The Rev. Dr. Heather Arcovitch is Senior Minister of North Madison Congregational Church, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ in Madison, Connecticut.

Scripture: Hebrews 2:10-18, (CEB, excerpted and edited for inclusive language)

10It was appropriate for God, for whom and through whom everything exists, to use experiences of suffering to make perfect the pioneer of salvation. This salvation belongs to many sons and daughters and nonbinary offspring whom [the Messiah] is leading to glory. 11 This is because the one who makes people holy and the people who are being made holy all come from one source.  

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, [the Messiah] also shared the same things in the same way. He did this to destroy the one who holds the power over death—the devil—by dying. 15 He set free those who were held in slavery their entire lives by their fear of death. 18 He’s able to help those who are being tempted, since he himself experienced suffering when he was tempted. 

Reflection: Oneness


There’s a story about a man who remains behind when his family goes to church on Christmas Eve. He tells them that the idea of the God of all Creation becoming a human makes no sense; he can’t believe it, and sees no sense in celebrating what can’t be true.  

While settling into his chair by the fire once they had gone, he hears a sharp thud against the window and goes outside to investigate. A small bird lays stunned in the snow. Concerned for its wellbeing on such a cold night, he approaches to see if he can help.  

The bird startles and, unable to fly, hops into a deeper drift. Worried the bird will not survive the night like this, the man opens the barn door to encourage the wounded bird inside. His efforts to encourage the bird toward the safety of the warm, dry, haven result in the bird becoming more afraid of the man, more agitated, and more deeply entrenched in the mounting snow.  

Moved by the bird’s increasing suffering, and frustrated by his failure to help, the man dearly wishes he could for a moment become a bird himself and lead the wounded bird to safety. “Surely,” he thinks, “if I were another bird, this little one would not be so afraid of me. I could speak to her in a language she understands and show her the way to safety.” As the story goes, at that moment, the Christmas church bells ring out, the man suddenly understands what God is up to in the story of Christmas, and believes. 

…The one who makes people holy and the people who are being made holy all come from one source.  

This passages speaks of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe being so moved with empathy by our human suffering and confusion as to encapsulate Godsself in a smallish, ape-descended, carbon-based human lifeform and make the Holy Presence vulnerable to suffering simply to reach us in a way we might perceive; to rebalance us, assure us that we are not alone, and show us how to do this living thing well. The Pauline author paints God as a doting parent tenderly taking their fearful, floundering child by the hand and saying, “Here. See? Let me show you…don’t be afraid. I’ve got you. This is how it’s done.”  Wow!  

And, what are death and temptation, anyway, that fear of them has such heavy power over us? If we take mysticism seriously, both are illusions that blind us from knowing our true identity and power. Each deceives us into a perception that we are alone, separate from God. 

The spiritual path is to reawaken to, to remember, what has always been true, though most of us do not readily perceive it: we are all rooted in one source. As Jesus professes succinctly in the words of his final prayer for us: we are One, we are Love, and we are able, with practice and intention or moments of transcendent or empathic insight, to know and live our oneness with God and one another as Jesus does.  

In realizing this Oneness, Jesus teaches and prays for us to “do greater things even than [he].” (John 14:12) God knows that to know the fullness of love and life, we must experience it without a safety net -- the gutting pain of vulnerability, the heady risk of trust, the transcendent joy of true generosity, the searing calm of truth, and the deep salve of finding our own unique wholeness and holding space tenaciously for others to come into theirs. Practicing trust, rather than fear, is the way. 


Source of Love, Emmanuel, “God with us,” as this new year dawns, slip in beside us again, release us from our fears and temptations, and let us remember, in the very core of ourselves, our deep oneness with one another and with you. 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 Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~43,400 gun violence deaths in the US this year.
  • For the people affected by the latest deadly winter rain, snow, and wind storms across the country.
  • For those traveling near and far.
  • For those who especially suffer during the holidays, may they see the light through the darkness.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those who brought joy and gladness this holiday season.
  • For messages of HOPE bursting forth all around us.

 This Week in History:

December 29, 1890 (132 years ago): In one of the final chapters of America’s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.  [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Heather Arcovitch

The Rev. Dr. Heather Arcovitch is Senior Minister of North Madison Congregational Church, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ in Madison, Connecticut. 

December 26, 2022
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