For Better - For Worse


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


October 17, 2016


This week's author is the Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba, Southwest Senior Regional Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture: Psalm 65 (NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. A Song.
Praise is due to you,
     O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed, 
     O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come. 
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
     you forgive our transgressions. 
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
     to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
     your holy temple. 

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
     O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
     and of the farthest seas. 
By your strength you established the mountains;
     you are girded with might. 
You silence the roaring of the seas,
     the roaring of their waves,
     the tumult of the peoples. Those who live at earth's farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. 

You visit the earth and water it,
     you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
     you provide the people with grain,
     for so you have prepared it. 
You water its furrows abundantly,
     settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
     and blessing its growth. 
You crown the year with your bounty;
     your wagon tracks overflow with richness. 
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
     the hills gird themselves with joy, 
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
     the valleys deck themselves with grain,
     they shout and sing together for joy.
 

Reflection:

The first church I served as a pastor was located in a rural community. The choir had its set of "standards" which they sang at regular intervals throughout the year. One piece the choir sung during harvest season was based on the last two verses of this psalm. The musical setting was bright and bubbly, fitting for the celebration of a good harvest. 

Harvest was a matter of life and death for the people of the Bible. A good one was worth singing and dancing about. A bad one meant hunger and starvation. They saw the goodness of the land as evidence of God's goodness, God's care for creation, and all God's creatures. 

Of course the weather was not always good. The rains did not always come. The land did not always bear fruit. Other psalms contain the people's lament in bad times, when God seems not to care. 

God calls us to witness to God's love and care. God calls us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice, no matter where we find ourselves in life.

Prayer:

We thank you, O God, for the ways that you provide and care for us. Help us to care for all who need your care, in your name. Amen.

Special Prayer Requests:

New Requests

Please remember:

The people of Iraq impacted by the renewed fighting in and around the city of Mosul where Iragi forces are trying to retake control of the city from ISIS.

Continuing Requests

Please remember:

Those residents of the southeastern states affected by flooding and the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew on July 7-8;
the friends and family of Rev. Paul Bomely, former pastor at Oxford UCC, who died on August 5;
the people of Haiti as they try to recover from the destruction of Hurricane Matthew, which struck on October 4;
the family and friends of Rev. Newell Curtis Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Center Congregational Church in Manchester, who died on October 1;
those effected by a fire that destroyed the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, CA on October 1;
those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding killing more than 50 guests on August 20; 
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;
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;
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

South Windsor 
Wapping Community Church UCC
Mark B. Abernethy - SP
Lee Carman - CE

Southbury 
South Britain Congregational Church
Shannon Rye Wall - P

Southbury 
United Church of Christ, Southbury
Walter L. Pitman - SP
Cynthia C. Holden - AP

Southington 
First Congregational Church of Southington
Ronald Brown - SP
Rachel Johanna Bahr - AP

Southport 
Southport Congregational UCC
Paul D. Whitmore - P
Laura Hutchison Whitmore - AP
Sharon P. Blackburn - OL

The Spirit Calendar: October 17, 2016 by Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba, Southwest Senior Regional Minister

The Spirit Calendar: October 17, 2016 , by Michael Ciba.