(Written by Tom Manley)

Recently when driving up to church, Lucy has become keenly aware of the changing banners hung below our ‘Skyline Community Church’ sign down on the road. Every week, she reads it aloud to me and Josh. Some weeks, she’s disappointed, but often enough… “Oh, it’s my favorite one! ‘Community is our middle name’,” she blurts in joy. “It’s true! ‘Community’ is our middle name!”

It makes me laugh, every time.

But, I do think she’s onto something.

She takes great delight in the wordplay, sure, but she also recognizes Community as an essential, defining characteristic of who we are. (Even if she wouldn’t put it that way.) Frequently, Pastor Laurie includes a mention, somewhere in the service, of Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves, “and who are our neighbors?” she asks. “Everybody!” we answer.

It is this beautiful dichotomy of Community that serves us so well. Skyline Community Church is an active community of forty or fifty people – members, friends, kids, and visitors – who gather together on Sunday mornings to worship God, to make music together, to learn from one another, and to care for one another. Skyline Community Church is also an active community of thousands of people – members, distant friends, school children, hungry families, and traveling pilgrims – who may never gather together, may never worship God, may never make music together, but who can still learn from one another, can still care for one another, and are still our neighbors whom we love.

In this season of stewardship, we ask every member of the Community to make a commitment to the Community. What can you give? What can you do? How can you participate? It is in these individual pledges, large and small, that we become a Community. We make promises to be there for each other, to care for one another, to gather and worship God, to make music, to feed the hungry, teach the children, and do our best to support each other as we struggle to follow the difficult path that Jesus showed us and that God calls us to walk.

This year, we are seeking a commitment from every one of you who are part of our community. It doesn’t matter how much money you pledge and it doesn’t matter what talents you pledge. What matters is that you make a commitment. Whatever you can afford and whatever you can do, your commitment to Skyline is what keeps this church vibrant.

We prefer, if possible, that you complete the Time, Talent & Treasure Commitment Survey on line: Here’s the link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SHQ3HYW.

If you need help, we will have computers and assistance set up in the Friendship room next Sunday, the 26th.   Otherwise, we will have printed copies of the survey available at church or we can mail you a copy so you can make a commitment to peace, justice, and love.

Stewardship begins on Sunday April 24th and ends on Sunday, May 17th!

For all that you are and all that you do, thank you.

Let’s walk together.
Peace & Blessings,
Tom
Tom Manley, Skyline Community Church Moderator

One of my favorite reflections is from the great theologian and philosopher St Augustine of Hippo who embraced doubt and questions as a part of a growing and evolving faith.

As Augustine put it,  “Our questions are our faith seeking understanding.”

Here’s another favorite of mine from author Anne Lamott:   “I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”

May we all have enough courage to notice the mess, the emptiness and the discomfort,
as we wait in hope for the light that will return!

Blessings upon your week,
Laurie

sunbeams sunsetSunday, January 25,  11:30 – 12:30 after worship

Curious about Skyline? About our denomination?

Want to learn more about who we are and how to get involved?

You’re invited to take part in our inquirers’ session to learn more about who we are as a faith community and as a denomination.

Lunch and childcare will be provided. 

Contact Pastor Laurie at revlauriemanning@gmail.com or 510 421 2646. 

Love,   Pastor Laurie

CN_Skyline_2010-12-24_ChristmasEveService_1014Blessings to you in this season of darkness, where we light candles and are reminded once more:

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Yes, we live in a broken world.

 At the same time, through us all I experience the in -breaking of God’s love right here in our community.  I experience it in the wonder of children taking part in our Christmas pageant. I experience it in the outpouring of love from this community to the homeless shelter in East Oakland; to feeding the hungry here in Alameda County; to supporting the education of 400 children of Makomray, Sierra Leone; and to caring for the immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

We experience it when we see the face of Christ, in everyone!

Come and celebrate the wonder of God’s love on Christmas Eve with us, Wed Dec 24th at 7 pm!

Bring your friends! We have childcare! It’s a short – all ages friendly service!

I wish to share a photo of a mom and dad with their three month old son, Air; one of the many EOCP Gift Familyfamilies with children that we visited earlier this week.  His parents named him Air because he is as precious as every breath we take and is filled with the Spirit of life. I cannot help but be reminded of that Holy family thousands of years ago who sought shelter as refugees, who’s precious child was born in a stable because there was no room at the inn. (The family gave me permission to share with friends and members of Skyline)

I leave you with this poem by Howard Thurman about the ongoing healing of the world that we are called to bring forth in our lives.

Candles for Christmas

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Blessings,
Pastor Laurie

3Advent CandlesThis Christmas Eve, come experience the wonder of our candlelight service celebrating the birth CN_Skyline_2010-12-24_ChristmasEveService_1014of Jesus with carols, anthems, scripture lessons, a Christmas Rhapsody, children’s choir and instrumental music.

The service will be followed by delicious Christmas treats, hot apple cider, and fellowship.

This is a beautiful way to celebrate the season with your entire family. ALL are welcome!

December 24th at 7:00 pm

For more information please contact the office at 510.531.8212

2014-childrens-sabbathsMarion Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged children for her entire professional life. For her work and writings she has received over a hundred honorary degrees and many awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award), and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Under Marion Wright Edelman’s leadership, CDF has become one of the nation’s strongest voices for children and families.  If you’re not familiar with the the CDF, I encourage you to find out about them!

Among it’s many initiatives, CDF sponsors the annual interfaith celebration of Children’s sabbath.

The 2014 National Observance of Children’s Sabbath, October 19, is titled “Precious in God’s Sight:  Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child.” It focuses on how we can ensure every child a strong start in life by investing in early childhood development. Read a letter from CDF president Marian Wright Edelman about the 2014 Children’s Sabbath, “Precious in God’s Sight:  Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child.”

This Sunday Skyline Church is honoring Children’s Sabbath by lifting up the theme – “the preciousness of EVERY child”. We will celebrate with a fun, dynamic, moving, child-friendly service.  There will be drama, music, singing, story-time, and dancing.  We’ve invited a representative from the East Bay Sanctuary Movement to share with us about the plight of children seeking asylum in the US.

You are welcome to come visit, and invite your friends with children!

I leave you with some inspiring quotes from Marion Wright Edelman:

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

“You really can change the world if you care enough.”

“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.”

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.”

Even with all of the evidence about the growing urgency of the global warming crisis it continues to be a low priority for Americans according to Pew Research.

Despite the public doubt and misinformation, the message does seem to be slowly getting through.

The UCC is the first major denomination in the US to vote to divest from fossil fuels, as a way to bankrupt Big Oil and Big Coal; not financially so much as morally in order to isolate them as outsiders just as anti smoking activists stigmatized big tobacco. The movement is spreading among the young and the educated. Students throughout the country are pressuring their administrations to divest from fossil fuels. Over 300 universities throughout the country, including UC Berkeley have divested, as the movement continues.

This year, our UCC Annual Meeting for the Northern California Nevada Conference is focusing on the theme of water conservation, education and advocacy.

At Skyline our Green Team is taking the lead on climate change issues for our church and is mobilizing the wider community here in the Oakland Hills to adopt renewable energy sources, influence practices to conserve water and encourage clean energy and sustainable living. This, too, parallels what happened in the tobacco debate when the first restrictions came at the local level. It starts with grass roots community organizing.. w/students, w/courageous faith communities, and people like you and me. Come join us for our May 10th Water Concerns event! (See event notice below)

The story of the resurrection is beckoning to us now to come and be part of the healing of our wounded planet.

I share with you this poem by Emerson:

Water
By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The water understands
Civilization well;search
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Elegantly destroy.

With love and hope,
Pastor Laurie

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

Join us for our Earth Day celebration!

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 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!

 SCC Green Team’s Mission Statement 

We recognize humanity’s impact on Earth and the urgent necessity to be stewards of God’s creation for the future of all beings.

We will promote awareness of our local and global environment, and work to reduce our environmental footprint in all Skyline activities:
worship
education
buildings and grounds
energy and water use
community service
our individual lives

Celebrate Earth Day 2015!

Preserve and Improve our Water
Turn off the tap while washing dishes

  • Collect the water running while waiting to get up to bathing temperature
  • Take a minute or two off your shower time
  • Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when full.  Buy water and energy-efficient models – saving water saves energy.
  • Walk or bike; You’ll be healthier , reduce pollution AND save 13 gallons of water for every gallon of gas you avoid using.
  • Choose an apple instead of a bag of chips:  be healthier and save 30 gallons of water.
  • Eat less meat, especially beef.  A typical hamburger can take 630 gallons of water to produce.
  • Choose tap or filtered water instead of bottled water; it take 1 ½ gallons water to produce a plastic bottle
  • Plant native plants and grasses that thrive on natural rainfall

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

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

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