This week's author is the Rev. Tamara Moreland, Northwest Central Regional Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Mark 8:34-38 (NIV)Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
Reflection:In April 1963, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned an open “Letter from Birmingham Jail” defending the nonviolent resistance movement against Racism. Dr. King asserted that people, while addressing the eight white clergyman who called for unity, have a moral obligation to resist and break laws that are unjust and that such civil disobedience was immediately necessary instead of waiting for justice through a tainted legal system.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” said Dr. King.
That phrase directly challenged those who believed that Dr. King and his supporters were inciting non-violent action in a community where they did not reside and, for that matter, were really outsiders and should just be patient and wait for things to change. Dr. King didn’t buy into that reasoning and declared “wait has almost always meant never” and that “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is an important document for periodic review. As I read it this past week, it was apparent to me that many politicians are again encouraging citizens to wait on debate and action on gun control. The massacre of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida was yet another reminder of the dangers of inaction.
Dr. King’s letter was aimed at freeing black people from racist laws and supremacist ideologies while the rise in young voices – from all corners and colors - of resistance across the country today are an outcry against a still tainted legal system. These young people have a moral imperative to challenge those in power who can effect change and to speak truth to that very same power. Today’s youth will not wait. They will not be complicit. They will demand action and policies to protect the most vulnerable of these United States. Parkland students are leading the way by saying, “We are going to be the last mass shooting.” Listen, America, to their voices crying in the wilderness. The time is now!
Prayer:Gracious God, as we journey through this season of Lent lead us and guide us through this wilderness time in our country. Help us to repent for our inaction and ineffectiveness in creating and implementing policies for the well-being of all citizens. Stir us up to take action and not wait because things may never change without us. Let us pick up our cross and go! #repentforlent
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering after school shooting in Parkland. FL, left 17 students and teachers dead and 13 wounded on Feb. 14; and
- Those grieving in Mozambique after a rubbish dump collapsed killing at least 17 and leaving many others injured or missing on Feb. 19.
- Those grieving or suffering in Taiwan after earthquake left 6 dead and over 80 missing on Feb. 6;
- those grieving or suffering after a tourist helicopter crashed in the Grand Canyon, leaving 3 dead and 4 injured on Feb. 11;
- those grieving or suffering after a gas canister explosion at a carnival in Bolivia killed 6 and left nearly 30 injured on Feb. 10;
- those grieving after a Russian airplane crashed outside Moscow on Feb. 10, killing all 71 passengers and crew; and
- the family and friends of Rev. Ernest Bengston, pastor emeritus at Winchester Center, who died on Feb. 10;
- those grieving or suffering in South Carolina after train accident killed 2 people and injured over 100 others on Feb. 4;
- the family and friends of Rev. Ralph Miller Cook, Jr., retired UCC pastor, who died on Jan. 25;
- the Rev. Allen F. Tinkham, retired UCC pastor, who was hospitalized in Middletown last week (Jan.);
- those grieving or suffering in South Korea after a hospital fire killed 37 people and injured over 140 others on Jan. 26;
- those grieving or suffering after school shooting in Kentucky left 2 dead and 12 injured on Jan. 23;
- Rev. Meg Boxwell Williams, Associate Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Stratford, for a full recovery as she recuperates from intestinal surgery and experiences chemo treatments;
- Robert G. Hale Sr., grandfather of Emily McKenna, Office Manager of the CT Conference, who is recovering from surgery last week (Feb.);
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- 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; 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:
Greenfield Hill Congregational UCC
Alida Ward - CP
David J. Rowe - CP
Marcia W. Carothers - CE
Falls Village Congregational Church
Richard Reifsnyder - SU
First Church of Christ Congregational 1652
Susan Gibson - SP
Edward E. Clark - MM
Buckingham Congregational UCC
Sara G. Worcester - DT
First Church of Christ Congregational, Glastonbury
David T. Taylor - SP
Kate VanDerzee-Glidden - AP
Elizabeth Gleich - AP
Tamara Moreland serves churches in the northern part of the historic Connecticut Conference ranging from the New York state line to the Connecticut River. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Tamara was ordained in the Hartford Association in 2001. ...