May 21, 2013

Pentecost is past and now we head to Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer. I trust the days ahead hold good things for you and those you love.

Things I am looking forward to this week:

  1. Our continued reading of Exodus on both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The two groups are not at the same chapter and verse in their reading but both are in the midst of the ten plagues; challenging reading to say the least. The plagues tell a story both rooted in history and amazingly contemporary in its analysis of power and political reality. To consider the plagues is to ask questions of the relationship of God, the powers and the people. This week we will supplement our reading by reading an essay entitled “Compassion is a Jewish Value” found in The Everyday Torah by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson. Commenting on the plague of hail Rabbi Artson writes, “Even at the very height of this divine display of power against evil, God still sought to protect the innocent and care for the animals. As the rabbis of the ancient midrash Sh’mot Rabbah commented, ‘See the extent of God’s compassion: even in a moment of anger, God has compassion on the wicked and on animals’.”
  2. On Thursday I will be a part of a delegation of PICO California that will meet with Governor Brown and discuss our shared priorities following the release of his revised budget. My particular role will be to encourage him to stay the course in regard to his proposed education budget. In that budget, via what is being called the Local Control Funding Formula. there is both an across the board increase for all public schools and a larger increase for those districts that have high concentrations of students from low income families, who are English language learners and who are in the foster care system. PICO is insistent that this formula is both just and equitable.
  3. My Friday golf outings have been preempted recently. I hope to be on the links this Friday. (I actually hope to be on the fairways and greens but it is best not to have unreasonable expectations.)
  4. In worship on Sunday we will read from Romans 5: 1-5.  The text includes this teaching, “Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and hope does not disappoint us.” The sermon I am planning is titled “The Great Progression.” While I am still working out all that I will say I will note that the New Testament contains the Great Commandment (Love God and Neighbor), the Great Commission (Go and Make Disciples) and today’s text, the Great Progression. We do well to embrace all three.
  5. Sunday’s Coffee Hour will be in honor of our long time member Beverly Cooper who is moving to Arizona. The debt of thanks our congregation owes to Bev and her family for their almost nine decades of loving service is not to be forgotten. If you can bring some food for the Coffee Hour please be in touch with Paige Bence.
  6. The model of the proposed artwork is now hanging in the Sanctuary. Following Coffee Hour Declan Brown will moderate a listening session in which members are invited to give feedback to the Sanctuary Art Committee. The format is not one of debate, rebuke or rebuttal. It is simply an invitation to share verbal responses. I value the these times of listening. They reflect the depth and diversity of our community. The committee also invites your written feedback to jim@labcoakland.org or to the Sanctuary Art Committee, 3534 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94610.

Prayers of the Congregation

  • Prayers for those whose bodies need strength and healing – Bette Pancoe (The Rehabilitation Center of Oakland – formerly Rounsville Convalescent Hospital, Sybil Alexander, Charlotte Evans, Doris and Ted Evans, Steve Leichter (Alta Bates Herrick), Cecil White, Joni Nomura, Angelique Bollinger, Sandra Dunn, David Broadnax,  George Lee for Sylvia, Edna Dorenzo, Virginia Damretzky, Al Johnson, Jamie Reid, Kay Baxter’s friend Abbott, Rae Rita Thompson’s father (Alta Bates), Celestine Bennett’s son Richard, Dave Gattey’s brother Phil and sister in law Linda, Jim Jefferey, Jesus Portillo for Spanky and Willie, Joe Abrams for his father, Jeanne Robinson for Linda Ng, Cynthia Nelson, Myra Saxton for a friend diagnosed with lymphoma, Peg Shaw for a friend, Patricia Butterfield for a friend, Kimberly Williams for her father, Larry and Darnell Sims for their co-worker George,  Joan Thatcher, Camille Parker for Michael Colombo, Erica Quinn for her student David, Joe Abrams for his father, Beth Rice (my sister), Bonnie Sato for Trish -her grandchilren’s caregiver, John Taylor (Summit Hospital)
  • Prayers for those who are aging and their loved ones who care for them – Sandra Dunn for her father, Theresako Harris for her aunt, Larry Hutchings for his mother, Marc Harrison for his father, Sheryl Gattey for her mother, Ruth Smith, Naomi Nutting for her mother, Karen Hopkins for her father, Connie Hector for her mother in law, Helen Roberson for her brother
  • Prayers for those who are grieving – Declan Brown on the death of his friend Lew, The Harrison family on the death of their beloved dog Roscoe, Ethan Hopkins on the death of his friend Danny
  • Prayers for our loved ones who are facing significant challenges – Kay Baxter for Stacey, Georgia Upshaw for her friend Ginny, Toni Daniels for her family, Margaret Alexander for LaShaya and family, Joan Patten for her son Peter and her sister Anne, Rowena Jackson for her son Paul, Mary Lee, Max Powers, Ann Fields for her family,  Steve Reimer for his son Greg, the Sims family, Zondra Martin for her family, Phil and Gloria Meads for Phillip Oliver
  • Prayers for our community- Our students, teachers, school employees and families, members of the police and fire departments and their families, medical care workers and their families, Tyrone Mack for Mrs. Moore, Our sister American Baptist and Alliance of Baptists congregations, the Oakland Police and Fire Departments, the courageous voice of Congresswoman Barbara Lee
  • Prayers for people we don’t know who  are facing challenges we can’t imagine- For our Kachin brothers and sister, those who are incarcerated, all who are affected by gun violence, the people of Haiti, the people of the Syria, the people of the Korean Peninsula (both South and North), the people of Bangladesh, the people of China, the people of the tornado ravaged communities of the Oklahoma and the Midwest, the family of Marc Carson – the gay man killed in a hate crime in NYC as well as the GLBT community in fear of such attacks
  • Prayers of gratitude – The work of our Sanctuary Art Committee, the work of our local OCO committee in bring tutors from Holy Names University to Oakland Technical High School, for our recent Ministers In Training, Karen Okusu and Michael Sumrall, on being honored by ABSW for their outstanding senior sermons, for the  work of PICO California, for the history of the Huttman and Cooper families at LABC, for Courtney Wusthoff and Daniel Velazquez as they are married, with Barry Breaux on Barry Jr’s graduation from medical school, with Robert Wilkins on Robert Jr’s graduation from law school, with Mariel Paul on being awarded a scholarship by the Kiwanis Club of Oakland (Jesse Lucas, President)
  • Prayers for all who will be remembered for their service and sacrifice on Memorial Day
  • Prayers for ourselves – May each of us know that we are counted among God’s beloved

Invitations

A number of Oakland congregations have covenanted together to join in a 40 day season of prayer for the youth of our community. LABC is committed to offer prayers each day between 7 and 8 p.m. from now until June 26. Please take a moment during that hour to remember our youth. If you think about it, send me an email and let me know how you are participating and what your prayer is.

Join me in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 4 for a PICO California Day of Action. More information to come. Let me know if you are interested. There will either be a bus or we can carpool.

Our post Easter pledge giving has been a bit below budget. Anything you can do towards a pre-summer catch up/boost would be greatly appreciated.