Oakland church

Response to White Supremacy’s Hatred

I am sickened by the latest incidence of violence, this time  in Charlottesville, Virginia. I pray for the families of the two police officers who died on their way to help. I pray for the family of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old paralegal who was killed by a 20-year-old white supremacist, a terrorist whose name I will not speak, who turned his car into a weapon against non-violent protesters. Heather was killed, and 19 other people were struck down by malice, hatred and racism.

They were struck down by what has stricken our nation since its founding: the horrible lie that is white supremacy. This lie was formed in the mouth of Thomas Jefferson, who had a suspicion that the Africans who had been enslaved by the freedom-seeking colonists were inferior to their white owners. This horrible lie was fanned into pseudo-science about racial hierarchy. This lie spits in the face of the truth: there is only one race, and that race is called human.

We who know the truth must be set free from apathy and boldly challenge the falsehood of white supremacy every time and everywhere we see it. We who are people of faith must not pretend that what happened in Charlottesville was violence and hatred on “many sides.” We must say the truth out loud.

This is the truth: White supremacists organized themselves and descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a symbol of hatred and racism. They will keep organizing and use every tool in their power to make America racist, again and again.

And we who believe in freedom, we who believe in the power of revolutionary love must keep organizing as well, and use every tool in our power to fight this hatred, to renounce this bigotry, and to call our leaders into account. This is NOT the America for us. This rising ugly tide of white supremacy, if unchecked, will become a tsunami that will drown the liberties espoused by our constitution, and will end more and more innocent lives.

Hatred kills.

We must recognize that all of these movements (black lives matter, women’s march, immigration reform, LGBTQ Pride, affordable housing, education, and healthcare, prison reform, climate justice, etc) are all part of the human rights movement. We must join together to stand on the side of love. Here are some things we can all do now in response to white supremacy:

  1. Tweet the president or retweet a prayer that @POTUS joins us to name and fight #WhiteSupremacy and the #terrorism that accompanies it.
  2. Read these articles and learn more about what’s happening here in the Bay area, Aug 26-27 weekend:
    1. http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Pelosi-asks-if-White-House-had-hand-in-approving-11820888.php#photo-13719541   
    2. http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Don-t-give-the-haters-any-bragging-rights-from-11821711.php?cmpid=sfc_em_topstories   
  3. Sign this petition:   http://fpl.actionkit.com/sign/cville-white-supremacy/?t=1&akid=145%2E9671%2EkaKhHr from Faith in Public Life that calls on the @POTUS to behave like a president. It calls “on all elected officials to explicitly and publicly condemn white supremacy and the organizations that advance and seek to give it mainstream credibility.” And it asks “President Trump to remove Steve Bannon and other supporters of the alt-right from his White House and stand against the racist policies they propose.”

And never forget that when we take these actions, we are praying with our hands and our feet. We are mourning, and we are organizing against white supremacy with revolutionary love,  until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.

I leave you with the prophetic words of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr: 

Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that. 
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, 
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. 
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, 
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. 
Through violence you may murder the hater, 
but you do not murder hate. 
In fact, violence merely increases hate. 
So it goes. 
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: 
only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
A time to end the Silence. 

History will have to record the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and other violent actions of the bad people but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our generation will have to repent not only the words and acts of the children of darkness but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.” “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

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.  

  

How Does the Holy Show Up in Our Lives?

How you know when God is present? When the danger has been avoided? When your heart stops pounding & you know you can breathe normally again?  When you aren’t afraid anymore? It’s an appealing idea, but unfortunately the Bible will not back it up. In that richly disturbing book, much of God’s best work takes place in total chaos, with people terrified!

This Sunday we wrestle with our faith and our understanding of how the Holy shows up in our lives. Join us as we  dive into the timeless and universal story of Jacob, who, fearing for his life, and wrestling with an angel in the darkness, gains his new life. It is a story that has captured the imaginations of artists from the great painters, Marc Chagall to Rembrandt to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. May we open ourselves to the cloud of unknowing, and discover the light within the dark clouds and the painful experiences of our lives. 

Blessings upon your week!

Pastor Laurie 

The Man Watching  

By Rainer Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after 
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes 
that a storm is coming, 
and I hear the far-off fields say things 
I can’t bear without a friend, 
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on  
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
 
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,  
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!  
What fights with us is so great.  
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 
 
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,  
and the triumph itself makes us small.  
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us. 
 
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament: 
when the wrestlers’ sinews  
grew long like metal strings,  
he felt them under his fingers 
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel  
(who often simply declined the fight)  
went away proud and strengthened 
and great from that harsh hand,  
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.  
Winning does not tempt that man.  
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,  
by constantly greater beings.

                –Translated by Robert Bly

Heaven on Earth – Look Around You!

Oh, the splendor of summer days where we revel in the beauty of sunlight sparkling on water, in fields of tall wheat like grass, and in the Oakland hills with feasting herds of goats. I imagine seeing through the eyes of Jesus thousands of years ago, and how he perceived heaven here on earth within such images. 

Join us this Sunday as we immerse in these timeless parables, that we may perceive the heaven at hand here in our midst. 

I leave you with a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, 5th Century: 

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book, the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead God set before your eyes the things that God had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”

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.”

“I Would Rather Be Ashes than Dust”

© Steve Baroch ID 960131 | Dreamstime

Our congregation is full of amazingly talented and multifaceted individuals. One of them, Rod Repke, known to many as “Brother Rod”, recently shared with me a beautiful tribute that he wrote in honor of a beloved friend Fred, who recently died. With Rod’s permission, I am sharing an excerpt of his reflections, because they have universal meaning for all of us about how we live our lives and how we consciously use our precious time.

Blessings and see you on Sunday! Pastor Laurie  
You know folks…

If you go down to Jack London Square, there is a life size bronze statue of Jack London there down near the water, just across from Scott’s.  It’s a very dynamic statue—right hand in the air—necktie flapping—he’s almost jumping off the pedestal!  And if you stand in the right spot, his eyes will directly connect with yours  almost as tho’ he’s looking into your soul—or maybe you are looking into his…\
On the base of this statue are the words :


I would rather be ashes than dust.
 I would rather that my spark should burn out 
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
 I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
 The function of man is to live, not to exist.
 I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.


Well…I wouldn’t call Fred a “superb meteor”  but  he always kept active irrespective of his medical problems.  He did a lot of stuff that would never even cross my mind—like kayaking on the upper Sacramento once—or more recently snorkeling somewhere in the Caribbean Sea where, as fate would have it, his meteor splashed down—you might say “He died with his boots on”.

Yes indeed…I would rather be ashes than dust

-o0o-

I’ve known Fred and Kathy for a long time—maybe 30 years?  I think we both came to work for Cal/OSHA about 1980 or so.  Sometimes we worked together—other times we worked in different units in Cal/OSHA.  We never went on trips or anything like that together but we’ve spent many a pleasant evening at that old Victorian on Yosemite Street or going to dinner on Piedmont Avenue or someplace—or Freight & Salvage for Bluegrass—and Golden Gate Park once I remember—and of course the occasional office party…

Fred wasn’t born in Colorado but he was raised there and considered it his home turf:

Like Paradise upon this Earth 
Its Wonders to behold…
A  Gateway to the Wilderness
Where all my Dreams unfold…
The changing of its colors
As the clouds go floating by…
Above the Rocky Mountains in 
The Colorado Sky.

The mighty river flowing 
In The Valley of the Pine…
The Shooting Star in meadows on
A summer’s day so fine…
The Forest is alive with Song—
I watch the Bluebirds fly, 
Above the rugged landscape in 
The Colorado Sky.

The seasons change so quickly 
Yet its precious soul remains
As Wind does bring the Snowfalls there
Upon the mighty Plains…
To see the Snow-capped Mountains
With their peaks that reach so high,
Beneath the Fiery Sunsets in
The Colorado Sky.
-o0o-

Good Morning Fred, wherever you are…

UCC Approves Resolution on Climate Change

The United Church of Christ General Synod 2017 has just overwhelmingly approved the Climate Resolution calling on clergy and congregations across the denomination to take action to protect the environment, and churches are lining up to stand behind it publicly.

 Thank you to  Skyline, to our  NCNCUCC conference,  and to our UCC General Synod, for their  full support for this resolution. We stand with the rest of the world and commit ourselves to protect and defend the earth for the generations to come, because we are called to be lovers of creation.

Rev. Laurie  Manning  is  the NCNCUCC  conference rep for climate justice,  and a member of the UCC Council on Climate Justice.  She has already planted a sign in front of her church in support of the resolution and the Paris Climate Accord. “This sign expresses who we are now and how we pledge to live.”

Churches interested in the sign can download it here.

Barack Obama Prayer for Unity, Compassion, Justice

In honor of July 4 weekend, I want to lift up an excerpt of a presentation given by former President Barack Obama at the 2016 national prayer breakfast.  It is a prayer for our country that I believe is particularly relevant now. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  I pray that by His grace, we all find the courage to set such examples in our own lives —  not just in the public piety that we profess, but in those smaller moments when it’s difficult, when we’re challenged, when we’re angry, when we’re confronted with someone who doesn’t agree with us, when no one is watching.  I pray,  that our differences ultimately are bridged; that the God that is in each of us comes together, and we don’t divide.  

I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity.  I pray that my failings are forgiven.  I pray that we will uphold our obligation to be good stewards of God’s creation — this beautiful planet.  I pray that we will see every single child as our own, each worthy of our love and of our compassion.  And I pray we answer Scripture’s call to lift up the vulnerable, and to stand up for justice, and ensure that every human being lives in dignity.

Blessings to all who love you, on this weekend when we’ll remember who we are called to be; as individuals and as a nation, at our best.

with love, Pastor Laurie

“There is a Crack”

Leonard Cohen, the legendary 82-year-old Canadian poet and singer, is well-known for a set of powerful lyrics from his song “Anthem”. The message of hope in darkness is particularly striking for many: in our personal lives, as communities of faith, and in the months following the US election:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

This Sunday we will reflect on the transformative and healing power of Divine love and the gift of being broken open so that the light can get in. Join us for an inspiring worship service, an engaging interactive annual meeting, and a delicious lunch; all within the context of allowing the Light to guide our way.

Our denomination’s Northern California Nevada conference, otherwise known as NCNCUCC unanimously passed Skyline’s emergency resolution on climate justice, which was written in response to Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord. The resolution was presented by Pastor Laurie, the environmental justice rep for our conference.  

We will share more details this Sunday! Special thanks to our church Council, and to our Green team!

From Laurie and Siri

I’m actually dictating by Siri my weekly email to you because I broke two fingers in my right hand last Saturday!

Whether or not God preplanned this, it has been a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of the gift of both hands and the gift of the helping hands of others, and the gift of asking and receiving support. Over the past few days I have experienced such love and support from friends and neighbors and family and from you, Skyline!

This weekend I will be traveling to Sonoma to present a resolution on climate justice which hopefully is headed to our General Synod. Joining me are skylines delegates Cheryl Coleman and Nancy Taylor.

This weekend I am thrilled to have the Rev. Sandhya Jha here at Skyline preaching. See her information later in this newsletter.

Our prayers for traveling mercies for all those attending our NCNCC Annual Meeting, all those traveling on vacations, and all those traveling to be with family and friends.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 
(421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com