Center of the Universe

The Spirit Calendar

A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ

September 25, 2017

This week's author is Charlie Kuchenbrod, Executive Associate Conference Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11 (NRSV)

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
   that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.


God is.
God loves us unconditionally.
God yearns for what is best for us.
We are each at the center of God’s universe.
But here is the paradox:
If each one of us is at the center of God’s universe, and if we love God, then we are not the center of our own universe!
If we love God, we have to put other people at the center of our universe. God loves them unconditionally. God yearns for what is best for them.
This is the Gospel. This is what Jesus lived and died for. This is the meaning and message of resurrection. This is the path of salvation.
You are the center of God’s universe, but you are not the center of your own universe.
P.S. “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”


God, help me to live as if I am the center of your universe and not the center of my own universe. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
  • The people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20; and
  • those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a church in Nashville, which left 1 student dead and 7 wounded on Sept. 24.
Continuing Requests:
  • Those grieving for the 24 children and teachers killed in a fire in Malaysia on Sept. 14;
  • those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a school in Rockford, Washington, which left 1 student dead and 3 wounded on Sept. 13;
  • those suffering in London after a crude bomb detonated in the subway on Sept. 15;
  • those grieving or suffering in the Caribbean and Florida after the effects of Hurricane Irma, which caused massive destruction of property last week and over the week end (September);
  • the people of Mexico, where an 8.2 magnitude earthquake killed over 90 people and leveled many parts of Mexico on Sept. 7;
  • the thousands of child immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as their future becomes unclear after the President's announcement that the program will end in the near future;
  • the family and friends of Rev. Fred Atwood-Lyon, retired USS pastor, who died on Aug. 27;
  • those grieving or suffering in Mumbai, India after a building collapsed, killing more than 30 and injuring many others on September 1;
  • the people of South Asia where flooding has lead to more than 1200 deaths in recent weeks (August);
  • those in Texas and surrounding areas affected by Hurricane Harvey which made landfall on August 26;
  • those grieving or suffering after a vehicle attack in Barcelona on August 17;
  • the family and friends of John Polglase, the spouse of Columbia pastor Rev. Betsey Polglase. John died on August 21;
  • a prayer of joy following the celebration on August 26 at Silver Lake Conference Center honoring 60 years of outdoor ministry;
  • those grieving or suffering after a train derailed in northern India, killing 23, on August 19;
  • those missing or injured after a U.S. Naval Vessel collided with an oil tanker on August 21;
  • the family and friends of Michele Reed Van Epps, wife of Rev. John Van Epps, Archivist for the CT Conference and pastor of Ivoryton Congregational Church. Michele died on August 19;
  • those grieving or suffering after violence caused one death and numerous injuries in Charlottesville, VA, when white supremacists and anti-hate groups clashed on August 12;
  • those grieving for the two Virginia state policemen killed in a helicopter crash on Aug. 12;
  • those grieving in Sierra Leone after mudslides killed more than 500 people on Aug. 14;
  • those grieving for 3 soldiers after a U.S. military place crashed off the shores of Australia on Aug. 5;
  • 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;
  • the people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
  • 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; 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:

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Storrs Congregational Church UCC

Matthew C. Emery - SP
Nancy B. McLaren – AP
Patricia Snyder - MM
Storrs Korean Church UCC

Ho Jun Chang - P
First Congregational Church of Stratford

Edward Preston Rawls – SP
Douglas H. Halley – SU
Margaret B. Williams - AP
Lordship Community Church UCC

Jeffrey Lukens - P
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC

Bridget Fidler – SP
Diann Bailey - AP

The Spirit Calendar: September 25, 2017 , by Charlie Kuchenbrod.