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

Dear Ones,

 In this season, God is inviting us to make room in our hearts and in our lives.

 Whatever outward expression Advent takes for us, Christ calls us to open our heart to welcome him anew.

“Let every heart prepare him room” we hear in the lines of one Christmas hymn.450x299xAway-in-a-Manger.jpg.pagespeed.ic.DzbaKxVhch

 “God will speak peace to the people…to those who turn to God in their hearts” one of the Advent psalms tells us.

But what does it mean for us to do this? What does it look like to prepare our heart to welcome the God who comes to us? Are we certain we want this in the first place? Jesus, after all, is hardly a tidy guest. When he arrives, he is always turning things upside down. He sees more than we sometimes wish he would see, knows us more thoroughly than is comfortable, embraces us as he finds us but does not leave us there.

Prepare him room!  Blessings, Pastor Laurie

Asante Flyer 12-2014 Skyline-1

Pageant Mary Joseph angelsCome and experience the wonders of the ChristmasPageant 3 kings story!

Join us for a child/family friendly worship service of carols where everyone is invited to take place in the Christmas pageant!

Wear your favorite costume.  Be a shepherd, sheep, king, queen,angel, donkey!

Join us for fun, music and celebration!  Be part of the drama!  Friends, family, all are invited!

Christmas Pageant: Sunday, Dec. 21 at 10 AM!

Invite everyone you know with children or grandchildren!   We’ll see you there!

 

Gods_ClockAdvent begins. A season where, in  patience, we dwell in God’s time; that is to say, the time beyond this world, this solar system, this galaxy, this universe, beyond all imagining.

There we find peace that passes all understanding. In Hinduism, patience is one of the thousand names of God.

When I say God I don’t mean an old white man with a beard up in the sky. I mean something ultimate and mysterious that defies definition and description, but which represents the deepest and truest and holiest things we know or dream or wish for. In that sense and that spirit I’d like to offer  a prayer by a man named Ted Loder, a prayer of waiting:

O God of all seasons and senses,
Grant me your sense of timing
To submit gracefully
And rejoice quietly
In the turn of the seasons.
In this season of short days and long nights,
Of grey and white and cold,
Teach me the lessons of waiting:
Of the snow joining the mystery
Of the hunkered-down seeds
Growing in their sleep
Watched over by gnarled-limbed, grandparent trees
Resting from autumn’s staggering energy;
Of the silent, whirling earth
Circling to race back home to the sun.
O God, grant me your sense of timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,sun and snow
Of grey and white and cold,
Teach me the lessons of endings:
Children growing,
Friends leaving,
Jobs concluding,
Stages finishing,
Grieving over,
Grudges over,
Blaming over,
Excuses over.
O God, grant me your sense of timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
Of grey and white and cold,
Teach me the lessons of beginnings:
That such waitings and endings
May be a starting place,
A planting of seeds
Which bring to birth
What is ready to be born—
Something right and just and different,
A new song,
A deeper relationship,
A fuller love—
In the fullness of your time.
O God, grant me your sense of timing.

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

Jesus was a very radical dude. In his time,  much like our times in this country, people were very divided one from another. Back then if you were a child or a woman, if you had no money, if you had a disease or a physical disability, or if you came from the wrong country or city or even the wrong family you had no rights and no respect.

Jesus refused to play along with division and discrimination. One of the truly subversive things he not only taught – but did constantly – was to eat, drink, and visit with the outcasts of society.  He hung out with beggars, lepers, prostitutes, children, and even tax collectors. As Thanksgiving approaches we are reminded that we are not only what we eat, we are also with whom we eat. In Jesus’ kingdom & at his table everyone, especially all those considered “the least of these”, is welcome.

This Sunday, we welcome your many food donations for these various causes:

  1.  Alameda County Community Food Bank (canned tuna & chicken, soups & stews, peanut butter, canned foods)
  2.  East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition, EOICC, collecting food for undocumented immigrants from Central America.(beans, rice, cooking oil )
  3.  Pies for Lake Merritt United Methodist (ACCFB food pantry’s) Thanksgiving dinner.

Please see the details included below.

We also welcome volunteers to help prepare and serve and share Thanksgiving dinner at Lake Merritt! Please see Paula Byrens for details.

After all of this eating we invite you to work it off on Saturday, Nov 29th, at our “Greening of the Sanctuary” from 8 am – 1 pm.

Oh yes, one more food item – mark your calendars for our Sun Dec 7th Christmas Party, 5 – 8 pm, which includes dinner and a fun program (see details berlow)! If you’d like to help with the food planning, please contact Suzie Harris and Marilyn Shaw.

Blessings, Laurie

sun and snowWednesdays, December 3, 10, 17, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Led by Pastor Laurie, in the Meditation room

Though Advent (literally “arrival”) has been observed for centuries, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look.

For the vast majority of us December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called “the holiday season” turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.

Even we, who genuinely love Christmas, often lose sight of its point. How many of us, content with familiar traditions and feelings of goodwill forget the dank stable, the cold night, and the closed door of the inn? How many of us share the longing of the ancient prophets who awaited the Messiah with aching intensity thousands of years before he was born?

We miss the essence of Christmas unless we become mindful of how Christ’s birth took place.

Together, in this series, we create a space for God’s coming into our lives by listening to God  in the ancient story and in our lives through

  • quiet peaceful prayer
  • journaling
  • the arts
  • sharing

Childcare provided;  please RSVP to Pastor Laurie by Sun Nov 30th if you need childcare.

Contact Pastor Laurie (421-2646)   revlauriemanning@aol.com or the office (510-531-8212  office@skylineucc.org) with questions or to register.

Watching for the Light Advent Series flyer.

On Pentecost we celebrated the inspiring power of the Holy Spirit as we welcomed five new members into our faith community!

Welcome everyone!

This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day, and remember how Jesus, in prayer, referred to God in an utterly new way as “abba”, “daddy in heaven”.

As part of honoring our fathers, I invite you this Sunday to bring a photo along with memories to describe the qualities you most love in your father.

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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