Rev. Kate VanDerzee-Glidden is pastor of First Church of Christ, Congregational in Glastonbury, CT.
Scripture: John 13:31-35 (NRSV)
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
Reflection: Love Lives Here!
“Love lives here.” In a sermon in early January 2022, my colleague David Taylor shared a powerful story about a neighborhood near Baltimore and their connection through Christmas lights.
Matt, neighbor to Kim, heard that Kim was having a tough time dealing with depression and anxiety, in addition to grieving the loss of a loved one and struggling with work-related stress. The mounting pressure led to panic attacks. Matt decided a bit of brightness and love was in order, but he certainly did not expect that his one strand of Christmas lights would somehow spark a neighborhood-wide movement.
What started as a kind gesture to brighten Kim’s life became something that many of the neighbors did. As Kim shared, “The lights were a physical sign of connection and love…”
One of the neighbors stayed up all night bending coat hangers to form the words “Love lives here” across the street.
Perhaps it’s just a string of lights and three simple words to remind us of our call to be faithful people.
In a world where hardship, intolerance and despair are everywhere, we need more signs of God’s love and light. Sometimes those reminders come in the form of mundane things we see each and every day.
Both my sons, Andrew and Lucas, are on the autism spectrum. As I’ve come to learn, one common quality of children on the spectrum is being very focused or “obsessed” with certain things.
Lucas went through a phase where he would stare out our living room window waiting for the street lights to come on. He waited patiently by the window saying, “It’s coming!” With eager anticipation and patience, he waited for the street lights always knowing that eventually they would come on.
When I think about what the world needs, we could wait patiently for love and light to come. Or we could make it come today by our actions and our words. What we do matters, and it is up to us to live out Jesus’ message of compassion, justice and hope and to create safe communities where love lives and thrives.
God of new life, laughter, light and love, sometimes the days seem to drag on, and all we see and feel is the sadness of the world and our lives. As we journey through life, help us to open our eyes and hearts to all the blessings that surround us. Challenge us to be your faithful disciples and be justice seekers, love sharers and hope givers. We pray this in the name of Jesus who teaches us to live and love. 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 Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
- For those grieving or suffering due to mass shootings
- For all women whose rights and health are put at risk because of other people's beliefs
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the freedom to be educated and the wisdom to choose to learn more
This Week in History:
May 9, 1950 (72 years ago) L. Ron Hubbard publishes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which became so popular it began to evolve into a belief system now called Scientology. Hubbard, a science fiction and fantasy author, developed Dianetics after publishing several articles in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Hubbard's works continued to gain in popularity, despite their fictional origin and condemnation from some governments accusing Hubbard of brainwashing. Today, Scientology has become a multi-billion dollar world-wide movement due in part to high profile Hollywood members.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”