Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012
Dear Skyline Community Church members and friends,
For some, the issue of gun control today can be summarized as a “policy debate.” For me, it’s not.
The epidemic of mass shootings in the United States is a moral and religious catastrophe. The voice of the prophet Isaiah, echoes through the ages, “The people walked in darkness, living in a land of deep darkness.”
I believe that God’s heart was the first to break among all of our hearts last Friday, in the unfolding horror of the second deadliest school shooting in American history, as twenty-eight people were killed in Newtown Connecticut, including twenty children.
I believe that God is weeping with pain right now. Weeping with these parents whose children were just executed, weeping with the spouses and relatives of the staff and weeping with the whole community. I believe that God is weeping with this country as well, weeping over the darkness, the blindness, the moral stupidity of this country that is weakening gun laws instead of strengthening them, and buying more guns despite an epidemic of mass shootings in places like schools, movie theatres, and malls.
The voices of the prophets echo through time, “Keep watch, stay awake, Prepare yourselves” It’s a call to action, not only to personal action, but also to social and civic responsibility.
Don’t tell me that this isn’t the time to talk about guns. This is the season of turning swords into plowshares, and assault weapons into instruments of healing.
Don’t tell me that we only have a week to resolve the “fiscal cliff” crisis. We have a crisis of far greater proportion. 50,000 more innocents could be killed if we delay another year.
Don’t tell me that it’s almost Christmas.
Don’t you remember, how Jesus’ birth was accompanied by the mass murder of innocent children? Murdered by a paranoid King, who massacred children that he perceived as a threat to his power?
In chapter 2, Matthew writes,
As it was spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She could not be comforted, because they are no more.”
We must hear their voices now, the voices of those crying now, at the slaughter of the innocents.
The gun lobbies, not only the National Rifle Association funds the legislators who pass more and more permissive gun laws that lead to tragedy after tragedy.
What is needed is immediate legislative action to ban the kinds of weapons typically used in these mass shootings. Even gun owners who hunt realize it is ridiculous for these type of weapons to be sold in this country. Who hunts with an assault rifle?
A visibly shaken President Obama seemed to disagree with his press secretary in saying that despite the politics, we as a country need to act. There have simply been too many deaths from mass shootings.
“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Amen, Mr. President. Now let’s all act.
As Jesus said, “You are the light of the world, You are the salt of the earth”.
I encourage You, to join me, in signing this petition:
Click here to tell the President to send legislation to Congress to renew the ban on assault weapons and to require all gun buyers to undergo an immediate background check.
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012
Advent begins… After the turkey has been devoured, the dishes done and the leftovers stuffed into the refrigerator, the darkness of the early morning in winter beckons to us. Advent, even in California, is rich with images of darkness and light, emptiness and fullness, anticipation and waiting. Despite the larger culture, which demands shopping, buying and busyness from us, we delight in darkness and the hush of a first word of annunciation.
We begin Advent with stillness and meditation. Instead of the blare of Christmas, expect the calm of quiet promise as we enter this time of waiting, just as a newly pregnant woman must enter into a time of waiting for her child to be born. As we begin the season of Advent, we, too, can begin in quiet anticipation of all that will come forth in time, in God’s holy time.
The first words of Genesis beckon to us, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” We begin at the very beginning of time and space, in the darkness, before there was light. Imagine the deep of a winter’s night, before the morning lights come up and the activity of life begins. Imagine the darkness of the mother’s womb at the beginning of life, when all is watery anticipation. Here we are, standing at the brink of time and it is beautiful, quiet and full of hope. Come into God’s presence with silence.
We invite you to walk the journey of Advent with us, in our adult education series, Wednesday evenings, starting November 28, from 7:30 – 8:30 PM. we invite you to join us, as we green the sanctuary this Saturday. We invite you to sing in the choir, preparing ourselves for the Light that is to come. Drop off your children for a few hours in the morning, December 15th. Join us, as we continue to support the efforts of Alameda County Community Food Bank, as well as the work of East Oakland Community Project, the largest 24 hour, multi-service homeless shelter in Alameda County. Join us, as we gather as an extended family, for our annual Christmas party on December 15th. Join us, and invite your friends and neighbors, as we celebrate a child and family friendly worship service on Sunday, December 23rd. Finally, join us and invite your loved ones as we open wide our doors, to welcome everyone to our inspiring Christmas Eve service, on Monday evening, December 24th. Join us, especially in these challenging economic times, are we recognize the face of Christ, in each person, and especially in the face of the poor, the homeless, the refugee.
How will the face of the Christ child come to you this year? Perhaps in the face of a happy child or an aging parent, in the words of a carol or as you write a note to an old friend, or in a simple gesture of kindness from a stranger. We never know how and when Christ will come, but we wait with expectation and hope for the light of new birth, in our homes, our community, the world and, perhaps most importantly, in ourselves.
… As for his face, why, the great galleries and museums of the ages are filled with our attempts to reproduce these features that expressed the true Emmanuel — God with us, those lineaments in which we saw for the first and fullest time the grace of God lived out in gladness, sorrow, and eternal tenderness. Yet, if we would believe his words, his face is to be sought out and found wherever hunger, hurt and deprivation are found within the family of God whenever love is moved to touch and mend and heal.
— J. Barrie Shepherd, Faces at the Manger
May you be blessed with the gift of love this Advent!
With love, Pastor Laurie
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012
Journey Through Advent – Wednesdays 11/28 – 12/19 at 7:30 pm
Journey through Advent, from faith, hope, joy, to love. Evening includes lectio divina, music, bibliodrama, questions for reflection about the significance in our lives and in the world. Come and bring your friends!
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Please Participate in the “Penny-A-Meal “ Ritual!
Church in the World Committee is inviting members of the Skyline congregation to participate in a new table ritual to help elevate our consciousness around the many issues that relate to hunger and food justice. We invite you, in this season of plenty, to place a container on your breakfast table/dining table or wherever you most commonly take your meals and add a penny to your container at every meal. As you do, remember those who do not have enough to eat. Think about those who farmed the land to grow the food we eat and those who labor, often under harsh working conditions, to harvest it. Let the Penny-A-Meal be part of your ritual of gratitude for the plenty that most of us are privileged to enjoy.
We would like this to become an ongoing part of our daily practice in every Skyline home. Periodically we will ask you to bring your pennies to church and they will be given to the Alameda County Food Bank. You will be surprised at how those pennies can add up! The first collection of this special offering will be on Souper Bowl Sunday and will be taken by our children.
In gratitude and service,
Your Church In the World Team
Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Sierra Leone BikeRide Fun-Raiser
Saturday, October 27th, 2012 ~ 9 AM (Registration 8:30 AM)
Have some healthy fun while helping children in Sierra Leone attend school!
Come participate in a bike ride to paradise on Saturday, October 29th to benefit our mission partners in Sierra Leone. Our partnering mission school in Sierra Leone continues to benefit from your help! We’ve received so much reward from this tradition, we are doing it again this year.
There will be a route just for you! We will have different ride routes to offer for kids, families, and advanced riders — everything from our church courtyard (for kiddie rides), to intermediate and advanced routes involving Cull Canyon Road and Redwood Roads, (ranging from 6 to 35 miles).
$10 minimum suggested donation. There is also a $1,000 donation sponsorship level for a child’s college education. Any level of contribution will provide teachers, school supplies and other materials for the children.
Registration begins at 8:30 AM at Skyline Church. Rides scheduled to depart at 9 AM.
Please contact Marilyn Shaw for any further questions at (510) 531-3353 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Click the link below to see a video of the children in Sierra Leone!
Thank You From the Children
Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2012
“And just who is my neighbor?”
That question will be swirling about during the campaigns and debates, from the presidential debates to our local elections. Health care, women’s rights, civil rights, the national and local economies and the environment will be front and center. Each one of these issues points to our concern for each other as neighbors, and reflects our grasp of the politics of caring for each other and the earth.
During the month of October, Skyline Community Church is doing it’s part to invite you to engage in how this question is answered in all of these issues. Join us as we learn more about the critical choices facing us, as we decide who will lead us for the next four years and what the political priorities for our nation and our cities will be. Join us, as we do our part to activate the vote, especially among the poor, who are often, disenfranchised, and least likely to vote.
These questions are inextricably linked to our identity as a faith community, especially this year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of this faith community, Skyline Community Church. Fifty years ago, the early founders met at Skyline High school, led by conference minister Richard Norberg and his wife Eleanor, who brought along their portable organ to lead worship. In partnership with lay leaders, they invited “neighbors” to come and take part in this ecumenical experiment, to follow Jesus in a more inclusive vision of community.
As we look ahead to the next fify years, especially as so many progressive faith communities are in decline, it’s more important than ever, to re-examine this question, “just who is my neighbor?
The question “who is my neighbor” was first asked by a religion scholar as he met with Jesus. In his unusual way, Jesus answered with a story. The parable of the Good Samaritan is actually a bit of a violent story: it tells of a person who was robbed, beaten and left by the side of the road for dead. A couple of religious leaders walked by and simply ignored him; he was too much trouble and probably beyond saving anyway. But a foreigner, an outsider, stops for him and steps out of himself and is moved by compassion. He shows care for the dying man and even helps to restore his sense of well-being before moving on. Jesus reveals the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, and reveals, that there are, in fact no limits to who is neighbor. It’s all about being neighbor to everyone.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if that parable were read at the beginning of all of our national political debates? Some of you have said to me that you no longer feel excited or challenged by national politics; it seems that you have become more wary as public campaigns have become more ugly. Perhaps political parties can no longer be trusted to make a profound difference in the lives of the people. But those who might genuinely grapple with a sense of what it means to be a real neighbor might be able to change the way we look at each other. Our actions matter. Our choices matter. The way we treat each other actually makes a difference and matters.
There needs to be more good Samaritans in the world, not less. We can change the balance by learning what it means to practice compassion in our neighborhood and with each one who is our neighbor. Instead of crossing the street and distancing ourselves from the pain of others, let’s learn what kind of equipment we need to pursue a life of welcoming compassion.
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Wednesday, March 7th, 7 – 8 pm
Adult Education Series – Friendship Room
Jesus drives the money-changers from the temple:
In all four gospels, the Prince of Peace suddenly becomes the Disturber of the Peace. “Then Jesus went into the temple of God, and drove out all those who had bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers”, and he said to them, ‘It is written, my house shall be called “A House of Prayer,” but you have made it a den of thieves!
This is the Jesus who drove the money-changers out of the temple of Jerusalem, and it is this Jesus called back to duty who will drive the money-changers out of the temples of democracy.
Where does Jesus stand? Where does God stand? Just go to the record. God is on the side of the poor.
Join us at Skyline, as we explore the implications of this challenging passage.
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Sunday, March 25th
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
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.
Childcare will be provided.
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Celebrate with us on Sunday, February 12th at 10 AM
For our annual “Preschool Sunday,” we will celebrate Valentine’s Day by honoring the theme of “One Love” – love for ourselves, love of our families and friends, and love for the world. Preschools families and children will be joining us, and we will share gifts of love with area agencies. A fun-filled worship service, with dancing in the sanctuary, which will almost feel like Mardi Gras!
Afterwards, we will enjoy the parents’ potluck preparations and a farewell cake for our outgoing office manager Chrysalis Hyon in the Preschool. Come, join us!
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
This Sunday, January 15th at Skyline, we will honor the memory of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., his sense of God’s calling in his life, and the larger civil rights movement to which he gave his life. We will also take seriously our call in this time, to participate in the civil rights movement of our times for greater economic justice, particularly within our country. Together, one day, we shall overcome!
Please bring with you – friends who would be drawn to this celebration; books, photos, quotes, memories of Reverend King (to be placed on the Sanctuary communion table). Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss ways that you’d like to take part at email@example.com.
And for those of you interested in exploring parallels between the black civil rights movement of the 1960′s and the current Occupy movement, please check out:
Finally, here’s a link to learn more about the various events taking part here in Oakland to honor this great man, and the urgent need for our collective leadership at this time:
Blessings, Reverend Laurie Manning