Oakland church

Archive for Easter

The Cathedral, Jesus, and the People

Like many of you this week, I watched along with the world as the footage of flames enveloping the Cathedral of Notre Dame went viral over the internet.  At first, the images of the grand spire collapsing echoed memories of 9/11.  I couldn’t help but ask why?  Why did this happen to this Cathedral, that so embodies the confluence of beauty, majesty, faith, art, history, and human expression?  Why, on the eve of Holy week? Was it a sign? 

On the one hand, it is so heartwarming to see the universal outpouring of support and money from the world, to rebuild this church. But on the other hand, it raises more questions: 

Where is the lament,  the media attention, and the universal outpouring of support to rebuild the communities of poor people of color in this world,  whose lives are on fire? Where is the outpouring of support for the millions of black and brown people living as refugees throughout the world?  And for the millions who are being held in detention centers and prisons in this country?  And right here in Oakland, for the thousands living in tents on the streets of our cities, here, in one of the wealthiest areas in the world.  

Would there be such an outpouring of sadness, if we were remembering a young man of color, in an orange jumpsuit,  arrested for being an insurrectionist, a disturber of the peace? Whose church was not a building, but the people whom he loved and healed and to whom he brought hope: the sick, the poor, the women and children, the people of color, the outcasts, and those in prison.   A man who’s church was the ecclesia, the people, who gathered to be inspired by the stories of the prophets.  Who was executed on death row, by the military, industrial, superpower of his time?

Because this is the story of Jesus, and the Spirit of justice. It’s helpful to me to remember who and what it was that so inspired people hundreds of years ago to build such a cathedral.

On the eve of Holy Week, we remember the brutal public execution of a Palestinian Rabbi, who so embodied such beauty, majesty, faith, love and compassion for the poor and marginalized that many believed that he was the son of God. We remember a man whose life and stories, a thousand years later, inspired people to build Notre Dame Cathedral. Whose stories,  two thousand years later,  give us hope now. 

What do we do, in the face of such unanswerable questions? We remember him. We join together, and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, out in the streets, near the prisons, and in the homeless encampments  to pray, sing and support one another through the power of these Spirit inspired stories, to rebuild our lives and our world, bringing good news for all people. It’s what humans do, and have always done. It’s called the ecclesia, the gathered community of faith, the church. 

We invite the same Spirit that gave birth to Jesus,  inspired Jesus, and resurrected Jesus to inspire us now into the new life that God is bringing to us, and to all of Creation. Join us as we pray and sing together in this Holy Week, and as we open ourselves to the new life that God is inviting us to, even in the midst of destruction and death. 

I’m inspired that  #NotreDame has already raised almost $1 billion in pledges toward reconstruction.  I’m even more inspired to support churches  less equipped to rebuild, like the 3 Black Baptist churches destroyed by arson earlier this month.  Join me in making a donation to these congregations, today (if you haven’t already). They need to raise $1.9 million to rebuild, and so far they’ve reached just $70k.  Click here for their gofundme site. Thank you!

Family Easter Services, 2019, 12:00

Skyline Invites the Oakland Community to Attend Family Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Join families from our church and the neighborhood for a fun hour of learning and celebrating! Families of all configurations (we are an LGBTQ+ affirming church!) are invited!

April 21, 12:00 PM

We’ll gather at noon in the sanctuary to sing Easter songs, learn a bit about the Easter story (and how eggs are connected to it!), do some art, and participate in a service project for Nueva Esperanza, a preschool for immigrant children that our church helps to support.

Kids will also be invited (by age group) to participate in a (small) Easter egg hunt. Please bring your own basket/bag!

We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

Come celebrate Easter with your family, neighbors, and friends in our beautiful sanctuary on the hill with a stunning view of Mt. Diablo and the Oakland Hills.

Power of Love in the Midst of Destruction

The prophet Isaiah, thousands of years ago, described God’s creative power – bringing forth new life in the midst of destruction, within and all around us:

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
Isaiah 43:16-21 

Join us this Sunday, as we awaken to this power of love within, and all around us. 

Photo by ardito-ryan-harrisna-1194309-unsplash

Lent at Skyline Church, 2019

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ 
Worship, Study, and Gatherings for the Season of Lent

Come rediscover your spiritual roots during Lent where we welcome ALL of God’s people. 

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

Ash Wednesday Taize Service,  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

Lenten Bible Study

Wednesdays April 3, 10, and 17 in the Friendship Room

Join Skyline friends and neighbors in reflecting on the Gospel of John, and we will make sense of being 21st century Christians with a 1st century scripture. We’ll be meeting at 7 pm in the church Friendship Room, on Wednesdays,  April 3, 10 and 17.  Learn more here.

Drama April 7 and 14

Join the children and adults during the services as we dramatize events leading up to Easter.  Acting is a wonderful way to dig a little deeper, be creative, challenge ourselves, and grow!  Contact Rev. Sheryl (510-531-8212, office@skylineucc.org) to join in!

 

Easter at Skyline, 2019

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ
Invites Oakland Community to Attend Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an
inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Good Friday Service: Friday, April 19, 7:00 PM

Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, and Reverend Laurie Manning lead an empowering, spiritually expansive candlelight, meditation and music service, in the Taize tradition.  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.  All are welcome.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 21, 6:30 AM with OEBGMC

Rise and shine to the uplifting music of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! Experience sunrise from our Sanctuary which rests on the summit of the Oakland hills and has windows spanning 30 feet high! As you look out on a stunningly beautiful view listen to inspiring preaching, heavenly music and feel welcomed into the warmth of a loving progressive and inclusive faith community.

Rev. Laurie says, “The music in this service sings out about a God of love, of freedom, of liberation… and that the world is more wonderful with the great diversity of all of humanity. This is good news!”

Easter Sunday Traditional Service: April 21, 10 AM

Skyline’s sanctuary windows overlook Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo Here we have a traditional Easter Service as a loving progressive and inclusive faith community. Rev. Laurie Manning , the choir and orchestra (directed by Benjamin Mertz) and the people fill the sanctuary with joy, celebration and love. Today’s service will have drama, singing, prayer, and a special honor garden for loved ones. And to top it off, all are welcome (especially families) to a family service that includes an Easter egg hunt for children of all ages: 12:00 noon.

Family Easter Egg Hunt: April 1, 12:00PM

Join families from our church and the neighborhood for a fun hour of learning and celebrating! Families of all configurations (we are an LGBTQ+ affirming church!) are invited!

We’ll gather at noon in the sanctuary to sing Easter songs, learn a bit about the Easter story (and how eggs are connected to it!), do some art, and participate in a service project for Nueva Esperanza, a preschool for immigrant children that our church helps to support.

Kids will also be invited (by age group) to participate in a (small) Easter egg hunt. Please bring your own basket/bag!

We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

_____________________________________________________

Skyline Church UCC is a community faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the worth of all beings, regardless of ability, age, ancestry, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual path, cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. We invite all who wish to enter our Sanctuary and the full life of our church family. Ours is a God of justice and compassion, and our church lives in covenant with God to do its utmost to pursue justice and compassion, as an Open and Affirming congregation.

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

Email Skyline Office

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

Easter Renewal

After last week’s rain drenched, cloudy days it’s been a joy to hike in the Oakland hills; breathing in the fragrances of pine and eucalyptus, and to behold the vibrant orange California poppies contrasted with the fresh green grassy fields. We enter the season of celebrating fertility, new life, and hope that follows the season of darkness and death. May we hold onto the paradox of this season, and enter into the beauty of its mysteries. 

Join us for a beautiful Good Friday service this Friday at 7 pm, of candlelight, music, and readings, drawing parallels between the seven last words of Jesus and those of the Rev. Dr. MLK Junior, honoring the 50th anniversary of the assassination of this great prophet of our times. 

Join us also to celebrate Easter at 6:30 am for a sunrise service with the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus.  Or come to our 10 am Easter service with drama and our amazing choir, guest percussionist and alto sax player.  Right afterwards is our annual Easter egg hunt.

Enjoy this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver, entitled Mysteries, Yes.

love, Pastor Laurie 

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds

will never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those

who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

Easter Events 2018

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ Invites Oakland Community to Attend Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Good Friday Service: March 30, 7:00 PM:

Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, and Reverend Laurie Manning lead an empowering, spiritually expansive candlelight, meditation and music service.  All are welcome.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 1, 6:30 AM:

Rise and shine to the uplifting music of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! Experience sunrise from our Sanctuary which rests on the summit of the Oakland hills and has windows spanning 30 feet high! As you look out on a stunningly beautiful view listen to inspiring preaching, heavenly music and feel welcomed into the warmth of a loving progressive and inclusive faith community.

Rev. Laurie says, “The music in this service sings out about a God of love, of freedom, of liberation… and that the world is more wonderful with the great diversity of all of humanity. This is good news!”

Easter Sunday Traditional Service: April 1, 10 AM:

Skyline’s sanctuary windows overlook Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo Here we have a traditional Easter Service as a loving progressive and inclusive faith community. Rev. Laurie Manning , the choir and orchestra (directed by Puja Soto) and the people fill the sanctuary with joy, celebration and love. Today’s service will have drama, singing, prayer, and a special honor garden for loved ones. And to top it off, an Easter Egg Hunt (following service) for children of all ages: 11:30 AM.

Easter Egg Hunt: April 1, 11:30 AM:

Skyline’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt is happening RAIN or SHINE. We welcome our neighborhood families and all who would love to come to join us! Stay for refreshments and conversation following the hunt. We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

Skyline Church UCC is a community faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the worth of all beings, regardless of ability, age, ancestry, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual path, cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. We invite all who wish to enter our Sanctuary and the full life of our church family. Ours is a God of justice and compassion, and our church lives in covenant with God to do its utmost to pursue justice and compassion, as an Open and Affirming congregation.

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

Email Skyline Office

Jesus: the “New Moses” and the Suffering Servant

The Jewish Passover and the Christian celebration of Holy Week that evolved from it, begin this week.   During this sacred time let us remember Jesus, whom Matthew saw as the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets – the new Moses, the Prince of Peace, and yes, the suffering servant. 

This week, we remember a man.  A man…
who had dreams,
who had those dreams shattered,
who needed time to think and pray,
who knew he was likely to die for what he believed…

A man of extraordinary religious insight.  A man who did die – a cruel death.

This week,  we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis. 

This week, may we also remember that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability are still a part of our everyday lives.

This week then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering, or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature…

This week we remember, as we journey through death into new life.

See you on Easter Sunday! Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

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