Oakland church

Archive for Uncategorized

“We’re in this thing Together”

As Al Jarreau once sang it so beautifully, We’re in this thing together!

Last Sunday was a beautiful example of our togetherness, with SCC’s uniquely talented spiritual life team leading us in a worship service; revealing to us one body with many parts that makes us Skyline.

This prayer by Jane Medema, recently a new member, embodies the message of Sunday’s service:

You, Beloved God, you have gathered our separate hearts and minds, our different stories, and our surprising array of gifts, into one family. We once again offer our lives to you so that we may be strengthened for our daily journeys.” 

Jane’s a member of our spiritual life team.  Special thanks to each member of this team for their superhero gifts! 

As part of the service, we joyfully welcomed three amazing superhero new members, Tim, Jerri and Shaun, whom I encourage you to get to know! Please read more about them below!

This Sunday the superhero gifts continue as Tim Carter -our brand new member, David Guerra, and others  join together in creating a fabulous family friendly worship service.  It features several Martians visiting planet earth trying to understand what Thanksgiving and gratitude are.  They encounter a very upset giant turkey (Mr Tim Turkey).  Join us as we explore the deeper meaning of gratitude and Thanksgiving as an intergenerational community, and bring your friends and your appetite for fun! Also, please bring your pies for the Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless (see Paula Byrens) and your donations to ACCFB!

See you Sunday!

Whoever and Wherever You are, You are Welcome

Nearly every week, at some point in the service, Pastor Laurie tells us, “Whoever you are, and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Sometimes, I let the sentiment fly by, but sometimes, it hits pretty hard.  That’s a profound statement.

Whoever you are… we’re all different; different backgrounds, experiences, tastes, foibles, flaws, and gifts.

Wherever you are on your life’s journey… since we’re all different; how could our journeys be the same? We come from different places, walked different roads, taken different wrong turns, and scaled different mountains.

I hope you will join me and the Spiritual Life Team this Sunday at Skyline as we explore what it means to be a pilgrim on that road and as we welcome new members who’ve decided to join Skyline to walk that road with us.

Article by Tom Manley, Spiritual Life Team

Saint Oscar Romero, Faith, and Voting Nov 6

On the eve of All Saints day and the week before an important upcoming election,  I find myself thinking of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the fourth Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, who was recently declared a saint. During his beatification ceremony in 2015 the Pope said, “His ministry was distinguished by his particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.” We must remember and bear witness to his faith, especially now.  

Romero was born on August 15, 1917. He began pursuing a life of ministry at age 13 and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1942. Although he started out as a conservative priest and theologian and member of the wealthy elite, his faith deepened over the years and took a radical turn in response to the anguish of the Salvadoran people. The question that burned in his heart and eventually turned his life around was “How do we speak of God in the midst of unjust suffering?”

Over 60,000 people died in the civil war which raged in El Salvador during the 1980s. The right-wing government, with financial aid from the United States, carried out a vicious campaign against leftist guerrillas, and many civilians were caught in the crossfire. Romero, then the Archbishop of San Salvador, tried to prevent this by speaking truth to those in power, calling them to conversion and a change of their ways. He was assassinated while celebrating mass in a hospital chapel.

As we think about the role of our faith in our lives and in the political realm, let us lift up the values of this saint who was transformed through love as his heart opened ever wider to love the poorest, most vulnerable people in his country, who spoke truth to power, and who was assassinated for his convictions.
 
Let us remember the ideals of this saint this week as we remember all those we love who have died; and as we strive to embody them in our lives and in our civic commitment in voting on Tuesday Nov 6th.
 
I leave you with a few quotes from this amazing man:  

The Purpose of Our Life

“The purpose of our life is God’s glory. However lowly a life is, that is what makes it great.”

On the Poor

“I am glad, brothers and sisters, that our church is persecuted precisely for its preferential option for the poor and for trying to become incarnate on behalf of the poor. And I want to say to all the people, to rulers, to the rich and powerful: If you do not become poor, if you do not concern yourselves for the poverty of our people, as though they were your own family, you will not be able to save society.”

The Struggle for Justice

“Everyone who struggles for justice, everyone who makes just claims in unjust surroundings is working for God’s reign, even though not a Christian. The church does not comprise all of God’s reign; God’s reign goes beyond the church’s boundaries.”

Peace

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear.

Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.

Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.

Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.

Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.

It is right and it is duty.”

Resurrection

“I have often received death threats. I must tell you that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.

Reformation Sunday

What a beautiful worship service last Sunday, lifting up the sacredness and preciousness of water in our bodies and on this planet, our deep interdependence upon it, and the infinite lessons it teaches us about movement and change and going with the flow in our lives.

Speaking of change and movement, this week our focus turns to the theme of the Reformation. Rev Sheryl Johnson will be preaching, drawing from her life experiences and her studies in her PHD program at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. The Protestant Reformation was a major 16th century European movement aimed initially at reforming the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Its religious aspects were supplemented by ambitious political rulers who wanted to extend their power and control at the expense of the Church. To learn more about the UCC’s reformation roots, read here. 

Rather than consider the reformation a one- time dramatic event that took place hundreds of years ago, we within the UCC perceive the reformation as an ongoing, life-giving process, one that Jesus was committed to, and one that we are committed to as well. God is still speaking!

I’d like to share with you a timely prayer, adapted from the Prayers of Martin Luther:

Waken our hearts, O Lord, our God;

make them ever watchful to serve You and Your purposes.

Trouble us with the smallness of our vision and work.

Trouble us with the greatness of Your command to make disciples of all nations.

Trouble us with Your great love for sinners and our own slowness to make You our greatest love.

Trouble us with the brevity of our lives and time, talent, and treasure not invested in eternity.

Comfort us by drawing us to Yourself with the cords of Your
unfailing mercy.

Comfort us, O Lord, with the assurance of our salvation and
unending glory with You when we suffer and are afflicted.

Rekindle in us a renewed desire

for the coming of Your glorious kingdom

when all wrongs will be made right,

when everything that is broken will be made whole,

and when we will trade a cross for a crown.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Pastor Laurie will be away at a spirituality intensive retreat and returning on Monday.  

 

 

Alameda County Community Food Bank Drive 2018

Sunday, October 21 – Sunday, Nov 18

The ACCFB barrels are in the church sanctuary and in the preschool from till 11/18.  Please donate non-perishable, healthy food such as:

  • Canned Tuna                              Canned Chicken            Quinoa
  • Natural Peanut Butter              Nuts and Beans              Brown Rice
  • Canned Soup (low-sodium)    Whole Grain Cereal       Oatmeal

The food bank serves 1 in 5 residents in Alameda County.  Thank you for making this happen!  Contact Pastor Laurie through the office, 510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org.

New Members / Inquires Class

Sun, Nov 4 • 11:45 am

Interested in putting down some spiritual roots at Skyline? Are you considering becoming a member or official friend of the church?

The next New Members/Inquirers Class will be held Sunday, Nov 4, 2018, in the Sanctuary after the 10 am service. Come learn more about the United Church of Christ , Skyline and how to get involved. Rev. Laurie will lead and there will be time to ask questions. Anyone interested in learning more about the church is encouraged to attend, whether or not you decide to join.  Childcare is available if you let us know in advance.

Joining Sunday will be Sunday, November 11 during the 10 am service.

For more information, please contact Pastor Laurie at the office – 510-531-8212, office@skylineucc.org.

Letter Writing Campaign for Men Facing Deportation or Re-Detainment

Please continue to write letters of support, sign petitions, or fundraise for those facing deportation who are currently detained or at risk of re-detainment. Each individual and their families have chosen to go public with their stories below. Contact information is at the end of each story.
 
1) Raul Lopez
“My husband Raul Lopez is from Guatemala and has been in the US since 1989. He is a loving husband and a wonderful father to four children, two of whom I am the mother of, Denis and Alexa Lopez. Raul works very hard to provide for his family and he is very driven to always do better. Unfortunately, Raul has now been sitting in detention at West County Detention Center since March 22nd, 2017 and our family is desperate to be reunited with him. While his case is being appealed at the 9th Circuit Court, on June 21, 2018 Raul got transferred to another detention center without notice to our family or his lawyer. We need to bring him home because we need our family complete again. I have been doing all that is at my reach to provide for my family, but I am at my wits end and need Raul back, so we can fight together.” – Dianeth, wife of Raul
October Update – We received news from Raul’s attorney, that an Immigration Judge has denied Raul a bond hearing, so Raul’s attorney will be moving Raul’s case to a Habeas hearing at the 9th circuit court.
 
Write a note to Raul –  tinyurl.com/NotetoRaul
Donate to Raul – bit.ly/donate2raul
Sign petition to Free Raul – ciyja.org/freeraul

 

2) Alexey Kharis:
On August 2017, Alexey Kharis went to DHS in San Francisco hoping for a favorable verdict on his appeal for political asylum. Instead, he was arrested and thrown into the West County Detention Facility. Like many entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, 43-year-old Alexey Kharis had big dreams for a startup business venture. Unlike his entrepreneurial peers, however, Kharis is a political refugee from Russia. In 2014, together with his wife, Anna, and two children, Kharis fled to the U.S. on a valid visa. Kharis was determined to start a new life in the U.S. – he petitioned for political asylum in 2016, and fall 2017 he was about to start his program at the Stanford Business School. However, after being denied asylum at his court hearing, Alexey was immediately detained and denied bond as well. For over 10 months now, Alexey’s wife, Anna has had to work full time, raising her two children, ages 7 and 8, on her own. She can’t bear to tell the kids that Alexey is in detention: “We didn’t tell our kids that he was in jail. We said he went on a business trip. And he calls every night to tell them that everything is ok.”
 
Write a note to Alexey: bit.ly/NoteToAlexey
Donate to Alexey: www.gofundme.com/free-alexey. This month, Anna received an invoice of $40,000 in attorney fees. Although Anna is starting a new job, donate to help their family recover these fees.

 

3) Misael Quezada Flores:
Misael is a loving father and husband who has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years. He was one of the community members transferred to Colorado after the end of the ICE contract at West County Detention Facility.  His wife, Fatima, is 7 months pregnant and has suffered physical stress because of Misael’s detention and her doctor has told her that because of the high risk pregnancy, she will have to be induced in the next couple of weeks. Fatima asks for community presence at this important hearing.
  • See call script in the Faith and Immigration Calendar of Events and Actions

4) Letters of Support for PJ, Danny, and Joaquin

PJ, Danny, and Joaquin are volunteers with IM4HI who have lead us toward a more visionary practice of sanctuary where we support immigrant community members with former convictions. Each community member are at risk of re-detainment and deportation and are collecting letters of support.
Photos:  Joaquin and his children;                   Danny and PJ

The Sacredness of Water

Last week, we focused upon the miraculous sacredness and the growing scarcity of rich fertile soil.  In light of this perspective, Skyline’s Green team encourages your support in signing this petition:  for decades, oil and gas drilling has devastated Creation and harmed some of the most vulnerable communities in our state – polluting our air and water, and sickening thousands of people. We encourage you to sign this letter to tell Governor Brown it’s time to phase out oil and gas drilling in California. Many thanks, Skyline Green Team!!

Also, we celebrated our  20th Annual Blessing of the Animals, honoring the Feast of St Francis. Please enjoy the photos at the end of this letter! 

This week we focus on the sacredness and preciousness of water. Nobody thinks about water. Until there’s no more. Or, until-as is the case in the poor neighborhoods of Flint, Michigan-the tap water is poisoned. In that kind of crisis, we suddenly think a lot about water.

One of the deep spiritual truths that undergirds all of us is our connection with water. “Throughout human history, the quest for God has often been connected with a quest for fresh water,” Diana Butler Bass writes in her book, Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution.

 It’s a truth in all world faiths, Bass tells us, and especially for Jews and Christians:  The Bible begins with the deep, when God’s spirit sweeps over the waters. From wind and the seas comes all of creation. For Christians, the Bible also ends with water: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.” The final scene in the book of Revelation is the river of God, the water that heals and washes away all sorrow. … Water in the beginning, water at the end. God is the Alpha and Omega of the wells, rivers and seas.

What role does water play in your life? When you are seeking place of renewal , do you choose to go to a river or lake or stream or the ocean?  Can you think of a time when water might’ve played at healing role in your life?   For me, as a child of the Ocean State, as someone who grew up sailing on Narragansett Bay, as someone whose ancestors lived on the shores of Ireland, water is life. Being near the water is in my DNA, the waters sing to my soul.

Join us for a refreshing, life giving worship experience in which we honor the sacredness of water, and are reminded that, as we do, we are God’s beloved children: “I love you, I am well pleased in you”. Also, join us after worship for an extended conversation about the sermon and about the sacredness of water!

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

19th Annual Blessing of the Animals! 

Special thanks to Becky Taylor for her leadership in promoting, recruiting for, and supporting our 19th Annual Blessing of the Animals!  We were blessed with beautiful weather and wonderful visitors! Enjoy the photos!

From Detention fo Freedom: Celebrating 7 Years of Prayer Vigil at WC Detention Facility

Staying Grounded while Living on the Fault Line

SERMON SERIES: STAYING GROUNDED WHILE LIVING ON THE FAULT LINE

Dear Friends,

I’m back from sabbatical! 

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

I invite you to join me in the spiritual revolution!

This spiritual revolution rests upon a simple insight: God is the ground, the grounding, that which grounds us. We experience this when we understand that the soil is holy, water gives life, the sky opens the imagination, my roots matter, home is a divine place, and our lives are linked with our neighbors and with those around the globe. This world, not heaven, is the sacred stage of our times. (from “Grounded”, By Diana Butler Bass)

Have your views of God evolved over time? Mine have!  I “believe” less, but have more faith. I bet I’m not alone.

Do you find yourself seeking to stay grounded, while living on the fault line? Literally, as well as spiritually? Me too!

This fall, come believing as you do.  Find God, not in a far- away heaven, but here and now, within, between, and everywhere, more present than you ever imagined. 

Together, let’s open to the spirit of love and justice that shines within & around our sanctuary and radiates out into the world. Together, let’s co-create new things– new ways of talking about God, new ways of worshipping, new ways of connecting. 

Come, be inspired, be uplifted, and share your inspiration with others. Your presence matters. Being together matters.

Peace,

Laurie

P.S. It’s Homecoming Sunday– time to reconnect, and enjoy a celebration lunch after the service!