Oakland church

Archive for Ash Wednesday

 Lent 2021 Day by Day: the Journey to Love

Lent reminds us that, day by day, suffering and brokenness find us.

Day by day, we doubt again, we lament , we mess up. Day by day, the story of Jesus on the cross repeats—every time lives are taken unjustly, every time we choose corruption, greed, violence, and indifference, every time we remain silent in the face of systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia, every time we forget how to love.

We cry out, How long, O God?”

And yet, amid the chaos of our lives, God responds “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” Day by Day, God breaks the cycle and offers us a fresh way forward.

Agape Love  is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This Greek word, agápē (pronounced uh-GAH-pay), and variations of it appear often throughout the New Testament. Love invites us on the journey now. 

Even while worshiping apart, we come to God day by day, with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, and our doubts. Even if from a distance, we will continue to be community to one another—especially when it’s hard—by choosing each other day by day. We will continue to love God with the same persistence God chooses and claims us.

Our sub- theme is strengthening spiritual muscle- in body, mind, soul, and spirit – to develop and strengthen our endurance and our capacity for love. It takes practice! It takes teamwork! It takes discipline to be a disciple. Let’s do it together. For love’s sake!

Embodied practice builds muscle memory. Repetition helps retrain our neural pathways. We need the 46 days of Lent because this season shapes us into more faithful disciples. Join us this Lent as day by day, we bring all of who we are to God and trust that God will meet us, day by day, along the way.

 

February 17 – Ash Wednesday

Day by day, we’re invited in

Matthew 6:1-16, 16-21 | Isaiah 58:1-12

As Lent begins, we’re invited in—, to our own spiritual journey, to  our own transformation. We’re on this journey together, but we’re invited to turn inward. We are reminded that performative acts (of piety and justice) are not the way.

 

February 21 – 1st Sunday in Lent

Day by day, God meets us

Mark 1:9-15 | Genesis 9:8-17

God meets Jesus at the water before he is tempted in the wilderness— this is vital. Above all, God claims us. God meets us in the liminal space, at the water’s edge, at the threshold of something new, and names us Beloved. God’s covenant with all of creation reminds us that God meets us where we are—in the midst of our reluctance, doubt, eagerness, or weariness—and proclaims we are good.

 

February 28 – 2nd Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we’re called to listen

Mark 8:31-9:8¹ | Psalm 22:23-31

 Like the disciples, we are often stuck in the pattern of messing up repeatedly. We cling to power, we climb the ladder, we remember Christ’s teachings rather than embodying them. So many forces, such as shame, guilt, ignorance, pride, and  inaction can block us from seeing and hearing. It requires humility for transformation. Day by day,  loves beckons to listen—to God and to others.

 

March 7 – 3rd Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we are shown the way

 John 2:13-22  1 Corinthians 1:18-25

According to John, Jesus begins his ministry by showing more than telling. In the temple, Jesus disrupts and overturns the systems of corruption and profiteering taking place, but ultimately points us to the promise of restoration. Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) that God’s wisdom is more expansive than we can imagine. We are shown the way, even if God’s “way” feels foolish, counter-cultural, disruptive, or uncomfortable

 

March 14 – 4th Sunday in Lent

Day by day, God loves first

John 3:14-21 | Ephesians 2:1-10

After inviting Nicodemus to be born anew, Jesus tells him in John 3 that God so loved the world that God sent his son to restore it. Therefore, when we read John 3:16, we remember that Jesus is speaking in metaphor and poetry. Ultimately, love is where God begins and ends. This love, like grace, is a gift we do nothing to deserve. Day by day, love is our refrain. Before we act, think, or believe, can love be first for us too?

 

March 21 – 5th Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we are reformed

John 12:20-33 | Jeremiah 31:31-34

We desire for God to write on our hearts so that God’s law can re-shape and re-form us from the inside out. Reformation is a journey of letting the old fall away for something new to emerge, of returning to God’s words over and over, of being drawn into the heart of God. This is the process of justification and sanctification; transformation must be internal and communal.

 

March 28 – 6th  Sunday in Lent

Day by day, we draw upon courage

John 12:1-19²

On Palm Passion Sunday, we remember that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was not a risk-free, palm party. It was a protest parade—a protest against those in power, a parade to prepare the way for a different kind of king. And this was all happening with plots to kill Lazarus (and Jesus) building in the background. We’re reminded that the crowds were brave to show up that day, and that Jesus drew on courage to face his journey to the cross. The root of courage is cour, meaning “heart.” Courage is deep within us; we often find it when we most need it, when everything else has been stripped away.

 

April 1   – Maundy Thursday

Day by day, we are drawn together

 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Foot washing is a practice of radical vulnerability, of being seen and known. Jesus loved the disciples “to the end.” In this act, we remember that God holds all of our pain, vulnerability, doubts, and sufferings. As we venture toward the cross, we can lean into God’s everlasting arms, knowing we are held.

 

April 2 – Good Friday

Day by day, we find ourselves here

 John 19:1-30

Day by day, we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, at the pit of despair, in the face of death, in the grip of state-sanctioned violence. “Here” is an emotional place. “Here” is grief. “Here” is the reality of sin and brokenness. On Good Friday, we are called to sit in the silence of death, knowing that God is here.

 

April 4 – Easter Sunday

Day by day, the sun rises

 Mark 16:1-8

According to Mark, on the first day of the week, the women rise with the sun and buy spices to anoint Jesus’ body. They are shocked to find the tomb empty, and leave in fear and terror. Mark’s resurrection story is less triumphant than the other Gospel testimonies (as scholars believe the rest of Mark’s gospel was a later addition). Mark’s version, reminds us that Easter comes to us, day by day, even if we don’t know what to make of God’s resurrection ways. Day by day, the sun rises. And some days, that is enough.

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday, February 17

Join the Spiritual Life Team after the service on Sunday, Feb 14th @ 11:15am, for a discussion about Spiritual practices during Lent, to strengthen our spiritual muscle.
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At the heart of Christian faith is the wonderful, powerful, mystical story of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. His story has become our story, our Easter… promising new life and new beginnings when we may least expect it.

The traditional season of Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning
of Easter in our personal lives and in our community. Our church will join others
around the world in observing this season of devotion, reflection, and preparation for Easter.

Only you know what your heart and mind need to grow and thrive spiritually. The Spiritual Life Team is suggesting some Lenten practices that may be meaningful to you and may help you to strengthen and deepen your faith and service; ‘build spiritual muscle’ so to speak. You are invited to choose a practice, or as many as you feel called to take on. Of course, you may choose to adapt our ideas or discover others that will serve you. After worship on Feb. 14, we will have an opportunity to share our choices, and to schedule time to share our experiences of Lenten devotional practice with one another.

BUILDING SPIRITUAL MUSCLE…Some Options

• Focus on the traditional practices of prayer and almsgiving
• Begin a season of withdrawal or abstinence (from online media, for ex.)
• Subscribe to Recipiscence: An online devotional guide for dismantling White
Supremacy
• PracticeYoga, walking, and/or dance as meditations
• Form a short term support group to share and process stress or depression
• Put together a journal or picture album that is meaningful to you
• Experiment with a new kind of art expression (like clay, or even an adult
coloring book)
• Organize a Lenten book club
• Connecting, reaching out to one another

Ash Wednesday Taize Service

Music, Prayer, Meditation, Candlelight, Silence, and Labyrinth Walking

Wednesday,  March 6, 7 – 8 pm

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for many in the Christian church. The forty days begins with the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful. For many, it is deeply moving to reclaim this powerful ancient ceremony.

During the service, we will listen to and join in singing Taize chants, a form of meditative chant and silence, to quiet the mind, open the heart and feed the soul… time of quiet and solitude in the presence of God. A few words sung over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of prayer.

Leaders for the Evening:

Rev Laurie Manning and Music Director Benjamin Mertz

You are welcome, whoever you are and wherever you are on your life’s journey

Ash Wednesday Service: Create in Me a Clean Heart

Dust and Ashes 

Create in me, a clean heart, that I may live, aware of the gift.

Feb 14th at 7 – 7:30 pm @skylineucc.org

A brief service with Pastor Laurie and Music Director Benjamin Mertz.

 

 

 

 The Gift of Mortality

   

 

 

 

 

Meditation, Taize music, prayers, ashes, candlelight