda, Cherie Smith for mom
  • Prayers for those who are aging and their loved ones who care for them – Sandra Dunn for her father, Theresako Harris for her aunt, Larry Hutchings for his mother, Marc Harrison for his father, Sheryl Gattey for her mother, Helen Roberson for her mother, Ruth Smith, Naomi Nutting for her mother
  • Prayers for those who are grieving – The people of England as they mourn the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
  • Prayers for our loved ones who are facing significant challenges – Gloria and Phil Meads for their nieces, Jason and Jon, Kay Baxter for Stacey, Georgia Upshaw for her friend Ginny, Toni Daniels for her family, Margaret Alexander for LaShaya and family, Joan Patten for her son Peter, Rowena Jackson for her son Paul, Barry Breaux for his family, Mary Lee, Max Powers, Ann Fields for her family, Mary Alice and Abe Cirimele for Sal and Sylvia Tedesco, Steve Reimer for his son Greg, Wil Ash for Joel Kaufman, Aaron Cooper for his family, Declan Brown for his friend Lewis, Cathy Leaks for Rodney Leaks
  • Prayers for our community- For the ministry of our sister American Baptist and Alliance of Baptists congregations, for the ministry of the Baptist Joint Committee in interpreting the importance of religious liberty, the Graduate Theological Union and its member schools, for the US Congress as it considers  needed steps toward gun safety and immigration reform, the Oakland Unified School District in the wake of the resignation of Superintendent Tony Smith and prayers for Tony and family as they become caregivers
  • Prayers for people we don’t know who  are facing challenges we can’t imagine- For our Kachin brothers and sister, those who are incarcerated, all who are affected by gun violence, the people of Haiti, the people of the Syria
  • Prayers of gratitude – The Hopkins family for the amazing love and support of our community, Jerry and Charlene Wolf on the celebration of their wedding anniversary, for the ministry of Jeff Haggray at FBC Washington D.C. (Jeff concluded his pastorate there on April 7), the medical work of Dr. Geetha Thaker in India
  • Prayers for ourselves – May each of us know peace, joy, acceptance and encouragement