This week's author is the Rev. Kent Siladi, Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Isaiah 63:7-9 (CEB)
I will recount the Lord's faithful acts;
I will sing the Lord's praises,
because of all the Lord did for us,
for God's great favor toward the house of Israel.
God treated them compassionately
and with deep affection.
God said, "Truly, they are my people,
children who won't do what is wrong."
God became their savior.
During all their distress, God also was distressed,
so a messenger who served him saved them.
In love and mercy God redeemed them,
lifting and carrying them throughout earlier times.
Welcome to 2017! There are many among us who are saying something like: "Thank God 2016 is over. It was a rough year!
The prophet who was with us in Advent remains a bit longer for us in this season of Christmas. The framers of the liturgical year knew that the Advent season was a time for preparation. The Christmas season is a time of joy and thanksgiving that God has come to us in a vulnerable child born under less than ideal circumstances. This baby who would mature into the One we follow is born! Hallelujah and rejoice. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"
The new year starts on our Sabbath. How wonderful is that? By now we have seen the 2016 retrospectives and the end of the year reminders about what we faced in 2016. Isaiah gives us some pointers about how to prepare for 2017. Did you see what he suggests?
Remember God's acts. Don't forget how God's love surrounds us in both our joys and in our challenges. Give thanks. Sing praises! When we praise we are invited to move out of our grief and misery and to offer God our hearts full of thanksgiving.
Yes, we face some terrific challenges this year. As has been suggested perhaps the Church has been created for such a time of this to remind our world what people of faith are invited to proclaim: God's extravagant love is for everyone! We are invited to make the world a more just, a more loving, a more compassionate place. Surely we will have opportunities in the 365 days ahead to live out the vision of the United Church of Christ: United in Christ's love, a just world for all! A Happy and Blessed 2017 to you and your loved ones.
God, a new year dawns. We give thanks for all that you have done for us. We offer to you our praise and our thanksgiving. We approach this new year with hearts open to your guidance and your wisdom. Show us the way, O God! Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- the people of San Pablito, Mexico, grieving or suffering after a series of explosions at a fireworks market left more than 30 dead on Dec. 20;
- the people of Berlin, Germany, grieving or suffering after a tourist attack left 12 dead and many others injured on Dec. 19;
- the Democratic Republic of Congo, where clashes between protestors and authorities have left dozens dead and many more injured or arrested;
- those grieving after a Russian military plane crashed on Dec. 25, killing all 92 passengers; and
- all those who faced the year 2016 with pain, grief, or sadness — may the final days of the year bring hope, promise, and the love of our God to you as we look ahead to 2017.
- the Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership & Vitality, who is recovering from surgery on Dec. 16, and her family, as her father enters hospice care;
- those grieving or suffering after a bombing in Cairo, Egypt killed 24 Christians who were attending Mass on December 11;
- those grieving or suffering after a fire destroyed a warehouse in Oakland, CA, killing more than 30 people who were attending a party inside the building;
- the family and friends of Rev. Robert Fichtner, retired UCC pastor, who died on November 25;
- hose suffering or grieving after an attack at Ohio State University left 1 dead and several injured on November 28;
- those grieving or suffering after a bus caring 37 children crashed in Tennessee leaving 6 children dead and many others injured on November 21;
- those grieving or injured after a shooting in New Orleans left 1 dead and 9 injured on November 27;
- those in law enforcement after 4 separate shootings on November 20 left 3 officers injured and 1 dead;
- those grieving in India after a train derailment left more than 140 dead on November 20;
- the people of Iraq impacted by the renewed fighting in and around the city of Mosul where Iraqi forces are trying to retake control of the city from ISIS;
- Rev. M. John Arens, Pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, who had surgery on June 28;
- 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;
- 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 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:
Winchester Center Congregational Church, UCC
Jacquelyn Reed Hall - P
Ernest L. Bengston Jr - PE
First Church in Windsor, UCC
Nicole G. Yonkman - SP
Charlene Corbett - AP
First Church of Winsted, UCC
Lisa Gustafson - P
Wolcott Congregational Church
Sue C Strachan - P
Frank P. Haggard - PE
The First Church of Christ, Woodbridge
Shepard A. Parsons - SP
Morgan Aery - Y
Morgan Aery – CE
Rev. Kent Siladi is the Director of Philanthropy for the National Office of the United Church of Christ.
December 26, 2016