The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
July 24, 2017
This week's author is the Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba, Senior Regional Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Matthew 13:44 (NRSV)
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid, then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
We are a Gospel people! Gospel means Good News. What good is Good News if we don’t share it? If we discover Good News we should shout it from mountain tops.
In the grand scheme of things, this is true. But any grand scheme is made up of many little schemes: pieces of a bigger puzzle, milestones on a longer journey. Sometimes we discover something important but can’t share it or do anything about it yet. We realize what we want but also fear that the disclosure of our desire will keep us from getting or achieving it. We discover the work that we know is our life’s calling, but we can’t just walk away from what we are currently doing. We have responsibilities to others and to ourselves here and now. We have to put things in order before we can walk away from what we are currently doing and begin the new thing. We fall in love with someone but are afraid to trust our feelings and the feelings of the other. We don’t know how this new relationship will affect other relationships we are involved in. Better to keep our feelings to ourself for a while, until we are more comfortable in this new emotional landscape and love seems less risky.
Many years ago, one of my mentors shared that his preferred method of dealing with stressful situations was to act like a turtle: to withdraw into the shell, disengaging from direction action while being fully aware of what is happening all around. When we hide our treasure we are really hiding ourselves. Sometimes, we have to do that before the treasure can truly be ours and we can share it with the world.
While we may hide the treasure for a while, we must not hide it forever. After all, the turtle cannot remain in the shell indefinitely. The turtle must stretch head and legs outside the shell if it is to live. Something hidden from everyone has no value to anyone, including us. Hiding our true self from the world harms both our neighbors and ourselves. Mary Oliver writes: “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” They hid their treasure because circumstances weren’t quite right, or they lacked confidence, or for some other reason. Their individual regret is also the world’s loss.
Hiding the treasure when we need to is fine. Hiding it forever is not.
Help us to not miss seeing what is truly valuable and good. Grant us the wisdom to know when to hide and when to reveal. May all we do proclaim your Good News, now and forever. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving after a U.S. military place crashed in Mississippi, killing 16 people, on July 10;
- the families and friends of those found in a truck in San Antonio in extreme heat, on July 23; and
- the family and friends of the Rev. Virginia Back, retired Interim Minister, who died on July 22.
- Those grieving or effected by flash flooding in Arizona where 9 were killed on July 15;
- those suffering after a night club shooting in Arkansas which left 28 injured on July 1;
- those suffering or grieving after a shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York on June 30;
- those grieving or suffering in Germany after a bus accident which killed 17 and injured 30 others on July 3;
- those grieving or suffering in China where more than 90 are still missing after a landslide buried the village of Xinmo on June 24;
- those grieving or suffering in Pakistan after a oil tanker crashed and ignited spilled fuel, killing more than 150 and severely burning more than 50 others on June 25;
- the families and friends of the 7 crew members of the USS Fitzgerald killed June 17 in a collision with a Japanese-owned cargo ship;
- those grieving or suffering in Portugal where wild-fires beginning June 17 have killed more than 60 and injured more than 100 others;
- those grieving or suffering in London after a high-rise blaze on June 14 left almost 80 dead or missing, and after an a track on a crowd leaving evening prayers at a mosque on June 18;
- 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;
- John Polglase, husband of the Rev. Betsey Polglase, Pastor of the Columbia Congregational Church UCC, who has chronic pulmonary disease;
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
North Branford Congregational UCC
Vance Taylor - DT
North Greenwich Congregational Church UCC
Royal Burnham Garren - P
North Guilford Congregational Church UCC
Judith M. Cooke - P
Dawn Longley - CE
North Haven Congregational UCC
Scott G. Morrow - P
North Madison Congregational Church, UCC
James H. Latimer - P
John B. Pelletier – PE
North Stonington Congregational Church
Susan Gail Latourette - P
Patricia Kay Lautzenheiser - CE
Northford Congregational Church, UCC
Robin J. Blundon - DT
Jane Koptonak Leschuk - MM
First Congregational Church, UCC
Frank Newsome - P
Miracle Temple Church of God in Christ of Norwalk Inc
Jacob Kelly - P
United Congregational Church of Norwalk
The Spirit Calendar:
July 24, 2017