Judgement and Grace


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


November 28, 2016


This week's author is the Rev. Mary Nelson, South Central Regional Minister for the Connecticut Conference.

Scripture:  Isaiah 11:3-4 (NRSV)

 
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
 
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
   or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
   and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Reflection:  Judgement and Grace


The other day I participated in a worship service with a liturgy that mentioned The Judgment. You know: the moment at the end of time when we each stand before God and are called to account for our actions (and inaction) throughout our lives. It's an ancient concept that pre-dates Jesus, and one his followers brought forward into the Christian tradition.
 
The Judgment is an integral part of our faith, but we don't like it very much. Judgment makes us uncomfortable. Often, progressive Christians simply leave it out of our worship life. We can go weeks, months, even years if we manage our schedules carefully, without hearing about Judgment or separating-the-wheat-from-the-chaff or unquenchable fire or any other distasteful aspect of "the wrath to come."
 
We don't like the idea of being judged by God. I think this is because we assume that God's judgment of us will be even harsher than our judgment of one another.
 
This is the heart of our mistake.
 
In making this assumption, that God will judge us more harshly than we judge ourselves, we forget two things: one, that God does not judge on the same scales that we judge—God sees and knows things we cannot see and know, and judges our right relationships rather than our surface appearance; and two, that God is a God of Grace.
 
The Good News of Advent is that a King is coming, a Sovereign who judges us by a different set of rules than we judge ourselves. A Sovereign who makes clear the expectations for how we are to live in community, and who holds us accountable to those expectations (because you can't have community without accountability!), and who will be far kinder in dealing with us than we often are with ourselves. That should be cause for great comfort, after all.
 

Prayer:

Judge me, Holy Sovereign, and find me trying to be righteous. And if you find me lacking in righteousness, show me your grace. Amen.
 

Special Prayer Requests:

New Requests:
 
  • those grieving or suffering after a shooting at Ohio State University earlier today, that left at least 1 dead and several injured;
  • those grieving or suffering after a bus caring 37 children crashed in Tennessee leaving 6 children dead and many others injured on November 21;
  • those grieving or injured after a shooting in New Orleans left 1 dead and 9 injured on November 27; and
  • the family and friends of Rev. Robert B. L. Singer Jr, retired UCC pastor who served in several CT churches, who died on November 25.

Continuing Requests:
 
  • those in law enforcement after 4 separate shootings on November 20 left 3 officers injured and 1 dead;
  • those grieving in India after a train derailment left more than 140 dead on November 20;
  • for peace between Dakota Access Pipeline protestors and law enforcement officials in North Dakota;
  • the family and friends of Pauline “Polly” Parmalee, former President of the CT Women of the UCC, who died on November 11;
  • those grieving or stranded in New Zealand after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South Island on November 14;
  • the friends and family of the Rev. Dr. Don Westerberg, former pastor of Roxbury Congregational Church, UCC, who died on November 1;
  • the Rev. Paul Goodman, interim pastor of Plantsville Congregational Church, whose father died on November 3;
  • the people of Italy who experienced a high magnitude earthquake, their second in 3 months, on October 30;
  • those grieving or suffering after a bus accident in California killed 13 and injured over 30 others on October 23;
  • the people of Iraq impacted by the renewed fighting in and around the city of Mosul where Iraqi forces are trying to retake control of the city from ISIS;
  • 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;
  • 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:

Waterbury
First Congregational Church of Waterbury, UCC

Kenneth A. Frazier Jr - P
 
Waterbury
Mill Plain Union Church

Paul Fontanez - P
 
Waterbury
South Congregational Church, UCC

Shea Zellweger - P
 
Waterford
Waterford Congregational UCC

Matthew James McCaffrey - P
 
Watertown
First Congregational Church of Watertown, UCC

James Robertson - AP
Nancy Harrell - CE
Richard Silbereis - MM
William J. Zito - PE
 

The Spirit Calendar: November 28, 2016 , by Mary Nelson.