This week's author is the Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director of Silver Lake Conference Center.
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NRSV)Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
Reflection:This is one of the classic call stories in Scripture. Samuel is in the temple with Eli, each in their own sleeping quarters, trying to do just that: sleep. When Samuel hears three times a voice calling his name. Understandably he thinks the voice is coming from Eli. It never seems to occur to Samuel that the calling, the longing, the voice from within is perhaps God.
It seems so obvious how much more at this very moment in our Nation’s history, our church’s history, our world’s history that we need the Eli’s of the world to help discern God’s calling voice. It is not that our young folks, or folks of any age in discernment are helpless or lacking, but rather that discerning a call from God takes a community along with the individual.
It seems to me that there has never been a time more in need of programs like Thinking about Working for God (TAWFG). TAWFG is a signature program of the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Connecticut Conference. This multifaceted program engages young folks in conversation and ministry regarding the various ways in which God is calling them to live and work in the world. A call to ministry does not always mean standing in the pulpit Sunday morning and visiting folks in the hospital. Living God’s call can take so many different forms.
We know young folks are spending less time physically engaging with others as technology becomes more prevalent. One of the outcomes is that we have less intergenerational interaction. So when the voice comes in the night, “where are the Eli’s” to help interpret the call. Confirmation and youth group programs in our churches and communities are becoming even more important. And the opportunity to know you are not doing this work alone is invaluable, like through one of the CTUCC Confirmation Retreats.
And of course, I would be remiss to not ask, how many of you or folks you know heard your call, at least in part, while in engaged in outdoor ministry. We know with decisive certainty that getting to camp and on retreat helps people discern God’s call. Isn’t that exactly why we go on retreat, to be able to hear God more clearly?
Fear not; God is calling. And all who are discerning need your help in interpreting that call and finding their way to sacred places to do the life changing work of discerning and responding to God’s Call.
Prayer:Still Speaking God, open our ears that we might hear you speaking. Open our hearts and minds and bodies as we hear others asking, “is that you, God, calling” that we might have the grace to join in the conversation, and the feet to walk that journey with another.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering after a train crashed in South Africa killing 18 and injuring over 200 on Jan. 4; and
- a prayer of thanksgiving for (slightly) warmer weather as we keep in mind those with insufficient shelter and heat.
- 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;
- those affected by a winter storm that dropped over 60 inches of snow in parts of western Pennsylvania since Dec. 23;
- 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;
- those grieving or suffering after a train derailed in Washington state, killing several and leaving dozens injured on Dec. 18;
- the family and friends of Rev. Hebert Kelsey, retired UCC pastor, who died Dec. 10;
- the family and friends of Marion Zappula, mother of Rev. Jack Zappula, and mother-in-law of Rev. Dave Peters. Marion died on Dec. 11;
- those affected by wildfires in the Santa Barbara County are of California;
- those grieving after a school shooting in New Mexico left 3 dead on Dec. 7;
- those grieving or suffering after an attack on U.N. peacekeeping forces in eastern Congo left 15 dead and over 50 wounded on Dec. 7;
- the family and friends of Rev. Betsy Bloomfield, retired pastor and long-time active member of the CT Conference, who died Nov. 13;
- the friends and family of Rev. Hugh Penney, paster Emeritus at South Church in New Britain, who died on Nov. 12;
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- the millions of people currently worried about losing health insurance as the White House and Congress consider and enact changes to the current health care system;
- the thousands of child immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as their future becomes unclear after the President's announcement that the program will end in the near future;
- 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 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.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Colchester Federated Church
Lauren Ashley Lorincz - P
Columbia Congregational Church UCC
Elizabeth Polglase - P
Jean W. Murphy - CE
The United Church of Christ in Cornwall
Madelon Elizabeth Nunn-Miller - P
Tracy D. Gray - CE
Second Congregational Church, UCC
Maria E. Yocum-Carlson - P
The First Congregational Church of Coventry, UCC
Stephen Churchill Washburn - IN
January 08, 2018