As a new year begins, we turn inward to reflect about the state of our lives:

  • What lessons have we learned in the past year and which new ones now call us forward?
  • To whom do we still owe an apology or expression of thanks?
  • And with whom must we draw fresh boundaries?

As we pause from our regular rhythms of rush-rush-rush, we open ourselves to new perspectives and possibilities. We give thanks for these moments and for the wisdom they afford us. May they help bring us together in the sacred dynamics of life so that we—as individuals and as members of this community—might reach our full potential.

As we step across this threshold, let this new year be a year of greater awe and gratitude, deeper kindness and acceptance, and more courageous acts of conviction.

For a kinder, more equitable and sustainable world is not only possible, she is on her way. And in the quietness of this sacred community, we can even hear her breathing.

Amen.

Now is the season of lights!

Lights are kindled in the long dark of the winter night, the same fires our forbearers lit in hope and faith that, in time, the sun would return to warm the earth.

Now is the season of lights—Diwali, Chanukah, Tazaungdaing, St. Lucia’s Day, Loi Krathong, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas. Every Sunday morning in worship we begin by lighting candles, symbols of our hope and our faith.  In this season of waiting we light more candles to remind us that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Across cultures fire signals divine power and knowledge, witness, sacrifice, purification & illumination,  courage, curiosity, and the quest for justice.

I encourage you this week, as we prepare a space within our hearts for the light of Christmas,  to take a quiet moment to simply behold

  • Behold the beauty of candlelight
  • Behold the wonder of the stars in the heavens at night
  • Behold the preciousness of love

Blessings and peace be with you, with love, Pastor Laurie

The next few weeks will be filled with the joyful voices of our children and our choir!

Starting this Sunday is our fabulous Annual Christmas Pageant featuring beat poetry written by our innovative David Guerra, music by our inspiring music director Benjamin Mertz, and carols sung gloriously by all of us; everyone – all ages- is invited to take part! You can wear whatever costume you want, because Baby Jesus welcomes everyone! Bring your friends, especially those with children!

Also, mark your calendars for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, where we will be lifting up more beautiful and inspiring words and music!

In addition, related to music, please check out our music director Benjamin Mertz’s new CD, “Christmas at the Crossroads”; you can listen to the tracks and order it here.

Finally, I leave you with inspiring words of hope, in these challenging times, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

The reflection is entitled, “We Were Made For These Times”

Blessings and peace in these challenging times.

Pastor Laurie

 

Please join in the celebration of Christmas at Skyline’s annual potluck Christmas party on Sunday, December 11, 2016 from 11:45 AM to 2:00 PM in the sanctuary.  There will be plenty if you just found out about it, so please come – you are invited!

You’ll enjoy singing traditional carols and Christmas hymns.  The children (and the child in you) will be thrilled to hear the ho ho ho and feel the love love love of Santa.  We’ll share the Christmas story together.  And there will be delicious food and desserts, tea and partying!

If you have questions, would like to help out or have suggestions please contact Nancy Taylor at  ngtaylor94619@yahoo.com.  

The book of Isaiah, complex as it is, is framed by poetry. The poems of Isaiah envision the future God will yet give.

In this season, as the days grows shorter and chillier, hear these timeless words of hope for us (below):

Also, I encourage you to consider the many opportunities we are offering this month for prayer and reflection, for worship, for justice, and for fellowship. My deepest thanks to all of you in creating this beloved community and welcoming the wider community to take part.

isaiah-11A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;
the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

starCome 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, fireman, donkey!

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

Christmas Pageant: Sunday, Dec. 18at 10 AM!  

(Contact Laurie for practice schedule – office@skylineucc.org or 510-531-8212).

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

thanksgiving-images-free-768x432Last Sunday we gave thanks for the glorious diversity not only of the world but also of our  faith community, as we welcomed five new members!

Please extend a special welcome to Anna Quandt, Becky Taylor, Bee Franks-Walker, David Guerra & David McGuinness! 

If you haven’t had a chance to get to know these five unique, brilliant, authentic, compassionate, fair-minded, creative, amazing human beings, please be sure to say hi!  

We invite you to join us this Saturday from 10 am – 12 noon to prepare the advent wreaths, and to decorate the Christmas trees for advent. Pastor Laurie will be providing delicious chicken soup, bread and hot apple cider and festive advent music!  

During this season of giving thanks for the abundance of our lives, we remember  all of those who do not have enough, who are afraid, who are lonely, and who suffer. We wish for the abundance of this world to be shared, for fear to become love, for the lonely to feel welcomed, and for the suffering to know rest and joy. 

I leave you with a Thanksgiving prayer, by Walter  Rauchenbach..

O God, we thank you for the beauty of this earth, our home;

For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

cn_oakland_2015-12-24_skylinechrismassservice_0002Skyline Church in Oakland is holding an interfaith candlelight music and prayer vigil on Wednesday night following the deadly warehouse fire in our city.

The public vigil will be held from 7-8 pm at Skyline Church, 12540 Skyline Blvd, Oakland CA.

This is a devastating loss to our community and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected, victims, survivors, families, Oakland’s Fire and Police depts., and the Alameda County’s Sheriff’s office. Our prayers remain with the loved ones of the victims and the Oakland arts community.

Voluntary donations will go to support the relief efforts for those impacted by the fire. Taizé Prayer is simply sung prayer, CN_Oakland_2014-04-20_SkylineEasterService Labyrnth in fogconsisting of the repetition of simple chants. The experience of singing these chants can take us to that deep inner place that longs for communion with God. The service is comprised of meditative chanting, Scripture, spoken prayers, and silence.

Leading the event is Rev. Laurie Manning, Pastor of Skyline and Benjamin Mertz, Music director of Skyline.

All are invited to come together to share in God’s loving guidance.

As Thanksgiving approaches consider that we are not, after all, only what we eat. We are also with whom we eat.  In Jesus’s kingdom and at his table everyone, especially all those considered “the least of these”,  is welcome. This social healing was as profound and transformative as any medical miracle Jesus was said to have performed. It challenged the prevailing social order then and now. The gentle shepherd, the Prince of Peace, it turns out, was and still is a troublemaker and a revolutionary. He is working through us to bring forth the new kingdom, the heavenly realm here on earth.  He is working through us when we realize that Caesar is not our Lord, that Pharaoh is not our father, that CEOs and military leaders are not our ultimate guide. God is passionately in love with us, with all of us, and more than anything is yearning for us to live as sisters and brothers, united in love.  

This Sunday, we welcome everyone to the table! Join us as we welcome our newest members, as we share from our abundance with the local food pantries of ACCFB, and we honor Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Here’s UCC’s Pastoral Letter to a United Church in a Divided Country.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

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

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

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