House Divided


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


July 10, 2017


This week's author is Sioux Wilusz, Registrar and Program Associate for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture:  Genesis 25: 21-23 (NRSV)

Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in your womb,
   and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
one shall be stronger than the other,
   the elder shall serve the younger.’

Reflection:

As the sons of Isaac and Rebekah, and the grandsons of Abraham, Jacob and Esau were destined to be adversaries.  They were opposites with conflicting views and characteristics.  From conception, they would struggle against one another.  Their relationship would be used repeatedly to represent two nations with deep roots who would continually be at war with one another.
 
This past week I attended my first General Synod.  For four days I watched enthralled as Clergy and Lay Leader Delegates discussed, gave witness to, and thoughtfully, and sometimes emotionally debated controversial issues.  We gathered as members of one body.  We stood together under an umbrella of colorful beings; from different cultures, sexual identities, ages, backgrounds, disabilities, education, life styles and ethnicities.  We took turns, gave safe space, had difficult dialogues and thought critically about topics that were not easy.  And at the end of the day, holding hands, dancing and singing; worshiping with one another.  United.  The United Church of Christ
 
But Jacob and Esau remind me that it’s not something to be taken for granted.  Just because you come from the same family does not mean you will stand together.  There are critical differences in the destruction that comes from a House Divided, and the strengths that can emerge from a Divided House.  We must continually work at being an organization that cherishes our differences without losing sight of the fundamental beliefs that unite us.
 
"I know there is strength in the differences between us.
I know there is comfort where we overlap.”

-- Ani DiFranco

Prayer:

Dear Father, help us to find the value that lies in all of our differences, that they may bring us closer and not divide us.  Help to unify us, and strengthen, and preserve our faith that is so deeply rooted in our love for You.   For we know that where two or more are gathered in your name, you are with us.  Amen.
 
Special Prayer Requests:
  • Those who live in fear of losing health care coverage as legislature discuss changes in the current system; and
  • those families who have suffered the loss of a child due to terminal illness or other causes.
Continuing Requests:
 
  • Those suffering after a night club shooting in Arkansas which left 28 injured on July 1;
  • those suffering or grieving after a shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York on June 30;
  • those grieving or suffering in Germany after a bus accident which killed 17 and injured 30 others on July 3;
  • those grieving or suffering in China where more than 90 are still missing after a landslide buried the village of Xinmo on June 24;
  • those grieving or suffering in Pakistan after a oil tanker crashed and ignited spilled fuel, killing more than 150 and severely burning more than 50 others on June 25;
  • the families and friends of the 7 crew members of the USS Fitzgerald killed June 17th in a collision with a Japanese-owned cargo ship;
  • those grieving or suffering in Portugal where wild-fires beginning June 17th have killed more than 60 and injured more than 100 others;
  • those suffering after a shooting in Alexandria, Virginia on June 14 where members of the Republican party were practicing for a charity baseball game;
  • those grieving or suffering in London after a high-rise blaze on June 14 left almost 80 dead or missing, and after an a track on a crowd leaving evening prayers at a mosque on June 18;
  • the friends and family of Rev. Don Steinle, former director of the Christian Activities Council, who died June 13;
  • Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30;
  • 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;
  • 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:

New Preston
New Preston Congregational Church, UCC

John Arens - P
 
Newington
Church of Christ Congregational UCC

Melanie A. Enfield - SP
 
Newtown
Newtown Congregational UCC

Matthew S. Crebbin - SP
Carra McFadden - DT
Kristen Provost Switzer - AP
Edwin Corfey - OL
 
Niantic
Niantic Community Church

Dianne E. Arakawa - DT
 
Norfolk
Church of Christ Congregational UCC

Erick R. Olsen - P
Bruce F. Anderson - PE
 

The Spirit Calendar: July 10, 2017 , by Sioux Wilusz.