Oakland church

Annual Children’s Christmas Pageant 2017

Come and experience the wonders of the Christmas 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!

Pageant 3 kings

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

Sunday, December 24 at 10 AM for just about an hour.  Childcare provided, and enjoy a light lunch afterwards.

  Contact  Sheryl Johnson, cyf.skyline@gmail.com.

Greening of the Sanctuary

Sunday, December 3 after the service.  

Come one and all -families, children, grown-ups are welcome to be part of the fun and festivities! Come to church in clothes that you can help in!  We’ll have a beautiful tree to decorate thanks to Dorothy, and holiday cheer to spread around the sanctuary.   If you have evergreens in your yard and can spare some branches, please bring them!  Contact Pastor Laurie with ideas, suggestions!   

Uncovering: Season of Advent

It’s getting awfully cold and dark, isn’t it? For some of us, cold and dark bring forth the deep grief of sickness, of loneliness, of endings, or of death. Why, then, is this the season where we begin the new liturgical year? Because we need the hope of new beginnings, especially now. 

Whatever losses and hardships we have endured personally this year, in addition to these,  2017 has been quite a year!… Inaugurations, investigations, mass protests and counter-protests. Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.  Muslim travel bans, transgender rights rollbacks, open assault on the poorest and sickest people in America through cruel legislation. Two of the largest mass shootings our country has ever seen.  White supremacists openly on parade, with torches, and without masks. Nuclear holocaust nightmares, redux.

Yet, It’s also been the year of: the largest single-day protest (the Women’s March on Jan 20). The annulment of much of that cruel legislation by an engaged electorate.  The takedown of wealthy and powerful sexual predators, and the unmasking of sexual harassment and assault nationwide by women on the political left and the right. White people awakening to their privilege and showing up in greater numbers to protest white supremacy.  And, soon, the seating of newly elected trans folks, women, and people of color in political office throughout the land.

This is the season of Advent… not just about the coming of baby Jesus in the manger, but the season of Apocalypse.  Which means, not only the second coming of of the adult Jesus (look busy!) in judgment, but also, uncovering.  It brings to mind the uncovering of the snow in the deep of winter, that with the sun’s love, in the spring, becomes the rose blossoming into the fullness of life. May it be so, in our lives, individually, and collectively. 

I leave you with the hopeful words from Bette Midler’s beloved song, the Rose, https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bettemidler/therose.html

Interfaith Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence on the 5th Anniversary of Newtown

Saturday, December 9, 4-5 PM  Skyline Church, 12540 Skyline Blvd, Oakland CA

Skyline will host an Interfaith Vigil  in remembrance of all those killed and injured in all of the mass shootings in this country on the 5th anniversary since the Newtown,  Connecticut shootings.  It is on Saturday, Dec 9th at 4 pm. This is a service of candlelight, labyrinth walking, music, prayers, community, sharing and healing with love.

Our interfaith vigil is aligned with UCC’s national vigil and with Newtown Foundation’s 5th Annual National Vigil since the Newtown shootings. It is also an official ICAC (Interfaith Council of Alameda County) event. 

When gun violence and hate crimes destroy innocent lives, when homophobia, racism, and islamophobia plague our world, we are reminded to come together, to grieve, and to re-dedicate ourselves to love, inclusivity, non-violence and peace.

Skyline Community Church invites you to gather in a vigil to end gun violence and to honor the lives that have been sacrificed, to mourn and share our grief, and to stand together in solace, solidarity, and strength.

 

Pastor Laurie

(Interfaith Council of Alameda County) event.

 

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.

“Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.”

We may be tempted to think of this Wendell Berry poem as only for old people. But, I believe, that would be a mistake.
The poem is not first and foremost about aging and dying. It’s about generosity, one of the most life-giving of all virtues.
No Going Back     (The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)
 
No, no, there is no going back.

Less and less you are

that possibility you were.

More and more you have become

those lives and deaths

that have belonged to you.

You have become a sort of grave

containing much that was

and is no more in time, beloved

then, now, and always.

And you have become a sort of tree

standing over a grave.

Now more than ever you can be

generous toward each day

that comes, young, to disappear

forever, and yet remain

unaging in the mind.

Every day you have less reason

not to give yourself away.
Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I rarely  think of money or “things.” Often, I think of how they gave me their presence, their assurance, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give.


And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from gratitude. When I consider my gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given, I wonder “How can I keep these gifts alive?” What I’ve discovered is, “Become a giver yourself, pass your gifts along, and do it extravagantly!”  As Wendell Berry says, “Every day you have less reason/not to give yourself away.”
 
Join us, this Sunday, as we prepare ourselves for the season of Thanksgiving, 
 
peace, Pastor Laurie 

Climate Leadership and No-Coal-in-Oakland Presentation

After Service this Sunday, Nov 12, 11:30-12:30

Pastor Laurie will do a short slide presentation of what she learned at the Climate Reality Leadership Training last month with Al Gore.  Lora Jo Foo will give an update on the No-Coal-in-Oakland issues, especially about their campaign to get the coal interests to dismiss their lawsuit against Oakland. 

Ms. Foo is a retired labor organizer and attorney, nature photographer, author, and climate justice activist.  She devoted seven years to organizing workers in the garment and hotel industries, and litigated for 15 years representing unions and individual workers in sweatshop industries. Because the impact of climate change is greatest on people of color and low-income families, she has devoted the next decade to keeping our earth habitable for our children and their children.  She has worked towards bringing community choice energy for the East Bay, led a ballot measure campaign that successfully banned fracking in San Benito County, and in 2016 helped lead the successful campaign in her hometown of Oakland that stopped the building of what would have been the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast.

Wildfires – How Can I Help

From NCNCC Newsletter:  Please hold in your prayers all the churches, and wider communities impacted by the wildfires. Members, ministers, and many more have lost homes or have been evacuated.

Monetary donations can be sent, or collected and mailed to the Conference Offices designated, “Wildfire Relief”, to go directly to the impacted churches and communities.

The following congregations serving as resources for communities have requested help with monetary donations, VISA, Grocery, and general gift cards be sent by mail or brought to their address:

First Congregational Church of Santa Rosa UCC  
2000 Humboldt St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Wellspring UCC
1255 Fulton Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95401  
 
Geyserville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
21300 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441 
 
First Congregational Church of Sonoma UCC  
 252 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476 

Community Church of Sebastopol UCC  
1000 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Guns, Action, Vigil

Last Sunday while we were in worship, another horrible and senseless mass shooting was happening.  

It angers me that people are feeling vulnerable and scared about coming to their sacred space, their spiritual oasis, their refuge from the world.

It angers me that preschool parents worry about the safety of their children, because of our maniacal gun culture.

It angers me that so little has changed since the Las Vegas massacre, and since the Newtown massacre almost five years ago. 

The reason that we have such high rates of gun violence and so many mass shootings in this country is simple. We have too many guns. Please read this informative article from the NY Times

As Christians we are called to pray after the tragic shooting in Texas, but our prayers should also be accompanied by deep introspection about whether and how we are complicit in the evils we deplore.

In a statement, Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group representing more than 70 Episcopal bishops, stated,  

In the wake of the heartbreaking shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we find ourselves both calling people to prayer, and wishing that the word did not come so readily to the lips of elected leaders who are quick to speak, but take no action on behalf of public safety,” the bishops said. “Each of us has a role to play in our repentance. Elected representatives bear the responsibility of passing legislation that protects our citizenry. If our representatives are not up to this responsibility, we must replace them. In the meantime, however, we ask that in honor of our many murdered dead, elected leaders who behave as though successive episode of mass slaughter are simply the price our nation pays for freedom stop the reflexive and corrosive repetition of the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

“One does not offer prayers in lieu of demonstrating political courage, but rather in preparation.”

In response,  Skyline will host an Interfaith Vigil  in remembrance of all those killed and injured in all of the mass shootings in this country on the 5th anniversary since the Newtown,  Connecticut shootings.  It is on Saturday, Dec 9th at 4 pm. We will sing, pray, light candles, and walk the labyrinth, aligned with UCC’s national vigil.  It is an official ICAN (Interfaith Council of Alameda County) event. 

We must take care of our emotional and spiritual health after a tragedy like this, but we cannot be complacent and believe we are powerless to end gun violence. Therefore, in addition, we offer these resources and invite you to join us in advocating for sensible gun reform:

Stop Handgun Violence

the Brady Campaign

the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence,

the film, Making a Killing

UCC on Gun Violence

As members of the UCC, we are committed to the ethical principles affirming that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we must work together for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all. We will pray for all those impacted by gun violence, and we will work to be peacemakers locally and nationally.

Reflections from Laurie’s Father on Death

Greetings from Rhode Island,  the ocean state where I grew up.
 
I am gathered with extended family and friends, to gain strength, following my father’s funeral mass.

I wanted to share with you two reflections selected by my father that were shared during the reception.  Both reflections offer words of comfort to those who are dying, to their caregivers, and to all who love them.

Blessings and love, and see you on Sunday,
Pastor Laurie

Death is Nothing at All by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, 
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ. 

Beattitudes for Caregivers

Blessed are those who care and who are not afraid to show it — they will let people know they are loved.

Blessed are those who are gentle and patient — they will help people to grow as the sun helps the buds to open and blossom.

Blessed are those who have the ability to listen — they will lighten many a burden.

Blessed are those who know how and when to let go — they will have the joy of seeing people find themselves.

Blessed are those who, when nothing can be done or said, do not walk away, but remain to provide a comforting and supportive presence — they will help the sufferer to bear the unbearable.

Blessed are those who recognize their own need to receive, and who receive with graciousness — they will be able to give all the better.

Blessed are those who give without hope of return — they will give people an experience of God. Amen