Oakland church

Archive for Christmas eve

“You are the Light of the World, Let Your Light Shine”

Altar


My heart is full of gratitude for the greening of the earth, and for the timeless stories of hope and justice that live on in our time in the countless acts of courage and love.
 
I am reminded of our closing ritual in our Christmas Eve service, that in lighting one candle and passing it on, together, our light shines in the darkness. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John’s gospel, reminding us, “You are the light of the world, let your light shine”.  Even during the brief neighborhood power outage, the light and the music shined on!
 
I am grateful for the light which shines so brightly in each one of you!
  • The inspired vision of Sunday’s Christmas Pageant, the Bethlehemian Rhapsody, through our very own Tim Carter and David Guerra, our resident Rogers and Hammerstein! Special thanks to our Holy family (Amie, Justin, & Josiah), Angel (Anna), Herod (Boyd), and our choir!
  • The soulful, joyous music from Monday’s Christmas eve service, featuring so many songs from black spirituals, like Rise up Shepherds and Follow, Mary Had a Baby, Ain’t that a Rockin, songs that emerged from the sufferings of slavery, that lift up the timeless scriptures, and inspire God’s timeless vision of freedom and liberation, and good news for all people. Special thanks to Benjamin Mertz and the choir!!
  • Our kitchen angels: led by the wonderful Marcella Hardy, supported by Paula & Dave Byrens, Becky Taylor, Philippia Pegram, and all of you who donated treats!
  • The recent generosity to support the children of East Oakland Community Project, the largest transitional homeless center in Alameda County. Special thanks to Nancy Taylor, chair of our justice & witness teams!
  • The Green team for their recent community sing, to support for the Camp Fire victims, to their consistent dedication in maintaining our beautiful campus, especially in this Christmas season! Special thanks to Catherine Kessler, and Michael Armijo!
  • Our spiritual life team in offering the well -received Saturday morning advent bible study
  • The joy of welcoming those of you who have been away, the pleasure of welcoming those of you who are new, and the love that unites us all, across time and space.
I encourage you to enjoy the photos (see below) and the videos (see links below) from our worship together!
 
My heart and prayers are with all of those for whom this season carries grief and sadness. You are part of the circle of light. You are part of this family of love. May you experience God’s healing light, bringing comfort and peace to you and to those you love.  
 
Video Links

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

 

Rainy Day Reflection on the Birth of Christ

dreamstime_s_47580200I love these rainy days, as the thirsty earth drinks deeply of the waters of renewal.

It seems to me that Christmas, like such rainy days, is a time of renewal, transformation and rebirth. The timeless story echoes throughout history, from stories like “Christmas in the Trenches”, to Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and yes, even to “How the Grinch stole Christmas.”

I encourage you, on rainy days like these, to pull out these timeless stories and listen for the voice of resurrection speaking in them. Words like:

Maybe Christmas,” the Grinch thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” Dr. Seuss,  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. Scrooge, on Christmas day, from Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”

Christmas is a fine season for joy to think of those we love. Molere

And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. Jesus Christ

I leave you with a beautiful poem by Madeline L’Engle:

The Risk of Birth, Christmas

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn–
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn–
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Blessings and love, Pastor Laurie

Light in the Darkness

CN_Skyline_2010-12-24_ChristmasEveService_1014Blessings to you in this season of darkness, where we light candles and are reminded once more:

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Yes, we live in a broken world.

 At the same time, through us all I experience the in -breaking of God’s love right here in our community.  I experience it in the wonder of children taking part in our Christmas pageant. I experience it in the outpouring of love from this community to the homeless shelter in East Oakland; to feeding the hungry here in Alameda County; to supporting the education of 400 children of Makomray, Sierra Leone; and to caring for the immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

We experience it when we see the face of Christ, in everyone!

Come and celebrate the wonder of God’s love on Christmas Eve with us, Wed Dec 24th at 7 pm!

Bring your friends! We have childcare! It’s a short – all ages friendly service!

I wish to share a photo of a mom and dad with their three month old son, Air; one of the many EOCP Gift Familyfamilies with children that we visited earlier this week.  His parents named him Air because he is as precious as every breath we take and is filled with the Spirit of life. I cannot help but be reminded of that Holy family thousands of years ago who sought shelter as refugees, who’s precious child was born in a stable because there was no room at the inn. (The family gave me permission to share with friends and members of Skyline)

I leave you with this poem by Howard Thurman about the ongoing healing of the world that we are called to bring forth in our lives.

Candles for Christmas

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Blessings,
Pastor Laurie