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May Our Souls Magnify God’s Love

Those of us who take the Bible seriously but not necessarily literally may wonder what Mary really said when the angel told her that she was about to become an unwed teenage mother.

This could not possibly have been good news for Mary, a poor peasant girl among an illiterate people who never heard of a thing called “virgin birth.”

“I’m what? Pregnant?”

“And you want me to tell people what?”

“You know that in the eyes of all my neighbors, he will always be regarded as a . . . you know what they will call my baby.”

And yet the truth of this text is profoundly present in Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, whose birth will so change the world that the years on earth will be measured as being before and after Jesus’ birth. And Mary’s prophecy in this text is still coming true. People of the light still believe and work for it to this day.

It is Mary who utters these radical words, who says this about God:
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Who says that God sides with the poor?

And we will still work for justice as God’s partners, until the poorest and most vulnerable on the earth realize God’s mercy as present “for those who fear God from generation to generation.” God’s strength has and will continue to bring down powerful despots on thrones; God will continue lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry on the earth, filling them with good things.

No matter what actually happened, I know this text is true.

God is still magnifying the souls of those who say, yes.

May our souls magnify this love.

Amen, Pastor Laurie

Enjoy these video replays from the Magnificat service and the Longest Night Vespers! (Passcode: 3Q+54v9P)  Simply click on the title to watch the video. “My Soul Magnifies the Light” starts at about 44 minutes into the Magnificat.

     
Magnificat    (video)              Longest Night Vespers  
 Passcode: 3Q+54v9P

Special thanks to our musicians: Ken Medema, Gabrielle Lochard, the choir ensemble. 

Join us for this Thursday evening’s Christmas Eve service!! Learn more at this link: https://skylineucc.org/christmas-eve/

With Love, Pastor Laurie

(421-2646)  revlauriemanning@aol.com

Image: “Magnificat,” by Thomas Mainardi (2018)

Christmas Eve – Virtual Gathering

 

Join us on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec 24 at 6PM, for a traditional lesson and carols service, featuring music by the talented Gabrielle Lochard, Ken Medema, and our Skyline choir ensemble.   Led by Pastor Laurie.

Zoom Link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Longest Night Vespers on the Solstice

Longest Night Vespers on the Solstice
Dec 21 7PM

Continuing our recent series of interfaith vespers services, join us for an evening of music, readings, and contemplation. If you are lonely, grieving, depressed and/or just want to give full attention to the shadow side of the season, join us.  We will meditate on the moment and center down on the longest night of the year. We will remember that God created light and dark, day and night, and said both were good. 

   

An evening of meditative songs & prayers.
In this present moment, on the eve of the Longest Night, rest in a time of slow, beautiful calm, and touch the center.

An hour of interfaith readings, prayers, music, and silence.

Featuring music by the talented Gabrielle Lochard and Ken Medema, with reflections from Pastor Laurie

   
 

Magnificat Sunday

Magnificat Sunday, Dec 20 10AM

Join us for Sunday worship on the 4th Sunday in Advent – Magnificat Sunday – Love, Magnifying the Light into the World as we explore Mary’s ecstatic and mystical expression of the divine, featuring a premier of “My Soul Magnifies the Light” by composer and vocalist Sarah Grace Graves. In this new setting of the Magnificat, commissioned and written for Skyline’s virtual choir, Sarah offers an interpretation of these words woven in meditative sonorities and ecstatic, expressive improvisations for the voice.

She writes, “I love the Magnificat. Mary’s words are so charged with feeling and energy. […] Mary’s song resonates with me at the time of my writing this because the world is, like it was then, completely upside down, and I don’t know what will happen. I can accept not knowing. […] But in moments like these, I want to hope, and the hope and awe of her words inspire me to face the future with courage and grace.”

Featuring music by the talented Gabrielle Lochard, Ken Medema, our Skyline choir ensemble, and our sermon from Pastor Laurie.

Zoom Link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Virtual Christmas Party

Join us this Sunday, December 13, for our Virtual Christmas Party!

Sunday Service 10AM – 3rd Sunday in Advent – Joy, Young at Heart
Zechariah (Luke 1:5-25) 

Jane Medema guest preacher in worship

*Stay tuned – At 11:30AM after worship for our Virtual Christmas Party
with lunch, lessons, and carols. Bring your lunch, download the Carol Sing hymnal, and let’s join in singing. Feel free to share your own celebration ideas with Pastor Laurie & David Guerra! So far we have – the 12 days of Christmas, your earliest Christmas memories, your own experiences of being young at heart, brainstorming together about the good news about virtual Christmas parties!

Zoom Link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Gifts For The Children

ANNOUNCEMENT:
December Gift Giving!
Gifts for the Unhoused Children of East Oakland Community Project

Once again, Skyline Church and Preschool have an opportunity for gift-giving to the homeless children of the East Oakland Community Project.

In 2019, Alameda County reported the biggest increase of 43% since its last tally in 2017, with a total of 8,022 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people counted during a single day.  Deaths in Alameda County’s unhoused communities increased 40% during the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period the previous year. 

We are grateful for our planned generosity to EOCP.

This year, because of COVID, we will be signing up to give gift cards rather than wrapped presents. The Church is taking 27 names and the Preschool is taking 26 names of the total 53 children in the EOCP programs.

Because we don’t have the list of children’s names yet, we ask that you sign up anyhow – with a name to be assigned later.

We’re recommending that you purchase a gift card with a value of $30 from either Target or Walmart, and place the card inside an envelope with a Christmas card, with the child’s name on the outside of the envelope (if we get names by 12/15), signed with your name(s) on the inside.  Please do not seal the envelope.  We haven’t received a date to deliver the cards yet; but please plan on dropping these off at the Preschool, no later than December 15.  A box will be provided at the bottom of the stairs during school hours for this purpose. As an alternative, feel free to drop at Nancy Taylor’s: 4207 Knoll Ave., Oakland 94619.  Finally, if you are unable to go out and purchase a gift card, you may write a check made out to Skyline Church with “EOCP” in the note field, mail it to the church.  Nancy T will use the funds to purchase gift cards and Christmas cards and sign for you.

To sign up, please email Nancy Montier 510-531-8212  office@skylineucc.org

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Advent Reading Party: Moving Towards the Light

Monday, Nov. 16, 7PM by Zoom

What a joy it will be to receive the timeless gift of Christmas in this strange and troubling year.  With so many distractions, we are going to need to give careful attention to the things that matter; that nourish and restore our hearts and minds.

You are invited to a heart-warming Skyline online party.  No sermons, no lessons, no liturgy, no music. Just reading aloud to one another and chatting about the beautiful words of Old and New Testaments that have graced every Advent  and Christmas season….just because they are dear to us, and we love the sound of them. 

Bring a cup of tea and a Bible, and a heart ready to hear once again.

 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Oct 12: Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day

Monday, Oct 12, 2020, the holiday has traditionally been called “Columbus Day”.  Join us on Sunday, the 11th, as we honor the Indigenous people who were here long before us. 

As a child, I learned a pledge of allegiance that carried far more than loyalty to “one nation, under God.” I learned allegiance to the assumption that this nation was founded by my European forebears just a few centuries ago. I learned that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred nine-two.” I learned to draw  the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. I learned and memorized the “really important dates”—1492, 1620, 1776, 1789.  I didn’t bother asking or wondering or doubting, because I really didn’t have to.

Once a system of beliefs begins to crack, once what is held to be historic gospel begins to erode, once any of us becomes privy to another story, another history, another reality, we cling to the familiar only out of a need to be reassured, only out of a penchant to take our cues from loved and respected teachers and preachers and parents and grandparents and touted authorities on this and that because climbing into a boat guaranteed to rock is just way too scary.

“Every year as October 12 approaches, there is a certain sense of dread that can be felt in indigenous communities in the Americas,” writes Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a historian, writer, and co-founder of the Indigenous World Association, which lobbies the United Nations on behalf of indigenous peoples’ rights. She continues:

“That it is a federal holiday in the United States is regarded as hideous, a celebration of genocide and colonization. However, beginning thirty years ago, indigenous peoples formed an international movement, demanding…that October 12 be commemorated as an international day of mourning for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Informally, the day has been appropriated as Indigenous Peoples Day. This year feels different in indigenous communities as they celebrate the great victory of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly…”

We are part of this international day of mourning, we are part of this movement. Our NCNC UCC conference is considering a resolution of Amendments, which I encourage you to read HERE.  

Those of us whose ancestry is from other shores are newcomers. No matter that our ancestors go back to the 1600s; we’re newcomers. We’ve barely arrived here,  already we’ve forgotten why we set sail? Was it an escape from religious oppression? Was it a flight from famine? Was it a quest for gold to feed a hungry queen? Was it a crusade to appease a fragile god? And our arrival?

What is it that we hold sacred? What is it that we celebrate?

In the spirit of the late Alfred Arteaga:

Five hundred and (twenty eight) years of events
took place, we cannot change that.
We cannot stand up like Las Casas
and say this must stop; we cannot
tell Tainos, on first seeing the Spanish arrive,
to run, to run, and not stop running.
What was, was.
We cannot change the number of days, nor
can we change the events that happened.
We can, though, choose to remember or forget,
to celebrate, solemnize, recognize.

May it be so. Amen.

Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary – a Virtual Celebration

Wednesday, April 22, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Skyline honors this special Earth Day with music, stories, and tree planting on the beautiful campus of Skyline church in Oakland, using Zoom to bring you there.   Skyline is a very green congregation.  

Featuring: Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more TBD. 

Access the Earth Day festivities on your computer or smart phone via Zoom here, or click this link:  

Meeting ID: 921 0997 9060
Password: 018951
One tap mobile +16699009128,,92109979060#,,#,018951# US (San Jose) 

Children’s Time Easter Sunday 11:30 AM

Come along for an adventure with David G and Pastor Laurie!   Zoom Link    Here’s what’s in store: 

  • Story Time: Have you ever had a friend who went away? Best friends Enriquita Kittycat and Edmund Caterpillar have a story to show you! Discover the meaning of friendship and reunions as we watch the tale unfold.  

  • Brain Teasers: Get ready to put on your thinking cap!

  • Art Sharing Time: Parents, print off these coloring pages for kids to color or decorate, or kids can create their own art. We will share our art at the meeting!

  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Zoom Link 

Meet Edmund and Enriquita here!