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Connecting, Updates, Prayer and Palm/Passion Sunday

Here we are, in April, beginning  another month of sheltering in place. What a time we are living through! 

Even in the midst of this there are blessings. Among them has been the blessing of communicating with you through social media: worshiping, studying, praying and yes, even sharing birthday celebrations and happy hours together.

I am grateful to the virtual teams within our faith community, rising up to offer all kinds of support within and beyond us. I hope you were able to join the zoom crowd who worshiped online this week. If you missed it, you can find it here on our website.  Many of us are using zoom for the first time, and here’s a helpful tutorial to get started.  You can always call me on my cell phone! All of our computers are facing buffering challenges due to the overload on various platforms and the internet in general, please be patient.  

Last Sunday, the 29th of March, I lifted up the theme of grief, so I want to offer a helpful article for you to better understand your own experience of grief. 

Please continue to check our weekly email, our  Facebook  page, and our website for updates.    

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday— please find a palm, or a leafy branch, or a symbol of gratitude for praising the heroes of our time, and bring it with you for our service.  And, before you sit down to participate in the Zoom service (here’s the link), please have ready nearby elements of food and drink to share in our agape meal, remembering Jesus and all those we love that we wish were here with us, and all those in need, especially during the pandemic.  Finally, David G. is leading a Zoom Children’s time at 11:30 – read more here.

Prayer for today:

You have been our strength, O God.
At the beginning of the day you brought us from darkness into light.
At the ending of the day you lead us from busyness into stillness.
In earth’s cycles and seasons you offer us new life and fresh beginnings.
Be our strength this day and the strength of new beginnings in our world.
Be our help, O God, and the help of those who cry out in need.
~ by John Philip Newell, excerpt from Celtic Treasure: Daily Scriptures and Prayer

Prayer in music & videos:

Inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor

 

Shelter-in-Place Resources

 

Updates from Government and Medical Leaders

  1. PDF: Order of the State Public Health Officer regarding all of California to shelter-in-place.
  2. Click Here to Learn More About the Order
  3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California   COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.  We’re all in this together. We are working rapidly to keep our state healthy.

Resources for Parents

Here are some helpful resources for talking with your children about the coronavirus and things to do with them.
Resources for Shopping Hours, Pharmacies for Seniors
 
Susan J. with the support of the wellness team, compiled a list of  resources that will help seniors/pregnant and the immune compromised community know which stores they can shop at exclusively during certain times or using special lines.  Anyone can access this resource list in view only mode.  If you  have difficulty opening this link in google docs for the first time, here’s some help.   To open the links that are in the resource spreadsheet, hover your mouse arrow over the link.  A little box will open with a symbol in the right hand corner with an arrow pointing upwards to the right.  Click on that symbol and you’ll be taken to the url’s website.

More Resources on the Virus – Anxiety, Disinfecting, Social Distancing…

 
 

Shelter-in-Place Virtual Worship Services and Gatherings

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Virtual Worship, Bible Study and Prayer

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… Now is the time for “shelter in place” here in the greater Bay Area. It is a time to refrain from embracing, i.e. physical distancing. And more than ever, it is a time for social and emotional connection.

Skyline is utilizing Zoom.us for our virtual worship services and weekly gatherings. Zoom links and numbers are listed below for accessing the events on your computer, your smart phone, or a regular phone call.

  1. Sunday Services are being delivered by Zoom Meeting at 10 AM.   (You will access all Sunday Zoom calls at this link or number)
    Sundays, 10:00 – 11:00am
    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
    Video of past services will be available.  
    Here is a video of our Sunday, March 15 worship, recorded and edited by our very own Tom Manley!

  2. Pastor Laurie’s virtual bible study, Weekly on Tuesdays.  10:30 – 11:30 am.
    First meeting – Tuesday, March 24⋅10:30 – 11:30 am
    https://zoom.us/j/901784352
    Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799

  3. Pastor Laurie’s Prayer, Care, and Share time, every Friday from ⋅1:00 – 2:00 pm.    Join us for a time of praying, caring, and sharing!   If you’re at home, you’re invited to light your own candle, so we’ll all have our candles together.  We’ll gather with a little meditative music, then spend some time lifting up our prayers together.  In this stressful and uncertain moment, perhaps we need to turn to prayer even more than usual.  Join us, breathe deep, and trust that the Spirit will be with us wherever we are.  Whenever two or three are gathered in the name of God, even gathered digitally, the Spirit is in the space between, connecting our hearts and strengthening us.  Hope to see you for our collective prayer:
    https://zoom.us/j/910815155
    Meeting ID: 910 815 155
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799 

  4. Palm Sunday Service:  April 5, 10:00 – 11:00 AM …Read More

    Zoom link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467 
    Meeting ID: 716 026 467
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

  5. Good Friday Service: April 10, 12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM …Read More

    Zoom Meeting Link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
    Meeting ID: 716 026 467
    One tap mobile +16699009128
    phone # +13462487799

  6. Easter Sunday Service: April 12, 10:00-11:15 AM …Read More

    Zoom link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467 
    Meeting ID: 716 026 467
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

 
 

“As serious as I know the Coronavirus is, I wish…”

I’d like to share with you, especially in this season of searching  for leaders and policies that represent and protect all people, these words of the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness for the UCC, The Rev Traci Blackmon:

Dear God,

As serious as I know the Coronavirus is…

I wish Poverty was classified as a deadly virus so the world would respond to the deaths of the 2.6 million people who die annually in the US alone with precautions to contain its effect and protect the most vulnerable among us.

I wish Racism was classified as a deadly virus so the world would begin studying its origin and its mutations and investing adequate resources in developing a response to completely eradicate the effects of this disease on all citizens, globally.

I wish Sexism was classified as a deadly virus so that literally 50% of this world’s population might receive the attention, investment, and escalation of time and resources necessary to remove it from society.

I wish Homophobia was classified as a deadly virus so those showing symptoms could be effectively screened and, if infected, quarantined to protect the rest of us from getting sick.

I wish Transphobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we might actually work to save lives by stopping the spread of this disease.

I wish Xenophobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we would finally isolate the right people instead of those just seeking a safe place to lay their heads.

Basically…I wish the pain, silencing and marginalization of so many were enough to move us to panic mode…with daily updates…and urgent precautions…and monetary allocations…dedicated people at every level…working together like ALL of our lives depended on it…because they do.

I wish we were as ready and willing to wash our souls as we are our hands.

Hear my prayer, oh Lord.
And grant my request.

May we wash our hands, and our souls! 

Blessings upon your week, Pastor Laurie 

Love and Anger?

This Sunday we celebrate love and anger, featuring guest musicians Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran, known as The Singer and the Songwriter!!  Here’s more about their music and their background.    What a perfect way  to explore on Valentine’s day weekend the connections between love and anger, especially with those we are closest to!

In addition to this worship service, Rachel and Thu will perform a 30 minute set after fellowship time at 11:30, followed by a time of sharing Skyline’s love poetry.  Bring with you your favorite person to be angry with and to love!  Enjoy hearing Rachel and Thu’s  My Favorite Person.

 

Impeachment: Seek, Defend, and Act Upon the Truth

This week, as the impeachment hearings begin, truth itself seems to be on trial.  As a nation, we are embroiled in a deeply divisive political moment. Not only is President Trump on trial, but so it seems, are truth, the rule of law, and the moral ideas of our nation.

Are we living in a post truth world? Shall we know the truth that shall set us free? Shall the truth prevail? The truth is that we’ve never lived up to the ideals ascribed at our nation’s birth.

Among the greatest concerns of the founders was the ascendance of a president with unchecked power and authority, and foreign influence over the presidential office.   Truth, honor, and the advancement of the common good – these moral values matter if our elected officials are to deliver on their promises to govern for the betterment of the public wellbeing.

Let us  heed the wisdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, ‘the church is called not to be the master of , or the servant of the state, but to be the conscience of the state’.  Let us remember the prophets throughout time who demanded that the government be based on truth, justice, and peace. Let us look to Jesus who often challenged authorities to seek God’s deeper truth. Let us look to the US Civil rights movement: to  Dr King, Fannie Lou, Ella Baker, and so many others, all who risked their lives to improve our democracy, and to build a more perfect union.

May this impeachment crisis be a time to again seek our deepest social and spiritual ethics and the democratic processes that elevate truth telling and healthy discourse. Let us seek to prioritize seeing things through a moral lens rather than a partisan one. Now is the moment to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, following in the ways of love embodied in Jesus. Let us stand together in an effort to seek, to defend, and to act upon the truth; so that we shall overcome and advance the common good together.

Join me in praying for our Congress this week, and if you feel called to do so, sign this letter initiated by a faith group “calling on senators to uphold their oath by seeking the truth, acting on the courage of their conscience, and protecting our democracy through an impartial trial.”

Join us this Sunday, as we seek to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with God.  

Peace, Pastor Laurie

On a lighter note:  Fun and educational way to learn about the racist history of our suburbs in the US:  The Disturbing History of the Suburbs | Adam Ruins Everything

Annual Food Drive for Alameda County Community Food Bank

Sunday. November 3 – Sunday, December 2

Join our annual food drive to over-fill a barrel for the Alameda County Community Food Bank!  The preschool participates as well and builds awareness with the children.  The barrel will be in the sanctuary.  Please share your abundance!

Here’s a letter from Allison Pratt, Chief Partnership and Strategy Officer at the ACCFB about food insecurity in the bay area.

This week, hunger in Alameda County made front page news and was the topic of hot discussion on the radio.

One in five county neighbors is experiencing or at risk of hunger. Compared to national and statewide averages, households struggling here are younger, more likely to have children, and make too much to receive government assistance. And, hunger is growing in suburban areas – an increasing effect of the high cost of living on local food insecurity.

These findings come from a groundbreaking new study conducted by the Urban Institute — a social and economic think tank — and was at the heart of features by the SF Chronicle and on KQED’s Forum radio show.
When you have a moment, please read more about this research. This is one of the most in-depth studies ever conducted on hunger at the local level — and is already informing our programming to reach more people.

Thank you for your support and partnership as we pursue a hunger-free Alameda County.
Contact Pastor Laurie (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com 

Thanksgiving – Whatever our Race or Religion, We are One Family

When you hear the word “Thanksgiving,” what comes to mind?  As a child,  the word immediately brought to my mind’s eye a huge turkey, roasted golden brown. I saw potatoes, stuffing, peas and onions, gravy, and of course pumpkin pie.  I saw children and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles happily gathered around the table. I was unaware that everyone was white, just like the famous Norman Rockwell painting.  
 
But then I learned more about the Pilgrims and Wampanoags gathered around the table at the first Thanksgiving feast, and that fleeting moment of peace, friendship and mutual gratitude..But through the years, new images come to mind: 
  • Native Americans amassing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a National Day of Mourning—mourning for their ancestors and the theft of their lands. 
  • Undocumented children being separated from their parents at the border of this country. 
  • Trans women, fleeing the violence of their countries, seeking safety in this country, only to be brutalized and left to die in detention camps.  
  • The faces of so many others in our times, who like the Pilgrims,  come to this land seeking freedom from violence and oppression, shelter, a new home, and a new life. 
Today, I want to lift up gratitude for this congregation for choosing, in our words and actions, to become a sanctuary congregation.
 
Whatever our nation or race or religion or language we are all one family, and we have to help one another. 
 
Join us this Sunday, as we lift up the theme of gratitude.   

Healing, Wellness and Jesus’s Ways of Love

This Sunday, Nov 17, during worship we will focus on the themes of healing and wellness in the context of following in the ways of love, embodied by Jesus.  

The gospels are full of stories about Jesus healing. These healing stories are some of the most moving accounts in Scripture. They represent so many different things to different people:

  • the miracle stories used to convince the world that Jesus was the Son of God during the 1st 5 centuries ad.
  • the stories that “ higher level biblical criticism” challenged as being literally true.
  • the stories that have inspired generations of Christian healers.

No wonder scientists have wrestled with healing in a religious context. What we often dismiss as “faith healing” is contrary to almost everything that we usually place a lot of stock in: science, reason, and self-reliance. Most of us are willing to put ourselves in the hands of doctors and pharmacists when we are ill. Most of us have mostly good experience with the medical model of healing. We take whatever pills we are told to take and we see the doctor in the morning. Most of the time we feel better. Or we accept the surgery, and we see a whole lot of doctors for many mornings. Most of the time, we feel better.

But around the edges of our lives we are aware of the disease that doesn’t respond, the injury that won’t get better, the illness that can’t be cured. Whether it is AIDS or cancer, whether it is schizophrenia or depression, whether it is stroke or Alzheimer’s, we are aware of the limits of medicine. For some of us, the edges become the center, when disease or injury takes over our lives and leaves us with no hope for a cure. Finally, no matter if the edges ever move to the center, we remember at last that there is one condition we are absolutely sure will never be cured, and that is life itself. We are mortal. Our death is inevitable. Medicine may win a lot of battles, but it will always lose the war.

How, then, shall we be healed? What does it mean for us as religious liberals to talk of healing in a religious context? What does it mean to talk of healing in a world where illness and disease are understood more clearly than ever before, but where adequate health care for most of the world’s people remains inaccessible? What does it mean to talk of healing when medical and spiritual models of wellness don’t speak much to each other? What does it mean to talk of healing when all too often the best we can do with all our knowledge and power and technology is not enough? How shall we be healed?  Join us as we explore this topic. 

This Sunday, After fellowship time, from 11:30 – 12:30, we are offering what will become an ongoing series on wholistic wellness, reconnecting mind/body/spirit as part of wellness.  

We have a wealth of expertise within this faith community, and within the wider community. Sunday we begin this series with Susan Junfish, who is retired from Cal/EPA, Founder of Parents for a Safer Environment, and an environmental health scientist and public health educator trained at UC Berkeley.

Please join us for Susan’s talk after the fellowship time, entitled, Protecting Ourselves & Pets from Hidden Health Hazards at Home.  Share your specific topics of interest, like us on Facebook, and  invite others, thank you!

 Together, in this series we explore how our faith connects with and inspires wholistic health, wellness, and healing.  Please share it!

peace, Laurie 

Pride Sunday – Welcome Home!

Last weekend Oakland celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride  in a tastefully, over -the -top way!

This Sunday, September 15th, we will bring LGBTQ+ Pride  to Skyline, in worship!

We will celebrate Pride with a family friendly service, featuring the Parable of the Dancing Queen, written by our very own Tim Carter, former Senior Producer at Sesame Street and winner of 14 Emmy awards!! Also featured are puppetry and costuming, from our very own David G. and Alegra Figeroid, artists extraordinaire!

After all, it’s a big year!  Fifty years ago, the Pride movement began in the US. on  June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in NYC. Just think of it….Skyline and Pride were both born out of the liberation and justice movements fifty years ago, as part of the evolving understanding of the equal rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ people, indigenous people, and the ecumenical interfaith movement, as well as the wisdom that with our evolving understanding of science and human development, so too must our faith evolve. Ours is a still speaking God! 

Have you ever felt left out? Excluded? Singled out for being different? How did you feel? Did you ever want to run away from home, from school, from church, your country, from it all? Have you ever yearned to find other people who really saw you and understood you and loved you for who you are? Have you ever yearned to be free to sing, dance, and  just be yourself?  I think of Jesus’s parable for this Sunday,  of the  lost and found coins, sheep, and people; and God’s love for each and every one of us: seeking, finding, loving, and welcoming us home, just as we are. 

When the UCC, Golden Gate Association in 1972, ordained Bill Johnson as the first openly gay minister in an historical protestant denomination and to become the first denomination to support equal marriage rights for same sex couples, we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

When, in 2008, at the height of the debate over the Prop 8 same-sex marriage legislation in California, Skyline hung a banner in front of the church entrance, proclaiming to every passerby “Support Marriage Equality. We do.” we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

And when I, Skyline’s pastor Laurie, blessed same sex couples for many years before it was a legal right, and urged all heterosexual couples I married to stand in solidarity with them, until the day that this became a legal right for all people, we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

Read more about UCC’s LGBTQ actions and programs.

Welcome home! It’s Pride Sunday! Children are especially welcome!!