Rev. Dr. Katherine Adams, pastor of First Congregational Church in Billerica, MA, believes in the transforming power of God’s grace and that God’s grace is sufficient for today.
Scripture: Romans 12:1-8 (NRSV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Reflection: Our Story Transformed
We find ourselves in the middle of competing stories about our being and purpose. Our identity is shaken and redefined in the middle of a pandemic, the reemerging fight for racial justice, and political upheaval. Our anxiety, or at least mine, can heighten to the point where we feel we must get control. We struggle to see our story in the midst of competing stories as we seek a glimpse of who we are and whose we are.
Paul has a wonderful way of making us realize that we, humankind that is, has been here before. We are counseled not to conform to the world—do not believe that life is contingent on the latest newsfeed or that social media is the guidepost. Instead, Paul urges, be transformed by meditating on what is good, and that is where we find God’s will for our lives. It’s an inner journey that beckons us to experience the deep rootedness of faith, a trust fall into God’s love that lets us know we are enough. It’s the “I and Thou” relationship that echoes through our depth, connecting us to the Christ within, behind, before, and beside us.
From this rooted place we are called to be members of the body of Christ. Each with our own gifts—varied and diverse gifts. None of us alone can be God’s heart and hands for this aching world. It requires our gifts together to be kin’dom builders for this time and place. This is the work of the Church, of which we are each members, under the sole head, Jesus the Christ.
This inward and outward journey of faith that binds us together in Christ’s body becomes our story. This story, recorded in the Scriptures, told over the ages, practiced in our living, experienced in our dying has the strength to sustain us, no matter the viewpoint. In the story of Jesus the law and prophets culminate, bringing together creation, redemption, and salvation. This is the Christian Story. It is a story that is strong enough to reflect the struggles and triumphs of humanity, accessible from the vantage point of the oppressed and marginalized, and serves as a mirror to reflect each one of our unique stories.
So breathe deeply. Meditate on what is good. Explore your gifts. As Paul said, “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” I’m praying God’s grace will offer us an abundance of compassion for we would be well served by some cheerfulness about now!
God help us, hold us, touch us, heal us. Root us deeply in our faith so that we might be transformed, and by your grace be agents to help transform the world. 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 168,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For those threatened by the wildfires in California
- For the health and safety of those college students heading to campuses in the coming weeks
- For the crews and staff of several cruise lines who have endured long quarantines at sea due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For breaks in the excessive heat and rains that refresh nature
- For those who continue to organize, march, and speak up against injustices when it seems these unresolved causes are fading from the media's attention
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Congregational Church, UCC, Huntington, MA
First Federated Church, Hudson, MA
Union Evangelical Church, UCC, Hopedale, MA
United Congregational Church of Holyoke, Holyoke, MA
First Congregational Church UCC, Holliston, MA
Chaffin Congregational Church, Holden, MA
First Congregational Church UCC, Holden, MA
First Congregational Church of Hinsdale, Hinsdale, MA
Hingham Congregational Church UCC, Hingham, MA
Higganum Congregational Church, Higganum, CT
This Week in History:
August 18, 1920 (100 years ago) The 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was adopted when Tennessee become the 36th state to ratify the amendment, more than a year after the amendment passed Congress. The amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Women's suffrage was a lengthy battle. Though women's right to vote was argued in the public square from as early as the first half of the 19th century, the first amendment regarding women's suffrage introduced to Congress was in 1878, over 50 years before the 1919 amendment passed both houses.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”