Oakland church

Archive for Lent

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

Cultivating Balance in This Age of Unrest

Particularly now, in this age of unrest and uncertainty with the endless wave of inhumane executive orders, we can be tempted to give in to  the emotions of fear, rage, and despair.   It is so important to learn how to acknowledge all of our feelings so that we do not react, repress, or succumb to them.   It is so important to learn how to choose our response by cultivating a sense of peace within ourselves. 

We have much to learn from the great spiritual traditions of this season, especially the contemplative practices including prayer, yoga, and seated and walking meditation.  I invite you to join us for our weekly hikes, or get in touch with me about our ongoing prayer group and meditation sessions.  Also stay tuned for more Taize services coming up. 

© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

There are some who would dismiss these methods as passive,  escapism, and being too inwardly focused. Yet, consider the power of such leaders as Gandhi and Dr. King  who transformed society through peaceful, non violent civil resistance.  Cultivating balance is so important in this age of unrest. 

I’d like to share with you a short video to inspire you in these challenging times to cultivate mindfulness, understanding, clarity, and renewal:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zen-and-the-art-of-activism_us_58a118b6e4b094a129ec59af?section=us_religion

Blessings upon your week. 

Ash Wednesday Taize Service

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

Living Water

I arise today, on March 17th. I am reminded of a stanza from St Patrick’s breastplate:
Through the strength of heaven,14_thirsty
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock…..

The sun is indeed bright in the days approaching equinox. The moon was stunningly radiant in its fullness Saturday night, and the wind has been swift.

This week’s lectionary delves into the meaning of “living water”. Water holds great meaning throughout the sacred scriptures of the world, including ours.  Water bathes the newborn, and is used to minister to the bodies of the sick and dying.  Our bodies are made mostly of water. Our green blue planet has life because of the living waters. So much meaning is attached to this simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen, so imbued with meanings and metaphors.

What’s bubbling up to the surface as you consider, what it is you are thirsting for. What is your deepest thirst? What sustenance and refreshment are you finding on your journey–or longing to find? What are you thirsting for?

Love,
Pastor Laurie