This week's author is Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture:  Genesis 21:5-6  (CEB)

Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. Sarah said, “God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.”


How would you describe your laugh?  Does it well up or bubble up inside you?  Does the pitch of your voice rise or fall in laughter?  How would others describe your laugh? Do you giggle, chortle, or shake?  Do you snicker or snort?  I do; I snort when laughter wells up and bubbles over. It seems to be related to a family gene.  I have siblings who snort when they laugh aloud. My daughters do too! (But don’t let on you know!)
I think of the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  It has proved true in my life.  Sometimes when I am terribly sad and have cried every tear I have to cry, I see humor in the ridiculous or unexpected, and the resulting laughter has the power to console me and quiet my spirit. 
We laugh at the unexpected, the ridiculous, the ironic, or inane.  We laugh at the creative, spontaneous, or wildly thoughtful.  We laugh when we are nervous or even afraid.  We laugh because when we have, when we’ve given ourselves over to that energy from deep within, that takes hold of us and takes over us and somehow we are changed.  Our outlook is brightened, our mood transformed.
I wonder at Sarah’s laughter.   What thoughts and feelings prompted such laughter?  Could it have been a laugh born of exultation, rejoicing, delight?  Was it a laugh born of astonishment?  I imagine Sarah’s laugh, and I smile at God’s creativity and care.  I smile at God’s love and ability to surprise and delight us throughout the course or our lives.  I imagine Abraham's laugh, and I imagine his astonishment!


Jovial God, I am ready!  Surprise me!  Astonish me.  Help me to see you in the unexpected.  Share a laugh with me when I am unsure or in the midst of ridiculous circumstances of my own making.  What does your laugh sound like, O Holy One?  Do you snort? Laugh with me and know my joy is complete in you.  Amen
Special Prayer Requests:
  • The families and friends of Sgt. Eric M. Hock, Sgt. William M. Bays, and Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge who were killed on June 10th in a fire fight in Afghanistan; and
  • the delegates of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Conferences, UCC, as they gather together Friday and Saturday to make a decision about the future of these three conferences.
Continuing Requests:
  • Those grieving in Orlando after a shooting that left 5 dead, on June 5;
  • those grieving or suffering in London after an attack on London Bridge left 7 dead and more than 40 injured on June 3;
  • the friends and families of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namakai-Meche, who died in their efforts to stand against hatred by trying to help two Muslim women who were being verbally assaulted on a train in Portland, OR, on May 28th;
  • those grieving in Mississippi after a shooting that left 8 dead, including a deputy sheriff, on May 27;
  • the family and friends of Richard "Ned" Bunell, member of First Congregational Church of Canton Center, who died on May 15th. Richard had been on the prayer list for several weeks;
  • those suffering or grieving after an bombing in Manchester, UK, killed 22 people and wounded another 59 on May 22;
  • those grieving in Egypt after an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians left 26 dead on May 26;
  • those grieving or suffering after a man drove his vehicle into pedestrians in Times Square, New York City, killing one and injuring 22 others on May 18;
  • Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30;
  • Rev. Sara Smith, Senior Pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, who is recovering from an injury;
  • Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
  • the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
  • the people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
  • John Polglase, husband of the Rev. Betsey Polglase, Pastor of the Columbia Congregational Church UCC, who has chronic pulmonary disease;
  • the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
  • 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;  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:

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

First United Church of Christ

Adam E Eckhart - SP
M. Ashley Grant - AP
Wildermere Beach Congregational UCC

L. Kenneth Fellenbaum - P
Woodmont United Church of Christ

Kimball D. Cartwright – IN
Monroe Congregational Church UCC

Jennifer M. Gingras - P
Debi Mastroni-Kenyon - CE
Morris Congregational Church, UCC

Jeannie S. Pedane - SU

karen ziel.jpg
Karen E. Ziel

Karen works in partnership with the team to guide congregations in self-assessment and discernment, and to provide or suggest effective programs for clergy and lay leadership development.  Contact her to: Connect your congregation with the tools and...

June 12, 2017
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