We Are Witnesses


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


April 10, 2017


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

Scripture: John 20:1-18 (NRSV)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
 
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection: 

The hospital chaplain described his daily rounds.  Before entering each room, he pauses in the hallway and prays for the patient he is about to meet. “Let me be present, let me respond with loving-kindness.  Help me to see each patient as a child of God.  Help me to be aware of the needs of the family.”
 
He takes time to observe not only the physical condition, but also the emotional state of the patient.  “What are you experiencing  today?” he asks, and then listens deeply. He offers to sing a hymn or a read of a favorite scripture passage if that would bring comfort.  At the end of the visit, giving the patient an option, he asks, “Would you like me to pray with you or, would you like me to wish you well?”
 
As the chaplain outlined his ritual of pastoral care, his face radiated gentleness and love.  His humility and kindness were practically palpable.
 
A hospital can be a place of pain and anguish.  Diagnoses can be heartbreaking and situations can be seen as hopeless, but this is where God promises to show up.   The divine spirit may appear in the form of a caring family member, a pastor, or even a hospital staff person.  God’s healing love surrounds us if we only have eyes to see.
 
Though we are not eyewitnesses of Christ in the same direct way as the early disciples, we are nevertheless, witnesses to the living Christ among us.   Sometimes, like Mary, our eyes are clouded by tears of grief, and we don’t recognize Jesus when he stands before us to offer comfort.  “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Mary assumes that her questioner is the gardener. But then the gentle voice of Jesus calls her by name.   The moment of recognition is startling and profound for Mary. This is what the living God looks like.  He appears when we are most vulnerable and calls us each by name. He reassures us and comforts us, and he dries tears of our distress.
 

Prayer:

God, you have broken out of the tomb.  Your love transcends death and your spirit is present for us in plain sight.  Let us join with Mary to proclaim, “I have seen the Lord.” Hallelujah!
 
Special Prayer Requests:
 
  • The people of Syria, where a gas attack on April 4 killed more than 80 people causing an escalation in military responses;
  • Those grieving or suffering after 2 bombings at Christian churches in Egypt on April 9 killed more than 40 and left many others injured; and
  • Those grieving or suffering in Stockholm after a truck attack on April 7 killed 4 and injured 15 others.
Continuing Requests:
 
  • Those grieving or suffering in Colombia where heavy rains last week (March 31) caused severe flooding, killing more the 200 and injuring many more;
  • those grieving or suffering after a bomb blast in St. Petersburg, Russia, killed at least 10 and injured more than 30 on April 3;
  • those grieving after a crash in Texas left 13 dead when a bus carrying church members collided with a pickup truck on March 29;
  • those students and teachers in Japan who were injured or are missing after an avalanche struck while they were skiing on March 27;
  • those grieving or suffering after a nightclub shooting in Cincinnati left one dead and 15 injured on March 26;
  • those grieving or suffering after a shooting in Sanford, FL left 1 dead and 5 injured on March 27;
  • the people of Peru where intense rains are causing flooding and mudslides which have left at least 72 dead and many more isolated and homeless, during the week of March 20;
  • Rev. Sara Smith, Senior Pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who is recovering from an injury;
  • The members and staff of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who are preparing to move from their building to a new location;
  • 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 Rev. Micki Nunn-Miller, who had knee surgery on Jan. 17;
  • Debi Mastroni Kenyon, Director of Faith Formation at Monroe Congregational Church, who had surgery on Jan. 18;
  • 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:

Groton
Groton Congregational Church UCC

Shawn Fisher - P
Rachel Measimer - CE
Lisa Lambert - CE
Susanne Stottlemyer - MM
Susan Blaisdell - OL
 
Guilford
The First Congregational Church of Guilford, Inc.

Sarah Jane Verasco - CP
Ginger Brasher-Cunningham - CP
Kendrick L. Norris – PE
 
Haddam
First Congregational Church of Haddam, UCC

Tomi Jacobs-Ziobro - P
Nancy Soneson - CE
 
Haddam Neck
Haddam Neck Congregational Church

James A. Simpson - P
 
Hadlyme
Hadlyme Congregational Church UCC

Janice Ann Kimball - P
 

The Spirit Calendar: April 10, 2017 , by Debby Kirk.