Painful and Grace-filled

Painful and Grace-filled


Rev. Matt Crebbin is the Lead Pastor at Newtown Congregational Church, UCC and Coordinator of the Newtown Interfaith Council.

Scripture: Isaiah 65: 17-24 (NRSV)

For I am about to create new heavens
   and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
   or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
   in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
   and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
   and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
   or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
   an infant that lives but a few days,
   or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
   and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
   they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
   they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
   and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain,
   or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
   and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
   while they are yet speaking I will hear.

Reflection: Painful and Grace-filled

These words from the prophet Isaiah were spoken to a people returning from exile who looked about their beleaguered community and saw only brokenness and loss. They were not quite sure how they would find their way. They were a community so grief stricken and overwhelmed that they could not imagine what the next day might look like - let alone the next year. To a people without hope, God's messenger dared to imagine and articulate the vision of a beloved community. The messenger also dared to entrust a weary and struggling people with beginning the work of embodying that vision into their own lives.
Author, mystic and theologian Henry Nouwen once said, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.” This is what Isaiah and a beleaguered community did long ago returning from exile. It is now our calling my friends. It is a holy calling – one filled with grief and grace. We do not need to escape from it. Instead we can trust that God’s love will sustain us in the midst of the pain and despair and enable us to claim signs of hope and peace.
Let us continue this prophetic and sacred journey. The path is long and the way is not yet fully revealed – but, held in grace and sustained by hope - may we continue to live into a beloved community rooted in justice, healing and the power of imagination.


O Holy One who meets us at the place of our deepest longing. Open our imaginations so that we might begin to grasp that something new is coming. A different world than the one we know. We are excited and daunted that You invite us to help make it happen. Gather us into your grace so that we might support and encourage one another as we seek to live as a people infused with hope and committed to new beginnings and new possibilities.

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

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the family of Anthony Berrios, nephew of Yolanda Montano, Accounting Assistant for the CT Conference, who died as a result of injuries from a motorcycle accident
  • For the family of Curt Hardee, father of Rev. Brian Hardee, pastor of West Avon Congregational Church, who died on Nov. 10
  • For the people of Australia where wildfire are devastating the eastern part of the nation
  • For those grieving the deaths of 9 Americans, including 6 children, killed in Mexico last week
  • For those grieving or suffering in Baghdad where protests have lead to 6 deaths and over 100 injured
  • For the safety of those in the East Coast as temperatures drop severely this week

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For all those who served during our nation's times of conflict on this 101st commemoration of Armistice Day and U.S. Veterans.

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Westfield Congregational Church UCC
The First Congregational Church of Darien UCC
Deep River
First Congregational Church, Deep River, UCC
The First Congregational Church, UCC
The United Church of Christ in Devon

This Week in History:

November 11, 1918  (101 years ago)  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 2018, World War I officially ended with an armistice agreement between the Allies and Germany. The war left 9 million soldiers dead and more than 20 million wounded. It is estimated that more than 5 million civilians died from disease, starvation or exposure during the 4 year war.

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

Matt S. Crebbin

Senior pastor at Newtown Congregational Church, CT.

November 11, 2019
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