Oakland church

Archive for Love

“i carry your heart with me”

Welcoming Oakland ChurchMother’s day is coming up, and with it, a mountain of expectations about what our experience “should” be. But what’s the truth about motherhood? There is no perfect mother.

One of my favorite poems by ee cummings  is entitled “I carry your heart with me”. I like to think of it as God’s love poem to each one of us, filling that existential void within us all, to be carried forever in perfect  love. I also think of it as a poem that describes our calling individually and collectively, as people of faith, to love with all of our hearts as fully as we can, not just our immediate families and friends, but especially those Jesus described as “ the least of these”. I am sharing a few photos of us as a faith community, embodying this love in action. 

Join us this Sunday,  in honoring the life changing, life giving power of love.

              Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

 ee cummings..  [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

Forgiveness and Mercy

© Pakhnyushchyy
ID 8336955 Dreamstime

Dear Beloved Community, 

This week we continue in the all so human themes of love manifest in our capacity to forgive ourselves and one another.

I’d like to share some beautiful quotes on these themes with you: 

Henri J.M. Nouwen, 20th century
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

Anne Lamott, 21st century
“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 20th century
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 20th century
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
 
Abraham Lincoln, 19th century
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

Traveling mercies this week! See you on Sunday! 

Now’s the Time to Celebrate Love and Unity

Last weekend a contingent of us from Skyline gathered glorious Sunday morning to celebrate Oakland Pride. It was my first year actually participating in the parade, and I’m very grateful to Teresa Jenkins for preaching last Sunday. Truth be told, I was especially grateful after returning from a family reunion, and the harrowing experience of my father almost dying the night we arrived. I returned exhausted, physically and emotionally, and that combined with the state of the world, I would have preached about the apocalypse. Consider it all:  the total eclipse over the US last month, last week’s powerful earthquake in Mexico, the unprecedented destruction of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the raging fires in the West, the heartless proposed DACA deportations, the ever present threat of nuclear strikes from North Korea, and the precarious state of our democracy. Does it ever seem as if God is sending us many signs from the heavens that the world is coming to an end?
 
I don’t believe that God brings forth the violence that we’re experiencing, but I do believe that God uses the violence to wake us up and to bring us together.  I was grateful to celebrate Pride, and to celebrate love and unity. Below you’ll find some photos from the parade.
 
Join us this Sunday as we celebrate our reunion together at Skyline! The choir returns, we will enjoy some festivities after worship, and above all, we will celebrate love.

Cultivate Peace this Memorial Day

holding-hands-heart-shaped-earthBlessings to you on this Memorial Day weekend!

When I was a child growing up in the small town of Barrington, RI in the 1960’s, it seemed like everyone in town would gather at the war memorial in the center of town for Memorial day ceremonies. We school children would always have a part, having rehearsed in school our lines of patriotic glorification often originating from the Bible. There would be patriotic and religious songs sung and prayers by the local minister and perhaps by a teacher or government official.

Memorial Day is an example of what sociologist Robert Bellah has called “civil religion”, where government adapts a kind of generic religiosity that often refers to God and Country as somehow connected to our government and secular political leaders and their actions, especially in wartime.

We could as easily call it the American mythology which we are always helping to shape and co-create, especially on Memorial Day and perhaps the Forth of July.  These two sacred, civil, religious, patriotic days always seem to blend religion and state in what I want to call a troublesome way; a way that I believe we must outgrow to become more of what Jesus taught us: to love one another, that we may all be one, in a more universal love.

Join us Sunday morning (10 AM) for a time of re-imagining what it means to transform our swords into plowshares and cultivate peace within the world, beginning within ourselves.

Art from https://peaceartsite.com  Peace Sign Graphics

Love’s Fullest Dimensions

 KingPhoto

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “Beyond Vietnam”

This Sunday, Feb 14th is a time to honor love. And lest we forget, the ads are everywhere reminding us of many ways we can purchase special gifts for that special someone in our lives. 

But Feb 14th is also a chance to honor love in it’s fullest dimensions. Love in the form of courage, of the willingness to follow a dream; love kindled in the fire of God’s love for all of humanity despite the dangers of the wilderness. 

This month we celebrate Black History Month, and this Sunday we honor the ongoing march to freedom, inspired by this great cloud of witnesses. 

Love is Indiscriminate

altar flowers Sun 7-28-13This week we focus on the indiscriminate nature of love. I’d like to share two beautiful quotes with you.

One, about our purpose in life and as a faith community.

The other about the nature of God’s love.

Parker Palmer
[T]he mission of the church is not to enlarge its membership, not to bring outsiders to accept its terms, but simply to love the world in every possible way – to love the world as God did and does.…If we are able to love the world, that will be the best demonstration of the truth which the church has been given.”

Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books
“I experience religious dread whenever I find myself thinking that I know the limits of God’s grace, since I am utterly certain it exceeds any imagination a human being might have of it. God does, after all, so love the world.”

Blessings upon your week! 

God’s Love: Indiscriminate & Abundant

leaf and rainI had almost forgotten the sounds, fragrances, and touch of the rains and their power to transform the hills into a lush, verdant paradise.

The rains remind me of Shakespeare’s words, “the quality of mercy is unrestrained, it droppeth from the heavens like the gentle rains.”   The rains when they fall are indiscriminate and abundant, a reflection of God’s love.

This week as the rains continue to fall, let us consider the transformative power of love- much like the gentle rains- to bring forth new life.

Join us this Sunday as we explore and experience the transformative power of love.

Photo: ID: 95069 © Ryan Pike | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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

Life-long Graduations and Our Deepest Values

We’re in the season of graduation, but not just for high school graduates venturing forth to college, but for all of us in this lifelong process of growth, evolution, and change. 

Throughout our lives we search for meaning, our vocation, and our life’s purpose.   

David Brooks, NY TImes journalist, writes:

So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace.The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.”  Click here for his Ted Talk

Reinhold Niebuhr summed up the confrontation:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Come and join us after the service for a conversation about how to live in this world, but not of this world, connected deeply with our deepest values. 

    Blessings, Laurie 

Pentecost is Upon Us: the Life Giving Power of Spirit

Pentecost is upon us.. a celebration of the life giving power of the Spirit, a gift from God promised to us all, not just once upon a time thousands of years ago, but now.

May we be all be kindled in the fire of  Divine love.

I leave you with a poem from the poet William Blake:

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

William Blake (1757-1827) from Pentecost