On Pentecost we celebrated the inspiring power of the Holy Spirit as we welcomed five new members into our faith community!

Welcome everyone!

This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day, and remember how Jesus, in prayer, referred to God in an utterly new way as “abba”, “daddy in heaven”.

As part of honoring our fathers, I invite you this Sunday to bring a photo along with memories to describe the qualities you most love in your father.

Just as Paul writes, “we are one body and many parts”, it is profoundly true when we consider our relationship with our mothers… our biological mothers and with mother earth.  This Sunday at 10 AM we’ll continue our celebration of Earth Month with a service about both our human mothers and our ancient mother earth.  All are welcome.

I leave you with a quote from Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, Jungian psychiatrist, in “Crossing to Avalon” pp. 255-257.

Image converted using ifftoany

“The photo of the Earth taken from outer space may be the most significant image in the evolution of human consciousness in the twentieth century; it was a gift from Apollo-NASA’s Apollo space missions. The Apollo astronauts saw the Earth from outer space for the first time. And through them, we could see the Earth as a holy island against a sea of blackness, a sunlit ocean-blue globe with swirls of clouds and glimpses of continents. This image of the Earth touched the heart and brought humanity into a planetary age, with the psychological awareness that we share the fate of the earth, which has finite resources.

The beautiful blue and white planet that is earth, a sphere flowing art woman wrapping arms around earthwith light, silhouetted against the blackness of space, is a gorgeous sight. She is beautiful and vulnerable, and the only Mother Earth we have.

In photographs, Earth also has the shape of a mandala, a circle within a square, the symbol of what Jung called the Self, an image of wholeness and the archetype of meaning. The Self is whatever we experience that is greater than our small selves through which we know that there is something meaningful to our existence. The round or the circle is a feminine symbol that represented the Great Mother before humanity could know that the Earth is round. The Earth is the great Mother Goddess: she births us and breathes us and feeds us and holds us to her body with gravity, and we return to her in death.”

liliesAs we draw ever closer to Holy Week and Easter, let us pause and take a deep breath.

Breathing deeply is part of what this week is about. Inspired (whose root means to breathe into) by the rich imagery of Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, and also by the story of the raising of Lazarus, let us consider how the gift of breath, of spirit, of inspiration comes to us in our own lives.

Let us consider how in the very midst of struggle, despair, and death; the Spirit -the Breath – Inspiration; brings forth new life as surely as the gentle rains that fall upon us this week green and renew the earth.

I am so grateful to be sharing this road with you, to be breathing together with you. Blessings as we begin this new week!

I leave you with this poem from Jan Richardson,

Where the Breath Begins - A Blessing

Dry
and dry
and dry
in each direction.

Dust dry.
Desert dry.
Bone dry.

And here
in your own heart:
dry,
the center of your chest
a bare valley
stretching out
every way you turn.

Did you think
this was where
you had come to die?

It’s true that
you may need
to do some crumbling,
yes.
That some things
you have protected
may want to be
laid bare,
yes.
That you will be asked
to let go
and let go,
yes.

But listen.
This is what
a desert is for.

If you have come here
desolate,
if you have come here
deflated,
then thank your lucky stars
the desert is where
you have landed –
here where it is hard
to hide,
here where it is unwise
to rely on your own devices,
here where you will
have to look
and look again
and look close
to find what refreshment waits
to reveal itself to you.

I tell you,
though it may be hard
to see it now,
this is where
your greatest blessing
will find you.

I tell you
this is where
you will receive
your life again.

I tell you
this is where
the breath begins.

Gratefully,

Pastor Laurie

I arise today, on March 17th. I am reminded of a stanza from St Patrick’s breastplate:
Through the strength of heaven,14_thirsty
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock…..

The sun is indeed bright in the days approaching equinox. The moon was stunningly radiant in its fullness Saturday night, and the wind has been swift.

This week’s lectionary delves into the meaning of “living water”. Water holds great meaning throughout the sacred scriptures of the world, including ours.  Water bathes the newborn, and is used to minister to the bodies of the sick and dying.  Our bodies are made mostly of water. Our green blue planet has life because of the living waters. So much meaning is attached to this simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen, so imbued with meanings and metaphors.

What’s bubbling up to the surface as you consider, what it is you are thirsting for. What is your deepest thirst? What sustenance and refreshment are you finding on your journey–or longing to find? What are you thirsting for?

Love,
Pastor Laurie

For me, Valentine’s Day evokes the image of those little candy hearts we once exchanged in elementary school that revealed what was in our hearts to someone else. They had messages on them like “Be Mine,” “Yours Forever,” “True Love,” “Hugs and Kisses,” “Ever After,” “So Fine,” and “Hot Stuff.”  This past week, you can’t visit most stores without seeing hearts, flowers, and chocolates.

On the surface, it may seem strange for the lectionary to be focusing on the subject of anger and hatred and murder. Yet, in examining the state of our own hearts we discover how essential it is to explore the relationship between our capacity to love and our capacity for anger; and who our role models are. As Progressive Christians, it’s important to explore our understanding of Jesus’s relationship with anger.

How do we understand the multifaceted portrayals of Jesus: standing silently before Pilate as he is condemned to death; turning over temple tables and calling Pharisees broods of vipers; and urging us  to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves? Join us as we explore these complex matters of the heart!

Blessings,
Pastor Laurie

In honor of, and in memory of all those we love who have gone before us, lighting the paths of our lives,  and all veterans of war on every side of every conflict, let us take time this week to remember them; and let us resolve to beat all of our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.

 Join us this Sunday, as we remember our all too often forgotten veterans of war. 

In memory of all of those who have crossed over, I offer this beautiful poem:

In Memory of Them,    by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer 

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength
We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart
We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share
We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make
We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

It’s the fall, and for many of us, it’s a very hectic time of year. A time where some of us can lose hope in the busy- ness of it all. The same can be true for us as a faith community, with everything from Karaoke parties, to Blessings of the Animals, to preschool welcome parties, and Sierra Leone Bike fundraisers. My special thanks to all of you who led these events, who volunteered to support them, and who invited friends to take part. Each of these events are beautiful ministries to the wider community. They are also a lot of work!

This Sunday, we will explore our need for balance, and for spiritual practices that sustain us, in times where hope seems lost. We will explore this in worship and after the service when I share highlights from my sabbatical. Childcare and lunch will be provided!

A sustainable spirituality begins with self-care. Flight attendants always remind parents traveling with children in the event of emergency to put their own oxygen mask on first. By tending to our own wholeness, we contribute to the wholeness of others. Self-care can mean taking a walk in the woods. It can mean demanding time for the exercise we know our bodies need. It can be writing in a journal. It can be curling up with a good book. It can be getting a massage. It can be picking up a musical instrument too long laid aside.

Self-care can be saying “no” to yet another request for help—including from this church. The Chinese pictograph for “busy,” Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds us, comprises two characters, one for heart and one for killing. Thomas Merton admonished, “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

Sustainable spirituality requires practice. Prayer, meditation, yoga, and tai-chi shrink the ego and open it to receive the infinite. Spiritual disciplines help restore our sense of being whole, forgiven, and at peace. Just a few minutes of silence each day can restore our balance and our sanity.

Through all the days and nights of exhaustion, frustration, and sometimes despair of being a pastor, I’ve persisted in my daily meditation practice. Often I asked myself: how can I find the time? And the answer was always the same: how can I afford not to? “Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt,” says the Tao te Ching. “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.”

Another practice of sustainable spirituality is to make an offering of our lives, our work, our successes, even our failures. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna counsels, “Whatever you do, make it an offering to me: the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering.” When we offer ourselves up to love, to God, to any larger purpose, we surrender our egos, which just get in our way anyway. It’s not about us anymore, and in a way we can relax—not give up the struggle, but give up our self-importance. We become an instrument of God’s peace.

Blessings upon your week,

With love, Pastor Laurie

 

This Sunday we celebrate World Communion Sunday… It is a day set aside each year to remind us that God’s greatest hope is that we my learn to live together as one.  One in spirit, one in communion with the world, and united in faith, hope and love.

It seems like we’re a long way from that goal. There are so many divisions & factions within the world.  We have religious, political, & economic tensions within our families, our cities, our work places, our country, and our world.  We live in a world of extremes –where 1 billion people live on less than $1 dollar a day. Contrast this with CEO’s & hedge fund managers living on salaries of 10’s & 100’s of millions of dollars! We live in a world where  11 million people die of starvation each year.  That’s one person, most often a child, dying every 3 seconds.  Surely, with such extremes, there’s enough food for all of us on this planet! Enough bread to share at the table of humanity!  The Hope begins within each one of us. The tiny mustard seed reminds us of the mighty potential of the hope and the power within each of us to do our part, to bring forth this vision.

Communion is about remembering; bringing together, re- membering the past, remembering the world.  So, especially on World Communion Sunday, we remember our sisters and brothers in need. We remember and renew our mission efforts to support the victims of natural and human made disasters in the world;  from the earthquake in Haiti; to the floods in Pakistan; from the oil spill  in New Orleans and tsunami  in Japan; to the war in Sierra Leone.  We remember the poor & disabled within this city and this country, and pledge our ongoing support for them, through our work with St Mary’s, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Bay Area Community Services, and the outreach efforts of our denomination, the United Church of Christ.

 

Our mission work reminds us that we are inextricably linked, because we are one body. Our mission work reminds us that each one of these people  could be our sister or our brother; and could be us. Our mission work provides us with a glimpse of that day when “They shall all be one”. When all boundaries are stripped away, and we are in “communion with the world.”  Then we will not be rich or poor, east or west, Muslim or Jew, citizen or immigrant, African or European, Asian or Hispanic, Catholic or Protestant, liberal or evangelical; we will just the children of the one God of many names together. 

It’s a beautiful vision.

Psalm 8 calls us to communion, with all of humanity, and all of creation.

Hear again the words of Psalm 8..

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, O God,
The moon & the stars that you have established;
What are human beings that you are mindful of us,
Mere mortals that you care for us?
and yet, you have made us little less than gods,
you have crowned us with glory and honor.
You have given us dominion over the works of your hands;
You have put all things under our feet,

All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

……and then, the psalm ends with these words:
O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

During the second week of the new decade, Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, was shaken to its foundations by a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0. News of this disaster spread like waves from Haiti’s epicenter in Port-au-Prince to the farthest reaches of the planet.  Every day, every hour, the stories fill the media in this race against time – to rescue those still living trapped under rubble and the millions of Haitians who still need food and drinkable water – bringing forth memories of 9/11, echoes of Katrina—only magnified to a scale we can barely imagine.

I’ve been thinking about the unexpected and indiscriminate ways of nature. Perhaps to comfort myself, I’ve been thinking about Shakespeare’s poetic language, comparing the quality of human compassion with the gentle rains, much like today:  “The quality of mercy is unrestrained; it droppeth from the heavens like the gentle rains.” In contrast, I’ve been thinking of its counterpart – as reflected in another statement by Shakespeare: “the quality of violence is unrestrained; it rises up from hell, like an earthquake, or a hurricane.”

In this hour of Haiti’s greatest need for all of us, now is the time to be the gentle rains of mercy and compassion, and to shower this impoverished nation with love. And so, before we continue with this morning’s readings, let us pause now in a moment of silence, for the people of Haiti—the thousands of men, women, and children who have died, whose names and faces we may never know, the millions of lives forever changed by this devastation.

Let us remember that this could be us; that indirectly, this IS us. This becomes clearer as we re-contemplate the vision that Martin Luther King, Jr., put forth—a mountaintop vision of a new way of living lifted up by God, out of suffering and slavery and into salvation; out of domination and conquest and into mutuality and cooperation; to live together in harmony, as sisters and brothers on this one planet we share.

…on this weekend commemorating the message of Martin Luther King, we remember his liberating vision; a vision, in fact, shared by another great liberator, Moses.

The death of Moses is one of the most poignant moments in the Bible. Here was Moses – God’s faithful servant – who freed his people from slavery in Egypt and led them for forty years—forty years of wandering and deprivation, and finally, finally, brought them to the brink of the Promised Land. But just as they are about to cross over, God leads Moses up to the mountaintop, up where both of them can get a good view of the promised land. God shows it to Moses and they savor a moment there, on the mountaintop, because they have been partners in this enterprise for lo, so many years. But then God turns to Moses and says, you shall not cross over. Imagine having labored so long, come so far, only to hear those words, “You shall not cross over.”

In the last sermon he preached before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a dream he’d had, a dream in which God takes him up to the mountaintop and shows him a promised land of justice and equality for all, a land that God assures him will one day come to be, but which he will not live to see.  ”You shall not cross over,” God said. And for so many years on this Sunday, our story seems to end, here on the mountaintop, with God and Moses and Dr. King together there, gazing into the future, at a hoped for-dream.

Last year at this time, this country inaugurated its first African-American president. Does it seem like a long time ago to you? Does it seem like a dream? A distant memory?

Remember it? It was another mountaintop experience. High on the steps of the nation’s capital, our new president took office, and his words echoed those of Moses, Lincoln, and King. Surrounded by a sea of humanity, this man took oath as the world was watching—from millions of people crowding the mall in the nation’s capital on that bitterly cold winter morning—to the billions around the planet, including us here at Skyline, watching the ceremonies live.

It seemed as if the people had spoken, in a grassroots election, with record voter turnout: the liberator had come, the messiah was here, and we had reached the Promised Land. This new president seemed to be elevated to mythical proportions. By the media; by all of us. Even preschoolers here at Skyline dressed as Barak Obama for Halloween, cheering on the inauguration. Our fascination with his story – and even his name. (As comedian Robin Williams reminded us: “Barak blessing, Hussein – don’t ask, Obama – he with us.”)

Obama himself, aware of how fickle the crowds are and how easily they can cheer a messiah one day only to crucify them the next, reminded us contrary to popular opinion, “No, I was not born in a manger.”

Instead, like King, he reminded us of how serious the crisis in our country is – how America has fallen short of its dream that all people are created equal: As millions of people are losing their jobs, their homes, healthcare insurance, Wall Street executives make millions in bonuses. We have the greatest divide between the rich and the poor in any industrialized nation in the world.

In words that echoed those of King, Obama reminded us how hard the journey will be: The challenges we face are real, they are serious and many. The journey will be long and the road, steep. We may not get there in a year, or even in a term (he left out, I may not make it there with you) but I promise you America, we the people will get there. (We will make it to the Promised Land)

So how do we begin? We begin here and now, within our own community. The promised land is here and now—at hand, as Jesus put it. The way to find the promised land is to start to build it, changing the world from the inside out, starting with ourselves, one person, one community at a time. Creating families, friendships, and communities. Communities where people of all races and classes and cultures come together to live into this promise of justice and equality for all. Churches are a great place to create such communities, and we, the people of Skyline, are called to create this here.

So we must begin together, inspired by prophetic voices called to do our part, to pick up the mantle of leadership that each one of us is called to. But what kind of leadership? What kind of vision of a promised land are we called to?

In the biblical story that follows today’s reading, one of Moss’s aids, Joshua, takes the lead and the people cross over into the promised land, the land of milk and honey, out of slavery and finally into freedom. And what do they do? The once conquered people, become conquerors, the oppressed become the oppressors.

Guided by the belief that we are God’s chosen people and they are not, God has promised us this land, it was OK to take it from them. Is this really God’s will, or a self-serving ideology, that has served to legitimate oppression and manifest destiny throughout human history, including U.S. history? This land is your land, and now it’s my land?  For those who would say, but it’s right there in the Bible, God promised the land to the chosen people, I would say, it’s better to give your bible to someone else rather than be misguided by such dangerous literalism.

We cannot fulfill the mountaintop promise until we all come along together. We cannot fulfill our promise if we remain divided and isolated. We must come to realize that are all in it together.

And that is why it is time for a new story. Jesus spoke of a kingdom, a promised land ruled by love – love of God, love of neighbor, love of self. Loves that cannot be confined or limited to just those we know, those in our group, our class, our socio- economic group, our faith. A way of being that recognizes and lives with the knowledge that we are all one.

One of Dr. King’s mentors was the mystical and prophetic Howard Thurman. Thurman said this: Ultimately, there is only one place of refuge on this earth for any person, and that is another person’s heart. It is our vulnerability and our interdependence that unite us as a human family. We are each other’s safe harbor. And so, if you’re employed, stand up for the unemployed; if you’re insured, advocate for the uninsured; if you’re a man, you stand up for the equality of women. If you’re white, you show up for the rights of people of color. If you’re straight, you fight on behalf of gay folks. If you’re a citizen, you stand, side by side, with the immigrant, and stand up with the people of Haiti in their hour of greatest need. Stand up for the people of Oakland, who don’t have enough food to eat. . If we are to build the promised land, solidarity must be the spiritual discipline, as well as the political practice of this generation.

Friends, on this historic Sunday, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, I challenge us to take up the mantle of faith, that all people are created equal. Let us, you and I, do our part in building the promised land, to bring forth the kingdom of heaven—here on earth, here and now, in our lives, and in the world.

It Takes a Congregation to Raise Our Children

Earlier this week, in bible study, we talked a/what life was like for families, 50 years ago, compared with today. The consensus was that our culture today is not a friend to families. TV, internet ads enlist our children as surrogate salespeople demanding toys and clothes they’ve never actually seen but upon which they are convinced that their survival depends. Children and teens learn social skills from The Simpsons and even Sex in the City, and manners from South Park.

•    50 years ago, aunts and uncles and grandparents lived nearby and provided a cushion of childcare and perspective to relieve beleaguered parents. Today, many parents raise their children in the bell jar of the nuclear family.
•    50 years ago a city kid could wander through the neighborhood, and a country kid through woods and fields. Today we worry our child will be struck down by an car or snatched by a stranger.
•    50 years ago on warm summer nights people sat on their porches to watch and talk with passersby. Today, we retreat to our home entertainment centers, and the passersby are mostly in cars.
•    50 years ago, teenagers knew too little about sex. Now they know too much, with info available from everything from the internet to Oprah, many of them cynical before their 1st dance.
•    50 years ago, neighbors were family or friends and even if unfriendly, their strengths and weaknesses were known.

Today, many neighbors are strangers. Something called a village is more likely to be a strip mall than the real thing. and despite all the technology that’s supposed to bring us closer–from cell phones to the Internet–most of us feel more disconnected than ever. As psychologist and author Mary Pipher puts it, “There’s too much information and not enough meaning, too much happening and not enough time to process it.” As a society it seems we’ve come to care more about speed than safety, more about convenience than quality, more about wit than wisdom, more about personality than character.

On the other hand, few of us have any desire to turn the clock back 50 years. We know too well the racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia of bygone times. So let’s not romanticize the past, but let’s not view the present through a fog of wishful thinking either. The electronic village is not a village. Virtual community is not community. Computers and TVs and DVDs and Iphones and blackberries, and YouTube cannot raise our children. We must raise our children.

I know that the metaphor of the good shepherd tends to be overused. Also, we suburbanites don’t have much to do with sheep these days, the closest experience might be watching the migrating flocks of (sheep or is it goats) eating dried grass in the Oakland hills in later summer..Besides our lack of familiarity with sheep, we also tend to view sheep as “not very bright” not “independent minded thinkers”, but instead, animals that blindly following a leader.. My experience of this congregation is that it’s more like herding cats, than sheep! In some ways, the sheep/flock metaphor doesn’t work for us..  so may I suggest another metaphor for us.

There’s a Sioux word, tiospaye. It means the people with whom one lives. A tiospaye is a human ecosystem of aunts and uncles and friends and neighbors who are all responsible for the care and nurture of all the children. Everyone in the community belongs, everyone contributes, everyone benefits. Children need a tiospaye: a safe environment in which to explore and grow, where adults beyond the nuclear family are known as trusted friends and teachers, not strangers to be feared and fled, where the values and traditions of previous generations can be learned and internalized, where the ancient stories are told again and again.

A congregation, this congregation, can be a tiospaye. We can be a real, not a virtual, community. Only in community do we learn the lessons of difference and relationship. Community demands civility. When we’re in regular contact with other people, what we say and do matters. It has consequences. Mistakes require apologies. Triumphs evoke praise, sorrows sympathy.

The dominant message of advertising and the entertainment media is that the only worthwhile commitment is to oneself and the only Q worth asking is “Am I happy right now?” It’s a formula, ironically, for unhappiness, because happiness ultimately depends upon one’s feeling connected to something more than one’s own happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman says, “To the extent that young people now find it hard to take seriously their relationship with God, to care about their relationship with the country or to be part of a large and abiding family, they’ll find it very hard to find meaning in life. To put it another way, the self is a very poor site for finding meaning.” The result is a desperate, vague hunger for values, for community, for something larger than the self.
When we do our job, church communities breach the walls of isolation and fill the void of spiritual emptiness. Studies published not in the religious press but in journals of psychology and, most recently in Time Magazine, find that people who attend church regularly are much less likely than others to become delinquent, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to divorce or even to be unhappily married, to become depressed, or to commit suicide. At our best, a congregation like ours centers adults and children in an interdependent web of caring and cooperation, grounded in tradition but not bound to it, while opening hearts and minds to possibility and mystery, the cosmos beyond the self.

We do this in many ways. We enact rituals that connect the generations -  from our Mardi Gras, to Halloween, from the Xmas Party, to the Easter Egg Hunt, to the upcoming Spring Fling celebration. We celebrate rites of passage from baptisms, to confirmation, from weddings to memorial services. And, to some extent, we engage children w/the natural world in ecology curricula and time outdoors. We instill the habits of service and generosity through our mission programs, inviting children and teens to take part in alleviating cold and hunger here in Alameda County,  through such efforts as “stop shivering Sunday” and next week’s “Yes we can” Sunday. We invite teens to take part in preparing and serving meals to homeless people through  St Mary’s center, and to join in our global missions including, writing cards to children in Sierra Leone and donating books for Angola.

But so much more is needed.

We need to foster more communication between the generations in church School and through youth groups, and picnics and overnighters. We need to support our young people in their visions for our faith community – Their vision of worship – types of music, dance, video, sermon topics, faith Q’s –relevant to their lives and their world Their vision of service and generosity – taking on issues they are passionate about.. from environmental conversation to alleviating hunger and disease. – Crop Walks, Heifer international. In a world in which language is debased and trivialized, we need read to find out how God is speaking to them – through scripture and poetry and music and films. In a cluttered and hectic world, we need to offer more sanctuary, more sacred space set apart for contemplation of ultimate things. We need to provide young people w/a context for slowing down time.

Most important, we need to pass on to our children and teens, the core values necessary for moral choices: that every human being deserves dignity and respect, that giving is more blessed than receiving, that the Golden Rule is not out of date, that love demands both empathy and accountability, that there’s something inside every human that cannot be bought or sold, hired or fired, franchised or trademarked, which is the soul. To do this, we need to tell our stories of heroes and heroines who exemplify these values and inspire us to live and if needed, to die for them. We need to let children know that they are heirs to the UCC’s tradition of free inquiry and compassionate service.

This faith community and this denomination recognize our responsibility to our children and teens to give them not only a religious curiosity but also a religious identity. We must raise our children and teens to be free and confident to find their own path, and at the same time, we owe them a spiritual home to which they can return if they choose with affection, trust, and a sense of security.

Xian religious educator, Charles Foster, observes that all children have a deep yearning “to know to whom they belong.” They need a sense of history. The “communal events” we share, from the birth of Jesus to Galileo’s scientific discoveries to Sojourner Truth’s liberating mission, mark us as a people. We inherit their character. and so we must tell their stories. In Sunday School and in confirmation classes we use narratives from the Hebrew and Xian scriptures and other faith traditions of the world not because they’re literally true but because they are our religious birthright. During worship I read from these scriptures not because they’re infallible or exclusive but because they are rich in tradition as well as wisdom. They remind us who we are and to whom we belong.

This is our vision – for our children our future.. here at Skyline.. I am so moved by the commitment this congregation has made to fund our future children, youth and family director. We’re interviewing some very talented and dedicated people – shepherds if you will, to serve in this capacity, including someone today and we will keep you informed on our progress.

Yes, it does takes a shepherd, a catalyst – someone to champion and inspire our vision, At the same time, it takes all of us to be a part of it. It takes a flock, a tiospaye, a congregation,  a village to make this vision a reality.

So, I ask you to be a village for every child in this congregation. Get to know the children and teens by name! Teach Sunday School whether or not you have children of your own. Help out with the Confirmation program and the youth group and family activities at the church. Be a calm and guiding presence to children in work and in play, in trouble and in turmoil. Take initiative. Reach out.

“Raising healthy children,” says Mary Pipher, “is a labor-intensive operation.” Families have never done it alone and cannot be expected to. It takes a flock, village. It takes a tiospaye. It takes a congregation. It takes every one of us! Amen.

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Skyline UCC
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