This week's author is Emily McKenna, Office Manager for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-17 (NRSV)Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
Reflection:Suffering certainly comes in many forms, but when I read this passage I tend to think of the daily distress and annoyances we face rather than the times we feel immobilized by sorrow. I find that it's easy to blame our common suffering on outside sources. If only we didn't work so much, if only it stopped raining, if only our bank balances could be a little higher, if only we could find the time to do that thing we really want to do. If only. These are indeed small examples of suffering, yet when it becomes a thing you think about all the time, it mutates into something much bigger.
But why do we have these wishes and worries? Why are we so tired, why are we pressed for time?
Honestly, I think we are too hard on ourselves. Perhaps you're short on cash because you bought flowers for one of the mothers in your life on Mother's Day, or maybe you donated a little to a friend's cause. It's possible that you're tired from working because you're needed and utilized where you are. Maybe you can't find that extra time you crave because you're using the time you do have in service of others.
The good things we do can feel taxing on our bodies and minds, and it's easy to recognize those moments when we feel strained. What does not come as natural to us is telling ourselves about the good we're doing, reminding ourselves why we might be suffering. Before wondering when you'll find the time for that next thing, remember to pause and preserve the memory of the good you are doing. Whether it's as simple as washing dishes after a family meal, completing a project for work, being there for a friend, or as significant as marching for change or leading a community in worship, give yourself some credit. You are doing good things.
And if you find yourself in a place now where you are immobilized by sorrow, if that is your suffering, I am talking to you too. Try to remember the good things you are doing. They are there! (If you need a friend to remind you of what those things are, reach out to me via my contact information below.)
This passage from Peter challenges us to speak of our hope and faith and defend it graciously if necessary. I think that if we follow up the good we are doing with more good, our faith becomes so clear to others that it requires no explanation, but simply an invitation. Remember your motivation, remember your why, remember the good stuff, and keep on doing it. Soon, you will suffer far less for it.
You can reach Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allow us to remain grateful for your power. Help us to see the good we do in this world, and show us the ways in which our work grows within others. Lessen our suffering so that we may be energized to continue, and lessen the suffering of others so that they might see your light. Be with us as we try.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those college and university students who are graduating from higher education institutions throughout the nation as they begin new journeys.
- The family and friends of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, who was killed during military operations in Somalia. Milliken is the first U.S. service member to be killed in Africa since 1993;
- those suffering or grieving a shooting in San Diego which left 2 dead, including the shooter, and 6 wounded on May 30;
- those suffering or grieving in Seoul, South Korea after falling crane killed 6 workers and injured more than 20 others on May 1;
- those living in the U.S. South and Midwest as violent weather continues after weekend storms left at least 15 dead;
- Audrey Touloukian, granddaughter of Rev. Janice Touloukian, who is recovering after being hit by a car while biking on April 30;
- the family and friends of Rev. Vernon Phelps, retired UCC and Methodist pastor, who died on April 26;
- those grieving after a house fire in New York City killed 5 including 4 children on April 23;
- those grieving in Fresno after a gunmen killed 4 people in two incidents on April 13 & 18;
- the family and friends of Rev. Russell Ayre, retired UCC pastor who served several churches in CT. Ayre died April 10;
- 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;
- he people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
- Richard "Ned" Bunell, member of First Congregational Church of Canton Center, who was hospitalized for an illness and is now recovering;
- 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;
- 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.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC
Martha Bays - P
First Congregational of Lebanon, UCC
Robert J. Wright Jr - IN
Ledyard Congregational Church, UCC
Catriona A. Grant - P
Newent Congregational UCC
John Carboni – P
Milton Congregational UCC
Elizabeth D. Allen - P
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 ...