In the Days to Come: Naming New Life

In the Days to Come: Naming New Life


Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager is Senior Associate Minister at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in Old Lyme, CT.

Scripture: Isaiah 2:4 b,c,d (NRSV)

...they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.

Reflection: In the Days to Come: Naming New Life


Recently, I attended the African Naming Ceremony on Zoom for my newborn nephew. While he slept in his mother’s arms, the child received his name along with constant kisses from his older sister, age 6.

As is the Nigerian custom of the Yoruba people, a baby receives their chosen name by the 7th day after their birth. The ceremony begins with prayers and songs of praise to welcome this new addition to the family and mark the responsibility of parents, relatives and friends who all share in the child's circle of support. The many names generated by some of us were entered into the Book of Life and formed a pathway of blessings. Symbolic gifts like honey and sugar are offered, too, so that the baby's life may always be sweet.

With great fanfare and song, “Noah” received his name and opened his beautiful eyes for a brief moment before crying out for some dinner.

Later that night, I whispered my evening prayers that Noah might grow up in a world marked by peace and plenty rather than guns and war. That he would learn the ways of peacemaking, experience racial justice and share in the harmony with all siblings of the earth and creatures great and small. I prayed that Noah and his sister and every child in this Advent season might always know their belovedness.

And that Immanuel, God- with- us, may be known again as the One who comes to remind us that we are not alone.

On this first Sunday of Advent, we make preparations for the Christ child’s birth. We’ll sing verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel with the vision of Isaiah heralding a new day. With candles lit and wreaths displayed, we’ll imagine again a world where swords, spears and bullets are no longer needed. And we’ll anticipate a God of Love who comes mostly easily into our messy world as a lowly, holy infant.


Immanuel, God-with-us, whatever names we use for you, may your accompanying presence be with us in all our chilly days and sleepless nights. And in our singing, too, as we, “bless each place your people dwell. Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war, Bring peace upon the earth forever more.” Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~39,000 gun violence deaths in the US this year
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. John W. Olson who passed on November 13, 2022.  During his ministry, he served at Park Street Congregational Church, Bridgeport and the Haddam Neck Congregational Church. He also conducted many civil unions at his home and served wherever a minister was needed.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Dr. Eugene McCarthy who passed on November 6, 2022. Rev. McCarthy pastored at the First Congregational Church of Griswold, and United Church of Christ in Pachaug, CT, and other churches in northeast CT before transitioning to pastoral counseling and working as a therapist assisting those with mental health and substance use disorder. 
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Patrick C. Finleon who passed on November 2, 2022. During his ministry, Rev. Finleon was called to five parishes: East Windsor Congregational Church, CT; First Congregational Church of Dalton, MA; the Congregational Church of Needham, MA; First Congregational Church of Meredith, NH; and North Haven Congregational Church, CT.  In addition to his ministry, he acted as a volunteer ambulance driver and medic throughout the NH Lakes Region.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For newborns
  • For those who minister from ordination until passing

 This Week in History:

November 22, 1963 (59 years ago): President John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas.  [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager

The Rev. Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager is the Associate Pastor at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

November 20, 2022
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