The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
May 01, 2017
This week's author is Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director of Silver Lake Conference Center.
Scripture: Acts 2:42-47 (NRSV)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
I find it fascinating to hear this vision of the early church. Whether it really happened this way or this is a goal toward which they ascribed, I love hearing it because with each year something new jumps at me. I think in part because we are always at a different place in the life of church when we move through the Acts story of the church after Easter.
This year the focus is the passage of breaking bread, both the dedication of a community and individuals to doing so, and further breaking bread in homes and eating with glad and generous hearts.
Over the last year our family spent many of our meals gathered around the living room. My partner and I on the couch and our little one in his high chair. In part it was a function of that with which we were familiar before he arrived and a moving of homes and jobs which lead to a constantly covered dining room table.
We have now reclaimed the table and are making a concerted effort to sit at the table together with no TV or radio. To our surprise our 2 1/2-year-old says he likes it — hopefully that lasts. More importantly it has given us space to be together differently, to be more and maybe even fully present with one another.
It seems that being present with one another is a central feature of the early church. It is about taking what separates us and removing those boundaries, and even living contrary to the systems that abound and divide. In the life of the early church for many people dividers were often food, class, purity laws, and rules about who could dine together and when the rich could start eating with out those who labored.
To be able to dine together, to be present with one another and to recognize the Christ within the other, and to simply break bread and give thanks for life in community and fellowship is a gift from which we can all grow. It is probably not realistic to do this at every meal, but I invite you to explore how might you be more present with those around you. How might you pause to recognize the light of God within those around you, whether in the office break room, the family table, or even the coffee shop?
Imagine what that might mean for living into the light and hope of the risen Christ if we took this lead from the early church.
Risen Christ, you taught us to gather and break bead together in remembrance of you. We give thanks for your teaching, and the life in community and fellowship that you taught us to embrace. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those suffering or grieving a shooting in San Diego which left 2 dead, including the shooter, and 6 wounded on May 30;
- those suffering or grieving in Seoul, South Korea after falling crane killed 6 workers and injured more than 20 others on May 1;
- those living in the U.S. South and Midwest as violent weather continues after weekend storms left at least 15 dead;
- Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30; and
- the family and friends of Rev. Vernon Phelps, retired UCC and Methodist pastor, who died on April 26.
- Those grieving after a house fire in New York City killed 5 including 4 children on April 23;
- those grieving in Fresno after a gunmen killed 4 people in two incidents on April 13 & 18;
- 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 after a bomb blast in St. Petersburg, Russia, killed at least 10 and injured more than 30 on April 3;
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Immanuel Congregational Church UCC
Kari Nicewander - SP
La Nueva Cosecha de Dios
Mildred Canales - P
Liberty Christian Center International UCC
Keith A. Bolton - P
Michael O. Jackson - MM
Warburton Community Congregational Church UCC
Steven Harvin - P
Harwinton Congregational Church UCC
David F Jarvis - IN
The Spirit Calendar:
May 01, 2017