New Words

New Words


This Week in History:
Mar. 9, 1841 (177 years ago), the U.S. Supreme Court rules that African captives who siezed control of the Amistad had been illegally forced into slavery and were therefore free under American law. Several CT churches were instrumental in aiding the Amistad survivors during the trial.


by The Rev. Lindsey Peterson
Rev. Lindsey Peterson lives in Northampton, MA and is the co-organizer of a live storytelling event called Queer Faith.

Scripture: John 3:19-21 (NRSV)

And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’


Darkness and evil have been so long twinned in the cultural imagination formed by Christianity, that we who are inside Christianity begin not to hear or see it and all of us are impoverished by its narrowness.
I do think we are capable of holding a metaphorical understandings of darkness and light; that they can be useful ways of talking about those evil/good pushes and pulls in and about us. I think, however, more so that we are in a time in long need of deep re-imaginings and that unlinking the twinning of darkness as evil and of light as whiteness and truth is needed. We need new imaginations of new ways of being, individually and collectively. Shifting our language landscape, immersing ourselves in other languages, is one way to shift our imaginations. Even just a couple words changed make a difference.
As we enter the third week of Lent, now long in the wilderness, I want to simply offer alternative words as ways in to reimagining the New Being in God that John’s gospel aims to show us and draw us toward.
This section of scripture is a continuation of Jesus’ response to Nicomedus’ resonant question, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?” Nicodemus’ question is one of the depth questions we are asking in these times and which we need to let come up to the surface in us. It is a question that takes seriously and passionately the desire for another way of being. How can we, individually and collectively, be born anew, after having so much history, so much life lived and worn out in us; after having built up so many habits of attention and non-seeing and been formed in a such a deeply racist imagination?
A lenten exercise of imagination: substitute other words for the words “light” and “darkness” in the scripture. For example, life and death, connection and isolation, aliveness and routinization, despair and hope. What others? What opens? Do you feel the call into God differently?
None of these pairings are perfect, each convey an unreal polarization. But I think they can contribute to our capacity to imagine new ways of being. The gospel calls to new life, again and again. It is the love that will not us go, even though we’d most days be perfectly fine to just settle into all the known quantities. It wants us to imagine a New Being, new beings. The chaos of Lent, the wilderness, times such as these, are landscapes abundant in the possibility of new imaginations of a new being.


God who loves with an everlasting love, may we dare imagine you and us in you and us as humans being together differently. May our imagination expand us and give us more fully to you and one another.

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

Prayers of Intercession:

  • for the millions of DACA immigrants whose protections end today, leaving them with uncertain futures.
  • for the family of Tiffany Vail, Associate Conference Minister of Communications for the CT, MA, and RI Conferences. Tiffany's father died Sunday, March 4.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • for the season of Lent as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' Resurrection.

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Groton Congregational Church UCC
The First Congregational Church of Guilford, Inc.
First Congregational Church of Haddam, UCC
Haddam Neck
Haddam Neck Congregational Church
Hadlyme Congregational Church UCC


Lindsey Peterson

Lindsey Peterson is a General Synod delegate and is the Designated Term Pastor at the South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.

March 05, 2018
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