green cloverSt. Patrick’s Day should be a celebration, one that surpasses the kind of ecstasy reached with one too many green beers. This year may St. Patrick’s Day be an occasion to bless and be blessed and a moment to remember the Spirit that draws us to one another in celebration and in sorrow.

To bless someone, in the most literal sense of the word, is to confer your hopes to them. That’s why so many traditional blessings begin with the word “may.”

Take, for instance, what is perhaps the best-known Irish blessing (or toast, as the case may be this time of the year):

© Mircala | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Mircala | Dreamstime Stock Photos

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

“May” doesn’t mean “so be it.” May implies that something is possible, but not a done deal. May hopes that God puts it in play and that you get out of your own way and allow it to happen.

John O’Donohue, the great contemporary Irish poet/philosopher (and former Catholic priest), knew the power of “may”, and the power of blessing.

Here is a video montage accompanying John reading his poem called “Beannacht”, which means “Blessing” in Irish (from O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory):

Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Dear Ones,

yellow flowersThese past fews months the rains and the rainbows have returned.  And the greenness has returned to the hills which are bedazzled with bright orange poppies, delicate pink and white cherry blossoms, the songs of sparrows and thrushes, and the gentle caress of the sun. The earth itself seems to be returning to new life and we feel it in our souls.

We spring forward this Sunday with daylight savings time – waking up an hour earlier to greet the new day and to enjoy an extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Choir- take note! :-)

We invite you to rise and shine an hour earlier and join us this Sunday as we reclaim a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Ten Commandments; beyond the Cecil B DeMille and Mel Brooke’s version.

We also invite you to mark your calendars to celebrate the Vernal Equinox on Wed March 18th at 6:30 pm and reclaim the earlier traditions associated with Easter. I encourage you to read the details below.

In honor of spring I share with you the inspiring words of Mary Oliver in her poem entitled, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”.

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still….read more

Blessings upon your week,
Laurie

Sunday, March 15 During Service

Every year Skyline joins many denominations of churches to combine resources to make a difference.  Here’s the introduction to One Great Hour of Sharing Mission Report from 2014:

Before the television news reporters are on the scene or the latest updates pop up on your phone screen—you already are present with people in some of the most chaotic and disrupted situations of our world—making a positive contribution. Through sustained partnerships and empowering response made possible by the United Church of Christ’s One Great Hour of Sharing offering and designated giving, you are changing lives. This annual report is a testimony to the breadth and depth of these ministries of disaster response, sustainable development and refugee relief. They are spiritual practices of radical hospitality for the well-being of all. This report gives a glimpse of the lives changed through meeting immediate needs of people in the most vulnerable situations of their lives—those impacted by disasters, uprooted by violence or experiencing poverty. Through One Great Hour of Sharing, children have clothes, elders have food and church congregations have an immediate purpose.

Watch 1 min Video

cn_skyline_2007-04-08_eastersunrise_011.jpg

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 Chorus

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

Email Skyline Office

The rains have quenched the parched thirsty earth, and the hills are lush and green with new life.

The sunlight sparkles upon the bay, ushering in a new day.

Valentines Day is upon us, and the supermarkets are pressuring us to purchase chocolates, candied hearts, and helium balloons. May I offer to you the timeless words of Paul in his letter to the people of Corinth, reminding them of the qualities of enduring love. Wishing all of you the blessings of love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love, Pastor Laurie Blessings

Sun Feb 15th 2-2:30 PM

We will join LakeShore Avenue Baptist Church and other faith communities to sing spirituals and songs of liberation, justice and freedom!  Come join us. We can carpool from the church or meet at Lake Shore Ave Baptist Church (3534 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610). For more information contact Nancy Taylor or Pastor Laurie.

A Public Witness of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church and Skyline Community Church!

What We Are Asking For:

  1. A continued commitment on the part of Oakland’s elected officials and Oakland Police Department leadership to support Ceasefire and other proven violence reducing and life enhancing initiatives.
  2. A continued commitment on the part of Oakland’s elected officials, Oakland Police Department leadership and Oakland Fire Department leadership to cultivate a police force and fire department that reflects that diversity of Oakland. This includes prioritizing the hiring of Oakland residents by the OPD and OFD.
  3. A continued commitment on the part of Oakland’s elected officials and Oakland Police Department leadership to the hiring, training and disciplining of OPD officers in such a manner that insures the members of the force are committed to offering community and constitutionally oriented police services.
  4. A continued commitment on the part of Oakland’s elected officials and Oakland Police Department leadership to data driven deployment of OPD officers.
  5. A commitment on the part of Oakland’s elected officials and Oakland Police Department leadership to correct the wrong of racial profiling whereby 75% of the stops by OPD officers are of African-Americans and Hispanics, members of groups that make up approximately 40% of the population. Of these stops, less than 20% result in arrests.


What We Are Committing To:
Partnering together with these groups and the wider community to resolve the underlying causes of racism and violence in our city.

Be mindful – Dehumanizing those who are dehumanizing you only contributes to the cycle of dehumanization in the world.    Cornel West

Fresh from the rains of these past weeks into this new year, water reminds us of life itself and the promises of new life symbolized in baptism.

Yet water is full of paradox, of life and death, of beauty and terror and transformation.

“I am haunted by waters.” These are the last words of Norman Maclean’s novella, A River Runs Through It. Waters haunt all of us.

 The human imagination is consumed with images of water, and rightly so. Our bodies are made up of water. If we fail to drink or if we are prevented from drinking, we will expire. Drought means the possibility of death for both land and humans—too little rainfall and life as we know it is threatened.

Water is also dangerous, chaotic, and devastating. In the ancient world the primeval disorder takes shape in the form of a watery chaos or monsters from the deep. An abundance of rain can lead to the land’s fertility, but too much water will drown the crops. Hurricanes and tsunamis remind us that water can be an agent of death. The watery depths of the sea are a great unknown. We know that we cannot tame or master them and that, as generations come and go, the water remains.

Water will play a central role in the coming decades or centuries. Will the waters bring death or life?  Humanity has a tremendous role in answering that question.

Let us recall our baptism, reaching back to hear the voice that speaks to us out of the waters—the voice that proclaims to a world of conflict that we are all “very good” and claims us all as “beloved.” The Spirit moves in and out of our busy lives, and there are times when I recognize the Spirit’s hovering presence beckoning all to a different order, to a new creation. As I reach for the water, whether in a font or on the ocean’s edge, I find myself trying to connect to the chaotic, life-giving and mysterious power that resides in its depths. One day I hope that I can say along with Langston Hughes: “I’ve known rivers: ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

gay marriage 2 guysThe Advocate.com wrote a year in review series and included an article about religious people who gave hope in 2014 to the LGBT community for inclusion in religion.  The UCC’s General Synod is listed as #11.  Read the article here.

Here’s a link to UCC’s page about our LGBT ministry.

Skyline Community Church voted many years ago to be an open and affirming church – welcoming all peoples.

 

starHappy New Year!

What does that expression bring up for you?

In a sense, New Year’s Day is no different than any other day.  After all, the calendar we live by is a human construction.  Yet in another way the new year always brings with it the sense of a fresh start, “another chance to get it right” as Oprah would say.  So it begs the question, why not start every day with that attitude?

The journey of the magi and the feast of the Epiphany offer an opportunity for us to consider our own journey – to gaze up to the heavens and to consider what star it is that we are following. May we be guided by the Light from above to expose the darkness that stalks our souls; and to show us the way, every step of the journey, and every day of our lives.

searchThe rains and the dark storm clouds continue this week. For some of us this is a sad and stressful time of year. Even more so, to those of us who take in the wounds of the world through the news and through our own personal lives. Our experience of the world’s brokenness can shake us to our foundations. Grief, violence, sorrow, depression can stuff out the light for us, and threaten our capacity to dream, to envision, and to find creative ways to respond to the wounds we encounter in the world and in ourselves.

In the face of this we must sing, or draw, or dance, or write. We must find whatever replenishes our imaginations and restores our ability to envision and dream anew.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

- From the hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing?”

May we all consciously seek to follow the Divine Light, rejoicing in the love which leads us home.

Blessings,

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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