Beloved Community


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


August 14, 2017


 
This week's author is Debby Kirk, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture: Psalm 133 (NRSV)

How very good and pleasant it is
   when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
   running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
   running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
   which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
   life for evermore.

Reflection:

After spending a week at Silver Lake, I would add:
  • It is like the miracle of 150 conferees clearing dishes, wiping tables, and sorting compost after each meal.
  • It is like the team work required to balance the ‘whale watch’ on the low ropes course.
  • It is like the sweet harmony of the entire camp singing the Love Round.
  • It is like hearing scripture read by youth from the Sacred Journey Korean Partnership in their native tongue.
 
Every Sunday afternoon a new batch of conferees arrives at Silver Lake.  Staff, Deans, and counselors offer a warm welcome, and then each conference begins the task of creating a beloved community.  One of the most valuable lessons that Silver Lake teaches is the practice of living in community.  Youth, who are conditioned by a culture of competition now have the opportunity to focus on cooperation.  They begin to see themselves as part of a larger family of faith that celebrates interdependence.
Not that we always get it right.  There are bumps in the road; mistakes are made.  Limits are tested and sometimes boundaries are broken.  But when that happens, we step back and remind each other of the model of Jesus.  Apologies and confession and are received with grace, forgiveness, and, sometimes, tough love.   We renew our covenant and then we move forward.
 
As Week 6 unfolded, the sacred broke through in every age group:
  • Soul Sisters were empowered to break gender stereotypes,
  • Hikers saw what it meant to walk as disciples and build bridges across cultures,
  • River of Dreamers named the elements of a “New Jerusalem,”
  • Family Campers taught us that siblings come in all sizes,
  • And Joyful Noise lifted our spirits with music.
 
As we practice holy living together, the fruits of God’s spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control--are harvested in abundance.

Prayer:

Thank you God for teaching us how to live together in unity.  May we continue to create spaces where children and youth can grow in faith. Amen.
 
Special Prayer Requests:
  • Those grieving or suffering after violence caused one death and numerous injuries in Charlottesville, VA, when white supremacists and anti-hate groups clashed on August 12;
  • those grieving for the two Virginia state policemen killed in a helicopter crash on July 12; and
  • those grieving in Sierra Leone after a mudslide killed more than 170 people on July 14.
Continuing Requests:
 
  • Those grieving for 3 soldiers after a U.S. military place crashed off the shores of Australia on Aug. 5;
  • the family and friends of Rev. Dewey Frank Fagerburg, Jr., retired UCC pastor, who died on July 14;
  • the family and friends of Rev. Joseph O Shaw Jr., retired UCC pastor, who died on June 20;
  • those grieving after a U.S. military place crashed in Mississippi, killing 16 people, on July 10;
  • the families and friends of those found in a truck in San Antonio in extreme heat, on July 23;
  • the family and friends of the Rev. Virginia Back, retired Interim Minister, who died on July 22;
  • those grieving or effected by flash flooding in Arizona where 9 were killed on July 15;
  • 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;
  • the people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
  • 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;  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:

Plymouth
First Congregational Church of Plymouth

 
Portland
First Congregational Church, UCC

Jane E. Hawken - P
Ann Labby - CE
 
Prospect
Prospect Congregational Church, UCC

Stanley E. Youngberg - IN
 
Putnam
Congregational Church of Putnam UCC

Thomas H. Meyer - P
 
Redding
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC

Dean C. Ahlberg – SP
Nikki Foster - CE
Mark Cherry - MM
 
 

The Spirit Calendar: August 14, 2017 , by Debby Kirk.