March 12, 2018
By Paul Bryant-Smith.
Scripture: John 12:24-25
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
By The Rev. Paul Bryant-Smith
Pastor at King Street United Church of Christ, Danbury, CT and Director of Spiritual Care at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Yonkers, NY
How often do we read these words at funerals? These words about the grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying, only to bear much fruit? They are, for us, words of comfort, pointing to a promise of resurrection, but I suspect that Philip and Andrew heard them differently. Instead of hearing the hope of new life, I imagine that they stopped listening at the word “die.”
I believe that we’re all like that, wanting to distance ourselves from death, to put the iocane powder as far from ourselves as possible. I see it in the faces of patients who have terminal illnesses but, nevertheless, speak of plans to attend their granddaughter’s wedding, even though she’s still in elementary school. I hear it in the voices of people who want to hide bad news from their loved ones, out of fear that they will give up hope if they know their real diagnosis.
The massacre of seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, reminds us of the frailty of human life. It also shows the enduring truth of the sprouting grain of wheat, as the students who survived the tragedy have begun honoring the lives of their fallen friends, moving beyond simple grieving and bearing fruit in their efforts to strengthen our nation’s gun laws, courageously facing down lawmakers in the hope that no other students will experience such horrific violence.
When new life springs out of death, God is present. When we align ourselves with the power of resurrection, we find the courage to live faithfully and meaningfully.
God of the seed and God of the sprouting wheat, awaken us to your promise of eternal life. As we move through this season of Lent, awaken us to the frailty of our own lives so that we can bear fruit that is eternal. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- for the family of Rev. Dr. Charles John Duey, Jr., retired UCC pastor, who died on Mar. 7.
- for the family of Yolanda Montano, Accounting Assistant for the CT Conference, whose half-brother Junior Rivas died on Mar. 9.
- for those grieving after a hostage situation at a Veterans facility in California ended in the deaths of three women and a male gunman on March 9.
- for the family of Rev. Rebecca Brown, Associate Pastor of First Congregational Church of Granby, whose mother died on Mar. 10.
- for those grieving for tourists who died in a helicopter crash in Manhattan on Mar. 11.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- for opportunity to come together in worship, in fellowship, and in learn more about God's work at the 2018 Super Saturday event this Saturday.
- for those who seek talks between distrusting nations in efforts to prevent violence.
- for the young voices who inspired a national movement to protest gun violence by remembering the 17 lives lost in the Parkland school shooting during a 17 minute "walk out" on Mar. 14.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Dunbar United Church of Christ
Mount Carmel Congregational
Spring Glen Church UCC
Hampton Congregational Church
This Week in History:
Mar. 14, 1879 (139 years ago), Albert Eistein is born in Germany. The renown physicist and mathematician renounced his German citizenship in 1933 and settled in the U.S., becoming a U.S. citizen in 1940, and arguably one of the greatest minds to ever immigrate to the U.S.
Starting With Scripture:
March 12, 2018