Rev. Dr. Janet Peck has been in ministry over 25 years and currently serves New Hope United Church of Christ in Sturbridge, MA.
Scripture: John 14:15 (NRSV)
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Reflection: No Test Required
Don’t you just hate those if-you-love-me-then statements? They always seem to be some sort of litmus test to prove our love, commitment, or loyalty. Especially now in the midst of a pandemic when there is so much expected of us (wearing facemasks, social distancing, and steep technical learning curves) and so many “no’s” in our lives (no gatherings, no dinners out, no hugs, no in-store shopping nor in-church worship). It makes me want to scream, “Enough!” and simply turn the page. If Jesus really needs me to prove that I am his follower maybe it is just more than I can do right now. Perhaps we can check in with each other after the pandemic.
Or perhaps I’m just reading it wrong. What if it’s not all about Him and His needs, but about me and mine? What if the reason Jesus wants me to keep the commandments is because by doing so, my life will be infinitely more loving, more hopeful, more joy-filled, and more peaceful. Huh… Now that I think of it, Jesus never ever asked any of His followers or anyone at all for that matter to pass a test, cite a creed, or perform some secret handshake. Everywhere Jesus went He sought to break down barriers between people and God, and likewise between peoples, cultures, and nations. Jesus consistently worked to affirm the worth of each person and as a society. It was never about getting a passing grade to earn His acceptance and love. Instead Jesus always opted to forgive even when we, like Peter, failed epically. Even some of his very last words were of forgiveness, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24.
Maybe I should take another look at those commandments. Come to think of it - Yeah, my life is exponentially better and easier when I don’t lie, cheat, steal, envy, worship pop idols, or disrespect God and others. Yes, my life is inexplicably better when I love God first and remember that I am not so indispensable that I can’t take at least one day of rest each week. Remembering that I am in marketing and God is management keeps things in proper perspective. Being mindful of the AS in Jesus’ commandment to Love your neighbor as yourself is vital. When I treat myself with dignity, kindness, and respect I am better able to do the same for others.
But as we all know, there is quite a gap between knowing and doing. Jesus knows this not just in His head but in His heart also. So if we read a little further we will see that He, as usual, has it all under control - Thank God!. Vs. 16 "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.” I have help not just today, or next week, or next year but always. Whew!
Thank you Jesus, for caring enough about me to not only show me the way to a better life, but giving me all I need to get there - even during a pandemic - no test required.
Thank you Jesus, for calling me to a better life and giving me everything I need to achieve it today and every day. 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 those grieving fort he 80,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease.
- For the millions of people suffering financial hardship during this pandemic
- For patience in all of us as restrictions on our lives continue in the interest of the health of our neighbors
- The family and friends of Rev. Dr. John David Schule, longtime pastor of the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard. Rev. Schule died March 12
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For longer days and opportunities to enjoy nature's spring explosion
- For Mother's everywhere
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
The Congregational Church of Plainville, UCC, Plainville, CT
First Congregational Church of Plainfield, Plainfield, CT
Plainfield Congregational Church, Inc, Plainfield, MA
First Church of Christ in Pittsfield, Pittsfield, MA
Pilgrim Memorial Church, Pittsfield, MA
Second Congregational, UCC, Pittsfield, MA
South Congregational Church UCC, Pittsfield, MA
The Congregational Church of Phillipston, Phillipston, MA
First Church in Pembroke, Pembroke, MA
Peace Dale Congregational UCC, Peace Dale, RI
First Congregational Church UCC, Paxton, MA
This Week in History:
May 14, 1970 (50 years ago) Police fired on a group of young people at Jackson State University, a predominantly black college in Mississippi, who were protesting on campus after reports circulated that local civil rights leader, Charles Evers, had been killed (the repots were false). Two young men were killed and 12 others wounded when police fired at students and into a local residence hall. The event occurred only 10 days after the Kent State shooting, but did not receive the same media attention as the Kent State shooting.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”