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!

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

 

This Sunday as we continue to explore the unconventional wisdom of the Beatitudes, and discover how, through our acts of mercy, compassion, and justice, we pass on, and shine forth, the love that we have received.

Join us as we continue to support the poor, right here in Oakland, with our “Stop Shivering Sunday” collection of clothes with those in need in Alameda County!

For your further reflection I am sharing with you one of my favorite quotes entitled, “Our Deepest Fear”:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

Peace,

Pastor Laurie

This past Sunday we had a very inspirational service celebrating the life changing power of walking in the universal ways of Jesus. Following the service, we had a lively discussion about who we are, (the state of our union in a sense) and about God’s unfolding and life giving vision for us, as Progressive Christians, living in this exciting and changing era of Post Christendom. 

Join us this Sunday as we explore and discuss the unconventional wisdom of the Beatitudes, and celebrate a different kind of “Souper” Bowl, to share our food with those in need in Alameda County!

As a wisdom teacher, Jesus taught his disciples with puzzling parables, pithy aphorisms, and challenging questions, inviting them to discover a new way of living by engaging his many questions. When the young lawyer asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus did not recite the law, but answered Semitic-style with yet another question, and proceeded to lead the lawyer through more questioning into his story of the Good Samaritan. The story turned upside-down the conventional wisdom of the day about the limits of neighbor love, inviting the lawyer and all of us listeners ever since to expand our own capacity for compassion.

Conventional wisdom also gets turned upside-down in the beatitudes by Jesus daring to name the poor, the meek, and the mournful as the blessed ones. What could be blessed about poverty or grief? Is this simply the promise of a better day by-and-by, when we die? Do the beatitudes describe some future reward for suffering now?  If blessing is a good thing, it would seem that common sense, and the economic and political norms of first-century Palestine (and twenty-first-century America) tell us that the wealthy bear the signs of blessing, and the powerful, not the meek, own the earth today and will keep it tomorrow. So what kind of blessing is there, and who are the poor in spirit? What is Jesus talking about? Let’s talk about it this Sunday!  

Thanks for making this a happening, welcoming and vibrant place!

Peace,

Laurie

 

This week we honor the prophetic witness of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and his profound influence upon this country and the world.

About fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, MLK stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and delivered his prophetic and patriotic speech, “I have a Dream.”

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Just a few months later, president John F Kennedy was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the new president. Influenced by King’s prophetic witness, LBJ began the New Year,  declaring the “War on Poverty.”

It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.

Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.

For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.

Fifty years later, the war on poverty, racism and violence continues, and so must the dream. It must live on, in us.

Join us, as we consider how we are called manifest that beloved community that MLK spoke of, the kingdom of heaven that Jesus manifested, and that we are called to embody!

 

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

 

This Sunday we celebrate World Communion Sunday… It is a day set aside each year to remind us that God’s greatest hope is that we my learn to live together as one.  One in spirit, one in communion with the world, and united in faith, hope and love.

It seems like we’re a long way from that goal. There are so many divisions & factions within the world.  We have religious, political, & economic tensions within our families, our cities, our work places, our country, and our world.  We live in a world of extremes –where 1 billion people live on less than $1 dollar a day. Contrast this with CEO’s & hedge fund managers living on salaries of 10’s & 100’s of millions of dollars! We live in a world where  11 million people die of starvation each year.  That’s one person, most often a child, dying every 3 seconds.  Surely, with such extremes, there’s enough food for all of us on this planet! Enough bread to share at the table of humanity!  The Hope begins within each one of us. The tiny mustard seed reminds us of the mighty potential of the hope and the power within each of us to do our part, to bring forth this vision.

Communion is about remembering; bringing together, re- membering the past, remembering the world.  So, especially on World Communion Sunday, we remember our sisters and brothers in need. We remember and renew our mission efforts to support the victims of natural and human made disasters in the world;  from the earthquake in Haiti; to the floods in Pakistan; from the oil spill  in New Orleans and tsunami  in Japan; to the war in Sierra Leone.  We remember the poor & disabled within this city and this country, and pledge our ongoing support for them, through our work with St Mary’s, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Bay Area Community Services, and the outreach efforts of our denomination, the United Church of Christ.

 

Our mission work reminds us that we are inextricably linked, because we are one body. Our mission work reminds us that each one of these people  could be our sister or our brother; and could be us. Our mission work provides us with a glimpse of that day when “They shall all be one”. When all boundaries are stripped away, and we are in “communion with the world.”  Then we will not be rich or poor, east or west, Muslim or Jew, citizen or immigrant, African or European, Asian or Hispanic, Catholic or Protestant, liberal or evangelical; we will just the children of the one God of many names together. 

It’s a beautiful vision.

Psalm 8 calls us to communion, with all of humanity, and all of creation.

Hear again the words of Psalm 8..

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, O God,
The moon & the stars that you have established;
What are human beings that you are mindful of us,
Mere mortals that you care for us?
and yet, you have made us little less than gods,
you have crowned us with glory and honor.
You have given us dominion over the works of your hands;
You have put all things under our feet,

All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

……and then, the psalm ends with these words:
O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Sunrise Service ~ 6:30 am

Featuring the Oakland/East Bay Gay Men’s Choir

Easter Worship Service ~ 10:00 am

Celebratory Traditional Music followed by
an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids!

Skyline’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt is happening RAIN or SHINE, starting at 11:30 am on Easter Sunday morning. We welcome our neighborhood families and any who care to come to join us!  Stay for refreshments and conversation following the hunt.

 

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ

12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

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

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