Begin Now


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


May 22, 2017


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

Scripture: Acts 1: 6-14 (NRSV)

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
 
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Reflection:

Let me re-imagine this scene.
 
Apostles:   Lord, are you finally going to clean up this mess and set things right?
 
Jesus:   You still don’t get it, do you?  Don’t wait for me, God, or anyone else to do something.  Get together and get to work!  I’m outta here.  [SFX: Clouds, etc.]
 
I can certainly imagine myself in this scene.  There are many times when I still don’t get it, when I am waiting for someone, somehow, to clean up this mess of a world.  Do you need another list of all the ways that the world is broken?  I need to get to work.  We need to get to work.  As the Interpreter’s Bible puts it: “Begin now.  Let the world see a demonstration of what the power of God can do when it works through the fellowship of those who trust in [God.]”
 
Begin now.  Begin.  Now.

Prayer:

God, you and you alone are completely trustworthy.  Open my heart to the power of love.  Guide me to work with others to create a more just and peaceful world.  Be with me God, it is time for me to begin.  Amen.

Special Prayer Requests:
  • Those grieving or suffering after a man drove his vehicle into pedestrians in Times Square, New York City, killing one and injuring 22 others on May 18.
Continuing Requests:
  • The family and friends of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, who was killed during military operations in Somalia. Milliken is the first U.S. service member to be killed in Africa since 1993;
  • those suffering or grieving a shooting in San Diego which left 2 dead, including the shooter, and 6 wounded on May 30;
  • those suffering or grieving in Seoul, South Korea after falling crane killed 6 workers and injured more than 20 others on May 1;
  • those living in the U.S. South and Midwest as violent weather continues after weekend storms left at least 15 dead;
  • Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30;
  • the family and friends of Rev. Vernon Phelps, retired UCC and Methodist pastor, who died on April 26;
  • those grieving after a house fire in New York City killed 5 including 4 children on April 23;
  • those grieving in Fresno after a gunmen killed 4 people in two incidents on April 13 & 18;
  • the family and friends of Rev. Russell Ayre, retired UCC pastor who served several churches in CT. Ayre died April 10;
  • Rev. Sara Smith, Senior Pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who is recovering from an injury;
  • Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
  • the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
  • he people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
  • Richard "Ned" Bunell, member of First Congregational Church of Canton Center, who was hospitalized for an illness and is now recovering;
  • John Polglase, husband of the Rev. Betsey Polglase, Pastor of the Columbia Congregational Church UCC, who has chronic pulmonary disease;
  • the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
  • 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;
  • 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 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:

Litchfield
The First Congregational Church of Litchfield, UCC

Bradley Bergfalk - SP
Dylan Ackley - CE
 
Lyme
First Congregational Church of Lyme UCC

 
Lyme
Grassy Hill Congregational

Christine Phillips - SU
 
Madison
First Congregational Church of Madison

Todd Clarke Vetter - P
Sue Timony-Hall - CE
 
Manchester
Center Congregational UCC

Joyce Olive Crutchfield - P
 
 

The Spirit Calendar: May 22, 2017 , by Charlie Kuchenbrod.