Oakland church

Archive for Worship

How Does the Holy Show Up in Our Lives?

How you know when God is present? When the danger has been avoided? When your heart stops pounding & you know you can breathe normally again?  When you aren’t afraid anymore? It’s an appealing idea, but unfortunately the Bible will not back it up. In that richly disturbing book, much of God’s best work takes place in total chaos, with people terrified!

This Sunday we wrestle with our faith and our understanding of how the Holy shows up in our lives. Join us as we  dive into the timeless and universal story of Jacob, who, fearing for his life, and wrestling with an angel in the darkness, gains his new life. It is a story that has captured the imaginations of artists from the great painters, Marc Chagall to Rembrandt to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. May we open ourselves to the cloud of unknowing, and discover the light within the dark clouds and the painful experiences of our lives. 

Blessings upon your week!

Pastor Laurie 

The Man Watching  

By Rainer Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after 
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes 
that a storm is coming, 
and I hear the far-off fields say things 
I can’t bear without a friend, 
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on  
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
 
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,  
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!  
What fights with us is so great.  
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 
 
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,  
and the triumph itself makes us small.  
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us. 
 
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament: 
when the wrestlers’ sinews  
grew long like metal strings,  
he felt them under his fingers 
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel  
(who often simply declined the fight)  
went away proud and strengthened 
and great from that harsh hand,  
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.  
Winning does not tempt that man.  
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,  
by constantly greater beings.

                –Translated by Robert Bly