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Fourth of July: What is Liberty?

Like many of us, as a child I have memories of a shining holiday, filled with family, friends, food, and fireworks, celebrating the 4th of July. I even remember on one family trip to New York city, seeing the fireworks over NY City harbor, bursting into  spectrum of glorious light, like a halo behind the Statue of Liberty. I fell in love with the words of the that beautiful woman, that beacon of welcome, The New Colossus.

Like many of us, and especially now, I am more conscious of all that make that shining holiday less shiny. What is liberty? In the words of James Baldwin, “for black Americans in this country, the Statue of Liberty is simply, a bitter joke”. Our monuments, including the Statue of Liberty, are representations of myth, not fact. We must remember the history behind them, and all those for whom the promise of liberty has not been fulfilled.

I am more conscious of all that we didn’t learn in our “American history classes”:

  • All those who left their former countries to escape religious persecution, only to persecute others.
  • All those who felt justified to take the land of the Indigenous people, in the name of God,
  • All those who captured Africans and sold them into slavery in the name of God.

I am more conscious of all that we didn’t learn about our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence,  and all those who they did not have in mind when they wrote the document:

  • All those who didn’t have in mind setting folks like African Americans and Indigenous people free.
  • All those women, and people of color, who comprised the majority of  the population who were excluded from the vote.

This Sunday we lift up courageous prophetic voices of the resistance, including Fredrick Douglas. Douglas was invited to give a talk in 1862 to a group of wealthy white republican woman on July 4th, and he refused. Instead he chose July 5th, and what he delivered was a  blistering critique of this holiday, entitled, What to the Slave is the 4th of July? He berated pastors who refused to stand against the powers and principalities of that time. 

  peace, Pastor Laurie 

“Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance”

We are living at an inflection point in the history of our country, and in the history of this planet. 

Michelle Alexander; a writer, civil rights advocate,  visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, and author of The New Jim Crow; writes in the NY Times:

“Our democracy hangs in the balance. This is not an overstatement.

As protests, riots, and police violence roiled the nation last week, the president vowed to send the military to quell persistent rebellions and looting, whether governors wanted a military occupation or not. “

Is this the beginning or the end? Where lies our hope? Where do we begin? We must face our racial history and our racial present. We must re-imagine justice.

Michelle Alexander continues:

My hope lies in the movement that brings together people of all  ethnicities, genders and backgrounds as they rise up together, standing in solidarity for justice, protesting, marching and singing together, even as SWAT teams and tanks roll in.  — a reflection of the best of who we are and what we can become. It is a glimpse,  of a beautiful, courageous nation struggling to be born.

Let us, as people of faith, be inspired by this Spirit.  

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Take Action:

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is the senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He has recently recorded and posted two video messages about the killings of African Americans that have been fueled by white supremacy. I hope you will make, over the next couple days, the forty minutes it will take to watch and listen to them both.

The Trinity UCC YouTube channel suggests watching “When Is Someday?” first.  The other video to watch, whatever order you watch them in, is “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery.” 

May these two messages to awaken your spirit, open your hearts, and inspire you to action.

P.S. The petition Dr. Moss refers to in “When Is Someday?” can be found here.

Poor People’s Campaign Town Hall: In the context of the uprisings across the country against police killings of Black people and the devastation of COVID-19, people will come together across movements at a virtual town hall entitled “Poor People’s Campaign 1968-2020: Everybody’s Got A Right to Live! We Won’t Be Silent Anymore,” which will be held on Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific time). Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will be the keynote speaker. RSVP to join the online town hall on Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m.

Being Grateful in Difficult Times:  Theologian and historian Diana Butler Bass  is offering an online class on “Being Grateful in Difficult Times.” It includes mini-lectures, suggested practices, and conversations with other writers (including some surprise guests whose books you probably love!). It is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you start and when you finish. The course goes live on June 22 and only costs $59 if you register by June 20. Learn more and register here.

Advocacy: For those of us who can’t take to the streets, we need to take to our phones and computers to make our opinions known to the politicians. Here are two ways you can do that:

  1. Sign up to be part of the Poor People’s Campaign.
  2. Become part of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Peace Action Network.

Care for the Earth at Home: Undertake some (or all) of the environmental activities that can be done at home listed here. The list maker says they are activities kids can do; adults can do them, too.

A Requieum for Ahmaud Arbery

The Cross and the Lynching Tree
A Requieum for Ahmaud Arbery – Webinar 

Sunday, May 31, 3PM

Hi Visitors and Members,

I thought you’d be especially interested in this upcoming webinar on dismantling racism, in light of the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. The reflections are based upon the writings of late great
American theologian, specializing in black liberation theology, Dr James Cone, from Union Theological seminary. In his book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Cone draws connections between the means of execution of the innocent Jesus 2,000 years ago and the ongoing executions of innocent black men in this country.  Please share widely!!   I’ve registered! I loved  Dr Cone, and loved his courses in Black Liberation  and womanist theology. 

The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Join a national conversation sponsored by the United Church of Christ about how Christians can be actively involved in dismantling racism. Learn more about the webinar HERE.  Register for the webinar here.
Peace to you,
Pastor Laurie 

“Suppressed: the Fight to Vote” Film, Discussion by Zoom

Wednesday, June 17th at t 7 pm – Zoom movie night!
 
   Many of us have read about the ongoing chaos in the primaries in states like Georgia, which threaten to be a preview of what’s to come in the Nov elections.
 
Relatedly, we will watch an outstanding 40 minute film, entitled Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, the new documentary by Robert Greenwald (Director of Outfoxed, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, and Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, & the NRA) weaves together personal stories from voters across the state of Georgia to paint an undeniable picture of voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election where Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S.  

Access to voting impacts justice for all people, and life itself on this planet, especially the most marginalized.
Meeting ID: 822 412 861
 
If you don’t have time to join us for this viewing, I encourage you to watch it on your own HERE.
 

We will then discuss ways that some of us at Skyline are fighting voter suppression including sending postcards to those who have possibly been dropped from the voting files.

Children’s Time Zoom!

This Sunday, May 3 11:30 AM

Here’s what’s in store:

  • Story Time: Enriquita learns how to be kind to others — even though she can’t go outside  
  • Jokes Junction: Get ready to laugh (or groan!) at these corny jokes!
  • Art Sharing Time: Show us art that you’ve made this week or print and solve our a-MAZING pictures at our coloring pages. Click the link, print and get creative! 
  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Children’s Time Zoom Meeting Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. (PST)
https://zoom.us/j/241524878

Earth Day Began 50 Years Ago – Video of Skyline’s Virtual Celebration

Here’s a video of our Earth Day Celebration!  Skyline honored this special Earth Day with music, stories, and tree planting on the beautiful campus of Skyline church in Oakland, using Zoom.   Skyline is a green congregation.  

We were honored to have Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more. 

Children’s Time this Sunday, April 19, Celebrating Earth – Virtual!

Children’s Time Zoom!

This Sunday, April 19. 11:30 AM
This week, we’ll look at creation and hear about Earth Day. Here’s what’s in store: 
  • Story Time: Mirabella is a little fairy who appreciates all that God has created! Come along with her for a trip to see some of her favorite things.   
  • Jokes Junction: Get ready to laugh (or groan!) at these corny jokes!
  • Art Sharing Time: Show us something you’ve made or color some of our Earth Day-themed  coloring pages. Click the link, print and get creative! 
  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Children’s Time Zoom Meeting Sunday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m. (PST)
https://zoom.us/j/241524878

The Human Element, a Documentary about Global Warming- View and Discuss

View The Human Element free between April 17-26;  Discussion Sunday April 26 after service.

An arresting new documentary from the producers of Racing Extinction and Chasing Ice, environmental photographer James Balog captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. With rare compassion and heart, The Human Element relays captivating stories from coast-to-coast, inspiring us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world.

Thanks to a partnership with Earth Vision Film, Interfaith Power & Light is able to offer you this inspiring film. It’s a must see for people of faith concerned about the impact of climate change on human life in the United States.

To see a preview and to sign up to watch this film for free, click here.   Here is the link to The Human Element with Spanish subtitles!  (Password: THE-2020)

SIGN UP HERE to view the film April 17-26  

 
We will be discussing the film on 4/26 after worship. For more info, contact Catherine Kessler or Pastor Laurie

Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary – a Virtual Celebration

Wednesday, April 22, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Skyline honors this special Earth Day with music, stories, and tree planting on the beautiful campus of Skyline church in Oakland, using Zoom to bring you there.   Skyline is a very green congregation.  

Featuring: Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more TBD. 

Access the Earth Day festivities on your computer or smart phone via Zoom here, or click this link:  

Meeting ID: 921 0997 9060
Password: 018951
One tap mobile +16699009128,,92109979060#,,#,018951# US (San Jose) 

Children’s Time Easter Sunday 11:30 AM

Come along for an adventure with David G and Pastor Laurie!   Zoom Link    Here’s what’s in store: 

  • Story Time: Have you ever had a friend who went away? Best friends Enriquita Kittycat and Edmund Caterpillar have a story to show you! Discover the meaning of friendship and reunions as we watch the tale unfold.  

  • Brain Teasers: Get ready to put on your thinking cap!

  • Art Sharing Time: Parents, print off these coloring pages for kids to color or decorate, or kids can create their own art. We will share our art at the meeting!

  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Zoom Link 

Meet Edmund and Enriquita here!