Oakland church

Archive for gratitude

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!

Gratitude Can Change Everything

 
Our theme for November is gratitude. 

Why? Because we need it, especially now. Seeing the world through the eyes of gratitude changes us. Gratitude can change everything. 

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:6-7, he writes,   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Diana Butler Bass, bestselling author of “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks,” writes,  The capacity for collective joy is encoded into us….We can live without it, as most of us do, but only at the risk of succumbing to the solitary nightmare of depression.  Why not reclaim our distinctly human heritage as creatures who can generate their own ecstatic pleasures out of music, color, feasting, and dance?  Why not?  Why not rediscover gratitude through play? 

November Calendar Highlights

Month – long initiatives:

  1. Virtual food drive with Alameda County Community Food Bank 
  2.  Journaling about gratitude. we invite you to: 
    1. keep a gratitude journal for the month of November. (Feel free to download and use)
    2. share your prayers of gratitude during our prayer time in worship. 

Key dates in November:  (for more details see below)  

Sunday, Nov 1, during service: All Saints and all Soul’s Day (remember to set your clocks back Saturday night, the 31st) (Here’s the facebook event to share)

Monday Nov. 2, 7 pm, Calm in the Storm –Gratitude on the Eve of the election;   Laurie, Ken, Benjamin and Gabrielle, and here’s the facebook event to share.

Thurs, Nov 12, 7PM   Green team: climate discussion, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Sunday, Nov 15, Rev. Jim Antal guest speaker – Gratitude for the Earth – the Earth is God’s, discussion after the service (w/Green team) Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Thurs, Nov 19, 7PM:   Justice &Witness:  400th anniversary discussion of First People, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Sunday, Nov 22,  Benjamin Mertz – 400th Gratitude for First People. Anniversary of Plymouth – Thanksgiving, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467, https://www.facebook.com/SkylineCommunityChurch

Here are slides from last Sunday’s  quarterly meeting, describing more of our mission highlights for the fall. 

Thanksgiving – Message from the Pastor

Last Sunday we focused on the theme of gratitude as a conscious practice, particularly living in an age of disillusionment, divisiveness, and dissatisfaction. 

Among the many people that I am grateful for are our creative members Tim Carter, David Guerra and Allegra Figeroid.   I want to share with you a beautiful memory from last Thanksgiving offered by them:  A special thank you to Tim Turkey and the Martians!!

May we remember, especially on this Thanksgiving, the heroism of Squanto who showed unconditional love to the Pilgrims despite his entrapment and enslavement by white skinned people; to those he could have easily seen as the enemy. May we remember that this sacred land that we live on was first their land.  May we remember the wisdom of the Native Americans who recognized their deep connection with this precious planet. 

Blessings and safe and easy travels, to all of you who are traveling for Thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving – Whatever our Race or Religion, We are One Family

When you hear the word “Thanksgiving,” what comes to mind?  As a child,  the word immediately brought to my mind’s eye a huge turkey, roasted golden brown. I saw potatoes, stuffing, peas and onions, gravy, and of course pumpkin pie.  I saw children and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles happily gathered around the table. I was unaware that everyone was white, just like the famous Norman Rockwell painting.  
 
But then I learned more about the Pilgrims and Wampanoags gathered around the table at the first Thanksgiving feast, and that fleeting moment of peace, friendship and mutual gratitude..But through the years, new images come to mind: 
  • Native Americans amassing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a National Day of Mourning—mourning for their ancestors and the theft of their lands. 
  • Undocumented children being separated from their parents at the border of this country. 
  • Trans women, fleeing the violence of their countries, seeking safety in this country, only to be brutalized and left to die in detention camps.  
  • The faces of so many others in our times, who like the Pilgrims,  come to this land seeking freedom from violence and oppression, shelter, a new home, and a new life. 
Today, I want to lift up gratitude for this congregation for choosing, in our words and actions, to become a sanctuary congregation.
 
Whatever our nation or race or religion or language we are all one family, and we have to help one another. 
 
Join us this Sunday, as we lift up the theme of gratitude.   

Gratitude

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash


It has been a hard week, especially for children and those with respiratory conditions given the poor air quality in the aftermath of the worst fire in California history. Yet, the faithful remnant arrived to worship on Sunday, donning our  M95 masks, and focusing on gratitude and compassion. Special thanks to Tim Carter, David G. and Al Figeroid for their amazing Thanksgiving skit! (Please see photos and video below.)
 
We also  offered gifts to support the people of Butte County, especially in Paradise and have opportunities to share more (please see article below). 
 
We are reminded with every breath that we share the same air, and that we are more connected than we realize. May the breath, the Spirit of God, unite us together despite all that seeks to divide us. May we resolve to care more deeply for the earth, for one another, for future generations, and for poor people of color, globally and locally,  who live in disproportionally more polluted areas. 
 
May we remember, especially on this Thanksgiving, the heroism of Squanto who showed unconditional love to the Pilgrims despite his entrapment and enslavement by white skinned people; to those he could have easily seen as the enemy. May we remember that this sacred land that we live on was first their land.  May we remember the wisdom of the Native Americans who recognized their deep connection with this precious planet. 
 
Next Sunday join us for a conversation about becoming more conscious of our own white privilege, and a discussion after worship on Robin D’Angelo’s book, “White Fragility”. If you haven’t ordered the book, and don’t have time to read it, I encourage you to read this white paper
 
Blessings and safe and easy travels, to all of you who are traveling for Thanksgiving. 
 
I leave you with a quote written in Nov, 2016 about Thanksgiving by Dianna Butler Bass entitled, “Choose Gratitude”.

God, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we feel alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world or with our neighbors. When the news is bleak, confusing. God, we struggle to feel grateful.

But this Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude.

We choose to accept life as a gift from you, and as a gift from the unfolding work of all creation.

We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe.

We choose to thank our ancestors, those who came before us, grateful for their stories and struggles, and we receive their wisdom as a continuing gift for today.

We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating and accepting them for who they are. We are thankful for our homes, whether humble or grand.

We will be grateful for our neighbors, no matter how they voted, whatever our differences, or how much we feel hurt or misunderstood by them.

We choose to see the whole planet as our shared commons, the stage of the future of humankind and creation.

God, this Thanksgiving, we do not give thanks. We choose it. We will make this choice of thanks with courageous hearts, knowing that it is humbling to say “thank you.” We choose to see your sacred generosity, aware that we live in an infinite circle of gratitude. That we all are guests at a hospitable table around which gifts are passed and received. We will not let anything opposed to love take over this table. Instead, we choose grace, free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere. In this choosing, and in the making, we will pass gratitude onto the world.

Thus, with you, and with all those gathered at this table, we pledge to make thanks. We ask you to strengthen us in this resolve. Here, now, and into the future. Around our family table. Around the table of our nation. Around the table of the earth.

We choose thanks.

Amen.

Nurturing Gratitude

-by David Guerra

Last spring, I attended a day-long retreat for caregivers at Mission San Jose. It was filled with workshops and information as well as fun activities designed to give the 100 or so caregivers a break. One of the workshops really stood out to me. It was about gratitude.

I initially thought: Gratitude? I’m dealing with a really bad situation and you expect me to be grateful?

Studies, they explained, showed that when people looked for things to be grateful for, their overall well-being improved.

Skeptical, I decided to try it. I took a small daily diary that’d been sitting unused in my nightstand drawer. I opened to the first page. I thought about the events of the day and penned, “I am grateful for my singing voice, that I could share ‘My Sweet Embraceable You’ in a tender moment with Claude while caring for him.”

I thought about it. Wow, it did feel good to express how it made me feel. Maybe there’s something to this gratitude thing.

So I wrote another the next day. And the next… until it became a daily practice with one huge caveat: Positive things only, no complaints allowed. Even if the day has been horrible, I need to find one positive thing I’m glad for.

And you know what? I’ve noticed a difference in my attitude. As I go through the day, I am more aware of the bliss in little moments: The scent of a rose. The fleeting smile on Claude’s face.  A bird’s song, a loving hug, a day of peace as family, good news from the doctor, the glow of sunlight through the trees, the soft downy fluff of a turkey chick in my hand, kindness from a stranger, laugher and recognizing love in its many forms.  

All these things are gifts! Moments of peace and joy and wonder, tiny treats that nurture the soul. So many in a course of a day, too many to catalog! I cherish each one of them because they show me that there is, indeed, much to be grateful for.