Oakland church

Archive for Peace

Ecumenical Peace Institute – Annual Good Friday Event at Lawrence Livermore

Join members of Skyline’s Justice and Witness Team at the annual Good Friday peace event sponsored by the Ecumenical Peace Institute.  Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, will be participating as song leader. 

Contact Nancy Taylor via the office at office@skylineucc.org or 510-531-8212 for more information.

“A song of peace for lands afar and mine…”

Photo by Matthew Huang on Unsplash


Next Monday we honor Memorial Day, a federal holiday set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.   I cannot help but lift up the beautiful words of Finlandia, which we will sing this Sunday: 
 
“This Is My Song”

Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness,  UM Hymnal, No. 437

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

This Sunday, join us as we lift up prayers not only for our country’s servicemen and women who have died, but all those who have died in the world because of war.  Here is a beautiful prayer, entitled  A Prayer for the World by Amy Petrie Shaw.

Gun Violence and Las Vegas Attack

I am deeply saddened to write to you in the wake of another major national tragedy: the mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor concert that has already claimed nearly sixty lives, with five hundred more people injured.  

Though we will not forget the lives at risk from ongoing flooding, infrastructure damage, and insufficient government assistance across the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas, our hearts are broken whenever any individual unleashes such terrible violence. And, “whenever” is far too frequent in our country. Painful as it is, we keep all the victims of this violence in our hearts and pray for solace for the Las Vegas community.

In response,  Skyline will host a vigil in remembrance of all those killed and injured in Las Vegas here in our sanctuary on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7pm. We will sing, pray, light candles, and walk the labyrinth.

We must take care of our emotional and spiritual health after a tragedy like this, but we cannot be complacent and believe we are powerless to end gun violence. United Church of Christ Andover-Newton graduate, Casey Guet, wrote this in righteous anger about our national ambivalence toward gun violence:

Why do guns grow from the ground, oh Lord?
Why did you make something, which kills so quickly?

Why do you allow these killing machines to be plucked
From our gardens?
And sold in our gun markets?

We will not take any responsibility. 
We never do.
In the beginning, God created the gun and the bullet.

There is nothing we can do, nothing to stop these tragedies.
Perhaps, if we created guns with our own hands,
Perhaps, if we could use our system of laws,

But there is nothing we can do.
The guns will keep cropping up.
The guns will keep growing.

I wonder, is there a way to destroy these flowers of death?
But cash crops are so hard to burn.

It’s true, “cash crops” like the gun industry are hard to burn — yet, we must not succumb to despair, we must keep trying. Here are a few resources:

As members of the UCC, we are committed to the ethical principles affirming that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we must work together for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all. We will pray for all those impacted by gun violence, and we will work to be peacemakers locally and nationally.

 Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Memorial Day, Equality, Love, and Non-violence

On this Memorial Day, as people of faith we come to mourn the ways in which all religions, including Christianity, have been “literalized”, nationalized, and taken out of context to justify wars, division, and violence in our words and actions throughout human history. May the still speaking God move us to liberate the timeless messages of love, peace and righteousness; and prevent us from being coopted by empires for military, political and economic interests.

May we remember the courage, love and power of Jesus who taught another way of achieving this birth of freedom: the ideal where all people are created equal. 

May we recognize our interdependence with everyone.

May we take courage challenging unjust laws, and exercising non violent civil disobedience in our words and actions.

May we remember the power of princes of peace like Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., to mobilize and inspire millions to change the world for the better through non violence. 

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the feast of the ascension and Memorial Day. 

with love, Pastor Laurie 

Listen for the Voice of the Holy

© creativecommonsstockphotos dreamstime

When I’ve been under pressure reading too much news and too many theological journals, and spending way too much time indoors during these rainy days, and it’s all beginning to get to me, I know it’s time.  It’s time to get my boots, my pack, a bag of raisins, and drive west to the land of the Great Spirit to climb the great west hill, the sleeping maiden as the Miwok’s called her, or as we affectionately refer to her here in the Bay Area as Mt Tam. I need to head for a summit where the wind and the light and the view are waiting to welcome the lonely walker who has no other purpose than to be there for an hour or two. I imagine in this sense I’m not so different from you, or from Jesus for that matter. We all need to take time away, to get a new perspective, to listen for the voice of the Holy. 

Climb up the mountain to Skyline this Sunday, to share in some peak experiences with us!

In Search of Pokemon

By David G.

My teenager is one of the 7.5 million people who have downloaded the app for the week-old “Pokemon Go” game and are wandering around landmarks, businesses, parks and city streets with their smartphones to find digital creatures and score points.  It blends real time maps through Google with digital magic to make little creatures pop up on the screen, as if they are actually at that spot.    

For the past two days, my teen has been like an eager prospector in search of gold.  At times, it reminds me more of chasing leprechauns and their pot of loot.   

They are everywhere — and I mean EVERYWHERE.  One was in my kitchen. In the car.  By a synagogue.  A fountain.  The Saxophone House.

Then my teen told me there were Pokemon at Lake Temescal, my favorite walking spot.

lake reflections trees from David GSo at sunrise this morning, I went for a jog around the lake.  I tried to imagine where these digital bogeymen were lurking.  I looked around as I listened to the pounding rhythm of my feet on the trail.  The first rays of morning sun lit the tops of the trees along the far bank.  It was a peaceful, quiet world; a sacred time.  

Instead of Growlithe, I found a green heron lurking along the waterline.  A fine mist glided silently across the surface of the lake like the Spirit moving on the waters, without a sign of Voltorb.  I heard the sweet trill of a Wilson’s warbler, the call of a night heron, and the complicated melody of a song sparrow.  There was no evidence of Nidoran, but I breathed in the tangled scents of moist earth, bay leaves and redwood.  On the physical and spiritual level, God’s handiwork was everywhere.  I saw it all.  

I didn’t need an app for that.   

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

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

Sacred Wonder, Sacred Child

The days grow shorter, and yet, we know that the light will return. 

So too, in our lives, we wait and participate in hope. 

This Sunday we welcome you, your families and friends to join us in the lovely re-telling of the Christmas story, in our child – led Christmas pageant. We have costumes for everyone, or bring your own, because everyone is welcome to come and see baby Jesus! 

I leave you with a prayer of peace for this season: 

Holy Mystery, Sacred Wonder,child and curious innocent
you came to us as a child–
pure, innocent, vulnerable–

this was the Word you spoke
into your world, into our world. 

speak again, please. 

Come this Christmas to the
child we once were,
the child that lives within
each of us.

We long to touch that child that is still
a part of us, where innocence is still alive. 

Come to the manger of our hearts, that place
before we knew fear or shame; come to the child in us
who remains free of cynicism, who has not yet made
friends with disillusionment. 

 Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Keeping a Quiet Peace

Looking out over the water at Terra Nova Park Richmond, BC Canada

Looking out over the water at Terra Nova Park
Richmond, BC Canada

For many of us, this time of year can be wrought with worry and anxiety, and filled with expectations about the upcoming holidays; yet underneath also can be saddened by the chill in the air, the shortened daylight, and missing all those we love who are no longer with us. 

Being a New Englander, I am reminded of how cold and bleak this season can become, and how much it can unsettle our souls. 

So, I offer to you a poem, a meditation, to cultivate peace within you.. 

Keeping Quiet  By: Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves
with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie
Photo: © Craig Ikegami | Dreamstime Stock Photos