The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
April 17, 2017
This week's author is Tiffany Vail, Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Conferences.
Scripture: John 20: 24-30 (NRSV)
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.
The adage says ‘seeing is believing’ and that sure was the case for Thomas. He needed not only to see, but to feel Jesus’ wounds, in order to believe in the Resurrection.
Of course, these days, we can’t always trust what we see. We live in a time when anyone with a webpage can purport to be reporting the news. We’ve heard government officials espouse “alternative facts.” We know that images we see – on magazine covers, online – may well have been altered.
Seeing isn’t believing any longer.
Does that mean we’re all doubting Thomases now? On some level we are. We’ve all grown skeptical. We’re weary from trying to sort fact from fiction. We’re frustrated at those who would deceive us, and with those who believe them.
But as Christians, there is still something we can believe in. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,” Jesus said.
As Christians, we have chosen to believe that our lives are God’s. That there is still room in this world to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. Let there be no doubt of that.
Dear God, forgive us when we doubt you. Help us to have faith in you, even when it is difficult to see you working in our world.
Special Prayer Requests:
- The family and friends of Rev. Russell Ayre, retired UCC pastor who served several churches in CT. Ayre died April 10; and
- for our nations leaders to push for peaceful resolutions to conflicting interests with other nations.
- 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;
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Dunbar United Church of Christ
George Manukas - P
Mount Carmel Congregational
Douglas J. House - SP
Susan Owen - AP
Karen Baranski - CE
Spring Glen Church UCC
Jack Davidson - SP
Clare Robert - AP
Barbara Ann Frey - CE
Hiram L. Brett - DT
Hampton Congregational Church
Virginia Smanik - P
The Spirit Calendar:
April 17, 2017