By David G.

My teenager is one of the 7.5 million people who have downloaded the app for the week-old “Pokemon Go” game and are wandering around landmarks, businesses, parks and city streets with their smartphones to find digital creatures and score points.  It blends real time maps through Google with digital magic to make little creatures pop up on the screen, as if they are actually at that spot.    

For the past two days, my teen has been like an eager prospector in search of gold.  At times, it reminds me more of chasing leprechauns and their pot of loot.   

They are everywhere — and I mean EVERYWHERE.  One was in my kitchen. In the car.  By a synagogue.  A fountain.  The Saxophone House.

Then my teen told me there were Pokemon at Lake Temescal, my favorite walking spot.

lake reflections trees from David GSo at sunrise this morning, I went for a jog around the lake.  I tried to imagine where these digital bogeymen were lurking.  I looked around as I listened to the pounding rhythm of my feet on the trail.  The first rays of morning sun lit the tops of the trees along the far bank.  It was a peaceful, quiet world; a sacred time.  

Instead of Growlithe, I found a green heron lurking along the waterline.  A fine mist glided silently across the surface of the lake like the Spirit moving on the waters, without a sign of Voltorb.  I heard the sweet trill of a Wilson’s warbler, the call of a night heron, and the complicated melody of a song sparrow.  There was no evidence of Nidoran, but I breathed in the tangled scents of moist earth, bay leaves and redwood.  On the physical and spiritual level, God’s handiwork was everywhere.  I saw it all.  

I didn’t need an app for that.   

PASTOR LAURIE: REFLECTIONS ON ORLANDO

Dear Beloved Community,

Many of us are still reeling from the heartbreaking tragedy in Orlando.

It is heartbreaking to consider the history of mass shootings in our country:  Sandy Hook, Charleston, San Bernardino, and now Orlando. Each act of terror, each act of hate, and every act of violence seeks to diminish us, to drive us to despair, to divide us into an “us and them.” But, this terror, this hate, this violence does not have the last word.

Love has the last word.

In such times, it is tempting to place blame to make sense of senseless violence. But we cannot succumb to divisions. This tragedy cuts across the lines of race, class, sexual orientation, and religion.

Let us resolve to unite together, across all lines and all communities, especially: LGBTQ, Latino/Latina, and Muslim communities. Let us unite together in peace and stand against any and every form of hate and violence.

Together, we can make this world a better place. Together, let us widen circle of love and empathy. Together, let us seek the good in people and call ourselves to our highest good.

As progressive Christians, the radical teachings of Jesus propel us forward, forging a path to greater love, equality,  grace, and peace.

With love,
Pastor Laurie

PS: Below is an (adapted) prayer from a UCC minister, and here are some ideas for talking with your children about this tragedy.

Prayer
God of music and light, of strobe and disco ball,
God of the pipe organ and the 303 bass machine,
God of Latin chant and Latin rhythm,
God who smiles over night club dance floors, 
we remember the wide stretch of Your love.
We remember how the hate of the small minded cost Jesus his life.

God, please draw close to the people of Orlando.
Please be sheltering, shimmering wings upon 
every blessed person touched by this tragedy.
Be a mighty fortress, built of Pride and courage.
Bless every person who goes out dancing tonight in defiance of hatred.
May every hip, every eyelash, every sequin burn like a star in defiance of hate.
Rev. Nancy Taylor, Old First Church Boston (adapted)

Somehow this morning I can’t help thinking about the fellow who didn’t want to get out of bed one Sunday morning.

“Come on George”, said his mother, “its time for church”.
“I don’t want to go”, said George, pulling up the covers.
Why not? Asked his mother.
“I don’t like church”, came the reply.
“What don’t you like?”
“Don’t like the hymns. I don’t like the sermons, they’re boring. And I don’t like the people; they’re not friendly. They don’t like me and I don’t like them”.
“Well George”, said the mother. “I can’t argue with you. Sometimes the hymns aren’t very good. The sermons are sometimes boring. And the people sometimes aren’t very friendly. And it’s clear – some of them don’t like you and you don’t like them. But you’re going to have to get up, get dressed and go to church anyway”.
“Oh why?”
Because you’re 40 years old, you’re their minister, they pay your salary and they expect you to be there!

This Sunday, I’d like for us to learn a bit more about what really gets us out of bed on a Sunday morning and more specifically, how you experience the sacred in your life!
Come and join us for a fun conversation!

SpringFling.5.2.16

This Sunday we are celebrating Pentecost! 

Early in the service, to honor the diversity of people from all over the world I will invite people to greet each other, speaking  in various “tongues” besides English.  Please, come and open us to new ways of saying, “Good morning!” “How are you?”

We are also celebrating what we love about our congregation… what it means to be a green congregation, an open and affirming congregation, a jubilee congregation, a congregation blessed to be located in such a beautiful setting, a love puddle, or whatever it is; we’ll invite audience members to come forward to express your gratitude during our thank offering. 

In anticipation of the power of this Sunday, I am reminded of the words of William Blake: 

 Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.Heart and flames

 Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.

 Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.

 Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved.

 Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.

May we all be kindled in the fire of God’s love!

Blessings and see you this Sunday! With love, Pastor Laurie

Learn How Your Generosity Has Impacted Skyline This Year

Click here to see the 2015 narrative of accomplishments and activities.

4-17-16 Earth Circle in courtyard

Why pledge?

A Pledge is a spiritual commitment to giving of our time, talent and treasure, and it is based on our belief that we give because we receive. Pledging gives us a chance to assess our priorities in a planned and thoughtful way, and allows us to align our giving with our values.

A Pledge is a voluntary statement of your annual financial commitment upon which our church bases its expenditures, makes its plans and builds programs around our three fundamental priorities: (1) voice for progressive Christianity, (2) dedication to social justice and outreach and (3) deepening understanding and growing beloved community.

How much should I pledge?

Giving is a spiritual practice. The first step is to ask God in prayer: How much am I being called to give? How am I being asked to respond to spirit’s call in my life? Many pledgers begin with an estimated percentage of their incomes, which seems significant and responsible for the year, and later embark upon the spiritual discipline of gradually increasing that percentage over time.

How do I pledge?

In order to accept your pledge at  Skyline, we need to obtain or create a record of the pledge. There are a number of ways that you can do this:

Online:  Fill out a survey.

By Hand: Fill out a printed form of the survey – pick it up at church or download, print, and fill out Stewardship Survey 2016.

Stewardship Sunday is May 22nd. Please give generously.

2-16-16 coal - ministers in front of city hallSkyline takes an active role in environmental issues affecting our local and global communities.

Our Green Team and Pastor Laurie are currently involved with “No Coal in Oakland” to keep this fossil fuel in the ground.

Here’s an excerpt from the website: “No Coal in Oakland is  grassroot organization campaigning to stop the threat of coal being transported by rail into Oakland for export overseas.  Despite the City Council, the Mayor, and numerous other politicians saying they don’t want coal passing through Oakland, the proposal to build a massive coal terminal south of the Bay Bridge on the Oakland waterfront remains on the table.”

Please go to the website to take action – donate or contact representatives by sending an email and / or calling.  Thank you!

This Sunday, in the spirit of living the Resurrection, we are pleased to have with us the Rev. Sandhya Jha.  She serves as founder and director of the Oakland Peace Center, a collective of 40 organizations creating access, equity and dignity for all in Oakland and the Bay Area, and as Director of Interfaith Programs for East Bay Housing Organizations, where she organizes faith communities to advocate for housing as a human right and spiritual mandate throughout California’s Bay Area.  She has a Master of Public Policy,  Master of Divinity, and Bachelor of Arts.

Join us as we come together to learn more about how we can ensure affordable housing, peace and justice here in Oakland. 

hands_pic

We are many but You O God, are One; your multi-faceted unity makes our unity possible.

WE CALL TO YOU BY MANY NAMES: Jesus, Allah, Elohim, Great Creator, Father, Mother, Breath of Life;

WE CALL OUT FOR TRUE JUSTICE, invoking the memory of the powerful prophets and teachers in whose broad footsteps we walk, knowing that we can only truly keep our balance when traveling together.

WE STAND TOGETHER in the belief that every human being has the right to a safe, healthy and truly affordable place to live, a personal sanctuary, a place they can call home without fear of displacement. 

IT IS OUR SACRED INTENTION to witness one another lovingly; to notice the collective enlightenment evidenced by hearing one another’s stories; to experience the power of sharing our experiences in the public realm. 

IT IS OUR SACRED TASK to use the knowledge we gain wisely; and to apply our shared wisdom through skillful action, both collectively and as individuals. 

WE PRAY TOGETHER:

  • That the homelessness that plagues far too many of our sisters and brothers come to an end – in Oakland, in Alameda County, in the Bay Area, in California and throughout the world; 
  • That powerful people whose hearts have been hardened by the demands of their office or scarred by their own need for healing will have their hearts softened to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable; 
  • That we feel the movement in our own hearts;
  • That courage, compassion and unwavering faith prevail when we feel most vulnerable;
  • That we are able to spread good in the world;
  • That the seniors at St. Mary’s shelter find housing; 
  • That ministers and faith leaders understand their own role in being good stewards over their property;
  • May these prayers and those still in our hearts be heard. 
  • May every person have a place to call home.
  • May our longing for justice be fulfilled.

AMEN.

Skyline Community Church is an active member of the Jubilee USA Network.  From their website, “Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 550 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee is building an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief for the world’s poorest people.”

This week (first week of April, 2016), Congress released a draft bill that included both strong and troubling provisions. We have two weeks to shape this bill before it is formally introduced and the most important thing we can do now is ensure that the bill reduces child poverty in Puerto Rico.  Please read on to learn more, and sign the petition on or before April 14.  Thank you!

Please invite your friends and family on social media to join you.  Thank you!

Letter from Jubilee USA:

Dear Friend,

I wanted to update you on Congressional action on Puerto Rico. This week, Congress released a draft bill that included both strong and troubling provisions. We have two weeks to shape this bill before it is formally introduced and the most important thing we can do now is ensure that the bill reduces child poverty in Puerto Rico.

Sign our petition today calling on Congress to include clear language in its bill to reduce child poverty, prevent austerity and respect local democracy in Puerto Rico. Your support is critical as we are in continuous meetings and negotiations with members of Congress over the next fifteen days.

A new report released just this week by Child Trends highlights the struggles Puerto Rico’s children face. The island’s only children’s hospital cut its budget by 14% over a two year period and doesn’t even have an MRI machine. Over half of the children living in Puerto Rico are in households where no parent holds a steady job.

This is not just a debate about economic policy. This is a question of how well we protect some of the most vulnerable kids in the United States.

Act today. Please sign our petition and spread the word on social media and in your networks and tell Congress that Puerto Rico’s children need our support.

I am so thankful for your partnership. I will keep you updated as the situation develops.

Gratefully,

Andrew Hanauer
Campaigns Director
Jubilee USA Network
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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Skyline UCC
A United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-8212

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