Lately, I hear myself thinking, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, especially when I read some of the insights from the Poor People’s campaign, a revival of Dr King’s vision, from 50 years ago: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/demands/. (The Justice and Witness Team shares this event – A Poor People’s Hearing – contact Nancy Taylor about going),
I take comfort in our sacred scriptures that remind us of the way that God wants things to be, and why God gave ancient Israel laws about how the poor are to be treated: “These rights and obligations are also rooted in the goodness and justice of the created order”.
Well, we look around, and things often don’t resemble that beautiful created order much at all.
We are called to participate in the co-creation of a heavenly banquet, where everyone has a place at the table; where everyone has a roof over their head, to live more fully, more intentionally, in the “already” part of “already but not yet” nature of the Reign of God. “The shape of God’s future must shape our present.”
Here at Skyline, we’re involved in both charity and justice to bring good news to the poor. To learn more, just click on our website: https://skylineucc.org/justice-witness/.
In a beautiful reflection on Jesus’s upside down kingdom, Frederick Buechner writes this:
“The world says, ‘Mind your own business,’
and Jesus says, ‘There is no such thing as your own business.’
The world says, ‘Follow the wisest course and be a success,’
and Jesus says, ‘Follow me and be crucified.’
The world says, ‘Drive carefully — the life you save may be your own’ —
and Jesus says, ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’
The world says, ‘Law and order,’
and Jesus says, ‘Love.’
The world says, ‘Get’
and Jesus says, ‘Give.’
May it be so with us. Blessings upon your week, with love, Pastor Laurie
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
In this season of Advent, may you walk in the light of peace! God bless you and thank you, for the privilege of serving as your minister.
An Advent Reading
the Lord’s house will be there,
on that highest mountain.
And people will climb the mountain
and learn, from the Lord, how to live.
And they will spread the word to others,
so that everyone will know
how to act in the right way.
No nation shall invade another nation.
No, never again shall anyone be trained for war.
Swords shall be hammered into plows for the farm,
and spears recycled into tools for the garden.
let us all walk in the light of the Lord.
adapted from Isaiah 2:1-5
Isaiah reminds us that Advent is about creating a new world in which there will be only one center, one people, one Light and one reason to be. “The mountain of God’s house shall be established as the highest mountain . . . and all nations shall stream toward it…O house of Jacob, come,” Isaiah pleads. “Let us walk in the light of our God.”
In this season of advent, let us look up, to the mountaintop, let us walk together in the light of God.
With love, Pastor Laurie
On this first Sunday of Advent, we begin to prepare for the story of Jesus’ birth with the strangest of readings, near the end of Luke, and just a few lines before the story of his death.
“When you hear of war and insurrections, do not be terrified, for these things must take place first. But the end will not follow immediately. ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes and famines and plagues, and dreadful portents and great signs from heaven…’”
He predicts persecution for the disciples. He says “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days.” Woe is right! As in whoa! Ease up, man! We haven’t even digested our Thanksgiving leftovers!
So much for ‘little baby Jesus.’ Instead, we’ve got super serious, super stern sounding, adult Jesus. What’s more, he goes all kinds of end-timey on us, here! What does it all mean, especially now in the troubling times we are living in?
This Advent season, we are called to see these troubled times not just as our time, but as God’s time as well. That long view of time which spans millennia and generations, a time which encompasses memory and hope, with God as our mercy and our judge. The season is about God’s coming to us, to be sure, but it’s also about our coming to God, about our coming to Jesus, returning year after year, and perhaps especially this year, to his prophetic voice of hope, to his way of radically inclusive love, to the long view of human history and with it the long view of our human redemption. May we heed his call to be on guard, and to be not afraid. May we draw near to that already and not yet day of God, even as it draws near to us. Amen.
peace, Pastor Laurie
God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.
But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.
We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.
We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.
We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.
We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.
We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.
We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.
God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.
Thus, with you, and with all those gathered at this table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.
We choose thanks.
Even as more and more people are beginning to see God, not only in the heavens, but right here on the earth, we are also discovering how fragile and endangered the Earth is.
Just consider the latest reports from the UN. Or consider the increasingly dangerous fires, droughts, and hurricanes we’ve been experiencing. The greatest need seems to be mobilizing the spiritual and political will to stop catastrophic climate disaster. It is, among the greatest moral imperatives of our time, disproportionately affecting poor people of color, and future generations on this planet. The U.N.’s climate panel tells world leaders the time for dithering on climate change is over.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor? Mr. Rogers
This Sunday at 10 am, come and experience the Parable of the Good Samaritan, not only in a sermon but also in a fabulous children’s skit based on the gospel according to Fred Rogers!
The skit is written and performed by our talented, Emmy award winning, Tim Carter who is a former Senior Producer with Sesame Street http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Tim_Carter, and David Guerra, an artist and award winning costumer who is creating special props and puppets. Join us for a wonderful day in the neighborhood, filled with inspiring music, delicious food, wonderful people, child-friendly programs, and an interesting discussion about our local and global neighbors.
It’s also a time to join us later in the afternoon as we celebrate the end of the ICE contract with the West County Detention Facility, and as we continue to support undocumented men, women, and children, as our neighbors. We will also be receiving a special collection for the UCC’s justice ministries supporting our local and global neighbors in need.
Come join us, neighbors!!