What Things?


The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ


April 24, 2017


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

Scripture: Luke 24: 15-19a (NRSV)

While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.* Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’

Reflection:

Two disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus when they are joined by a third traveler, as if out of thin air. The stranger asks the disciples what they’re discussing as they walk along, and they tell him what is on their hearts and on their minds: Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in word and deed – he was killed by the Romans, just as we had begun to hope that he would save us from Roman cruelty. Some women of our company have reported to us that they visited his tomb this morning and his body was not there. They said something about angels, but the story is too unbelievable.
 
With this tale, the disciples became, unwittingly, some of the first people to testify to the good news of the resurrection.
 
How many times have you been an unwitting witness to the resurrection? How many times have you expressed your faith—demonstrated your values—spoken about what the story of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection means for how you live your life? How many times has someone actually asked?
 
Many years ago, I was in a yarn shop whose proprietor told me she’d never been inside a church or any kind of house of worship, not even for a funeral. She knew I was a Christian; she knew I was an ordained minister! So she asked me, “What do you do in there?”
 
I stumbled to give an answer. Um, what do we do? We pray and we sing and we read out loud from the Bible, and then the preacher talks about the scripture reading, and then we sing and pray some more? I doubt I was even that eloquent in my description. What is it we do?
 
Are you the only stranger who doesn’t know these things? What things?
 
We need more practice in telling our own story, in telling Jesus’ story. We need to get better at testifying, so that when the opportunity arises, we know how to describe “these things that have happened.” When someone asks, we need to have as clear an answer as the disciples walking to Emmaus. There are people “out there,” people we know, people we care about, who do actually want to hear the story of what we do in church and why.
 
Jesus’s life matters to me because ____.
My faith matters to me because ____.
These things matter because ____.

Prayer:

Risen Christ, give me the words to explain why you matter to me. Help me be a witness to your resurrection. Give me the strength to testify to you. Amen.
 
Special Prayer Requests:
  • Those grieving after a house fire in New York City killed 5 including 4 children on April 23; and
  • Those grieving in Fresno after a gunmen killed 4 people in two incidents on April 13 & 18.
Continuing Requests:
  • The family and friends of Rev. Russell Ayre, retired UCC pastor who served several churches in CT. Ayre died April 10;
  • 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;
  • those grieving or suffering in Stockholm after a truck attack on April 7 killed 4 and injured 15 others;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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:

Hartford
Amistad UCC

John L. Selders Jr - P
 
Hartford
Asylum Hill Congregational UCC

Matthew Laney - SP
John W. Collins - DT
Erica Ann Thompson - AP
Richard D. Grobe - OL
Peter B. Grandy - PE
 
Hartford
Broadview Community UCC

Linda Mae Huff - CP
Ruth M. Maedel - CP
 
Hartford
Faith Congregational Church UCC

Stephen W. Camp - P
 
Hartford
First Church of Christ in Hartford, UCC

Damaris Whittaker - P
Lisa Eleck - OL
J. Alan McLean - PE
 

The Spirit Calendar: April 24, 2017 , by Mary Nelson.