The Rev. Erick Olsen is pastor of Church of Christ, Congregational (United Church of Christ) in Norfolk.
Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-8 (NRSV)
(Beginning) Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
(Middle) Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy."
(End) But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
~ Parentheticals added by author
Reflection: Not Just A _______
It's too easy for too many of us too often to play this card. The card that says, "God, no! I can't do that! I'm just a ___________." Fill in the blank with the attribute and/or vocation of your choosing: "retired attorney," "Gen-X small church pastor," "inexperienced high schooler." You get the idea. Before we have given consideration to what else God might have us say, we blurt out our certainty that we're not enough. Or, we mumble it to ourselves until it starts to sound like truth.
As you're reading this, I am wrapping up a 3-month sabbatical leave. One of the gifts of sabbatical is the chance to listen, including opportunities (for those of us often in the pulpit) to hear good preaching in other settings. This past weekend, I heard a dear friend deliver a powerful and timely message focused on our call - for all of us, not just preachers - to be "soaked in prayer." This is an invitation to pause with intention and listen for the very, very good news of God's with-ness. It's an invitation to hold open the ears of our hearts so that we may hear in a new way that God has our back. You, child of God, are known and precious and way more than enough.
Look again at the passage above. The Middle, where we shy away due to falsehoods about scarcity, is sandwiched between potent promises that God is with us always. "As it was in the Beginning," (feel free to sing along) you are crafted with care, touched by eternity, fueled by the Spirit that coaxes life out of chaos. Indeed (see End verses above), "is now and ever shall be" our abiding truth that we have nothing to fear in trusting that we will be, again and yet again, delivered with grace and held in strength.
Trials and tests will come our way, and it will be revealed that you and I are not Jeremiah. Your neighbor doesn't need Jeremiah. The teenager who gets teased for her hair color needs a prophet with your tools, your God-formed goodness. The mother who doesn't know whether to buy milk or fill her prescription needs to know that your God-consecrated solidarity is real enough to help her. Somebody really close by needs your hand to hold, and somebody struggling in the distance would love to hear that you're paying attention enough to share God's care. You're not Jeremiah, but you're surely, powerfully, beautifully beyond enough. Soak in that.
God of grace before and forever, remind us that you grant more than what we need in the now. Fill and fuel us, soak us with Spirit beyond enough for the needs we see. As small as we may feel, remind us of your glorious Kingdom power - world without end - pulsing within and through us. 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 all our church leaders as they look ahead to the fall when church schedules and programs accelerate
- For those grieving or suffering in Afghanistan after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding, killing more than 60 and injuring over 100 more
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For summer gatherings and vacations, and all those times that leave use renewed and energized
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational Church of Watertown, UCC
Covenant Congregational Church
Elmwood Community Church UCC
First Church of Christ Congregational in West Hartford, UCC
Flagg Road UCC Congregational
This Week in History:
Aug 21, 1959 (75 years ago) Hawaii becomes the 50th state in the USA. The group of islands had been a U.S. territory since 1900, 7 years after a group of sugar traders unseated the Hawaiian monarchy with the help of U.S. military troops.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”