Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer serves as the Minister of Youth and Mission at the Newtown Congregational Church in Newtown, CT. In her sabbath time, she loves to hike, build things and experiment with new recipes. She is most proud of being a mom to her three wonderful children.
Scripture: Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
The Cross and Self-Denial
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’
Reflection: Not Feeling It
Unpopular opinion of the day: I hate Fall. My friends know it, my parishioners know it and now you do too. (#SorryNotSorry).
Sure, I love a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) and the feeling of being cozy in a hoodie as much as the next person, but when I feel that crisp chill in the morning I just want to get back under the covers and stay there all day (or at least until the heat kicks on). So when I was driving up to Silver Lake Conference Center earlier this Summer for a day of fun and relaxation and noticed some rogue leaves were already turning the most gorgeous colors...I wasn’t really feeling it.
It turns out Jesus’ disciples weren’t really feeling it either. In this lectionary reading, Jesus explains to his disciples all of the events that need to occur near the end of his ministry, including his death and resurrection. Peter, bless his heart, immediately cries out that this must not happen, and Jesus rebukes him rather harshly. And then Jesus, in his typical fashion, presents them with a paradox: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
We are living in a time where people are finding it increasingly difficult to give up pieces of their life for the greater good- the convenience of not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), small portions of their white privilege so that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) voices may be elevated and spaces where BIPOC businesses, ideas and lives may be prioritized instead of marginalized. We are reminded along with the disciples that when we give up just a small bit of ourselves willingly and lovingly, we make a large positive act for everyone in our communities. In other words, when we rise by lifting others, we all level up and thrive together.
The fall leaves remind us how beautiful it can be when we let go just a little bit. Because when we allow parts of ourselves like our convenience, our privilege and white supremacy to experience these mini-deaths of sorts, God’s dream of justice and equality thrives and flourishes. And what’s more beautiful than that?
Dear God, take the parts of me that need to die and transform them into life-giving justice so that others may have life abundantly. (And please help us be just a little bit better about wearing our masks.) 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 for the more than 175,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For the many teachers and staff who return to schools starting this week to begin a difficult school year
- For Jacob Blake, his family, and the people of Kenosha, Wisconsin, after Blake was shot by law enforcement with his children nearby
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For opportunities to see friends and family in safe environments or through safe methods during this pandemic
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
The Haydenville Congregational Church UCC, Haydenville, MA
Phoenix Rising UCC, Haverhill, MA
First Congregational Church, Hatfield, MA
Harwinton Congregational Church, Harwinton, CT
Pilgrim Congregational Church, Harwich Port, MA
First Congregational Church UCC of Harwich, Harwich, MA
The Congregational Church of Harvard, UCC, Harvard, MA
Amistad UCC, Hartford, CT
Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Hartford, CT
Broadview Community Church, Hartford, CT
Faith Congregational Church, Hartford, CT
First Church of Christ in Hartford, Hartford, CT
This Week in History:
August 29, 2005 (15 years ago) Hurricane Katrina makes landfall on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana with winds of 140 MPH. The storm surge and winds caused widespread flooding and destruction. 80% of New Orleans is flooded. The destruction along the coast is massive and the death toll reaches close to 2,000. Thousands lose their homes and businesses, many being denied insurance due to fine print clauses that exclude flood damage. The estimated cost of the hurricane is over $160 billion with many places still not repaired 15 years later.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Rev. Kristen Provost Switzer is the Minister of Youth and Mission at Newtown Congregational Church.