This week's author is Emily McKenna, Office Manager for the Connecticut Conference.
Scripture: Luke 15:1-7 (NRSV)
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, 'This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.'
So he told them this parable: 'Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
I have often found this time on the calendar, early September, to be very much like the start of a new year. While December 31st has the appeal of confetti and champagne, this transition into fall brings us much more to celebrate. For some, they renew in the scent of that fresh notebook paper that they'll use to start school again. For others, they renew in the changing cooler breeze of the season. For many, they are captivated by the journey of the colors of the leaves around them. Routines fall back into place for most of us, and the busy bees of summer start to settle. It is time to begin again, and we tell ourselves, "This time, there will be more joy."
The parable of the lost sheep offers us a blessing in a reminder. In order for our joy to be complete, each of us must notice and ask forgiveness for our sins. Much like a piece of notebook paper, in order to be used well we must be fresh. With more joy as each leaf turns orange, I invite those reading to let the newness of September remind you to also renew yourself. Talk with God about your summer, your sins, and as the cool breeze wraps your shoulder, know that there will indeed be more joy. Happy New Year, everyone! Let's start fresh.
At times we are the lost sheep. Help us to recognize when we are lost and empower us to admit it. As you transform our surroundings, transform our hearts so that we may better spread your love. Thank you for the blessings of a new time, may we use it the best we can. Amen
Special Prayer Requests:
the family and friends of C. Freeman Reynolds, father of the Rev. Carl Reynolds, pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Stafford, longtime member of the First Church of Christ in Farmington, and former member of the Lay, Life and Leadership Committee for the Conference. Mr. Reynolds died recently at age 98;
the family and friends of Andrew Leclaire, Sr. nephew of Steve Gilson and Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference Minister, who lost his battle with ALS on August 28th; and
on this Labor Day, a prayer for those who are unemployed, underemployed, or work on sub-livable wages.
those grieving or suffering in Italy after a strong earthquake struck, killing nearly 300, and leaving thousands homeless, on July 24;
the family and friends of Rev. Robert Lane, retired UCC minister, who died on August 15;
the Rev. Barbara Frey, Coordinator of Christian Education at the Spring Glen CC in Hamden, whose mother died on August 13;
those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding killing more than 50 guests on August 20;
those effected by wildfires in western regions of our nation;
the tens of thousands of displaced people in Louisiana after massive flooding killed 13 and required thousands to be rescued from homes and vehicles July 13-15;
those grieving or suffering after an attack on a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan which left over 50 dead and many critically injured on Aug. 8;
those grieving or suffering after a flash flood in Maryland killed two and destroyed dozens of buildings and vehicles on Aug. 30;
Rev. M. John Arens, Pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, who will had surgery on June 28;
Rachel Ciba Markowitz, daughter of Michael and Diane Ciba, who is receiving chemotherapy for a brain tumor;
Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership and Vitality, and her family as they face a loss and difficult illness in the family;
The Rev. Sara Smith, pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, and her sister Ellen, who is recovering from a stroke;
Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Associate Pastor of the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, whose parents were involved in a tragic car accident. Kelly?s father, Wallace, has died and her mother, Janet, is hospitalized;
Rev. Pat Kriss, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Danbury, who is recovering from an injury;
the people of Ecuador after a devastating earthquake on April 16 destroyed cities and towns, leaving more than 250 dead, an unknown number missing, and thousands injured and homeless;
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;
members and Staff of the United Congregational Church of Tolland as they minister to church and community grieving a tragic loss;
the Rev. Dr. Don Westerberg, Pastoral Counselor in New Milford, who recently received a lung transplant and is recovering;
Ewan, grandson of the Rev. Price van der Swaagh, an ordained minister in this conference, as he is treated for leukemia;
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 Rev. Mary Nelson, South Central Regional Minister of the Connecticut Conference, whose brother is recovering from surgery;
Alisia Selders, daughter of Bishop John Selders, pastor of Amistad UCC in Hartford, in a new round of treatment for cancer;
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 Congregational Church of Norwich UCC
Susan Marie Prichard ? IN
Park Congregational UCC
Sara Ofner-Seals ? P
The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
Richard S. Denuyl Jr - SP
Avery C. Manchester - AP
Patrick Collins ? AP
First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
Steven Jungkeit - SP
Rebecca T Crosby - AP
Carleen R. Gerber - AP
Joan W. Priest - AP
Cynthia Willauer - AP
David W. Good - PE
Cynthia Willauer ? PE
First Church of Christ in Saybrook
Edward F. Cornell - DT
Corrine Pasquale - CE
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Emily is the Program Support Associate for the Discipleship and Justice & Witness Teams of the Southern New England Conference. Emily grew up in the Naugatuck Congregational Church UCC and at Silver Lake Conference Center, where she has served as ...