Rev. Johanna Hattendorf is an ordained UCC pastor, writer, teacher, healer and owner of the Spiral Path in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Her ministry of healing includes hands-on bodywork; and on-line classes in Tai Chi, QiGong, and TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercise.) Her unique specialties, and playful, easy-going style, are reflected in her writing, teaching and healing.

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2:4  (NRSV)

Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

So God created humankind in his image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.


Reflection: Polarities



I went to the dojo
     because of the hate mail.
As an out lesbian minister,
     I was a threat to all that is holy.
Frightened, and unsupported by the police,
     I needed a safe place
          to kick and punch and yell.
I took every class.
Through the hard art of Kung Fu
     I found strength and power
         And discovered I am not a “push-over”;
I am the ground of my own being.
On alternate days
     I practiced the soft art of Tai Chi.
Learning to be like water,
     stepping aside,
         using another’s energy (not mine),
I re-directed the hate coming at me.
         Hard days/Soft days.
I found a balance in the union of opposites.
The text for today, from Genesis tells the
     the origins of these opposites.
“In the beginning. . .”
     God created separation. 
         turning the void into form, 
         naming the undefined. 
male and female.
This cosmic splitting of God’s own self
     Created polarities
         where there had once been unity.
And, we, as humans,
     made in the image of God,
         continue to divide
And yet, (unlike our creator)
We have forgotten,
that in the infinite universe,
     Of separation,
         and division,
              and “name-calling”,
There is still,
     and always will be,
the Unity,
         “Ground-of-all-being” that we call God.
The Robin nesting in my yard,
     the dog sleeping on my bed,
         the pine trees in my back yard,
             the coffee in my cup. 
Everything exists in this Ground-of-all-being-God.
And we humans:
     Those who have faith and those who don’t, 
     Those who vote, and those who don’t, 
     The pro-life and the pro-choice, 
     The soldier and the pacifist,
     LGBTQ+ and straight,
All Human beings,
     exist in this Ground-of-all-being-God.
All of this IS God
     and is IN God.
God--exploring God’s own self—
     in every form that God can imagine,
         reveling in the fractured,
             prismatic colors of the rainbow,
Divided, and Whole.
As I discovered so long ago in the dojo,
We need the polarities to have balance.
And to remind us that we are whole
My hope for you,
     for us,
         for the world we inhabit,
Is that we find our way,
     over and over again,
Back into the magnificent,


Author's note: The photo above was taken in the middle of the Buttermilk Falls in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.  "I followed a path of stones out into the middle of the river, and did my Tai Chi form on the stability of the rock, while the water crashed around me."


Oh Divine God of all, help us to celebrate and embrace the diversity of all your beloved people.  Open our eyes to see those who are marginalized, or outcast; those labeled as wrong, or sinful. Help us to loosen our own internal barriers, and create space for people we don’t understand.  May we see with your eyes, love with your heart, and celebrate all you have made as “good”.

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 cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war, as well as the many landscapes that are currently embroiled in conflicts.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~17,000 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the year.
  • For those whose mental health is being challenged by 'swatting' incidents -- where hoax phone calls of serious events are made to emergency services causing mental stress and potential injuries to victims.
  • For migrants at the border amid widespread uncertainty.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Gretchen B. Switzer who passed away on May 13, 2023. She was a pastor within the United Church of Christ for 37 years before retiring.  

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

May 29, 1942 (81 years ago): Jews in Paris are forced to sew an identifying yellow star on their coats.   [History

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

May 29, 2023
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