Oakland church

Archive for Sunday Worship

Pentecost, Unbounded Energy of the Spirit

This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the mysterious, life giving power and unbounded energy of the Spirit.  We welcome the wind and fire, wonder and wildness to change our lives, personally and collectively, particularly when it seems to be on the verge of apocalypse. 

Wear RED if you can in celebration of the fiery spirit.  

Id like to share with you a benediction by May Sarton;  an invitation to return to the deep source:

Unison Benediction

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak of love.

Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.

Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.

~ May Sarton ~

Put on those Crash Helmets

The scene of Jesus cleansing the temple has always been more than a little bit scary for me. I think the reason is that my “turn the other cheek” version of Jesus doesn’t allow for this kind of radical behavior. This is over-the-top and scary Jesus sort of stuff. Angry Jesus, the one who turns over tables and scatters sheep or who curses fig trees,  is an unpredictable and fearsome Lord,  one who will not be tampered with, placated, or pandered to.

This is the Lord author Annie Dillard images, saying, “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

She’s right!

Just in case you think this week’s gospel reading has nothing to do with us in 21st century western Christendom,  consider what moneychangers exist in our modern congregational edifices. Consider what  currency must be exchanged in order to “rightly” worship and enter the community today. We may not have doves, sheep, and cattle in the sanctuary, but what about the worship battles between organ and piano lovers, or competing capital improvement project plans that so many faith communities struggle with?  We are still at risk of falling into the trap of a currency exchange of faith.

What are we to do?  I believe that it’s about falling wholly in love,  being swept off our feet by the risen Christ and fully focused on following him.

Branding, innovating, reframing, and reimagining church is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is necessary to measure how we’re doing in communicating the good news and equipping God’s people, but being church is not so much about marketing and metrics as it is about faithful discipleship. You can bet your last goat or turtledove that when we do get sidetracked, the all-consuming Jesus will start turning over a few tables and discomforting the comfortable.

Be ready. Be prepared. Put on those crash helmets and expect a miracle. 

Benefit Concert to Support Oakland’s Homeless

Featuring: Cantori, a an acclaimed after-school training choir for the Grammy Award winning Pacific Boychoir Academy Troubadours –http://www.pacificboychoir.org/choir.

 

Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 10 a.m. 

At Skyline Community Church, UCC

Come to listen to these young people’s beautiful music with a soaring view of the Oakland Hills to Mt. Diablo as a backdrop. The concert is in the midst of and following a special abbreviated service. Chocolate protein bars given to singers and the first 20 children in attendance. The first 80 adults receive a novelty mini-carnation.  

Would you let a friend know about this?

Free will offering to support the homeless in Oakland, including St Vincent de Paul & St Mary’s.

Co- sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC)

If you can help by donating food or money, please contact the office (510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org)

See you there and bring a friend!

Donors:  Trader Joe’s,  Skyline Church UCC

Skyline Votes on Becoming a Sanctuary Church

Congregational Meeting to Consider Sanctuary Movement Vote

Sun, Jan 21 • 11:30 am

When an immigrant resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the immigrant. The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the immigrant as yourself, for you were an immigrant in the land of Egypt. (Jewish and Christian Tradition, Leviticus 19:33-34)

Dear Ones, 

The Church Council has called a meeting of the congregation on Sunday, Jan 21 at 11:30 am to formally establish Skyline Church, United Church of Christ as a Sanctuary Congregation.

I want to extend my deepest thanks to the leadership and dedication of Mirtha Ninayahuar, and Nancy Taylor. 

The meeting will take place in the Sanctuary immediately following the 10 am service. During the past year, the council and the congregation heard from members of the Planning Team for the Sanctuary Movement about what declaring itself as a “Sanctuary Congregation” would mean for Skyline. 
 
Evolving Definition of Sanctuary 

The Sanctuary Movement, which began in the 1980s, is experiencing a resurgence. But today it has a slightly different meaning. Originally it was a movement of churches and political activists to shelter Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict and trying to avoid deportation. It has since expanded to “a broader range of thinking by faith communities as to how they can be helpful to communities of undocumented persons.” See this description below, which includes the 4 categories of being a sanctuary.  Here are sanctuary activities Skyline is already involved in.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/irjfoqt6ing7n9o/Revised%20final%20resolution%20July%202017%202%20after%20edits.doc?dl=0

 Some churches are part of the movement by offering resources, such as food and supplies, while others will provide education and advocacy and accompaniment, and still others, rapid response, and still others, housing for undocumented persons. Any one or more of these 4 categories constitutes being a sanctuary church. We are involved in all areas except providing physical housing. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Would we be breaking the law? “There is a law against bringing in and harboring persons not authorized to be in the U.S. (INA Sec.274). Some courts have interpreted harboring to require concealment of a person, when we declare Sanctuary for an individual we are bringing them into the light of the community, not concealing them in the dark of secrecy (U.S. V Costello, 66 F.3d 1040, 7th Cir. 2012). Other courts have interpreted harboring to be simple sheltering (U.S. V Acosta de Evans, 531 F.2d 428 (9th Cir. 1976)… To date no one has ever been arrested for offering Sanctuary.” – From the New Sanctuary Toolkit 
  2. What prevents ICE from entering a church to execute a deportation order? There is nothing that categorically prevents ICE from entering a church, however there is an existing Memo (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/10029.2-policy.pdf) that advises officers and agents to avoid “sensitive locations” including schools, hospitals, churches, and the site of a public demonstration. 
  3. Why not just keep on doing service, why bother voting?   Voting offers political strength to the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, as well as to the state of California that have voted to become sanctuary. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-sanctuary-state_us_59ce7423e4b05f005d341453  Voting represents another form of spiritual courage and resistance to laws which punish hardworking civic minded people who are contributing to our cities and states. 
  4. Who are the members of the Sanctuary Movement Planning Team?
    Contact Mirtha Ninayahuar, Nancy Taylor, Rev Laurie Manning 
  5. What other faith congregations in the Bay area are sanctuary?  http://www.im4humanintegrity.org/sanctuary-map-northern-california/
  6. Other Resources?
    1. Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
    2. United Church of Christ Resources on Sanctuary
    3. National Sanctuary website and toolkit

 We look forward to your attendance at this important milestone in Skyline’s history on January 21 at 11:15 AM

Thank you,

Pastor Laurie

 

 

MLK Sunday – a Drum Major for Justice

50 yrs ago the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church before his assassination. It is a remarkable sermon. In it, he discusses his own death and how he wanted to be remembered. In addition, he skillfully used the “Drum Major Instinct” theme – “thinking that you are somebody big because you are white” – to offer a deep critique of contemporary culture and an inspired, practical vision for living the Gospel. Specifically, he critiqued the dangerous down-side of the drum major instinct. He addresses white supremacy, racism, economic injustice and war.

Like so many of his sermons, this one has incredible relevance for us today, the year after an election in which various forms of the drum major instinct are on parade all across our nation.  It is also what makes the message King brings home so poignant: the call of the Gospel to be a drum major for justice and peace, a drum major for serving humanity, that we may “make of this old world a new world.”

Join us this Sunday, as we listen to the prophetic voice of Dr King, 50 yrs later.

I share with you an excerpt from his sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church:

… And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. …And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.”

Now that’s a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can’t hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out. (Amen)

Delivered February 4, 1968.  listen to the audio.

Coming Out Sunday

This Sunday, Oct 15, we celebrate “Coming Out Day”, which is really an invitation to all of us to let our own uniquely brilliant light shine.  And, in doing so, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. Please join us this Sunday as guest preacher, Nichola Torbett, shares her reflections on this theme. I will be away on the east coast visiting family, and then attending the Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership conference. I am with you in Spirit!

     With love, Pastor Laurie

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

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

Children’s Christmas Pageant 2016

starCome and experience the wonders of the ChristmasPageant 3 kings story!

Join us for a child/family friendly worship service of carols where everyone is invited to take place in the Christmas pageant!

Wear your favorite costume.  Be a shepherd, sheep, king, queen,angel, fireman, donkey!

Join us for fun, music and celebration!  Be part of the drama!  Friends, family, all are invited!

Christmas Pageant: Sunday, Dec. 18at 10 AM!  

(Contact Laurie for practice schedule – office@skylineucc.org or 510-531-8212).

Invite everyone you know with children or grandchildren!   We’ll see you there!

Celebrating Halloween!

costumeOctober 30th is a busy Sunday!  It’s the day before Halloween! A chance for you to have a dress rehearsal for your Halloween costume! In the spirit of All Saints and All Soul’s day, we encourage you to think about heroes that you admire, and want to embody!

Everyone, especially children, are invited to wear their Halloween costumes!! After the service,the children will have a Halloween costume procession with music like “Because I’m Happy”! 

Following the procession, we are happy to be celebrating with a BOUNCE HOUSE (rather than a haunted house!) for children. We will also provide other fun games for all ages! We encourage you to bring your friends and your favorite Halloween games for our celebration…Here are some ideas: 

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/g2618/halloween-games/?slide=1halloween-dance-at-church

Finally, parents with teens too old for trick or treating but love giving out candy to children on Halloween- I literally get hundreds of children at my home. You’re invited to come and join me between 6-8 pm to hand out candy to children! Contact me or the office for my address in San Leandro.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Inclusivity: Coming Out, Indigenous People’s Day, Rosh Hashanah

This Sunday we are celebrating “Coming Out Sunday” and Indigenous people’s weekend.  As part of the service two of our friends, David Guerra and David Styers, will share stories about their experience of coming out and the liberating power of love and the support of their faith communities in supporting them on the journey.

Mark your calendars for Sunday Oct 16th which is not only the first Sunday with our new CYF director, Elijah Carroll (see story below) but it is also a time when we will hear the results of the 2016 Capital Improvement feasibility plan, immediately after worship.  Lunch and childcare provided. (See article below from our moderator, Dave Byrens and our treasurer, Chris Rutter).

  Drawing from our origins from Judaism, I leave you with a prayer from Rosh Hashanah,

Sh’ma Yisra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One 

In an undertone:

Barukh sheim k’vod malkhuto l’olam va’ed.
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.