This week's author is Charlie Kuchenbrod, Executive Associate Conference Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Mark 1:29-39 (NRSV)As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Reflection:There is a lot of action in the first chapter of Mark:
John the Baptist announces Jesus’ arrival.
Jesus is baptized and tested in the wilderness.
Jesus announces his ministry and calls the first disciples.
Jesus preaches at synagogue and drives out an impure spirit.
Jesus leaves the synagogue and heals many people.
Jesus finds a quiet place to pray.
Jesus heals a man with leprosy and becomes famous.
A favorite hymn from my childhood:
Lord, I want to be like Jesus,
In my heart, In my heart,
Lord I want to be like Jesus,
In my heart.
How can we hope and dare to be like Jesus?
We can choose whether we will serve only ourselves, only our family and friends, or only our nation, or we can choose to serve all people according to their needs.
We can choose how to serve and find help.
We can share the Good News of God’s shalom and challenge cynics.
We can leave church and work to heal the world.
We can find a quiet place to pray.
We won’t become famous for performing miracles, but if enough of us hope and dare to be like Jesus, the world will be changed in miraculous ways.
Prayer:Jesus, may your life and work guide my choices. I may not have the power to perform miracles, but if I pray enough I may hope and dare to be more compassionate, to work harder for justice, and uphold God’s shalom in the world. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering in South Korea after a hospital fire killed 37 people and injured over 140 others on Jan. 26; and
- those grieving or suffering after school shooting in Kentucky left 2 dead and 12 injured on Jan. 23.
- Rev. Meg Boxwell Williams, Associate Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Stratford, for a full recovery as she recuperates from intestinal surgery and experiences chemo treatments;
- those grieving or suffering a mudslide in California left 20 dead and 4 people missing on Jan. 9;
- those grieving or suffering after a train crashed in South Africa killing 18 and injuring over 200 on Jan. 4;
- those grieving or suffering after an apartment fire in NYC left 12 dead on Dec. 29;
- those grieving or suffering in Afghanistan after a suicide bomb attack killed over 40 and wounded dozens more on Dec. 28;
- Robert G. Hale Sr., grandfather of Emily McKenna, Office Manager of the CT Conference, who struggles with health issues and is waiting for surgery scheduled next month;
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- 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 members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- 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.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
North Canaan Congregational Church
Savage Frieze - P
East Granby Congregational Church, UCC
Denise M. Terry - SP
First Church of Christ, Congregational in East Haddam
Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager - P
Congregational Church of East Hampton, UCC
Thomas L. Kennedy - P
Ted Williams - MM
First Congregational Church of East Hartford, UCC
Kelly J. Forbush - P
Louise R. Holmes - CE
William E. Flynn - PE
Theodore H. Mosebach - PE
The Executive Associate Conference Minister oversees the Finance and Development Team of the Conference staff, and directly supervises several of the senior staff members.