Oakland church

 Lent 2021 Day by Day: the Journey to Love

Lent reminds us that, day by day, suffering and brokenness find us.

Day by day, we doubt again, we lament , we mess up. Day by day, the story of Jesus on the cross repeats—every time lives are taken unjustly, every time we choose corruption, greed, violence, and indifference, every time we remain silent in the face of systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia, every time we forget how to love.

We cry out, How long, O God?”

And yet, amid the chaos of our lives, God responds “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” Day by Day, God breaks the cycle and offers us a fresh way forward.

Agape Love  is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This Greek word, agápē (pronounced uh-GAH-pay), and variations of it appear often throughout the New Testament. Love invites us on the journey now. 

Even while worshiping apart, we come to God day by day, with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, and our doubts. Even if from a distance, we will continue to be community to one another—especially when it’s hard—by choosing each other day by day. We will continue to love God with the same persistence God chooses and claims us.

Our sub- theme is strengthening spiritual muscle- in body, mind, soul, and spirit – to develop and strengthen our endurance and our capacity for love. It takes practice! It takes teamwork! It takes discipline to be a disciple. Let’s do it together. For love’s sake!

Embodied practice builds muscle memory. Repetition helps retrain our neural pathways. We need the 46 days of Lent because this season shapes us into more faithful disciples. Join us this Lent as day by day, we bring all of who we are to God and trust that God will meet us, day by day, along the way.

 

February 17 – Ash Wednesday

Day by day, we’re invited in

Matthew 6:1-16, 16-21 | Isaiah 58:1-12

As Lent begins, we’re invited in—, to our own spiritual journey, to  our own transformation. We’re on this journey together, but we’re invited to turn inward. We are reminded that performative acts (of piety and justice) are not the way.

 

February 21 – 1st Sunday in Lent

Day by day, God meets us

Mark 1:9-15 | Genesis 9:8-17

God meets Jesus at the water before he is tempted in the wilderness— this is vital. Above all, God claims us. God meets us in the liminal space, at the water’s edge, at the threshold of something new, and names us Beloved. God’s covenant with all of creation reminds us that God meets us where we are—in the midst of our reluctance, doubt, eagerness, or weariness—and proclaims we are good.

 

February 28 – 2nd Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we’re called to listen

Mark 8:31-9:8¹ | Psalm 22:23-31

 Like the disciples, we are often stuck in the pattern of messing up repeatedly. We cling to power, we climb the ladder, we remember Christ’s teachings rather than embodying them. So many forces, such as shame, guilt, ignorance, pride, and  inaction can block us from seeing and hearing. It requires humility for transformation. Day by day,  loves beckons to listen—to God and to others.

 

March 7 – 3rd Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we are shown the way

 John 2:13-22  1 Corinthians 1:18-25

According to John, Jesus begins his ministry by showing more than telling. In the temple, Jesus disrupts and overturns the systems of corruption and profiteering taking place, but ultimately points us to the promise of restoration. Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) that God’s wisdom is more expansive than we can imagine. We are shown the way, even if God’s “way” feels foolish, counter-cultural, disruptive, or uncomfortable

 

March 14 – 4th Sunday in Lent

Day by day, God loves first

John 3:14-21 | Ephesians 2:1-10

After inviting Nicodemus to be born anew, Jesus tells him in John 3 that God so loved the world that God sent his son to restore it. Therefore, when we read John 3:16, we remember that Jesus is speaking in metaphor and poetry. Ultimately, love is where God begins and ends. This love, like grace, is a gift we do nothing to deserve. Day by day, love is our refrain. Before we act, think, or believe, can love be first for us too?

 

March 21 – 5th Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we are reformed

John 12:20-33 | Jeremiah 31:31-34

We desire for God to write on our hearts so that God’s law can re-shape and re-form us from the inside out. Reformation is a journey of letting the old fall away for something new to emerge, of returning to God’s words over and over, of being drawn into the heart of God. This is the process of justification and sanctification; transformation must be internal and communal.

 

March 28 – 6th  Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we draw upon courage

John 12:1-19²

On Palm Passion Sunday, we remember that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was not a risk-free, palm party. It was a protest parade—a protest against those in power, a parade to prepare the way for a different kind of king. And this was all happening with plots to kill Lazarus (and Jesus) building in the background. We’re reminded that the crowds were brave to show up that day, and that Jesus drew on courage to face his journey to the cross. The root of courage is cour, meaning “heart.” Courage is deep within us; we often find it when we most need it, when everything else has been stripped away.

 

April 1   – Maundy Thursday

Day by day, we are drawn together

 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Foot washing is a practice of radical vulnerability, of being seen and known. Jesus loved the disciples “to the end.” In this act, we remember that God holds all of our pain, vulnerability, doubts, and sufferings. As we venture toward the cross, we can lean into God’s everlasting arms, knowing we are held.

 

April 2 – Good Friday

Day by day, we find ourselves here

 John 19:1-30

Day by day, we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, at the pit of despair, in the face of death, in the grip of state-sanctioned violence. “Here” is an emotional place. “Here” is grief. “Here” is the reality of sin and brokenness. On Good Friday, we are called to sit in the silence of death, knowing that God is here.

 

April 4 – Easter Sunday

Day by day, the sun rises

 Mark 16:1-8

According to Mark, on the first day of the week, the women rise with the sun and buy spices to anoint Jesus’ body. They are shocked to find the tomb empty, and leave in fear and terror. Mark’s resurrection story is less triumphant than the other Gospel testimonies (as scholars believe the rest of Mark’s gospel was a later addition). Mark’s version, reminds us that Easter comes to us, day by day, even if we don’t know what to make of God’s resurrection ways. Day by day, the sun rises. And some days, that is enough.

Quarterly Meeting Update: Skyline is Healthy!

Thank you to all who joined the Quarterly Meeting on January 31st!  These one-hour meetings are a great opportunity to learn more about all that is happening at Skyline UCC.  It is also an opportunity to reflect on how you can become more involved in the activities of the Church.  All teams welcome new members. If you are interested in a Service Team or if you have ideas of your own, please reach out to one of the Chairs or let me or Pastor Laurie know.

This quarter, my personal goals are continued focus and support on safety (members, staff, preschool teachers, children and families). I am also facilitating the ad hoc group (Nancy Taylor, Becky Taylor and Pastor Laurie) who is developing the office manager position requirements and assisting Pastor Laurie with hiring Nancy Montier’s replacement. Lastly I plan to work with Council and volunteers on developing our long-term goals.

At the Quarterly Meetings, members and guests heard from Service Team Leaders:

Jane Medema for the Spiritual Life Team
janiemedema@comcast.net 510-263-9798,
Nancy Taylor for the Justice & Witness Team
ngtaylor94619@yahoo.com  510-325-4957, and
Catherine Kessler for the Green Team
cath.kessler@comcast.net  510-499-8114)

Spiritual Life has several activities planned to help guide us through the Lenten period.  Justice & Witness has planned several events (including a movie night) in recognition of Black History Month  Green Team has been busy maintaining and beautifying our facilities and grounds.

Tom Manley provided the update on the church finances.  The good news is that we are doing much better than originally budgeted primarily due to the preschool enrollment being steady and the preschool remaining open since March. We recently received notice that the first PPP Loan has been forgiven.  That update will be shared at the next Quarterly Meeting in April.

We announced the retirement of Nancy Montier who has been our Office Manager for 8 years. Everyone will miss Nancy! Her kindness, creativity, commitment and flexibility to the evolving requirements of the position will be hard to replace.

We hope you are finding these quarterly updates valuable and informative.  There is always a lot happening at Skyline UCC (please reference your weekly emails for details).  I welcome any suggestions or recommendations of what you would like to hear at the next quarterly meeting.

Your Moderator, Carolyn Noble

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday, February 17

Join the Spiritual Life Team after the service on Sunday, Feb 14th @ 11:15am, for a discussion about Spiritual practices during Lent, to strengthen our spiritual muscle.
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At the heart of Christian faith is the wonderful, powerful, mystical story of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. His story has become our story, our Easter… promising new life and new beginnings when we may least expect it.

The traditional season of Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning
of Easter in our personal lives and in our community. Our church will join others
around the world in observing this season of devotion, reflection, and preparation for Easter.

Only you know what your heart and mind need to grow and thrive spiritually. The Spiritual Life Team is suggesting some Lenten practices that may be meaningful to you and may help you to strengthen and deepen your faith and service; ‘build spiritual muscle’ so to speak. You are invited to choose a practice, or as many as you feel called to take on. Of course, you may choose to adapt our ideas or discover others that will serve you. After worship on Feb. 14, we will have an opportunity to share our choices, and to schedule time to share our experiences of Lenten devotional practice with one another.

BUILDING SPIRITUAL MUSCLE…Some Options

• Focus on the traditional practices of prayer and almsgiving
• Begin a season of withdrawal or abstinence (from online media, for ex.)
• Subscribe to Recipiscence: An online devotional guide for dismantling White
Supremacy
• PracticeYoga, walking, and/or dance as meditations
• Form a short term support group to share and process stress or depression
• Put together a journal or picture album that is meaningful to you
• Experiment with a new kind of art expression (like clay, or even an adult
coloring book)
• Organize a Lenten book club
• Connecting, reaching out to one another

Skyline Celebrates Black History Month

Here are just a few opportunities to join us throughout February

#1 – Join us after church Sunday, February 7th @11:15am
for discussions on Rev. William Barber’s sermons:

NC’s Rev. Barber at Biden’s inaugural prayer service: The nation must ‘repair the breach’

Is There a Word in the Wilderness? | A Sermon by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
Click on the image to view Rev. Barber’s sermon below: 34:00 – 1:16:30
Please view these beforehand, and join us this Sunday!
11:15AM
via Special Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002
Rev. William Barber is terrific!

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team



#2 – Please mark your calendars for

Ministry Teams Film Night – Friday, February 26, 7pm
(NOTE: This was previously announced for the preceding Friday but has moved to this day/time)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing


This is a a well-done adaptation of Maya Angelou’s book of the same name,
starring Diahann Caroll & Ruby Dee. We will be viewing this movie together via
zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Discussion will follow at approx. 8:30pm
If you wish to watch the movie on your own, then join us afterwards for the discussion,
here’s the link to the movie

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team



#3 – Some suggestions for your own viewing enjoyment:

One Night in Miami (2020) – IMDb
This is an excellent movie on Amazon Prime that is receiving acclaim.

A fictional account of one incredible night where icons
Muhammad AliMalcolm XSam Cooke, and Jim Brown
gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement
and cultural upheaval of the 60s.

Directed by Regina King. With Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Ministry Team



#4 – You may also enjoy these activities presented on the theme of Black History Month
“The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity”
(click the link or image below to learn more)

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Ministry Team



#5 – It’s happening!

Join us this Sunday, Feb 7 @ 4pm PST, for the 1st in this series!
via Special Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002

Benjamin Mertz will be leading a
Black History Month Series the entire month of February
All 4 Sundays in February, starting Feb 7th
Sponsored by the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers

Feb 7th at 4pm – The Underground Railroad, Music of Freedom and Escape:
profiles on Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass

Feb 14th at 4pm – The Harlem Renaissance, the Fisk Jubilee Singers,
and the poetry of James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes

Feb 21st  at 4pm – Jim Crow, Work Songs, and the Blues:
profiles on Fannie Lou Hamer and Bessie Smith

Feb 28th  at 4pm – the Civil Rights Movement – Freedom Songs,
profiles on Bernice Johnson Reagon and Harry Belafonte

Special Zoom Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team

Thank You, Leadership, for Blessing Skyline Church

Thank you for our inspiring experiences on Sunday, both in worship and at our 2nd virtual quarterly meeting! I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to each one of you, for all that we’ve accomplished together, in our 50th year, and during the year of Covid.

I am so blessed to partner in leadership with so many of you, in areas such as:

Our evolving Site Protection Plan (SPP) team to ensure the safety of our site and all those on our campus.

Our Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan and forgiveness team to cover the 3 month closure of our pre-school, and the reduced revenue because of the need for fewer students and more staff.

Our Personnel & finance teams creating evolving plan for the preschool to remain open and adequately staffed in response to evolving county health guidelines.

Our Council members, meeting every month to vote upon critical decisions.

Our Worship team (Tom, Gabrielle, Ken), and to our choir, to adapt to virtual worship, through the wonders of zoom and the internet.
We’ve also endured the challenges of keeping our Spirits up, with the blessings of our various service teams:  Spiritual Life, Justice & Witness, Green team, and our ever – emerging groups: Care and Concern, Invitation Welcome and Fellowship, Wellness, Climate Justice, Poetry Lovers, and more to come!
We’ve survived, and continued to be a church, and that is a huge accomplishment.
Thanks be to God and to each one of you!

Skyline Polity: Self Determination and Choice

One of the many aspects that I love about Skyline is our polity, rooted in a foundational tenet of Congregationalism: the priesthood of believers. That includes YOU!  Together, we as a local church, have the right to decide what our faith community’s forms of worship and confessional statements are, who are officers are, how we administer our affairs, and what our ministries are.  Given the insistence on independent local bodies, our structure continues to be important in many grassroots, social reform movements, abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, LGBTQ rights, climate justice and the sanctuary movement. Skyline has, over these past fifty years, has been a powerful force, locally, and nationally, in these efforts as a progressive faith community.
 
This Sunday, after worship, we will hold our quarterly congregational meeting on zoom, to share highlights of our planned ministries, and to listen to our collective hopes, dreams, and longings for them. Please plan to join us for this powerful co-creative process together, in all of our glorious diversity.
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This Sunday in worship, we will explore the powerful healing story in Mark’s gospel, about a man in the synagogue possessed by an unclean spirit. I look forward to wondering with you, about this “unclean spirit”. What are you longing for Jesus to name, to silence, and to call forth from you? From this faith community? From this country? What is It that needs healing, and forgiveness, to restore us to wholeness?
 
We will also be hearing Skyline stories from our history, with Tony and Philippia,  who have been members for over 40 years!

Let Us Be the Light, Together: Inauguration Reflections

It’s Wednesday Jan 20th, a new day, Inauguration day. The sunlight broke through the clouds over our nation’s capital this morning, in this  epiphany moment.
I’d like to share two moments that moved me deeply this morning, and look forward to hearing your experience of this historic day.
First, Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, read an original work at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Her words are on my mind….
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated
Let us see the light.. let us be the light”.
Second,  President Biden made reference to another January on New Year’s Day in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
“When he [Lincoln] put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, ‘if my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act. And my whole soul is in it.’
On this January day, my whole soul is in this:
Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation.
And I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.”
Find full transcript here.
Let us be that light, that goodness together.  
 
Amen,
 

Skyline Celebrates Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.

King wrote,

“There must be a change. There will be a change.
For to deny a person the right to exercise his political freedom at the polls
is no less a dastardly act as to deny a Christian the right to petition God in prayer.”

This week, we remember the legacy of a prophet in our times. Here are just a few opportunities for remembering him.

Some valuable resources from the UCC honoring Martin Luther King weekend, and schedule follow up discussions (see sections below). Let’s make the most of shelter in place, and immerse ourselves in the prophetic faith of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in these challenging times.

Blessings and love, Pastor Laurie

Radical King & Prophetic Faith

A Virtual Gathering to Reflect on the Radical Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 14, 7- 8 PM PST

Join Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity on January 14, as we reflect on the radical legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let us go beyond mainstream portrayals of Martin Luther King Jr, and how he continues to influence the work of many movements. Participate in prayer, song, storytelling, and action! Featuring Benjamin Mertz!

Click HERE to Register.

“What Shall We Say to These Things – Crafting a Social Gospel for the 21st Century”

We encourage you to watch this 90 minute recording at your convenience, of an inter-generational conversation, between Ruby Sales: member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960’s, founder of the Spirit House Project, and one of fifty African Americans spotlighted in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Ferguson Commissioner and activist, co- founder of Campaign Zero, NBC News and MSNBC contributor, and member of President Obama’s 21st Century Task Force, as we discuss the current role of faith and faith leaders in the midst of socio-political crisis. This conversation will be moderated by Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ.

Click HERE to watch

Christianity After Trump

Sunday January 17, 5 – 6pm PST:

Join us for a conversation with Brian McLaren on how white American Christianity has aided and abetted the Trump presidency, and how courageous Christians must chart a new course in its aftermath.

Brian will draw from his new book Faith After Doubt and also from his resources on bias and authoritarianism.

Register Here Today!

Following the discussion6 – 6:30pm, join us for a conversation with Skyline’s Spiritual Life team, for a 30 minute debrief!

Peace, Pastor Laurie

Here’s our Zoom Meeting Link:  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

MLK Day of Service

Monday, January 187am – 11am PST  Yes, it’s an early morning!!
$35 per person  (4 hours, includes 1/2 hour lunch break).

Join us for a half day teach-in with Chuck Alphin,
certified Kingian Non-violence Trainer
, as we explore:

  • The Myths and Facts of Nonviolence
  • Types and Levels of Conflict
  • Six Principals of Kingian Non-violence
  • Six Applications of Kingian Non-violence

To Join the Webinar from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device
Please click HERE to join

Building Back Hope: A Service of Release & Renewal

Tuesday, January 19, 12:30PM – 1:30PM  PST 

Please join the United Church of Christ and The People’s Inauguration as we curate space for Release & Renewal at the intersection of Pain & Promise.

At the close of Martin Luther King Day Celebrations and on the cusp of the 47th Inauguration, we will worship together bearing witness to this past year and pouring Hope into the future.

What is Hope? Hope is the confident expectation that all God intends will come to pass. Valarie Kaur, author of See No Stranger; Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Pastor of Middle Collegiate Church; Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, Director of Faith Formation, UCC will join the Officers and staff as we Build Back Hope, followed with a sermon by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity UCC-Chicago. *closed captioning and Spanish translation will be available.

“We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject
a new dimension of Love into the veins of our civilization.”

~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To join please click HERE

Becoming a Congregational Sustainer

As part of our commitment to being a Sanctuary Congregation, the Justice & Witness Ministry Team made a proposal to Church Council recently that Skyline become a Congregational Sustainer by having a special offering over several weeks in January, with a goal of raising $2,000 for Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI).

As we mark our Third Anniversary as a Sanctuary Congregation, please consider sharing some of your stimulus money (past and forthcoming) and savings throughout the Pandemic, for this offering. Please indicate “sanctuary” or “IM4HI” on your payment. It would be wonderful if we could exceed our goal!  It is a privilege to be a part of this justice-loving, compassionate and generous congregation! Read more about being a Congregational Sustainer here, from Rev. Deborah Lee…

Thank you for all the ways that Skyline UCC has been an incredible partner to IM4HI— supporting newcomer families,  advocacy, being a witness and sanctuary congregation.  I am reaching out to request one more way that Skyline can support our partnership.

IM4HI began a Congregational Sustainers program in 2019.  We currently have 40 congregations who in addition to engaging and partnering with us around the collective work of supporting newcomer immigrants, freeing folks from detention and advocating for new social policies which center people, dignity and liberation, support through the making of an annual gift or an amount that is generous to them.   This gift helps support the wider networking, training and capacity building that has really grown in the Bay Area to support congregations.  Today we have over 50 sanctuary congregations.

Congregational sustainers make a collective gift on behalf of the congregation to support the ongoing partnership and engagement supporting training, capacity building, support to directly impacted people and public advocacy.  Some congregations take a special offering, others may have an event where I or one of my staff comes to speak, others may have a budget for missions or partnerships.

Next year, we have the potential for some new political terrain.  But it is going to take a lot to make it happen. With all the damage that has been done, this is not going to be a quick fix, and it will require strong and consistent pressure. The immigrant community is going to need the faith community standing with them even stronger to stop the ongoing harms of detention and deportation.

We will meet with legislators, elevate the stories of those most impacted, organize public witness with families, undo all the harms Trump and those before him have done, until we have humane and compassionate policies towards immigrants.

Our key policy priorities are:  a) Re-opening our borders and restoration of  US and international asylum law.  b) Bringing to an end the practice of immigration detention which is an unnecessary, an ineffective deterrent and costly, to human rights and human trauma. c) Defunding ICE and protecting communities from deportation.  d) Creating a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million+ undocumented, TPS and DACA holders, so millions are not continuously vulnerable to deportation and can become full members of our society.

We will continue to advocate for those in ICE detention and state prisons during the pandemic and to elevate public health and judicial recommendations for a drastic reduction of those incarcerated by allowing people deemed safe to return to society to come home to their loved ones. We will continue to partner with and advocate for greater resources to support successful re-entry and alternatives to incarceration.

Thanks for considering this request! Thank you, though we miss being in community with you during the pandemic. We appreciate your prayers and walking with us on this journey.

I’m attaching a colorful flyer with more information about our Cong. Sustainers.  Let me know if you need any more information!

Blessings, Peace and Joy,

Deborah

Sanctuary, Solidarity, and Epiphany

It’s the season of Epiphany! I’m searching for the light of that star, especially this year, how about you?

What is epiphany? An “epiphany” is a moment of understanding, a moment of consciousness. In last Sunday’s gospel, Matthew tells us the Magi (who were gentiles [that is, non-Jews]) know something is up. They’ve been watching the night skies and a star suggests to them that something is happening in Judea, something to do with royalty. So they travel Judea and check in with King Herod. They get sent off to Bethlehem to find the child and when they find him, they have an epiphany. They realize that this non-royal, peasant child carries God’s love in a special, perhaps even unique way. Thus, Epiphany (the holiday) celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles.

But that one paragraph summary fails to capture the drama of the story. During their visit to King Herod, the Magi were ordered to report back to the king the location of the child. “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road,” Matthew tells us.

Theology professor Dr. Serene Jones tweeted, Civil disobedience lies at the heart of the Epiphany story: The magi receive an unjust order from a vindictive tyrant. Instead, they defy him. May we do likewise.”

Our sacred stories remind us that Jesus came to stand up to the principalities and powers that abuse and neglect. Time and again, Jesus calls us to participate in this holy work. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in Georgia, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s certification of the Electoral College vote, that holy work will not end. The principalities and powers – in the halls of government and the halls of corporations – that abuse and neglect will continue their ugly work. And so, our Christ-like work of pursuing justice, compassion, and love will continue.

Join us this Sunday, as we continue in this season of Epiphany, with Jesus’s baptism. We are invited to remember that each one of us is God’s beloved child, and that together, as Skyline community church, we are a beloved family, building the beloved community. As part of this service, we will remember our calling as a sanctuary congregation – a renewing of our sanctuary vows, and the power of solidarity in this season of Epiphany.

We are also pleased to have with us this Sunday, my/our friend and colleague, Rev Deborah Lee, https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/our-staff/, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center For Human Integrity. https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/who-we-are/. We will learn more, during and after the service about their work and how we can be of support.

Please be sure to bring with you, a bowl of water for the renewal of our baptismal vows.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie