|Mr. Charlie Kuchenbrod, Associate Conference Minister for Endowment Ministries|
This week's author is Charlie Kuchenbrod, Associate Conference Minister for Endowment Ministries for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one."
A snippet of the lectionary scripture grabs hold of my heart this week: "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." I take this to mean that eternal life can be experienced here and now, as we live, and is not restricted to an immortal afterlife. This is both hopeful and challenging. Hopeful, because it suggests knowing God, some union of our own heart and God, is a real and present possibility. The challenge, of course, is keeping our hearts open to this.
A couple of summers ago I was a Co-Dean, with Kathy Peters, of a Silver Lake summer conference called "The Questions." This was a conference for ninth and tenth graders, and we hoped the conferees would experience that questions and doubts are not the opposite of faith, but can be a way that faith is nurtured. A part of our week was a rafting trip on the Housatonic River. As I went to rent the canoes, the proprietor asked me about our group. She was familiar with Silver Lake and asked what our conference was about. When she heard that that our theme was "The Questions", she asked what questions, in particular, we were asking. I told her we were asking the big and hard questions: Who am I? What am I here for? She responded that these were easy questions; that we are here to know and love God.
I have to admit, it is a good answer, and one that I can all too easily overlook while I am searching for something deeper or more mysterious (These are hard questions, right?). Just because this is a relatively straightforward answer, though, doesn't mean that it is simple or easy to know God. Think of all the false idols in our lives. Think about how our own choices keep us from knowing God. Idol worship and wrong choices are among the sins we confess, but God's forgiveness is infinite. The powerful thing is that the invitation to eternal life never expires!
God, we confess that we often harden our hearts to your loving presence, too quick to blame you for being absent when it is we who are blind and deaf to your presence. Please forgive us, yet again. Open our hearts to your love, that we may experience the eternal life promised by Jesus Christ. Amen.
First Ch of Christ, Cong'l
P The Rev. John C. Hall
AP The Rev. Susan G. Latourette
MM Ms. Shari Lucas
South Cong'l Church
IN The Rev. Charlotte T. Wright
CE Ms. Kathleen Grib Novak
The First United Ch of Christ Cong'l
P The Rev. James P. Tudesco
AP The Rev. Adam E. Eckhart
MM Dr. William J. Jones
MM Mr. Andrew J. Peters
CE Ms. Mary Johnson
Wildermere Beach Cong'l Church
P The Rev. John A. Thursby
P The Rev. Paige L. Besse-Rankin
Monroe Cong'l Church, Inc.
P The Rev. Peter W. Allen
AP The Rev. Jennifer M. Gingras
The Spirit Calendar: April 28, 2008 by Mr. Charlie Kuchenbrod, Associate Conference Minister for Endowment Ministries