In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.
“There must be a change. There will be a change.
For to deny a person the right to exercise his political freedom at the polls is no less a dastardly act as to deny a Christian the right to petition God in prayer.”
This week, we remember the legacy of a prophet in our times. Here are just a few opportunities for remembering him.
Some valuable resources from the UCC honoring Martin Luther King weekend, and schedule follow up discussions (see sections below). Let’s make the most of shelter in place, and immerse ourselves in the prophetic faith of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in these challenging times.
Blessings and love, Pastor Laurie
Radical King & Prophetic Faith
A Virtual Gathering to Reflect on the Radical Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Thursday, January 14, 7- 8 PM PST
Join Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity on January 14, as we reflect on the radical legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let us go beyond mainstream portrayals of Martin Luther King Jr, and how he continues to influence the work of many movements. Participate in prayer, song, storytelling, and action! Featuring Benjamin Mertz!
“What Shall We Say to These Things – Crafting a Social Gospel for the 21st Century”
We encourage youto watch this 90 minute recording at your convenience, of an inter-generational conversation, between Ruby Sales: member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960’s, founder of the Spirit House Project, and one of fifty African Americans spotlighted in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Ferguson Commissioner and activist, co- founder of Campaign Zero, NBC News and MSNBC contributor, and member of President Obama’s 21st Century Task Force, as we discuss the current role of faith and faith leaders in the midst of socio-political crisis. This conversation will be moderated by Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ.
Following the discussion, 6 – 6:30pm, join us for a conversation with Skyline’s Spiritual Life team, for a 30 minute debrief!
Peace, Pastor Laurie
Here’s our Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799
MLK Day of Service
Monday, January 18, 7am – 11am PST Yes, it’s an early morning!!
$35 per person (4 hours, includes 1/2 hour lunch break).
Join us for a half day teach-in with Chuck Alphin,
certified Kingian Non-violence Trainer, as we explore:
The Myths and Facts of Nonviolence
Types and Levels of Conflict
Six Principals of Kingian Non-violence
Six Applications of Kingian Non-violence
To Join the Webinar from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device
Please click HERE to join
Building Back Hope: A Service of Release & Renewal
Tuesday, January 19, 12:30PM – 1:30PM PST
Please join the United Church of Christ and The People’s Inauguration as we curate space for Release & Renewal at the intersection of Pain & Promise.
At the close of Martin Luther King Day Celebrations and on the cusp of the 47th Inauguration, we will worship together bearing witness to this past year and pouring Hope into the future.
What is Hope? Hope is the confident expectation that all God intends will come to pass. Valarie Kaur, author of See No Stranger; Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Pastor of Middle Collegiate Church; Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, Director of Faith Formation, UCC will join the Officers and staff as we Build Back Hope, followed with a sermon by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity UCC-Chicago. *closed captioning and Spanish translation will be available.
“We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject
a new dimension of Love into the veins of our civilization.”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As part of our commitment to being a Sanctuary Congregation, the Justice & Witness Ministry Team made a proposal to Church Council recently that Skyline become a Congregational Sustainer by having a special offering over several weeks in January, with a goal of raising $2,000 for Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI).
As we mark our Third Anniversary as a Sanctuary Congregation, please consider sharing some of your stimulus money (past and forthcoming) and savings throughout the Pandemic, for this offering. Please indicate “sanctuary” or “IM4HI” on your payment. It would be wonderful if we could exceed our goal! It is a privilege to be a part of this justice-loving, compassionate and generous congregation! Read more about being a Congregational Sustainer here, from Rev. Deborah Lee…
Thank you for all the ways that Skyline UCC has been an incredible partner to IM4HI— supporting newcomer families, advocacy, being a witness and sanctuary congregation. I am reaching out to request one more way that Skyline can support our partnership.
IM4HI began a Congregational Sustainers program in 2019. We currently have 40 congregations who in addition to engaging and partnering with us around the collective work of supporting newcomer immigrants, freeing folks from detention and advocating for new social policies which center people, dignity and liberation, support through the making of an annual gift or an amount that is generous to them. This gift helps support the wider networking, training and capacity building that has really grown in the Bay Area to support congregations. Today we have over 50 sanctuary congregations.
Congregational sustainers make a collective gift on behalf of the congregation to support the ongoing partnership and engagement supporting training, capacity building, support to directly impacted people and public advocacy. Some congregations take a special offering, others may have an event where I or one of my staff comes to speak, others may have a budget for missions or partnerships.
Next year, we have the potential for some new political terrain. But it is going to take a lot to make it happen. With all the damage that has been done, this is not going to be a quick fix, and it will require strong and consistent pressure. The immigrant community is going to need the faith community standing with them even stronger to stop the ongoing harms of detention and deportation.
We will meet with legislators, elevate the stories of those most impacted, organize public witness with families, undo all the harms Trump and those before him have done, until we have humane and compassionate policies towards immigrants.
Our key policy priorities are: a) Re-opening our borders and restoration of US and international asylum law. b) Bringing to an end the practice of immigration detention which is an unnecessary, an ineffective deterrent and costly, to human rights and human trauma. c) Defunding ICE and protecting communities from deportation. d) Creating a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million+ undocumented, TPS and DACA holders, so millions are not continuously vulnerable to deportation and can become full members of our society.
We will continue to advocate for those in ICE detention and state prisons during the pandemic and to elevate public health and judicial recommendations for a drastic reduction of those incarcerated by allowing people deemed safe to return to society to come home to their loved ones. We will continue to partner with and advocate for greater resources to support successful re-entry and alternatives to incarceration.
Thanks for considering this request! Thank you, though we miss being in community with you during the pandemic. We appreciate your prayers and walking with us on this journey.
I’m attaching a colorful flyer with more information about our Cong. Sustainers. Let me know if you need any more information!
It’s the season of Epiphany! I’m searching for the light of that star, especially this year, how about you?
What is epiphany? An “epiphany” is a moment of understanding, a moment of consciousness. In last Sunday’s gospel, Matthew tells us the Magi (who were gentiles [that is, non-Jews]) know something is up. They’ve been watching the night skies and a star suggests to them that something is happening in Judea, something to do with royalty. So they travel Judea and check in with King Herod. They get sent off to Bethlehem to find the child and when they find him, they have an epiphany. They realize that this non-royal, peasant child carries God’s love in a special, perhaps even unique way. Thus, Epiphany (the holiday) celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles.
But that one paragraph summary fails to capture the drama of the story. During their visit to King Herod, the Magi were ordered to report back to the king the location of the child. “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road,” Matthew tells us.
Theology professor Dr. Serene Jones tweeted, “Civil disobedience lies at the heart of the Epiphany story: The magi receive an unjust order from a vindictive tyrant. Instead, they defy him. May we do likewise.”
Our sacred stories remind us that Jesus came to stand up to the principalities and powers that abuse and neglect. Time and again, Jesus calls us to participate in this holy work. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in Georgia, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s certification of the Electoral College vote, that holy work will not end. The principalities and powers – in the halls of government and the halls of corporations – that abuse and neglect will continue their ugly work. And so, our Christ-like work of pursuing justice, compassion, and love will continue.
Join us this Sunday, as we continue in this season of Epiphany, with Jesus’s baptism. We are invited to remember that each one of us is God’s beloved child, and that together, as Skyline community church, we are a beloved family, building the beloved community. As part of this service, we will remember our calling as a sanctuary congregation – a renewing of our sanctuary vows, and the power of solidarity in this season of Epiphany.
Those of us who are hikers know what a cairn is, right? A cairn is a little pile of stones that we sometimes see along the trail — or maybe a marker of some sort — that marks a turning point, or a crossroads in the trail, a decision point.
If you’re a hiker you know that when you come to a cairn on the path it’s usually a good idea to let your pack down and sit down and maybe take a sip of water and eat some trail mix, take out your map and figure out where exactly you’ve come from and where it is that you’re going. A time of reorientation, to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction. That’s what New Year’s was for our ancestors, a kind of milestone, a reckoning point on life’s journey.
I can remember hiking in the high Sierras, where the stars are so bright that you can see our home (our galaxy-the Milky Way), gracefully revealing her light, which so often is obscured with our light pollution. In such moments, it is so important to stop, and behold, like the Magi long ago, to consider this journey, and what it is that is beckoning us, and what it is we are all a part of.
We, like the Magi, are walking toward you. One foot in front of the other, we are walking
toward you. It is our very prayer to move your way. So if you can, oh God of love, leave the light on
and the front door unlocked. Leave a fire in the hearth and food on the stove. And when we start to get lost or doubt our dreams, Give us the will to persevere. We are walking toward you, O God. So like the parent that throws open the door, Open the door to us and welcome us in. Amen. Join us as we begin the new year together, this Sunday in worship!
Those of us who take the Bible seriously but not necessarily literally may wonder what Mary really said when the angel told her that she was about to become an unwed teenage mother.
This could not possibly have been good news for Mary, a poor peasant girl among an illiterate people who never heard of a thing called “virgin birth.”
“I’m what? Pregnant?”
“And you want me to tell people what?”
“You know that in the eyes of all my neighbors, he will always be regarded as a . . . you know what they will call my baby.”
And yet the truth of this text is profoundly present in Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, whose birth will so change the world that the years on earth will be measured as being before and after Jesus’ birth. And Mary’s prophecy in this text is still coming true. People of the light still believe and work for it to this day.
It is Mary who utters these radical words, who says this about God:
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Who says that God sides with the poor?
And we will still work for justice as God’s partners, until the poorest and most vulnerable on the earth realize God’s mercy as present “for those who fear God from generation to generation.” God’s strength has and will continue to bring down powerful despots on thrones; God will continue lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry on the earth, filling them with good things.
No matter what actually happened, I know this text is true.
God is still magnifying the souls of those who say, yes.
May our souls magnify this love.
Amen, Pastor Laurie
Enjoy these video replays from the Magnificat service and the Longest Night Vespers! (Passcode: 3Q+54v9P) Simply click on the title to watch the video. “My Soul Magnifies the Light” starts at about 44 minutes into the Magnificat.
Increasingly we are all experiencing the fatigue not only of this emotional time of year, but of the pandemic.
The SIP ( shelter in place) orders we’ve been living with have gotten more restrictive. It’s in our best health interests collectively to switch to more restrictive rules. And at the same time, the changing of the rules, the unknown future, and the general stress and worry of the pandemic is exhausting.
In the midst of the darkness, self-care is important. Diet and exercise are important. Paying attention to what you’re feeling is important. Finding a spiritual practice that feeds your soul is important.
One of the chronic ongoing impacts of the pandemic on mental health has been an increase in feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. If you’re feeling any of these, I know it can be really hard to reach out and ask for help. Still, I encourage you to do so. It is honestly the only way your family and friends can know that you need extra attention. It is the only way your pastor and your beloved community can know that you need some pastoral care.
If you need something new to feed your soul, you might want to consider these:
Even though Advent has already started, it’s not too late to make a daily practice of sitting in reflection and prayer. You can download this free Advent Devotional for your personal use. It was written by members of the Sequoia Association of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Join us on Fridays at 1 pm for our prayer and care check ins. It’s a time to be present to our souls.
And, please, remember that we have a special service on Monday, December 21, at 7 pm This “Longest Night Service” is simple, meditative, and healing.
Join us on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec 24 at 6PM, for a traditional lesson and carols service, featuring music by the talented Gabrielle Lochard, Ken Medema, and our Skyline choir ensemble. Led by Pastor Laurie.
Continuing our recent series of interfaith vespers services, join us for an evening of music, readings, and contemplation. If you are lonely, grieving, depressed and/or just want to give full attention to the shadow side of the season, join us. We will meditate on the moment and center down on the longest night of the year. We will remember that God created light and dark, day and night, and said both were good.
An evening of meditative songs & prayers.
In this present moment, on the eve of the Longest Night, rest in a time of slow, beautiful calm, and touch the center.
An hour of interfaith readings, prayers, music, and silence.
Join usfor Sunday worship on the 4th Sunday in Advent – Magnificat Sunday – Love, Magnifying the Light into the World as we explore Mary’s ecstatic and mystical expression of the divine, featuring a premier of “My Soul Magnifies the Light” by composer and vocalist Sarah Grace Graves. In this new setting of the Magnificat, commissioned and written for Skyline’s virtual choir, Sarah offers an interpretation of these words woven in meditative sonorities and ecstatic, expressive improvisations for the voice.
She writes, “I love the Magnificat. Mary’s words are so charged with feeling and energy. […] Mary’s song resonates with me at the time of my writing this because the world is, like it was then, completely upside down, and I don’t know what will happen. I can accept not knowing. […] But in moments like these, I want to hope, and the hope and awe of her words inspire me to face the future with courage and grace.”
Join us this Sunday, December 13, for our Virtual Christmas Party!
Sunday Service 10AM – 3rd Sunday in Advent – Joy, Young at Heart
Zechariah (Luke 1:5-25)
Jane Medema guest preacher in worship
*Stay tuned – At 11:30AM after worship for our Virtual Christmas Party
with lunch, lessons, and carols. Bring your lunch, download the Carol Sing hymnal, and let’s join in singing. Feel free to share your own celebration ideas with Pastor Laurie & David Guerra! So far we have – the 12 days of Christmas, your earliest Christmas memories, your own experiences of being young at heart, brainstorming together about the good news about virtual Christmas parties!
At Skyline, we’re committed to nurturing the spiritual development of children and youth by equipping them with the tools they need to discover faith-filled answers… for themselves.
God has no hands but your hands, no feet but your feet, no face but your face. Join us in cultivating a more just and compassionate world, working together to understand and meet the real needs of our local community (Food Bank) and beyond (Sierra Leone School).
At Skyline, we’re committed to nurturing the spiritual development of children and youth by equipping them with the tools they need to discover faith-filled answers… for themselves.
We recognize the fragility of the earth and our own capacity to do harm. It is urgent that, as earth’s stewards, we make a commitment to our children and future generations to minimize our impact on the earth. We are working locally and globally in these efforts.