The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
June 19, 2017
This week's author is the Rev. Michelle Hughes, Associate Conference Minister for Transitions for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Romans 6:1-11 (The Message)
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
I offer the following meditations on the above scripture reading:
"Perhaps I am stronger than I think.
Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak. Making myself secure. Making myself guilty.
Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me. Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself than strong in God whom I cannot know.”
— "Life of the Beloved" Henri J. M. Nouwen 1932-1996
"Those who, in the biblical phrase, would save their lives—that is, those who want to get along, who don’t want commitments, who don’t want to get into problems, who want to stay outside of a situation that demands the involvement of all of us—they will lose their lives. What a terrible thing to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled, with good connections politically, economically, socially—lacking nothing, having everything. To what good? They will lose their lives."
— Oscar Romero 1917-1980
May each of us have faith and trust enough to be uncomfortable to walk with God and lose ourselves. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- The families and friends of the 7 crew members of the USS Fitzgerald killed June 17th in a collision with a Japanese-owned cargo ship;
- those grieving or suffering in Portugal where wild-fires beginning June 17th have killed more than 60 and injured more than 100 others;
- those suffering after a shooting in Alexandria, Virginia on June 14 where members of the Republican party were practicing for a charity baseball game;
- 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;
- the friends and family of Rev. Don Steinle, former director of the Christian Activities Council, who died June 13; and
- the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Conferences, UCC, as they begin the process of negotiating the details of forming a new southern New England conference.
- The families and friends of Sgt. Eric M. Hock, Sgt. William M. Bays, and Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge who were killed on June 10th in a fire fight in Afghanistan;
- those grieving in Orlando after a shooting that left 5 dead, on June 5;
- those grieving or suffering in London after an attack on London Bridge left 7 dead and more than 40 injured on June 3;
- the friends and families of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namakai-Meche, who died in their efforts to stand against hatred by trying to help two Muslim women who were being verbally assaulted on a train in Portland, OR, on May 28th;
- those grieving in Mississippi after a shooting that left 8 dead, including a deputy sheriff, on May 27;
- the family and friends of Richard "Ned" Bunell, member of First Congregational Church of Canton Center, who died on May 15th. Richard had been on the prayer list for several weeks;
- those suffering or grieving after an bombing in Manchester, UK, killed 22 people and wounded another 59 on May 22;
- those grieving in Egypt after an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians left 26 dead on May 26;
- Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30;
- 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;
- 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:
Mystic Congregational Church UCC
Ann Aaberg - SP
Christa Swenson - AP
Congregational Church of Naugatuck
Marilyn Baugh Kendrix - IN
Fredd Ward - AP
First Church of Christ, New Britain, UCC
Kendrick L. Norris - IN
Sharon Chamberlain - CE
James Gower - MM
South Congregational - First Baptist Church
Jane Hawley Rowe - DT
Sara Krhla - CE
Richard M. Coffey - MM
Hugh Burrill Penney - PE
C. Burtis Crooks - PE
Congregational Church of New Canaan
S. Chapin Garner - SP
Eric M. Dupee - AP
Caroline Ainsworth - Y
The Spirit Calendar:
June 19, 2017