It’s Earth Day! It’s spring!
The season of Re-Creation!

earth day logo

Join us for our child friendly Earth Day celebration!

Sunday, April 27th at 10 am.

Parents, the service will focus on our earth with music, prayers, and talk centered on earth day themes.

Children’s Sunday School will have:

  • Music
  • Games
  • Crafts
  • Discoveries about how to heal our wounded planet.

We’ll be teaching our children to care for the earth and for one another.  A local ranger will bring plants and items for the children to learn about.

Please join us with your children for this enriching morning for the whole family!

LentCandleFriday, April 18th 7:30 – 8:30 pm  

Join us for our Good Friday Tenebrae service – a meditative service of Taize music, candlelight, labyrinth walking, and quiet reflection that invites us to connect our own personal pain and our collective ongoing struggle for social justice and relate it to the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.

For more information, email the office or call 510 531 8212.

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

Skyline’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt is happening RAIN or SHINE, starting at 11:30 am on Easter Sunday morning, April 20th. 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.  Also, we have a special Easter Sunrise Service with the Oakland/East Bay Gay Men’s Choir if you can slip out nice and early that morning!

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ

12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

 

Skyline Let It Shine Logo 2014 Stewardship

You and I are called to be light. Jesus said so! As Eugene Peterson translates Matthew 5:14-16:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous God in heaven.

Jesus said these words in Matthew’s gospel as the conclusion to his Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes).  To me, this means that we are blessed as we boldly live our faith in the world.  To me, this means that the light that shines is one that comes from a life of vulnerable compassion and solidarity with all people, especially those who are poor, meek, merciful, those who mourn, are pure, are peacemakers, who hunger and thirst for justice.

Much like our denomination, the United Church of Christ , the Skyline Community Church story is one of being guided by the light of that amazing and radiant God, who lifts us from the night and awakens us to each new day.  For fifty years, much like our denomination, ours has been a story of seeking to live in the light and truth that the “still speaking” God is revealing in this time and place.

God’s Light has led us to become the first denomination to ordain an African American, a woman, and an openly gay man. God’s light has led this faith community to serve as a beacon of light, as a progressive, inclusive, multi-racial, open and affirming, peace and justice community, locally here in Oakland, and globally, as far as Sierra Leone.

God’s light has led us to offer inspiring worship, education and children’s programs to a diverse and wide community; people hungry for a faith that speaks to their minds as well as their hearts in this changing pluralistic world. God’s light has led us to improve the quality of our preschool and our wedding programs to serve the wider community.

During this season of Lent, I invite you to join us on the journey of deepening your faith and considering the light, the gifts, the calling that God has blessed you with, so that truly, your light will shine!

With Love,
Pastor Laurie

  • Join us as progressive Christians for study and conversation.
  •  Experience  a deepening sense of meaning, purpose and connection with God.  
  • Understand Lent as a metaphor for the wilderness of our lives and the journey toward wholeness, light, peace and oneness.

The course meets during Lent on Wednesday evenings, from 3/12 – 4/16.

Find out more:  Video clips, facebook page, website.

6-7 pm is a lovely potluck dinner, and 7- 8:30 is our session.

Living the Questions is the most extraordinary adult education material I have ever used. Life changing – personally and collectively! Thank you and may you never stop putting out such marvelous and deeply important products. - Rev. John WhiteFirst Cong. UCC, Dudley, MA

Each session begins with a 20 minute video presentation by well known religious scholars (Borg, Crossan, Spong, Butler Bass, Armstrong) on faith journey questions and is followed by group discussion on the presentation content. Child care is provided. 

This is the most greatly appreciated video series I could have imagined someone could’ve created at this time.  I’ve been teaching Borg and Spong for years – but to have this series with their colleagues as well dealing with the core topics – profound!  and life-changing!  I can imagine – you know the looks on people’s faces after some of the stories and the tears that flow!  I am so thankful to have the privilege of walking with people through the “classes” and witnessing how they very eagerly choose to go deeper in their faith and want others to experience it as well.   Rev. Lee Anne Ireland,  Orange Congregational Church, Orange, CT

During Lent we will be exploring these modules of the program:

  • An Invitation to Journey
  • Taking the Bible Seriously
  • Thinking Theologically
  • Stories of Creation
  • Lives of Jesus
  • Out into the World: Challenges Facing Progressive Christians
  • Evil, Suffering and a God of Love
  • The Myth of Redemptive Violence
  • Practicing Resurrection
All are welcome here.
A free will offering of $60 per person for the entire series is requested to cover material, food and heat.  Sliding scale for anyone who needs it, and seriously – no one is turned away.
Find out more:  Video clipsfacebook pagewebsite.
Contact Pastor Laurie.: 510-531-8212 or  send me an email.
With great joy and love,
Rev. Laurie Manning

 

 

  by Lord Alfred Tennyson 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16131#sthash.CsiNzbnu.EeFw2ISj.dpuf


			
			

As the day light grows shorter and the air grows chillier, we become more aware of the changing seasons of our lives.

Undeniably it seems that autumn has finally arrived to the Bay Area.

Being originally from New England, I well remember the dramatic changes as the crimson leaves drop down to the earth, and nature begins it’s inward journey through the winter.

I’d love to share with you, a “Song for Autumn” from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep

inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pondvanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

— Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Laurie

In honor of, and in memory of all those we love who have gone before us, lighting the paths of our lives,  and all veterans of war on every side of every conflict, let us take time this week to remember them; and let us resolve to beat all of our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.

 Join us this Sunday, as we remember our all too often forgotten veterans of war. 

In memory of all of those who have crossed over, I offer this beautiful poem:

In Memory of Them,    by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer 

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength
We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart
We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share
We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make
We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

It’s the fall, and for many of us, it’s a very hectic time of year. A time where some of us can lose hope in the busy- ness of it all. The same can be true for us as a faith community, with everything from Karaoke parties, to Blessings of the Animals, to preschool welcome parties, and Sierra Leone Bike fundraisers. My special thanks to all of you who led these events, who volunteered to support them, and who invited friends to take part. Each of these events are beautiful ministries to the wider community. They are also a lot of work!

This Sunday, we will explore our need for balance, and for spiritual practices that sustain us, in times where hope seems lost. We will explore this in worship and after the service when I share highlights from my sabbatical. Childcare and lunch will be provided!

A sustainable spirituality begins with self-care. Flight attendants always remind parents traveling with children in the event of emergency to put their own oxygen mask on first. By tending to our own wholeness, we contribute to the wholeness of others. Self-care can mean taking a walk in the woods. It can mean demanding time for the exercise we know our bodies need. It can be writing in a journal. It can be curling up with a good book. It can be getting a massage. It can be picking up a musical instrument too long laid aside.

Self-care can be saying “no” to yet another request for help—including from this church. The Chinese pictograph for “busy,” Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds us, comprises two characters, one for heart and one for killing. Thomas Merton admonished, “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

Sustainable spirituality requires practice. Prayer, meditation, yoga, and tai-chi shrink the ego and open it to receive the infinite. Spiritual disciplines help restore our sense of being whole, forgiven, and at peace. Just a few minutes of silence each day can restore our balance and our sanity.

Through all the days and nights of exhaustion, frustration, and sometimes despair of being a pastor, I’ve persisted in my daily meditation practice. Often I asked myself: how can I find the time? And the answer was always the same: how can I afford not to? “Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt,” says the Tao te Ching. “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.”

Another practice of sustainable spirituality is to make an offering of our lives, our work, our successes, even our failures. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna counsels, “Whatever you do, make it an offering to me: the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering.” When we offer ourselves up to love, to God, to any larger purpose, we surrender our egos, which just get in our way anyway. It’s not about us anymore, and in a way we can relax—not give up the struggle, but give up our self-importance. We become an instrument of God’s peace.

Blessings upon your week,

With love, Pastor Laurie

 

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Skyline UCC
A United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-8212

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