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“Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.”

We may be tempted to think of this Wendell Berry poem as only for old people. But, I believe, that would be a mistake.
The poem is not first and foremost about aging and dying. It’s about generosity, one of the most life-giving of all virtues.
No Going Back     (The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)
 
No, no, there is no going back.

Less and less you are

that possibility you were.

More and more you have become

those lives and deaths

that have belonged to you.

You have become a sort of grave

containing much that was

and is no more in time, beloved

then, now, and always.

And you have become a sort of tree

standing over a grave.

Now more than ever you can be

generous toward each day

that comes, young, to disappear

forever, and yet remain

unaging in the mind.

Every day you have less reason

not to give yourself away.
Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I rarely  think of money or “things.” Often, I think of how they gave me their presence, their assurance, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give.


And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from gratitude. When I consider my gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given, I wonder “How can I keep these gifts alive?” What I’ve discovered is, “Become a giver yourself, pass your gifts along, and do it extravagantly!”  As Wendell Berry says, “Every day you have less reason/not to give yourself away.”
 
Join us, this Sunday, as we prepare ourselves for the season of Thanksgiving, 
 
peace, Pastor Laurie 

Climate Leadership and No-Coal-in-Oakland Presentation

After Service this Sunday, Nov 12, 11:30-12:30

Pastor Laurie will do a short slide presentation of what she learned at the Climate Reality Leadership Training last month with Al Gore.  Lora Jo Foo will give an update on the No-Coal-in-Oakland issues, especially about their campaign to get the coal interests to dismiss their lawsuit against Oakland. 

Ms. Foo is a retired labor organizer and attorney, nature photographer, author, and climate justice activist.  She devoted seven years to organizing workers in the garment and hotel industries, and litigated for 15 years representing unions and individual workers in sweatshop industries. Because the impact of climate change is greatest on people of color and low-income families, she has devoted the next decade to keeping our earth habitable for our children and their children.  She has worked towards bringing community choice energy for the East Bay, led a ballot measure campaign that successfully banned fracking in San Benito County, and in 2016 helped lead the successful campaign in her hometown of Oakland that stopped the building of what would have been the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast.

Wildfires – How Can I Help

From NCNCC Newsletter:  Please hold in your prayers all the churches, and wider communities impacted by the wildfires. Members, ministers, and many more have lost homes or have been evacuated.

Monetary donations can be sent, or collected and mailed to the Conference Offices designated, “Wildfire Relief”, to go directly to the impacted churches and communities.

The following congregations serving as resources for communities have requested help with monetary donations, VISA, Grocery, and general gift cards be sent by mail or brought to their address:

First Congregational Church of Santa Rosa UCC  
2000 Humboldt St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Wellspring UCC
1255 Fulton Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95401  
 
Geyserville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
21300 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441 
 
First Congregational Church of Sonoma UCC  
 252 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476 

Community Church of Sebastopol UCC  
1000 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Reflections from Laurie’s Father on Death

Greetings from Rhode Island,  the ocean state where I grew up.
 
I am gathered with extended family and friends, to gain strength, following my father’s funeral mass.

I wanted to share with you two reflections selected by my father that were shared during the reception.  Both reflections offer words of comfort to those who are dying, to their caregivers, and to all who love them.

Blessings and love, and see you on Sunday,
Pastor Laurie

Death is Nothing at All by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, 
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ. 

Beattitudes for Caregivers

Blessed are those who care and who are not afraid to show it — they will let people know they are loved.

Blessed are those who are gentle and patient — they will help people to grow as the sun helps the buds to open and blossom.

Blessed are those who have the ability to listen — they will lighten many a burden.

Blessed are those who know how and when to let go — they will have the joy of seeing people find themselves.

Blessed are those who, when nothing can be done or said, do not walk away, but remain to provide a comforting and supportive presence — they will help the sufferer to bear the unbearable.

Blessed are those who recognize their own need to receive, and who receive with graciousness — they will be able to give all the better.

Blessed are those who give without hope of return — they will give people an experience of God. Amen

Candlelight Vigil for Las Vegas at Skyline

Thursday, Oct 5th at 7:00 pm

Skyline church, 12540 Skyline Blvd, Oakland CA

When gun violence and hate crimes destroy innocent lives, when homophobia, racism, and islamophobia plague our world, we are reminded to come together, to grieve, and to re-dedicate ourselves to love, inclusivity, non-violence and peace.

Skyline Community Church invites you to gather in response to the tragedy that took place at the concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday evening at a music festival to honor the lives that have been sacrificed, to mourn and share our grief, and to stand together in solace, solidarity, and strength.

Join us for a service of candlelight, labyrinth walking, music, prayers, community, sharing and healing.

With love,

Pastor Laurie

Blessing of the Animals, 10-1-17

9-27-15-bofa-dg-rhea-dog-pink-bow-owner-2 Come and celebrate the animal companions in our lives on Sunday, October 1 at 3:00 PM!

This is our 18th annual special ceremony to honor our animal companions and acknowledge the blessings they bring to our lives. Bring your pet(s) or a picture of your pet (or even a stuffed animal) – th

9-27-15-bofa-dg-nila-rhea-and-dog

is is a family event!  Refreshments provided for both pets & humans.

Afterwards, come and walk your pet through our unique labyrinth!

Watch a video from a previous blessing! And a previous year’s ABC News coverage!

All over the world lively and sacred ceremonies to bless our animal companions and honor the blessings they bring to our lives are held in the fall.  Churches of all denominations honor beloved pets around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4) the patron saint of animals.

Reverend Laurie Manning and Rhea Babbit of Skyline Community Church, affiliated with United Church of Christ,  bless your dog, cat, goat, parakeet, fish, horse or whatever you bring (safely) with you.  You can also bring photos of beloved pets who cannot make the journey or have passed on to receive a blessing.

The ceremony is at 3:00 PM, with registration at 2:45, in the beautiful courtyard at:9-27-15-bofa-dg-laure-and-dog-owner-blue-dress

Skyline Community Church
 12540 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, Ca. 94619

(½ mile S. of Redwood)

Come one and all, with dogs, cats, hamsters, goats, parakeets, horses and more to celebrate and enjoy our animal companions.

Coming Out Sunday – Oct 15, 2017

God is still speaking,

On Oct 15 at 10 AM we are celebrating “Coming Out Sunday”.  As part of the service members of our congregation will share stories about their experience of coming out and the liberating power of love and the support of their faith communities in supporting them on the journey.  This is a warm, intimate, beautiful place of love for our community.  You are invited if you are looking for a place of spiritual belonging.

Skyline Church voted several years ago to become an open and affirming congregation.  Here’s what our national website says about this choice.

We hope to see you here to see if this is what you’re looking for.

We’ll be in the Oakland Pride parade! 2017

We’re celebrating unity with and for the LGBTQ community! It’s our annual Pride event!  Suzie will drive her great little convertible once again, decked out in style and carrying Skyline’s own “Queen Rhea”!  We have many members and friends taking part, so come visit!  The excitement is starting to build!  Here’s a map of the parade route!

Parade –  begins 10:30 AM at Broadway & 14th Street and goes to Broadway & 20th.  

Enter Festival  (see map) at these locations:  (we’re not having a booth this year)

Main Entrance: Broadway & 20th Street (exit 19th St BART Station)

Webster Entrance: Webster & 21st Street

There is almost NO PARKING at the event. It is recommended that you take BART in. You may drive (carpooling is good, too) to Rockridge BART or another BART station,  park your car there, and BART to the 19th ST. BART station the festival is right there as you exit BART.  BART back out when you leave.  BART parking is free on weekends.   Most lines go through the 19th St. station. Check a map if you’re not sure which train to take to get you to 19th St. BART station: http://www.bart.gov/tickets/calculator

Invitation to you:  On October 15, 2017 we’ll be having our annual Coming Out Sunday at our 10 AM church service.  We are an open and affirming church, and welcome you if you are looking for a place of spiritual belonging.  

The Investigation

© Nikolai Sorokin  ID 4033093

By David Guerra

I love a mystery.  

One came my way a week ago Tuesday in the form of a frightened nanny and her young charge.  She came tapping on my door just after my first cup of java.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said.  “But I didn’t know who else to tell.  I found something at the stop sign and I think it’s a crime scene.”

Intrigued, I followed her to the corner of our street.  There in a neat pile was a stack of photographs, financial documents, home-burned CDs, a gym membership card and an expensive-looking leather wallet, empty.  I recognized the items as something I’d seen the day before scattered on the other side of the road.  

“Looks like someone dumped it out of a car window,” I said.  “It happens all the time up here.  Thieves steal mail or parcels and then toss out what they don’t want.”

“But these are someone’s photos,” she said.  “I didn’t want to touch them, in case… well, you know.”

I picked through the pile, saturated from the neighbor’s sprinkler.  “I’ll take these home and see if I can find the owner,” I said, scooping them up.  

Soon, the hodge-podge of belongings were laid out on newspapers on my livingroom floor.  I looked at each, piecing together my investigation.  

Photographs of family members, grandpa with a grandchild.  A trip to the Sierras with teenage friends.  Records of rent collection for a property in Berkeley.  Banking statements from Wells Fargo, but no name.  

The only clue to identity was a membership to a gym franchise.  It was a long shot, but I googled the name on the card.  There was a Facebook account, with a man of color like many of the photos.  He owned a local business, so I googled that.  After bouncing around the internet for a while, I found a number his company.  I reached an answering machine.

“My name is David.  I’m trying to find Don.  This is going to sound crazy but I found a bunch of photos and a wallet which may be his on the side of the road.  I want to get them to the rightful owner.  If you know Don, please have him contact me.”

Al came into the room and examined the drying photographs. “Why is someone’s life on our living room floor?  These are analog photos.”

“I know.  They are important to someone.  They were on the side of the road.  I’m trying to find the owner.”

Three hours later, Don stood on my front deck, looking at the collection of dried photos.  He told me his sad tale.

His business van had been stolen, along with his tablet and a bunch of personal belongings.  He’d been trying to work with the police to find the van, but to no avail.  He’d lost hope of ever retrieving any of his belongings, especially the photos.  I asked him about them.

He told me the story of the teen trip to Mono Lake with his mentor, the picture of his best friend from childhood, the special car a family member purchased, over a decade ago.  He wiped his eyes and hugged me.  He showed his girlfriend the pictures.  He was especially touched that a stranger would pick up the pile, dry them and then go through the effort to find the owner.

“You’re a guardian angel,” he said as he gave me another hug.

“You had three guardian angels,” I said.  “One who collected your things and put them by the corner.  The nanny who found them and got me.  And me, who found you.”  

Mystery solved.  And to a man named Don, that was an act of kindness that he will remember for a long time.  

  

A time to Dream and Awaken to God’s Calling

© Maksim Shmeljov ID 2452913 | Dreamstime

It’s summer… the season of vacations, rest, and recreation.

  • A time for doing less, and for be-ing more.  
  • A time of sabbath, of sanctuary. 
  • A time to dream. 
  • A time to awaken to God’s calling within our unconsciousness. 

Join us this Sunday as we listen to the powerful stories of dreams that illuminate our lives. 

 I leave you with these beautiful quotes: 

Blessings upon your week! 

Pastor Laurie 

C.G. Jung, 20th century:  “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 

Pico Iyer, Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of The World, 21st century:  “Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century:  “People only see what they are prepared to see.”

Rachel Naomi Remen, 21st century:  “Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”