An hour of interfaith readings, prayers, music, and silence.
Featuring: Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more TBD.
Access the Earth Day festivities on your computer or smart phone via Zoom here, or click this link:
Meeting ID: 921 0997 9060
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I encourage us all to begin by seeking the light… be it the light of a single candle, or the light in the clear night sky of the stars and the planets, especially Venus these days. I encourage us to seek the light to remind us of something far greater than ourselves – the Light of Divine Unconditional Love that permeates everything, showing us a well-lit path to wholeness, forgiveness, and life.
The star over Bethlehem is a major symbol of Christmas—we sing about it, put it on the top of Christmas trees, even wear it on neckties—yet if you read the story closely, only a few wise men saw and understood the star. The shepherds did not notice a star, nor did anyone else. Would we have been among the wise? Are we seeing the stars of Christ around us now? Do we understand the signs of light that God is giving us that can fill us with hope and inspire us?
The wise men saw and were moved for a reason: they were looking, they were searching the skies for meaning, they had practiced and made themselves students of the light. They were part of a tradition that passed wisdom along to them. They added their own knowledge and experience and were open to something new happening in their day.
We need to practice looking and finding meaning, too, if we want to be among those who see signs of Christ’s presence in our world, who see the light and understand what it says and follow where it leads. We need to be open to learning the wisdom of our tradition and being changed by the new things that God is doing.
with love, Pastor Laurie
For unto us a child is born.
Unto us, love is born.
The highest truth of the human soul is love.
Let us remember love.
Let us remember this all-powerful force being born in a humble child in an impoverished and oppressed setting.
Let us remember how this force was at work, guiding and empowering his mother and father.
Let us remember how it has brought about good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and is ultimately more powerful than empires.
Together, let us bear witness to how love is still is at work in the world, and within every one of us.
I give thanks to God for each one of you, in the world and in my life!
Here are some videos of our beautiful Christmas Eve service, for all of you to experience!
This Sunday, join us, as we experience the beautiful music of Gabrielle and Ken Medema, and the powerful preaching of Rev Jerri Handy!
In the midst of this advent season of waiting, I invite you to set aside the distractions of the busy-ness of this season to to take a moment of mindfulness. I invite you to realize the radical transformation that comes from setting aside preconceived ideas.
This Sunday, we will explore questions raised by T.S. Eliot and other great thinkers to move towards a direct, experiential understanding of what it means to live an awakened life, and to contemplate the meaning of waiting in the words of the poet, TS Elliott:
Wait Without Hope
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.
We may not be ready for thought unless we’ve trained our minds in mindfulness. Our love may be tainted by selfish attachment. Let us begin —be still, even if for a moment. And now, “wait without hope.” Isn’t that pessimistic? I venture to say, no, it is not pessimistic. Optimism is good, hope can get in the way.
Is it better to acknowledge our desire, to understand its context, and to wait without hope? Yes, I think so. Then we can watch the spectacle unfold with pleasure and equanimity. If we cling to hope, we make ourselves vulnerable to disappointment, anger, and frustration.
As a child, I loved October as the fall foliage in New England transformed from tender green to fiery crimson and gold.
But seasons change and so do we.
Two years ago, on Oct 24th, my father died, letting go, like a leaf, falling gently to the earth. In his memory, I had planned to attend a retreat, starting the evening of Oct 24th, in Geyserville. That very same morning, Oct 24th, a PG&E transformer ignited a fire, during the deadliest of the Diablo winds. The epicenter, of all places, was in Geyserville. Had it been a day later, we would have been among the evacuees. The child within me asks, “was Dad watching over me?”
This time we were spared, while others were not. The Kincade fire is only 5% contained at the time of this writing, while others have started… and the Diablo winds continue, with more to come.
It feels as if we are living in a war zone. We try to carry on… as best we can… yet we are living with a sense of foreboding… because the Diablo winds will get worse. They say this is becoming the new normal for us.
We are glued to the news… or trying to limit our intake of it.. worried that the fires may ignite here, haunted by memories of ever closer encounters with fires…
I find myself haunted by the recurring dream that our beautiful Skyline church has burned down…that we are standing at the foundation in prayer, grateful for our lives, looking out over a charred East Bay Regional Parks, sharing photographs of this once beautiful place, filled with so many happy memories, where so many couples have come to get married and preschool children once played, and people once worshipped. Haunted by the reality that our beautiful sanctuary looks out at Mt Diablo.. We must face it… the Diablos..
God of life, we come again to this terrifying season of fires..
We pray for those who have lost their homes and businesses,
We pray for the people evacuated and those who shelter them,
We pray for those whose power has been cut off,
For those in nursing homes, and children with school cancelled, and life disrupted.
We pray for the firefighters.
We pray for ourselves,
to have the courage to face the diablos of the world,
the forces behind the winds of war, violence and destruction.
Give us the courage to do our part.
Inspire us, with the breath of life, to transform these diablos
into the winds of healing and peace.
Inspire us to transform this world into a place
where all people are safe from harm,
now and forever
Join us as we honor the depth of Good Friday
We welcome ALL of God’s people
Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, and Reverend Laurie Manning lead an empowering, spiritually expansive candlelight, meditation and music service, in the Taize tradition.
We will remember the victims of gun violence and hate crimes.
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.
Held at Skyline Community Church, 12540 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, 94619
50 yrs ago the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church before his assassination. It is a remarkable sermon. In it, he discusses his own death and how he wanted to be remembered. In addition, he skillfully used the “Drum Major Instinct” theme – “thinking that you are somebody big because you are white” – to offer a deep critique of contemporary culture and an inspired, practical vision for living the Gospel. Specifically, he critiqued the dangerous down-side of the drum major instinct. He addresses white supremacy, racism, economic injustice and war.
Like so many of his sermons, this one has incredible relevance for us today, the year after an election in which various forms of the drum major instinct are on parade all across our nation. It is also what makes the message King brings home so poignant: the call of the Gospel to be a drum major for justice and peace, a drum major for serving humanity, that we may “make of this old world a new world.”
Join us this Sunday, as we listen to the prophetic voice of Dr King, 50 yrs later.
I share with you an excerpt from his sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church:
… And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. …And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.”
Now that’s a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can’t hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out. (Amen)
Delivered February 4, 1968. listen to the audio.