Donna Schaper is a rewiring pastor and spiritual entrepreneur celebrating her 50th ordination anniversary in 2023.

Scripture: I Samuel 12:3  (NSRV)

Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.’

Reflection: Leadership!


Environmentalist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson asks an important question.  What if we got it right?  What if the humans were to turn this mess around and stop having to make excuses for self-extinction? 

I want to apply her question to the leadership crisis.  It is not just in the church, although it is seriously alive in the church.  We join the great resignation.  Most pastors exclaim: “If it weren’t for those mean people in my church, I could do ministry.”  (Usually there are at least two joined by dozens of people who don’t speak up.) Most lay leaders exclaim, “If we could just find a good pastor….” 

You see the untamed blame game.  Excuses join excuses and everybody has an 'ox' to grind.  So-called everybody thinks someone else is the briber.  Or the donkey thief. They are all and each right. 

There is plenty of blame to go around.  We can start with blaming ourselves for blaming others if we want.  We can console ourselves by saying we are doing our best, even if we aren’t.  But we still have “to make it right,” as Samuel, my favorite leadership guru, says.  Where do we start?

Said one climate denier to another, “I’ll quit drinking in 2051 when the vodka runs out.”

One of these days, I am going to take personal responsibility for my contributions to the problems of my people and myself.  In the land of excuses, everything is impossible. 

I will continue the lament for one more paragraph and then turn. 

David Whyte, the great poet, says that if you really want to break your heart, work for a not for profit.  If that is not enough trouble and you want more, go to work for an English Department.  He also says, “Anyone who does not bring you alive is too small for you.”   His pattern joins the third verse.  First, defensive excuses.  Then make it right. 

I translate this pattern as the DECISION to stop being allergic to conflict and welcome it. 

Douglas John Hall says, “The gospel is the permission and the commandment to enter difficulty with hope.”  Stop being a doormat. Stand up.  Act.  Be in charge or at least look like you are.   Hope that you are.  Engage.  Fight.  Don’t flight.  Fight.  Don’t freeze.  Be less afraid of making mistakes than you are of going belly up every time a problem occurs.  Do I sound like a football coach, yelling at you?  Well, then, there it is.  Samuel resigned from the great resignation and joined the party.  We can too.

Here I give you a few examples. They all indulge the spiritual art of humor when nothing seems funny anymore. They go to the great lightness of being in the gospel promise about being permitted and commanded to enter the difficult hopefully. 

Example One: In Squad we trust.  In Search, a slyly hilarious book by Michelle Huneven about a Search committee looking for a pastor, a food critic shows how to engage a group of people who can’t agree about anything.  She feeds them.

Jamaica Kincaid taught her kids to bring her martinis in the garden while she was working in it.  She turned work into play. 

Nora Ephron  says “everything is copy.”  “Life never hands you material you can’t use.  When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh. You become a hero rather than the victim.  Of course, you must be funnier in the telling than you are in the falling."

Slip into Conflict.  Go for it.  Enjoy it.  Make things right. 


Restore our sense of humor, O God.  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 cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war, as well as the many landscapes that are currently embroiled in conflicts.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~14,400 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the year.
  • For the Future of SNEUCC Churches.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Kenneth Arnold Frazier Jr. who passed away on April 27, 2023.  He served as a UCC Minister and chaplain for over 40 years in New Britain, Rocky Hill and Waterbury. He was supply and interim pastor in Monroe, Weston, Watertown, and Meriden Congregations.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. William J. Zito who passed away on May 4, 2023. He was ordained in 1959 and was the Pastor Emeritus of the First Congregational Church in Watertown, CT.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

May 7, 1843 (180 years ago): The first Japanese immigrant, a 14-year-old fisherman by the name of Manjiro, arrives in the U.S.  In commemoration of his arrival, Congress, in 1992, established May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. [History

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

Donna Schaper

Donna Schaper is a rewiring pastor and spiritual entrepreneur celebrating her 50th ordination anniversary in 2023

May 05, 2023
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