Hope


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


September 12, 2016


This week's author is Charlie Kuchenbrod, Executive Associate Conference Minister for the Connecticut Conference.

SCRIPTURE: Multiple Verses

Although the wording may vary, "fear not" appears over 100 times in scripture. In the NRSV, the exact phrase "do not be afraid" appears 67 times.

Reflection:

Isn't it great that hope is a renewable resource? We can cultivate hope. We don't have to ever run out of hope. I can make you more hopeful in minutes, with the right message. The problem is that a few minutes later that warm sentiment will probably be gone. Building durable, resilient hope that is more than just a warm sentiment takes a lot more effort, say by a community of faith-inspired people bound by covenant. What images come to mind for you? A family? A support group? A team? A congregation?

Unfortunately, fear is also renewable, and we are in no danger of running out of fear. Fear seems to be a byproduct of chaos. Fear grows without intentional effort. It seems that fear has some advantage, even before we had the Internet. And even more regrettably, there are people and organizations that use fear as a weapon. Even a community of faith-inspired people bound by covenant can lose their way and be overcome by fear.

Perhaps this is why "fear not" or "don't be afraid" or similar words keep recurring in scripture. God's people need to hear this over and over again. Our communities of faith-inspired people bound by covenant need to work hard to fight fear and promote hope. This will take wisdom and courage, but discipleship often does.

Prayer:

Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

(Thank you, Harry Emerson Fosdick)

Special Prayer Requests:

New Requests

Please remember:

the family and friends of Rev. Aubrey Murphy, Associate Pastor Emeritus of First Congregational Church of Bristol, and member of East Granby Congregational Church, who died on August 30; and
Rachel Ciba Markowitz, daughter of Michael and Diane Ciba, who is receiving hospice care.

Continuing Requests

Please remember:

the family and friends of C. Freeman Reynolds, father of the Rev. Carl Reynolds, pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Stafford, longtime member of the First Church of Christ in Farmington, and former member of the Lay, Life and Leadership Committee for the Conference. Mr. Reynolds died recently at age 98;
the family and friends of Andrew Leclaire, Sr. nephew of Steve Gilson and Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference Minister, who lost his battle with ALS on August 28th;
the family and friends of Rev. Robert Lane, retired UCC minister, who died on August 15;
the Rev. Barbara Frey, Coordinator of Christian Education at the Spring Glen CC in Hamden, whose mother died on August 13;
those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding killing more than 50 guests on August 20;
those effected by wildfires in western regions of our nation;
those grieving or suffering after a flash flood in Maryland killed two and destroyed dozens of buildings and vehicles on Aug. 30;
Rev. M. John Arens, Pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, who had surgery on June 28;
Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership and Vitality, and her family as they face a loss and difficult illness in the family;
The Rev. Sara Smith, pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, and her sister Ellen, who is recovering from a stroke;
Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Associate Pastor of the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, whose parents were involved in a tragic car accident. Kelly?s father, Wallace, has died and her mother, Janet, is hospitalized;
Rev. Pat Kriss, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Danbury, who is recovering from an injury;
Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
members and Staff of the United Congregational Church of Tolland as they minister to church and community grieving a tragic loss;
the Rev. Dr. Don Westerberg, Pastoral Counselor in New Milford, who recently received a lung transplant and is recovering;
Ewan, grandson of the Rev. Price van der Swaagh, an ordained minister in this conference, as he is treated for leukemia;
Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
the Rev. Mary Nelson, South Central Regional Minister of the Connecticut Conference, whose brother is recovering from surgery;
Alisia Selders, daughter of Bishop John Selders, pastor of Amistad UCC in Hartford, in a new round of treatment for cancer;
the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, seeking employment, or working to find just resolutions; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.

To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Drew Page at: drewp@ctucc.org.

Please Remember These
Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers

Orange
Orange Congregational Church
Suzanne E. Wagner - DT
Susan Cassidy - CE
Bryan Campbell ? MM

Oxford
Oxford UCC Congregational

Plainfield
The First Congregational Church of Plainfield
Mr. Stephen Finlan - P
Gordon C. Johnson ? PE

Plainville
The Congregational Church of Plainville, UCC

Plantsville
Plantsville Congregational UCC
Paul F Goodman - IN



The Spirit Calendar: September 12, 2016 , by Charlie Kuchenbrod.