Living In Grace

Living In Grace


Rev. Matthew Crebbin has been the Lead Pastor at Newtown Congregational Church, UCC in Newtown, CT since 2007. His is also a co-creator and facilitator for which provides online resources to assist faith leaders in ministering in the midst of communal and personal trauma.

Scripture: Luke 15: 1-32  (NRSV)

Key verse: Luke 15: 2

And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

Reflection: Living In Grace


“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid.”Frederick Buechner

Sunday, September 11th marks twenty-one years since the attacks and plane crashes in New York City, Washington DC and Shanksville, PA. My community in Newtown, CT, we are also approaching the tenth anniversary of horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School this coming December. Anniversaries like these make us all too aware that we live in a world where, as Frederick Buechner writes, “terrible things will happen.”

Of course, in Jesus' day, terrible things also happened. His world, like our world, was filled with terrible events, as well as awful systems and structures. And like our time, in Jesus’ day, all kinds of people were impacted by the happenings of the world around them. Some became part of broken systems that would mistreat others. Some became scapegoats so that others could feel morally superior. Many would lose track of the core principle of their faith that every human being has been created in the image of God.

And whether it is terrible things or beautiful things that happen in our world, far too often we human beings seem more inclined to give in to the way of fear rather than living in grace. Yet, when Jesus sat at the table with the despised and outcast, he proclaimed that the way of fear had no place in the community of God. Indeed, fear often becomes one of the most destructive forces there is to human life and dignity.

Anniversaries of horrific events remind us that the world is full of terrible things. It is also full of beautiful things as well. But, in the midst of ALL things, Jesus proclaims to us that we who would follow him always live in the midst of God’s grace and love. And that can make all the difference.


Holy One, in a world full of terrible and beautiful things, we pray that you will grant us the wisdom and courage to live fully into your grace. Assist us to see with the eyes of faith that we might recognize the holy in every person we meet. May the way of fear have no power over us as we continue to trust in the power and promise of living in your grace. 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 Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the family and friends of The Rev. Dr. Ben New, who died August 20, 2022. Ben pastored in Shelburne Falls and Salem, MA, and was heavily involved in work throughout the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, serving on several different committees through the years.
  • For the family and friends of The Rev. Richard F. Jones, who died August 28, 2022. He was the former pastor of the First Parish of Bolton, MA and previously served the Central Association as Moderator.
  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the over 29,600 gun violence deaths in the US this year, including the 450 reported incidents of mass shootings
  • For those whose lives are being upended by the water crisis
  • For those living in fear

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For all the beautiful things in life

 This Week in History:

September 11, 2001 (21 years ago): Attack on the United States, where almost 3,000 individuals were killed and thousands more injured as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Matt S. Crebbin

Senior pastor at Newtown Congregational Church, CT.

September 05, 2022
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