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Archive for Sunday Worship

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 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

 
 

Love and Listen Deeply

This Sunday we gather to celebrate love, including a family friendly picnic with lots of games and activities for all ages, an encore performance of the “Parable of the Dancing Queen”  and a beautiful worship service! 
 
A friend of mine is getting married, and she and her fiancé recently asked if I would marry them. Of course, I said, yes. Here’s a poem she shared with me today, which in turn, I would love to share with you! 
 
God is still speaking! Let us create the time and space within our hours,  to listen deeply. 
 

Why am I reaching again for the brushes
When I paint your portrait, God,
nothing happens.

But I can choose to feel you.

At my senses’ horizon
you appear hesitantly,
like scattered islands.

Yet standing here, peering out,
I’m all the time seen by you.

The choruses of angels use up all of heaven.
There’s no more room for you
in all that glory. You’re living
in your very last house.

All creation holds its breath, listening within me,
because, to hear you, I keep silent.

~ Ranier Maria Rilke ~

(Rilke’s Book of Hours:Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

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!!

Power of Love in the Midst of Destruction

The prophet Isaiah, thousands of years ago, described God’s creative power – bringing forth new life in the midst of destruction, within and all around us:

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
Isaiah 43:16-21 

Join us this Sunday, as we awaken to this power of love within, and all around us. 

Photo by ardito-ryan-harrisna-1194309-unsplash

Gratitude

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash


It has been a hard week, especially for children and those with respiratory conditions given the poor air quality in the aftermath of the worst fire in California history. Yet, the faithful remnant arrived to worship on Sunday, donning our  M95 masks, and focusing on gratitude and compassion. Special thanks to Tim Carter, David G. and Al Figeroid for their amazing Thanksgiving skit! (Please see photos and video below.)
 
We also  offered gifts to support the people of Butte County, especially in Paradise and have opportunities to share more (please see article below). 
 
We are reminded with every breath that we share the same air, and that we are more connected than we realize. May the breath, the Spirit of God, unite us together despite all that seeks to divide us. May we resolve to care more deeply for the earth, for one another, for future generations, and for poor people of color, globally and locally,  who live in disproportionally more polluted areas. 
 
May we remember, especially on this Thanksgiving, the heroism of Squanto who showed unconditional love to the Pilgrims despite his entrapment and enslavement by white skinned people; to those he could have easily seen as the enemy. May we remember that this sacred land that we live on was first their land.  May we remember the wisdom of the Native Americans who recognized their deep connection with this precious planet. 
 
Next Sunday join us for a conversation about becoming more conscious of our own white privilege, and a discussion after worship on Robin D’Angelo’s book, “White Fragility”. If you haven’t ordered the book, and don’t have time to read it, I encourage you to read this white paper
 
Blessings and safe and easy travels, to all of you who are traveling for Thanksgiving. 
 
I leave you with a quote written in Nov, 2016 about Thanksgiving by Dianna Butler Bass entitled, “Choose Gratitude”.

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.

Amen.

Celebration of Gratitude – Family Friendly Worship/Drama

Members Tim Carter and David Guerra will present a fun, creative puppet drama this Sunday. It features several Martians visiting planet earth trying to understand what Thanksgiving and gratitude are. They discover it includes not only “abundance,” “food,” “pumpkin pie,” “cranberry sauce”, “pilgrim,” and “Indian,” but also…“turkey!!!”
 
They encounter a very upset giant turkey (Mr Tim Turkey), who helps them understand the deeper meaning of giving thanks!
 
Join us as we explore the deeper meaning of gratitude and Thanksgiving as an inter-generational community.
 
Bring your children and friends and your appetite for fun!
 
Also, at the service we are collecting pies for the Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and non-perishable food donations to Alameda County Community Food Bank, so please share whatever abundance you can. Thank you!

The Sacredness of the Earth

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.

  
For millennia, the ancients looked to the heavens, to the light of millions of stars above, to find God.  Although the stars still move us to wonder, contemporary people are learning that the soil beneath our feet is as mysterious, complex, and awe-inspiring as gazing into the night sky.  “I was stunned by what I learned about life in the soil,” says journalist Kristin Ohlson, “that when we stand on the surface of the Earth, we’re atop a vast underground kingdom of microorganisms without which life as we know it wouldn’t exist.  Trillions of microorganisms, even in my own smallish backyard, like a great dark sea swarming with tiny creatures.”
 
In fact, the soil is sacred.  Even the most secular writers understand that the ground calls forth an ethical, moral, and spiritual response.  We are powerfully connected to the ground, and the soil is intimately related to how we understand and celebrate God.  The late Irish Roman Catholic priest and philosopher, John O’Donohue, called the land “the firstborn of creation” and the “condition of the possibility of everything.”  The Earth itself, he insisted, holds the memory of the beginning of all things, the memory of God.  When feminist theologian Sallie McFague offers the metaphor of “body” to describe the relationship between God and the world, she is reminding us of both scientific truth and a sacred mystery.  “What if,” she asks, “we saw the Earth as part of the body of God, not as separate from God (who dwells elsewhere), but as the visible reality of the invisible God?

 
In her book, Grounded, author and scholar of American religion and culture,Diana Butler Bass, writes, “Although I had observed wounded landscapes, it did not occur to me that dirt was threatened on a larger scale.  Soil was like air or water, a boundless gift of creation, always present. Yet soil is being lost at an alarming rate all over the planet.  During the last century and a half, the planet has lost half its topsoil.”  According to a Cornell University study, American soil is disappearing ten times faster than the rate at which it can be replenished; China and India are experiencing erosion rates thirty to forty times faster.  In the last forty years alone, about one-third of the world’s formerly productive soil has become unusable, and the planet continues to lose approximately twenty-five million acres a year to erosion.  This is an environmental crisis to be sure, but it is a moral and ethical one as well.
 
Something odd is happening, however, as this disaster is unfolding.  At the same time that the Earth is losing its soil, more people than ever are making their way back to the ground. Skyline’s Green team, and our Garden of God, is a great example. So are many of you! Urban gardens are cropping up throughout the world, and people are learning to respect and participate in the miraculous processes that are happening, literally beneath our feet. 
 
An atheist friend of mine is fond of saying, “I just don’t believe that God is an old man sitting on the throne in Heaven.”    Nor do the millions of people who still trust in God, yet reject this particular conception of God.  McFague calls it the “transcendent sky-God tradition.”  As Diana Butler Bass writes, “Instead of seeing God as distinct and distant from the world, we are acquiring a new awareness that the universe itself is God’s body, a complex and diverse interdependent organism, animated by God’s breath, the spirit of creation.  We are with God and God is with us because – and some people may find this shocking – we are in God and God is in us.  Maybe the far-off Heavenly Father is finally retiring, replaced by a far more down-to-earth presence, a presence named in Hebrew and Christian scriptures as both love and spirit.”  As Wendell Berry puts it “The idea of Heaven doesn’t take religion very far,” because the distance makes for too great an abstraction.  “Love,” as the very being of God, he continued, “has to wear a face.”  And that “face” is “our neighborhood, our neighbors and other creatures, the Earth and its inhabitants.
 
Join us this Sunday at 10 am  as we continue this revolutionary spiritual journey, drawing from the wisdom of Genesis, Jesus’s parable of the sower, Diana Butler Bass’s book, Grounded,  and Forrest Pritchard’s book, Gaining Ground.
 
After worship, food and fellowship, our conversation will continue from 11:45-12;30. All are welcome! Childcare is provided!
 
peace, Laurie . 

“Won’t you be my Neighbor?”

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!!   

Pentecost, Unbounded Energy of the Spirit

This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the mysterious, life giving power and unbounded energy of the Spirit.  We welcome the wind and fire, wonder and wildness to change our lives, personally and collectively, particularly when it seems to be on the verge of apocalypse. 

Wear RED if you can in celebration of the fiery spirit.  

Id like to share with you a benediction by May Sarton;  an invitation to return to the deep source:

Unison Benediction

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak of love.

Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.

Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.

~ May Sarton ~