Oakland church

Love and Anger?

This Sunday we celebrate love and anger, featuring guest musicians Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran, known as The Singer and the Songwriter!!  Here’s more about their music and their background.    What a perfect way  to explore on Valentine’s day weekend the connections between love and anger, especially with those we are closest to!

In addition to this worship service, Rachel and Thu will perform a 30 minute set after fellowship time at 11:30, followed by a time of sharing Skyline’s love poetry.  Bring with you your favorite person to be angry with and to love!  Enjoy hearing Rachel and Thu’s  My Favorite Person.

 

A Celebration of Love, Music and Poetry – Valentine’s Sunday: Feb 16, 2020

Join Skyline Community Church in worship on Sunday, Feb 16 in a celebration of love, music and poetry!

We’ll have Special Music during the 10 AM worship service and a 30 minute set at 11:30 after fellowship with Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran, known as  The Singer and the Songwriter.

from their website:  Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran create music as vibrant and diverse as their multiracial backgrounds. Rachel’s rich, nuanced vocal delivery and Thu’s dynamic guitar arrangements provide the backbone for the duo’s eclectic and heartfelt songs that tell emotionally honest and compelling stories. 

Their identities as mixed-race-Mexican-American and first-generation-Vietnamese-American (respectively) subtly inform the inclusionary, modernist perspective of their lyrics, which provide “smart commentary on social attitudes” (Pasadena Weekly), while their music and melodies cut across decades of classic American song forms, bending and blending genres to produce a unique sound with a fresh, clever and distinct approach to the classic traditions of American jazz, folk and blues.

 

 

Do You Love poetry? Please share your love poems with us for Valentines Day 

Submit Feb 11; Poetry Collection available Feb 16

Why?  Because, at the dawn of this new decade, we need love, we need poetry, we need your voice!  So, let’s have a poetry sharing on the theme of love! It can be a poem that you wrote, or one of your favorites!

Why would you want to take part? For many reasons!! 

  • it’s safe – it can be anonymous
  • poetry is alive, and personal
  • we need your voice of love 
  • special prizes – donated by Charlie Holmes, to be raffled off among participants!

 How Do I Write a Poem?   https://www.poetrynation.com/article-categories/improving-your-poetry/

Please submit your entries by Tuesday, Feb 11th, noon to to office@skylineucc.org , where we will compile them.  Contact Pastor Laurie with questions.  Enjoy your poetry experience!
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

 

Ash Wednesday Service

Ash Wednesday Service

Wednesday, Feb 26, 7-8 PM
Music, Prayer, Meditation, Candlelight, Silence, and Labyrinth Walking

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for many in the Christian church. The forty days begins with the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful. For many, it is deeply moving to reclaim this powerful ancient ceremony.
Leaders for the Evening:
Rev Laurie Manning and Music Director Gabrielle Lochard
You are welcome, whoever you are and wherever you are on your life’s journey

Black History Month Events, Feb 2020

Racists Anonymous, Rev. Laurie Manning and Nancy Taylor

Today, Discussion 12-1 PM, after Fellowship (more discussion to follow)

Earlier this week I spoke with, my colleague, UCC minister, Rev Ron Buford, who started a program , entitled Racists Anonymous. (Racists Anonymous is a support group, based on the 12 step model. Ron, who is an African American gay man, created the program over his frustration with typical attempts to deal with race issues which merely either left him feeling angry, or white participates leaving feeling guilty. The first meeting was held in 2015 following various police shootings and the Dylann Roof mass murder.  Since this time, the program has been adopted in four countries. A basic dictum of the organization is that all people are racist to varying degrees, and that it is impossible not to be racist if raised in American culture, and that one can engage in self-improvement, as opposed to “fixing” oneself.  Particularly given the current climate of rising institutionalized, implicit and explicit racism in our country, we are more impacted than we are conscious of. All are welcome to this exploratory session. Pastor Laurie at (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com.  http://rainternational.org/

Justice Jam and Homelessness

Wednesday, Feb 5, 6:30-8 pm

Join Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church to hear about the intersections of homelessness, housing insecurity, affordable housing and housing values. Find out how to get involved in addressing the Bay Area housing crisis. Doors will open at 6pm. Light Refreshments will be served before the meeting.  PastorLaurie (421-2646) revlauriemanning@gmail.com

Location: 3534 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

I Am Not Your Negro, Potluck and Movie

Friday, February 21,  potluck 6:30, movie 7:30.  

The film,  “I Am Not Your Negro”, is from James Baldwin’s unfinished book on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.  It’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, beautifully done with photos, footage and music of the Civil Rights Movement era.  Contact Nancy T via the office.

Here are some reviews:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/movies/review-i-am-not-your-negro-review-james-baldwin.html?_r=0
https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/i_am_not_your_negro/
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/02/i-am-not-your-negro-review/515976/
https://skylineucc.org/righteous-indignation-to-resist-injustice/
Here’s the trailer: 
http://www.iamnotyournegrofilm.com/

Cry the Beloved Country, Potluck and Movie

Jim Schubert & Pastor Laurie invite you to join us for movie and potluck evening here at Skyline to watch and discuss the classic film,  Cry the Beloved County”.  Bring a friend and some food to share! Most importantly, bring your passion for ending white supremacy within our culture by learning from the history of Apartheid in South Africa. 

Proclaimed “a monument to the future” by no less a figure than Nelson Mandela, the movie, directed by Darrell James Roodt, is an exercise in solemn uplift that is touching despite an atmosphere that at moments becomes stiflingly reverential.

Why risky? Because movies have become so invested in the unleashing of violent emotion and the escalation of hostility, that expressions of restraint, reconciliation and forgiveness can easily be read as corny cop-outs. “Cry, the Beloved Country” is not corny, and it doesn’t cop out.
Here are some reviews of the film:  
https://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/15/movies/film-review-searching-for-answers-in-yesterday-s-south-africa.html

https://www.nytimes.com/1952/01/24/archives/the-screen-in-review-alan-patons-cry-the-beloved-country-with.html

https://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/19/movies/in-cry-the-beloved-country-a-new-voice-from-the-past.html

Intentional Love in Polarizing Times

We’re living in polarizing times that tempt us to fall into patterns of violence, judgement, and “othering” in our words and actions.  What an opportunity to intentionally develop our capacities for love in its many forms. Here are just a few examples of what is being offered this month: 
 
Our latest offering in the Health and Happiness Series for the benefit of the health and well being of us all: 
  • Sun, Feb 9, 4-5:30 PM:  The Best and Worst of Popular Diets…How to Meet our Nutrition Needs and support Long term health for Body and Planet, Speaker: Catherine Kessler, RDN, CDE.
Our justice and witness team’s offerings during black history month: 
Love/ music/poetry in worship:
  • Music during and after church service with “TheSingerandtheSongwriter”,  Sun Feb 16th
  • Distribution of Skyline’s Love Poems in “Poetry Aplenty in 2020” Sun, Feb 16
Love of the most vulnerable, as evidenced in our justice work: 
  • Food of God, meals served to people in need, once a month (Nancy Taylor) 
  • Nueva Esperanza preschool education for children from Guatemala (Mirtha Ninayahuar)
Love of learning and growing in our faith with our spiritual life team: 
  • Learning to Pray, Rev Jerri Handy Feb 23 after service
  • Brian McLaren book study, March 1
Love  is at the core of who we are at Skyline. – it under-girds our extravagant welcome. This week we will celebrate the themes of salt, light, and righteousness… I leave you with a prayer reminding us of why we gather together. 
Let the Mystery of God draw us in:
Beautiful, Just, Merciful!
Let the Wisdom of God surprise us:
Vulnerable, Powerful, Searching!
Let the Glory of God shine through our work:
Salty, Bright and Good!
In the Mystery, the Wisdom, the Glory of God
Let us worship!

 

Choose the Road of Connection

Have a Blessed day! quipped a cheerful woman at the airport Starbucks,  to my friend Ken Medema. 

It reminds me of some messages I’ve have heard this year: “I’m feeling really hopeful about 2020 — it’s going to be a great year,”

What’s your response? Is there some resistance… some skepticism?

Sure, there’s a long list of events that happened in 2019 that could make us  embrace hopelessness or apathy, which I believe is a much easier path than hope and staying engaged. Instead of citing the heartbreaking realities you know and read about in the daily news,  I invite you to  start 2020 on a different road. One that leads away from despair, resignation and disengagement; or convincing ourselves that none of this is my fault, and therefore not my responsibility.

In the words of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who of all people had reason to despair and disengage,  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. His words, so powerful in his time, are as powerful today, offering us a needed corrective to the rampant individualism that erodes our interdependence. The stark truth is that when we diminish one’s person humanity, we diminish our own.

We can talk until late in the night about the character and actions of our president, “the other party,” and “other proclaimed Christians”, about whether they are really following in the ways of Jesus. But when we engage in that kind of conversation, we’re deflecting the real work of this moment, the work of asking ourselves some very hard questions about our identities as citizens and our claims as people of the “way” of love. 

Jesus said it loud and clear in the Sermon on the Mount and on several other occasions: all God’s rules for human living are summed up in the direction to love God and love our neighbor. Everything else springs from this work. To be a Christian in the way of Jesus we will, in fact, have to swim upstream in today’s American culture, embodying what Jesus had to say in that sermon up on the mount. S hare what you have with anybody who needs it. Love your enemies. Live generous lives. Tell the truth. Act toward each other the way God acts toward you. Sacrifice something big for something good.

This year, let us to choose a road that acknowledges that we are all connected. Choose the road of hope tied to action. Resolve to live into hope, into a better year.

Impeachment: Seek, Defend, and Act Upon the Truth

This week, as the impeachment hearings begin, truth itself seems to be on trial.  As a nation, we are embroiled in a deeply divisive political moment. Not only is President Trump on trial, but so it seems, are truth, the rule of law, and the moral ideas of our nation.

Are we living in a post truth world? Shall we know the truth that shall set us free? Shall the truth prevail? The truth is that we’ve never lived up to the ideals ascribed at our nation’s birth.

Among the greatest concerns of the founders was the ascendance of a president with unchecked power and authority, and foreign influence over the presidential office.   Truth, honor, and the advancement of the common good – these moral values matter if our elected officials are to deliver on their promises to govern for the betterment of the public wellbeing.

Let us  heed the wisdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, ‘the church is called not to be the master of , or the servant of the state, but to be the conscience of the state’.  Let us remember the prophets throughout time who demanded that the government be based on truth, justice, and peace. Let us look to Jesus who often challenged authorities to seek God’s deeper truth. Let us look to the US Civil rights movement: to  Dr King, Fannie Lou, Ella Baker, and so many others, all who risked their lives to improve our democracy, and to build a more perfect union.

May this impeachment crisis be a time to again seek our deepest social and spiritual ethics and the democratic processes that elevate truth telling and healthy discourse. Let us seek to prioritize seeing things through a moral lens rather than a partisan one. Now is the moment to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, following in the ways of love embodied in Jesus. Let us stand together in an effort to seek, to defend, and to act upon the truth; so that we shall overcome and advance the common good together.

Join me in praying for our Congress this week, and if you feel called to do so, sign this letter initiated by a faith group “calling on senators to uphold their oath by seeking the truth, acting on the courage of their conscience, and protecting our democracy through an impartial trial.”

Join us this Sunday, as we seek to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with God.  

Peace, Pastor Laurie

On a lighter note:  Fun and educational way to learn about the racist history of our suburbs in the US:  The Disturbing History of the Suburbs | Adam Ruins Everything

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday – MLK and Housing

We are living in historic times…
 
On Tuesday before dawn, a group of moms were evicted from a vacant house in Oakland, drawing attention to the fact that here in Oakland there are nearly four vacant properties for every homeless person. It’s not so much an issue of scarcity, but of distribution.  It raises many questions: Who are we? Why is this happening? What are we called to do, as a society, and as people of faith? 
 
The questions raised by another great prophet of recent history, Rev Dr Martin Luther King Junior, who, following in the ways of Jesus and of Gandhi,  embraced non violent civil resistance to bring forth greater justice and good news for the poor, who continue to be disproportionally people of color. 
 
I am sharing with you these articles about Kingian Nonviolence conflict reconciliation: “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence and “Statement and Letter from Birmingham Jail“. 
 
Please join us for worship and for a conversation after worship about non violent conflict reconciliation as it relates to our current housing crisis. 
 
I leave you with the prophetic words of Dr King: 
We shall overcome someday, 
The ultimate measure of humankind is not where we stand in moments of comfort and  convenience but where we stand and times of challenge and controversy.
We’ll walk hand in hand… 
We will have to repent in this generation.. not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of silence of the good people. in the end will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
We are not afraid… 
nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon because it cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it.  Non-violence is a sword that heals.
The truth shall set us free…
unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
We are not alone .. 
the solution to poverty is simply this.. we must abolish it..
We shall all be free… 
on the day before his death he simply said,  I just want to do God’s will.. 
Blessings, Pastor Laurie 
 

Dawn of a New Decade: I Resolve to…..

Here we are, in the dawn of a fresh new decade. 

What does this new year and new decade hold for us? Hope or despair? New life, or destruction?  How can we avert war with Iran? How can we restore representative government in our country? How can we save our planet from the unfolding climate crisis? 

We are in new territory as a civilization, living in a world that would have been considered wildly imaginative science fiction just a few decades ago—with revolutionary new technologies and global interconnections through the internet and global threats of nuclear war, threats to the environment and a global refugee crisis, to name only some of the changes.

At the same time an increasing percentage of our society has given up on institutionalized religion’s ability to  help us find our way through the new landscape of our lives. 

Yet we have as much reason to hope as any generation ever had. The prophetic words of  Isaiah echo through the ages:

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness…. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare.”

Where do we begin, in the face of the enormity of these events, at the dawn of this new decade?  It begins by taking a new journey, of rebirth, beginning with our own souls, and recognizing that we are all connected. It means choosing  the road of hope tied to action. I resolve to live myself into hope, into a better year. 

What does that look like? For me, it starts within my own soul and a conscious commitment to really see people beyond the societal labels assigned to them. It means I am determined to work for equity and justice believing I can make a difference. It means more kindness in each interaction and more listening to those whose views are different than my own. It means not letting bitterness or cynicism take root in me. It means turning my anger into the power of radical love. It means believing that every single one of us is called by name, as God’s beloved.   

Begin by Seeking the Light

I write this to you on the last day of a decade, and you will receive this in this new decade. 

I encourage us all to begin by seeking the light… be it the light of a single candle, or the light in the clear night sky of the stars and the planets, especially Venus these days. I encourage us to seek the light to remind us of something far greater than ourselves –  the Light of Divine Unconditional  Love that permeates everything, showing us a well-lit path to wholeness, forgiveness, and life.

The star over Bethlehem is a major symbol of Christmas—we sing about it, put it on the top of Christmas trees, even wear it on neckties—yet if you read the story closely, only a few wise men saw and understood the star. The shepherds did not notice a star, nor did anyone else.  Would we have been among the wise? Are we seeing the stars of Christ around us now? Do we understand the signs of light that God is giving us that can fill us with hope and inspire us?

The wise men saw and were moved for a reason: they were looking, they were searching the skies for meaning, they had practiced and made themselves students of the light. They were part of a tradition that passed wisdom along to them. They added their own knowledge and experience and were open to something new happening in their day.

We need to practice looking and finding meaning, too, if we want to be among those who see signs of Christ’s presence in our world, who see the light and understand what it says and follow where it leads. We need to be open to learning the wisdom of our tradition and being changed by the new things that God is doing.

   with love, Pastor Laurie