Oakland church

Archive for Easter

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

After Easter: Gratitude for God’s Creation & Skyline’s Outpouring Love

15440786465_bdde5676b4_o-1 tomb & sunlight I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like Easter happened last month, and the day after Easter, I feel as if I’m barely crawling out of the empty tomb!  

The words of the poet e.e. cummings offer us words of gratitude for the day after Easter, and for each new day we awaken to: 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings
1894-1962

  Thank you Skyline for creating such a magnificent outpouring of love for the wider world!  

  • children preparing Easter baskets and cards for homeless children, and the adults who helped to make this possible
  • toddlers gathering Easter eggs in the fields in a non competitive “hunt” where there is enough for everyone
  • volunteers preparing and serving delicious breakfast dishes for our guests  
  • members of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s chorus, driving many miles in the dark, to sing joyfully to honor the Easter sunrise
  • talented and dedicated choir members, and guest musicians, offering songs of joy and celebration for us all
  • talented artists and  story tellers, creating a lovely liturgical environment, recreating the drama, and sharing photos with everyone 
  • people offering rides and food to those who are unable to be with us
  • people sharing prayers and love and hospitality, to everyone! 

Blessings and love, Pastor Laurie 

Palm Sunday-Love and Mercy of God

palm Sunday and cross“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” – Matthew 21: 8

When I was young, Palm Sunday was simply Palm Sunday. Palms, hosannas, joyous music – a sort of mini-Easter.

Somewhere along the way Palm Sunday became Palm/ Passion Sunday. This meant that we began with the palms, hosanna and cheerful songs about the children singing to Jesus, but before long we were into the betrayal and Christ’s death on the cross.

That made Palm Sunday seem like a Trojan Horse. It looked like fun and games until you unpacked it. When you did, the upbeat party soon became a downbeat prelude to a memorial as the music changed from major to minor key.  Instead of being part of the cheering crowd that was comfortably on Jesus’ side — “Go Jesus! Ride ’em!” — we found ourselves part of the crowd that shouted, “Crucify him, Crucify him.”

This was confusing.

But it was something besides confusing. It was true. We aren’t just the good guys, innocently cheering Jesus on. We have a part in the mess, in the awful that happens.

But seeing that painful truth — our part in the mess and owning it — can help us have eyes for something else besides — that God’s mercy and forgiveness are poured out for us, poured out all over us. When the hosannas of Palm Sunday have faded, praise for the deep love and mercy of God to us is the song that keeps on singing.

The Essence of the Easter Experience

What is the essence of the Easter experience? cross and light

A transformation occurred.

Jesus was reborn in the hearts of his followers. Death was the occasion, love the medium, & forgiveness the catalyst.

We all are children of God.

We all are sinners. We all can be forgiven if we will refrain from harsh judgment.

Love casts out fear. God is love & only love remains. Only the love we give away.

Join us this Sunday as we experience resurrection!

Bring your loved ones!

Fast From Injustice

CN_Skyline_2009-04-12_Easter10AM_73What if instead of fasting from hamburgers and chocolate, we took up a fast from injustice? What if instead of giving up worldly pleasures we gave up oppression? Wouldn’t we end up actually happier? What if instead of being unhappy we proclaimed freedom and liberty from what binds us? Wouldn’t we end up actually happier?

The great danger of Lent, for some of us, is that we get so caught up in observing the form of it, that we forget the powerful substance of it.

May Ash Wednesday and this season of Lent be more about substance rather than form for us; less about sackcloth and ashes and fasting and more about the transformation towards healing and health and wholeness.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

Breath Comes to the Dry Bones

liliesAs we draw ever closer to Holy Week and Easter, let us pause and take a deep breath.

Breathing deeply is part of what this week is about. Inspired (whose root means to breathe into) by the rich imagery of Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, and also by the story of the raising of Lazarus, let us consider how the gift of breath, of spirit, of inspiration comes to us in our own lives.

Let us consider how in the very midst of struggle, despair, and death; the Spirit -the Breath – Inspiration; brings forth new life as surely as the gentle rains that fall upon us this week green and renew the earth.

I am so grateful to be sharing this road with you, to be breathing together with you. Blessings as we begin this new week!

I leave you with this poem from Jan Richardson,

Where the Breath Begins – A Blessing

Dry
and dry
and dry
in each direction.

Dust dry.
Desert dry.
Bone dry.

And here
in your own heart:
dry,
the center of your chest
a bare valley
stretching out
every way you turn.

Did you think
this was where
you had come to die?

It’s true that
you may need
to do some crumbling,
yes.
That some things
you have protected
may want to be
laid bare,
yes.
That you will be asked
to let go
and let go,
yes.

But listen.
This is what
a desert is for.

If you have come here
desolate,
if you have come here
deflated,
then thank your lucky stars
the desert is where
you have landed —
here where it is hard
to hide,
here where it is unwise
to rely on your own devices,
here where you will
have to look
and look again
and look close
to find what refreshment waits
to reveal itself to you.

I tell you,
though it may be hard
to see it now,
this is where
your greatest blessing
will find you.

I tell you
this is where
you will receive
your life again.

I tell you
this is where
the breath begins.

Gratefully,

Pastor Laurie