This week's author is the Rev. Michelle Hughes, Associate Conference Minister for Transitions.
Suppose we claim we are without sin. Then we are fooling ourselves. The truth is not in us. But God is faithful and fair. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar. His word is not in us.
Okay! I know talking about sin and confession for many brings to mind problematic church hierarchy and special dispensation. Historical, political, theological abuses aside; I embrace the idea that being able to admit our wrongs is a way of making things right. My working definition of "sin" is anything which separates us from the will of God. I often have to remind myself that "anything" includes those "bad" things I have done, as well as, those sins of omission, those moments of doing nothing. My spirit wrestles with me when I should have spoken and was silent, when I should have stood up and I sat it out; when I should have acted and I was frozen. This scripture reminds me that all of us are guilty of this sin... and make no mistake if "we claim we are without sin, we are fooling ourselves... and we are calling God a liar." The good news is, if we have the integrity to admit our wrong doing, and confess, forgiveness promised and grace provided.
I offer this prayer of confession from Desmond Tutu's 1995 book: An African Prayer Book.
Lord, we confess our day-to-day failure to be human.
Lord we confess that we often fail to love with all we have and are, often because we do not fully understand what loving means, often because we are afraid of risking ourselves.
Lord, we cut ourselves off from each other and we erect barriers of division.
We confess that by silence and ill-considered word, we have built up walls of prejudice.
We confess that by selfishness and lack of sympathy we have stifled generosity and left little time for others. Holy Spirit speak to us Help us to listen to your word of forgiveness, for we are very deaf.
Come fill this moment and free us from our sin.
-Cathedral Church of Saint George, Cape Town, South Africa
The people of Haiti and other Caribbean nations in the path of Hurricane Matthew;
the family and friends of Rev. Newell Curtis Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Center Congregational Church in Manchester, who died on October 1; and
those effected by a fire that destroyed the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, CA on October 1.
Those injured when a bomb exploded in New York City on July 17, injuring nearly 30;
the family and friends of Rachel Ciba Markowitz, , daughter of Rev. Michael Ciba and Diane Ciba, who died on Sept 16;
the family and friends of Rev. Aubrey Murphy, Associate Pastor Emeritus of First Congregational Church of Bristol, and member of East Granby Congregational Church, who died on August 30;
those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding killing more than 50 guests on August 20;
those effected by wildfires in western regions of our nation;
those grieving or suffering after a flash flood in Maryland killed two and destroyed dozens of buildings and vehicles on Aug. 30;
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxbury Congregational UCC
David F. Peters - P
Sandra L. Kleisner - MM
Congregational Church of Salisbury UCC
Diane Monti-Catania - P
Barbara Collins - CE
Jack Bowman - MM
Mary Davidson - OL
Melissa Adam - OL
Kathleen Wiggins - OL
Richard H. Taber - PE
Scotland Congregational Church, UCC
Paul J. Doyle - P
Seymour Congregational UCC
Allyson C. Glass - P
Cherie E. Weiss - MM
Connie Wiesniak - OL
Huntington Congregational UCC
Lucille L. Fritz - P
The Spirit Calendar: October 03, 2016 , by Michelle Hughes.