The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
January 16, 2017
This week's author is Isaac Monts, Racial Justice Associate for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
What does this scripture say and or do for you? Does it give you comfort? Hope? Does it make you feel confident? Or maybe it says to you that all things are working for your good. Well, it should.
Thinking back on my life in America, it’s interesting how one's perception of the world is shaped. I remember being in the third grade on 9/11, when the principal announced an early dismissal. I didn’t know what was going on yet but the 5th graders were telling us that we would get shot and stabbed on the way home. Of course I ran the whole way home. Even thinking back on my education in middle school, it lacked very much in the subject of slavery and civil rights.
My perception of the world I lived in was false. Look forward to more recent times, as I reflect on the lives of Sandra Bland or Philando Castile after seeing him murdered on my Facebook Newsfeed, or after reading the Narrative on the life of Frederick Douglass, I have a new perception of our world. A large part of that has to do with my work with the CT Conference, but the other part has to do with a lot of personal reading. With this new perception, it’s very easy for me to get afraid, it’s very easy for me to become worried, and it’s very easy for me to become anxious. In a time where social and political issues are brought to the forefront of our lives because of social media — and it seems as though things are getting worse — it’s very easy for us to get afraid, it’s very easy for us to become worried, and it’s very easy for us to become anxious.
Having said that, there is something beautiful about knowing that, through it all, God has plans for us to prosper, and to have lives full of wealth, joy, and prosperity. As we embark on this new journey as a country, I challenge us, both believers and non-believers, to remember that God has a plan. It may not line up with your plans or my plan, but God has a plan indeed. The best part is, God's plan is so much larger than anything we could think of. God is testing our faith and our trust in God in this season. Don’t lose hope, continue to live a faithful life, and remember that God has a plan.
Lord, in this season where we don’t know what to expect, help us to remember that you have a plan. Help us to remember that eyes have not seen, nor have ears heard what you have planned for us, our families, and our country. Help us to stay strong in our faith and our trust in your will and in your plan, and help us to focus on the fact that your plan is greater than anything we can imagine.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving after a Turkish cargo place crashed in Kyrgyzstan leaving 37 dead on Jan. 16; and
- Those who still work to achieve the dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and our brothers and sisters of color who still struggle against racism in our society.
- Those suffering or grieving in Florida after a gunmen killed 5 and injured several others in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6;
- the people of Northern California and Nevada who are struggling with severe floods after a winter storm stuck on Jan. 6-7;
- the friends and family of the Rev. Dr. Evans F. Sealand, Jr., former Board member and Archivist of the CT Conference, who died on Dec. 29
- the Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister of Leadership and Vitality, whose father died on Dec. 24;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a New Years' Eve attack by a gunman left 39 dead and more injured;
- the people of Iraq after several bombings a left more than 50 dead and many more injured during the last week of December;
- those grieving in Brazil after a prison riot left 60 dead and sparked a gang war in the city of Manaus on Jan. 1 ;
- the people of San Pablito, Mexico, grieving or suffering after a series of explosions at a fireworks market left more than 30 dead on Dec. 20;
- the people of Berlin, Germany, grieving or suffering after a tourist attack left 12 dead and many others injured on Dec. 19;
- the Democratic Republic of Congo, where clashes between protestors and authorities have left dozens dead and many more injured or arrested;
- those grieving after a Russian military plane crashed on Dec. 25, killing all 92 passengers;
- the Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership & Vitality, who is recovering from surgery on Dec. 16;
- 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:
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC
Shea Zellweger - P
Sarah Bachenheimer - CE
Kweku Hammond-Donkoh - MM
First Congregational Church of Bethel
Rachel F. Beam - P
Ashley Drake - Y
Jane Ellingwood - OL
Sheldon T. Smith - PE
First Church of Bethlehem, UCC
John B. Pelletier - P
First Congregational Church in Bloomfield
Edwin O. Ayala - IN
Dorine L. Decarli - CE
Eustace Straker - MM
Bolton Congregational Church of the UCC
Nicolette Lee Siragusa - P
Jessica Romeo – CE
The Spirit Calendar:
January 16, 2017