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Archive for coronavirus

“COVID 1619” – Racism, the 400 Year Old Virus

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The slow, brutal public execution of George Floyd has ignited international outrage.  White people are becoming more conscious of what black people have known for centuries about the deep, violent, pervasive, structural, systemic racism within this country.  I’ve been wondering, is this movement sustainable, and what can we do to sustain it?

Related to this desire, and as we consider our priorities as a church for this fall,  I would like to share with you this week’s E-Letter reflection from our Conference Minister Diane Weible:   (copied below)

 

Blessings upon your week, Pastor Laurie 

Let’s Talk: About 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds

By Conference Minister Diane Weible

Each morning I spend 8 minutes and 46 seconds in silence. My thoughts go in many directions and over the next many weeks I hope to share some of those reflections here. Today I want to share two things that came up for me and one leads into the other.

I want to ask our churches in this Conference to seriously consider waiting until 2021 to return to their sanctuaries for worship. I am not making this ask just because I believe that the unknowns of COVID-19 makes it unsafe to consider returning too early. I am also not asking this just because it pains me to think that our communities of faith will be divided or members will feel excluded because they cannot safely return yet.

I ask this because I believe making a decision now to not consider returning to our sanctuaries until 2021 will free up precious time for us to focus on the other virus that we are dealing—that we have been dealing with for 400 years—COVID 1619. Instead of spending time every month debating if now is the time and what safety measures still need to be put into place, we can engage in the hard work of addressing white privilege, dismantling white supremacy and racism, working for equity and justice and co-creating the new ministry that God has revealed to us through these months of sheltering in place and the movement for racial justice that has reached all of us in new and profound ways the past couple of weeks.

And that brings me to the other thing that came up for me that I lift up as an example of the kind of work I am doing in my own life so I can better show up with all of you in this sacred work. The other day during my 8 minute and 46 second time of silence, I started thinking about the concept of “whiteness.” When we say someone is black or brown, we are referring to their skin color. Very few of us who check the “white” box on ethnicity forms would call our skin color white.

A couple of years ago I was at the PAAM Convocation and a dear friend said, “Well, peach people like you…” I looked at her for a moment, confused. And, then I burst out laughing. She was right. In the crayon-box of life, my skin is a lot closer to peach color then it will ever be to white.

White is a construct. It was created to define who holds the power and privilege in a dominating society. It was created for bonded labor that came to the United States and had to work to get out of debt. The white construct allowed these labors to feel superior to newly arrived slaves from Africa. The owners were worried about an uprising if the laborers and the slaves, both desperate for basic human rights and dignities joined forces. If bonded laborers received benefits for being “white” they would feel superior to slaves and the owners could better control all of them.

I am white by a definition that was created to protect the wealthy and powerful in a dominating society that holds a single narrative as the only reality that counts. Anything that happens that doesn’t fit with what we expect from that narrative must be discredited, claimed as untrue, not believed. The cost to me as a person who shares many of the aspects of that single narrative is that my authentic and beautiful story and history is not told or shared because the culture I grew up in encouraged me to focus on how similar we are all—how connected we all are. It allowed me to call a story or reality I don’t understand as “weird” or “different.” It taught me that it’s ok to be so absorbed in my own story, my own reality, that I should expect that everyone shares the same reality as I do and if they don’t, the problem must be with their story, not mine.

People who do not share in the single narrative of society have to navigate both their own authentic story with the story that the dominating society has deemed THE narrative. The white construct is as fragile as a house of cards. If we begin to truly listen to someone else’s story and learn the truth and reality of what we have for four hundred years ignored, our house of cards will topple.

My hope and prayer is that this is what is happening today. The house of cards is falling. As people of faith, we have an important role to make sure that happens. We are learning that we are not white. Instead, we are infected with a virus that is not new but is also deadly. As a peach person, I have been infected with the COVID-1619 virus for four hundred years. There is a vaccine, but unfortunately, it takes a lot more work than just getting a shot.

  • It requires one (or many) conversations with a Person of Color to hear their story; to hear of their experiences in our society and world.
    • It requires reading books by Authors of Color. It requires watching movies like “The Hate You Give.”
    • It requires reading about the deaths of Black people for doing things that those of us with privilege take for granted. (https://demcastusa.com/2020/05/29/i-have-privilege-as-a-white-person-because-i-can-do-all-of-these-things-without-thinking-twice/ ).
    • It requires that we read White Fragility, not because we think we already understand privilege and fragility but because there is always something more we need to understand about our privilege and what will be required to dismantle white privilege and white supremacy.
    • It requires that we show up for protests now and we commit to showing up for protests and events that will happen in the future.
    • It requires not just showing up for protests but that we show up in relationships. Silence in the face of bigotry and racism is equally brutal.
    • It requires expanding your circle of relationships beyond those who share the same story or skin color. Who are your neighbors? Who are the people you call friends and why? Do you know their story? How has their story shaped your view of the world?

The time is now. Many of us understand a lot with our heads. We are being invited to embody that knowledge throughout our entire being so we can understand it in a new way. I envision a Conference-wide commitment to conversations within our churches and among all of us in the wider church. These conversations and commitment to action has the potential for transformation and co-creation. I pray you will join me.

 

Connecting, Updates, Prayer and Palm/Passion Sunday

Here we are, in April, beginning  another month of sheltering in place. What a time we are living through! 

Even in the midst of this there are blessings. Among them has been the blessing of communicating with you through social media: worshiping, studying, praying and yes, even sharing birthday celebrations and happy hours together.

I am grateful to the virtual teams within our faith community, rising up to offer all kinds of support within and beyond us. I hope you were able to join the zoom crowd who worshiped online this week. If you missed it, you can find it here on our website.  Many of us are using zoom for the first time, and here’s a helpful tutorial to get started.  You can always call me on my cell phone! All of our computers are facing buffering challenges due to the overload on various platforms and the internet in general, please be patient.  

Last Sunday, the 29th of March, I lifted up the theme of grief, so I want to offer a helpful article for you to better understand your own experience of grief. 

Please continue to check our weekly email, our  Facebook  page, and our website for updates.    

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday— please find a palm, or a leafy branch, or a symbol of gratitude for praising the heroes of our time, and bring it with you for our service.  And, before you sit down to participate in the Zoom service (here’s the link), please have ready nearby elements of food and drink to share in our agape meal, remembering Jesus and all those we love that we wish were here with us, and all those in need, especially during the pandemic.  Finally, David G. is leading a Zoom Children’s time at 11:30 – read more here.

Prayer for today:

You have been our strength, O God.
At the beginning of the day you brought us from darkness into light.
At the ending of the day you lead us from busyness into stillness.
In earth’s cycles and seasons you offer us new life and fresh beginnings.
Be our strength this day and the strength of new beginnings in our world.
Be our help, O God, and the help of those who cry out in need.
~ by John Philip Newell, excerpt from Celtic Treasure: Daily Scriptures and Prayer

Prayer in music & videos:

Inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying in Crisis, Holding Back Nothing from God

Dear Ones,

We are in the season of praying in crisis, holding back nothing from the God who invites us to come, naked and vulnerable, just as we are, holding nothing back from the One who loves and knows us better than we know ourselves  Be encouraged in your time of prayer in the days ahead. I encourage you to join us for 1 PM contemplative prayer on Friday: Zoom Meeting, Meeting ID: 910 815 155, or just call me!

There is a beautiful poem, which captures the essence of intimate, naked vulnerability before God in prayer, entitled the Guest House, by the Sufi poet, Rumi, 

I leave you with Rumi’s words:

Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

“Be the Loving Embrace of God to our Neighbors”

I’d like to share with you a beautiful centering prayer for these times:
Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.
 
     Let us choose love, 
Pastor Laurie

Shelter-in-Place Virtual Worship Services and Gatherings

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Virtual Worship, Bible Study and Prayer

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… Now is the time for “shelter in place” here in the greater Bay Area. It is a time to refrain from embracing, i.e. physical distancing. And more than ever, it is a time for social and emotional connection.

Skyline is utilizing Zoom.us for our virtual worship services and weekly gatherings. Zoom links and numbers are listed below for accessing the events on your computer, your smart phone, or a regular phone call.

  1. Sunday Services are being delivered by Zoom Meeting at 10 AM.   (You will access all Sunday Zoom calls at this link or number)
    Sundays, 10:00 – 11:00am
    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
    Video of past services will be available.  
    Here is a video of our Sunday, March 15 worship, recorded and edited by our very own Tom Manley!

  2. Pastor Laurie’s virtual bible study, Weekly on Tuesdays.  10:30 – 11:30 am.
    First meeting – Tuesday, March 24⋅10:30 – 11:30 am
    https://zoom.us/j/901784352
    Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799

  3. Pastor Laurie’s Prayer, Care, and Share time, every Friday from ⋅1:00 – 2:00 pm.    Join us for a time of praying, caring, and sharing!   If you’re at home, you’re invited to light your own candle, so we’ll all have our candles together.  We’ll gather with a little meditative music, then spend some time lifting up our prayers together.  In this stressful and uncertain moment, perhaps we need to turn to prayer even more than usual.  Join us, breathe deep, and trust that the Spirit will be with us wherever we are.  Whenever two or three are gathered in the name of God, even gathered digitally, the Spirit is in the space between, connecting our hearts and strengthening us.  Hope to see you for our collective prayer:
    https://zoom.us/j/910815155
    Meeting ID: 910 815 155
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799 
 
 

“As serious as I know the Coronavirus is, I wish…”

I’d like to share with you, especially in this season of searching  for leaders and policies that represent and protect all people, these words of the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness for the UCC, The Rev Traci Blackmon:

Dear God,

As serious as I know the Coronavirus is…

I wish Poverty was classified as a deadly virus so the world would respond to the deaths of the 2.6 million people who die annually in the US alone with precautions to contain its effect and protect the most vulnerable among us.

I wish Racism was classified as a deadly virus so the world would begin studying its origin and its mutations and investing adequate resources in developing a response to completely eradicate the effects of this disease on all citizens, globally.

I wish Sexism was classified as a deadly virus so that literally 50% of this world’s population might receive the attention, investment, and escalation of time and resources necessary to remove it from society.

I wish Homophobia was classified as a deadly virus so those showing symptoms could be effectively screened and, if infected, quarantined to protect the rest of us from getting sick.

I wish Transphobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we might actually work to save lives by stopping the spread of this disease.

I wish Xenophobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we would finally isolate the right people instead of those just seeking a safe place to lay their heads.

Basically…I wish the pain, silencing and marginalization of so many were enough to move us to panic mode…with daily updates…and urgent precautions…and monetary allocations…dedicated people at every level…working together like ALL of our lives depended on it…because they do.

I wish we were as ready and willing to wash our souls as we are our hands.

Hear my prayer, oh Lord.
And grant my request.

May we wash our hands, and our souls! 

Blessings upon your week, Pastor Laurie