From “Mother-er God,” May 12 sermon by Rev. Nate Klug

From “Mother-er God,” May 12 sermon by Rev. Nate Klug

 Listen to this week’s sermon by clicking here

There is a word that certain feminist writers have been using it in their work, hoping that it will catch on.

The word is “Motherer.”

It’s mother…but with an extra “er” at the end. 


And a motherer, is one who mothers.

Well, OK!, you might say.


But this new word, motherer, is meant to remind to us of a few things.

First of all, it makes “mother” into a verb, “to mother.”


This is meant to acknowledge that mothering is work.

It is labor… often unpaid, and unrecognized, in our society.

We are still the only industrialized nation not to guarantee its citizens paid parental leave.

And that still forces many women to choose for a time, between their careers and their kids.


But the word “motherer” also reminds us that mothering isn’t only labor or drudge work.

No, it is work that shapes another human being as they come into their own.

It is imaginative, playful, deeply creative kind of work.


The psychologist DW Winnicott tells the amazing story of how children learn how to be by themselves.

At first, of course, separation from our mothers for almost any period of time is agonizing.

We used to live inside them, after all!


But slowly, month by month, babies start to sit up and play. And crawl around and investigate.

And eventually they can create whole worlds out of their imagination.


But what Winnicott found, was that the initial phase of exploration, of starting to discover the world on your own…

it could only happen, if the baby was absolutely confident that their mother, or caretaker, was nearby…

Right close by, reading a book, or scrubbing dishes, or sending emails…

and peeking down the hall every minute or two to check in on them.


That’s how each of us learned to be individuals!

And as much as we like to think we’re independent and self-reliant…

Winnicott reminds us, that we only learned to be ourselves…

because of the presence of someone else.


And lastly, this new word, “motherer,” is meant to remind us that caring for someone else is a quality that we can all share.


Some of us had great relationships with our mothers. Some of us didn’t.


Some of us knew they always wanted to have children.

Some of us didn’t. Some of us haven’t been able to.


But a motherer can be anyone, anyone…

whose better self is brought out in the sacrificing of their own needs. In the act of nurturing.

And in that sense, it’s something we can all aspire to, regardless of our gender.

Richmond Emergency Food Pantry “Protein” Offering May 5th

Richmond Emergency Food Pantry “Protein” Offering May 5th:

THANKS to all those who contributed to the Protein Offering for the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry.

Tuesday this week the following donations were accepted with gratitude and smiles by volunteers at the pantry:

•          11 Jars of Peanut Butter

•          37 6oz cans of Tuna or Chicken

•          15 9.75 cans of Tuna or Chicken

•          17 cans of beans and other. 

After church, a couple of people asked where the pantry was located:  It is on Barrett Ave, diagonally across from the Richmond Art Center and is open Tuesdays and Fridays.  

Volunteer Opportunity: You, or someone you know would be gratefully received into the family of volunteers who operate the Pantry if you could give one or two Tuesdays a month -10 AM to 1 PM (substitutes available) to sit behind the volunteers at the window and enter intake information into the computer.  No training necessary.  If you have questions, ask Linda Young, 685-4394, or call the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry at 510-235-9732. 

Board of Missions and Social Justice

From “Do People Really Change?” May 5 sermon on Acts 9:1-6, by Rev. Nate Klug

From “Do People Really Change?” May 5 sermon on Acts 9:1-6, by Rev. Nate Klug.

 Listen to this week’s sermon by clicking here.

After his conversion on the road today…

Saul ends up traveling the world to spread the message of Jesus’ love.


He organizes new churches.

He writes passionate, proud, poetic letters about what faith in Christ means.

He ends up in Rome, and dies a martyr himself. Just like Stephen.


And two thousand years later, when we look back on the Jewish movement that became Christianity, that spread all over the world…

there is no doubt who is the most important figure in its development.

It’s this same, complicated man. It’s Saul.


Do people really change?


(Sometimes when I title my sermons, I have some idea of where I’m going to land beforehand. It’s probably a good idea in general.)

But this time, I didn’t have clue where I was going!

I chose my title, because I wanted to figure out what I thought about this question.


And any of us who work closely with others in our jobs…

or have a complicated person in our family…

or are in a relationship, or have friends…

does that cover all of us?


You have probably wondered about this question, too...

Do people really change?


And I don’t know if you can tell by my title, but I approached this question with a fair amount of skepticism this week.


Now, I know I’m supposed to say, “Of course, people change! Saul does.

The Bible is full of stories of transformation.”


But I need to preach what I feel.

And I realized my skepticism, these days, comes from two places.


First, I think our culture too easily accepts stories of transformation, from its celebrities and politicians and powerful people.

We scarf these stories down like fast food!


(This is one legacy of our Puritan roots, maybe…

Where you had to testify about your conversion in front of the church, to get welcomed into the elect.)


And whether it’s a comedian like Louis CK, or an athlete like Kobe Bryant, or a company like Facebook…

I have seen too many people in power use these narratives to their advantage.


A person in power messes up.

You get caught. You apologize. Maybe tear up a little.

And then after a little while, you are back in the spotlight. Behaving more or less as before.

We have saved your seat for you!


And secondly, on a more personal level…

I have known quite a few people who have been hurt, because they were in relationships where the other person needed to change.

Some dangerous or painful behavior was happening.


And the other person promised they’d do better.

And they believed them, or wanted to believe them.


And then the dangerous or painful behavior happened again.

And the cycle began all over.


Both these situations are examples of what the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer brilliantly calls, “cheap grace.”

Cheap grace.


Cheap grace is forgiveness announced and received, when it isn’t really earned.

It’s mercy, without the hard work of repentance.

It’s the twelfth step of AA or Al Anon, without the fifth step of saying sorry.

It’s “transformation,” without change.



“God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,”

the famous Serenity Prayer begins.


All the things we can’t change… about the world.

About ourselves.

Help us be OK with who we see in the mirror, tomorrow.


A mentor once told me a story about Zusha, a great medieval Rabbi.

Zusha was at the end of his life. And he was troubled about something.


And his students all said, “Rabbi, don’t worry!

After all the good deeds you have done, God will certainly welcome you with a great reward in heaven!”


And the rabbi said, “No…When I get to heaven, I think God’s going to ask me one question.

And God’s not going to say, 'Why weren't you more like Moses?' or 'Why weren't you more like Sarah?'

No, God will ask, ‘Zusha, why weren't you more like Zusha?'


For Zusha, and for Saul…

true change, real change, actually meant becoming themselves.


After all, when Saul started following Jesus…

it’s not like this intense man suddenly became a tie-dye-wearing hippie!

He wasn’t suddenly going out to hug trees, and release doves into the sky.


No, his letters still show that he was a fiery person.

But now, he was who he was…for God’s love.

All his energy and passion was focused in God.


So when we pray for transformation, for ourselves and others…

maybe this is what we should ask for.

If I’m an extrovert… let me be loud and proud, and the life of your party, God!

If I’m an introvert…let me use my listening skills to tune in to your still small Voice.


And if we’re praying for someone else…someone who is depressed…

Someone who isn’t on the right track…


Let’s ask that they might first find God’s presence in that place.

And learn to love themselves, right now.


Change me, God. But don’t replace all the parts of my car, all at once.

Just point my humble, beat-up VW Bug in your direction. Amen.

Nate’s Installation: A Celebration of our Covenant!

Nate’s Installation: A Celebration of our Covenant!

Installation planning for Nate’s Installation is in the works!  Exciting Times!   Please save the date of JUNE 30th at 2:00 PM for an installation celebration in the Sanctuary followed by finger foods and cake in the Social Hall. Clergy from the Bay Association, and other special guests will be there. A group met this week in OUR upper room to discuss and plan.  Folks are working on decorations for the Sanctuary and Social Hall, invitations, service, music, and more.  If you’d like to contribute a delectable to the reception, please let Jaima Roberts know.  Linda Young, Vice Moderator - and team: Jaima, Nina, Sara, Susan, Barry, and all the others who are emerging from vacations and busy days. 

Summer Sermon Series: Blessings (and Curses)

Summer Sermon Series: Blessings (and Curses)

Rev. Nate is preaching a summer sermon series that explores the different blessings that exist in our lives -- and the way that blessings can also complicate and obstruct us in our journeys. Sermon topics will include tradition, wealth, family, white privilege, and marriage/divorce. Do you have a complicated blessing in your life that you’d like to hear more about, in the context of Scripture and theology? Write to Nate at to make a suggestion for a topic! The series will begin in June, so get your thoughts in now.