Oakland church

Archive for Holiday

Now Is the Season of Lights!

Lights are kindled in the long dark of the winter night, the same fires our forbearers lit in hope and faith that, in time, the sun would return to warm the earth.

Now is the season of lights—Diwali, Chanukah, Tazaungdaing, St. Lucia’s Day, Loi Krathong, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Yule, and Christmas. Every Sunday morning in worship we begin by lighting candles, symbols of our hope and our faith.  In this season of waiting we light more candles to remind us that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Across cultures fire signals divine power and knowledge, witness, sacrifice, purification & illumination,  courage, curiosity, and the quest for justice.

I encourage you this week, as we prepare a space within our hearts for the light of Christmas,  to take a quiet moment to simply behold

  • Behold the beauty of candlelight
  • Behold the wonder of the stars in the heavens at night
  • Behold the preciousness of love

Blessings and peace be with you,

Pastor Laurie

Advent-2nd Sunday: Isaiah “…the glory of the Lord shall be revealed”

This week our Advent themes continue, echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”.

On Saturday, December 9th from 4-5 pm, we remember all those killed and injured in mass shootings in this country in the 5 years since the Newtown, Connecticut school tragedy.  

On Sunday, Dec 10th, following worship Mirtha Ninayahuar will present highlights from her trip to the Arizona/Mexico border. She will share with us about the growing humanitarian crisis happening at our southern border.  More information is included below! 

Childcare is provided for both events, and all are welcome!

Blessings in this season of finding our way through the wilderness, to be reunited in love. 

Thanksgiving Gratitudes

“I am thankful for many things. 
 I am thankful for the earth, because without it we’d be floating in outer space. 
 I am thankful for mom and dad and my sisters and brothers because they help me. 
 I am grateful for nature because if we didn’t have nature it wouldn’t be pretty.
 I am thankful for all of these things.”
That’s what one of our preschoolers wrote several years ago in response to an assignment. 
 
 On Thanksgiving Day this year, I’m grateful for simple gifts:
  • For the ground on which I stand — whether it’s the rich green earth, or the kind in which my soul can take root.
  • For the people who’ve supported me — from those who know me well and love me anyway, to strangers who’ve offered help in time of need.
  • For the beauty of the earth, which really does make things pretty — a beauty to which I often turn for comfort, healing, inspiration, and peace.
Thankfulness is a gift,  to be shared. So on Thanksgiving Day this year — in a world where so many have been deprived of so much — I’ll give thanks by finding more ways to share the abundance I’ve been given.
 
I’d like to share with you this beautiful poem about gratitude for the work of loving the world. Hear these beautiful words from Mary Oliver, in her poem  entitled “Messenger”. 
Messenger

by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
          equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
          keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
          astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
          and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
          to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
          that we live forever.

Jesus: the “New Moses” and the Suffering Servant

The Jewish Passover and the Christian celebration of Holy Week that evolved from it, begin this week.   During this sacred time let us remember Jesus, whom Matthew saw as the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets – the new Moses, the Prince of Peace, and yes, the suffering servant. 

This week, we remember a man.  A man…
who had dreams,
who had those dreams shattered,
who needed time to think and pray,
who knew he was likely to die for what he believed…

A man of extraordinary religious insight.  A man who did die – a cruel death.

This week,  we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis. 

This week, may we also remember that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability are still a part of our everyday lives.

This week then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering, or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature…

This week we remember, as we journey through death into new life.

See you on Easter Sunday! Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Easter Sunday at Skyline April 16

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ Invites Oakland Community to Attend Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 16, 6:30 AM:

Rise and shine to the uplifting music of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! Experience sunrise from our Sanctuary which rests on the summit of the Oakland hills and has windows spanning 30 feet high! As you look out on a stunningly beautiful view listen to inspiring preaching, heavenly music and feel welcomed into the warmth of a loving progressive and inclusive faith community.

Rev. Laurie says, “The music in this service sings out about a God of love, of freedom, of liberation… and that the world is more wonderful with the great diversity of all of humanity. This is good news!”

Easter Sunday Traditional Service: April 16, 10 AM:

Skyline’s sanctuary windows overlook Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo Here we have a traditional Easter Service as a loving progressive and inclusive faith community. Rev. Laurie Manning , the choir and orchestra (directed by Puja Soto) and the people fill the sanctuary with joy, celebration and love. Today’s service will have drama, singing, prayer, and a special honor garden for loved ones. And to top it off, an Easter Egg Hunt (following service) for children of all ages: 11:30 AM.

Easter Egg Hunt: April 16, 11:30 AM:

Skyline’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt is happening RAIN or SHINE. We welcome our neighborhood families and all who would love to come to join us! Stay for refreshments and conversation following the hunt. We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

Skyline Church UCC is a community faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the worth of all beings, regardless of ability, age, ancestry, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual path, cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. We invite all who wish to enter our Sanctuary and the full life of our church family. Ours is a God of justice and compassion, and our church lives in covenant with God to do its utmost to pursue justice and compassion, as an Open and Affirming congregation.

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

Email Skyline Office

Jesus Wept

We continue our journey through the season of Lent in the Gospel of John.

This Sunday’s gospel includes the phrase,  “When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept. – John 11:32-35

The above passage from John contains the shortest verse in the Bible, a sentence consisting of just two words: “Jesus wept.”  He wept for all the reasons mourners weep—because he had lost his friend Lazarus, because he felt helpless, because this is a stinging encounter with the fragility of life.

Some biblical commentators express puzzlement that Jesus would weep over the death of Lazarus when he is about to restore his friend to life.  But death is painful even when we know that eventually it will be swallowed up in victory.  Grief is baptized with tears even as it enters into the promise of new life.

The shortest of sentences—”Jesus wept”—is an arresting reminder of a very big truth:  Jesus was human.  He joins us in our grief so that we join him in his victory.

May we, in this season find ourselves walking ever more closely in the journey with Jesus. 

Reminder – Congregational meeting this Sunday, April 2nd, after worship.

For our Passion and Easter Services – see the announcements below.

Blessings upon your week,

Pastor Laurie

Ash Wednesday Taize Service

Threshold of a New Year

As a new year begins, we turn inward to reflect about the state of our lives:

  • What lessons have we learned in the past year and which new ones now call us forward?
  • To whom do we still owe an apology or expression of thanks?
  • And with whom must we draw fresh boundaries?

As we pause from our regular rhythms of rush-rush-rush, we open ourselves to new perspectives and possibilities. We give thanks for these moments and for the wisdom they afford us. May they help bring us together in the sacred dynamics of life so that we—as individuals and as members of this community—might reach our full potential.

As we step across this threshold, let this new year be a year of greater awe and gratitude, deeper kindness and acceptance, and more courageous acts of conviction.

For a kinder, more equitable and sustainable world is not only possible, she is on her way. And in the quietness of this sacred community, we can even hear her breathing.

Amen.

Season of LIghts

Now is the season of lights!

Lights are kindled in the long dark of the winter night, the same fires our forbearers lit in hope and faith that, in time, the sun would return to warm the earth.

Now is the season of lights—Diwali, Chanukah, Tazaungdaing, St. Lucia’s Day, Loi Krathong, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas. Every Sunday morning in worship we begin by lighting candles, symbols of our hope and our faith.  In this season of waiting we light more candles to remind us that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Across cultures fire signals divine power and knowledge, witness, sacrifice, purification & illumination,  courage, curiosity, and the quest for justice.

I encourage you this week, as we prepare a space within our hearts for the light of Christmas,  to take a quiet moment to simply behold

  • Behold the beauty of candlelight
  • Behold the wonder of the stars in the heavens at night
  • Behold the preciousness of love

Blessings and peace be with you, with love, Pastor Laurie

Voices at Skyline for Christmas

The next few weeks will be filled with the joyful voices of our children and our choir!

Starting this Sunday is our fabulous Annual Christmas Pageant featuring beat poetry written by our innovative David Guerra, music by our inspiring music director Benjamin Mertz, and carols sung gloriously by all of us; everyone – all ages- is invited to take part! You can wear whatever costume you want, because Baby Jesus welcomes everyone! Bring your friends, especially those with children!

Also, mark your calendars for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, where we will be lifting up more beautiful and inspiring words and music!

In addition, related to music, please check out our music director Benjamin Mertz’s new CD, “Christmas at the Crossroads”; you can listen to the tracks and order it here.

Finally, I leave you with inspiring words of hope, in these challenging times, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

The reflection is entitled, “We Were Made For These Times”

Blessings and peace in these challenging times.

Pastor Laurie