This week's author is the Rev. Dr. Thomas Clough, Eastern Regional Minister of the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:12 (NRSV)
Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.
It often seems ironic to the point of cruel to be a pastor called to teach and keep this commandment. The Sabbath day is for us the focal point of our efforts and our anxieties. Though some of us may claim to keep another day of the week as our "day off," too often that at best means a day crammed full of non-church work. Not rest. Not all that holy, either.
The most persistent message that I hear in my visits with the extraordinary clergy who serve our congregations is that they are bone-weary.
As you read this I am beginning the second week of a blessed gift that you have given to me: my first sabbatical in twenty years of ministry. I will confess that I fully expected to squander these three months by filling them with various achievements of travel or book conquest. But, thanks to the wise admonition of my beloved spiritual director, I have reason to hope that I may actually experience Sabbath during this time away.
The direction was simply this: "Pay attention to the verb." We are commanded not to make the Sabbath, but to observe it.
Thank you very much for this gift of time to observe the holiness that is present in our lives. Thank you for the rest that is present in that awareness.
God of grace, thank you for the gift of life and the goodness that surrounds us. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those suffering or grieving in Florida after a gunmen killed 5 and injured several others in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6;
- the people of Northern California and Nevada who are struggling with severe floods after a winter storm stuck on Jan. 6-7; and
- The friends and family of the Rev. Dr. Evans F. Sealand, Jr., former Board member and Archivist of the CT Conference, who died on Dec. 29.
- The Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister of Leadership and Vitality, whose father died on Dec. 24;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a New Years' Eve attack by a gunman left 39 dead and more injured;
- the people of Iraq after several bombings a left more than 50 dead and many more injured during the last week of December;
- those grieving in Brazil after a prison riot left 60 dead and sparked a gang war in the city of Manaus on Jan. 1 ;
- the people of San Pablito, Mexico, grieving or suffering after a series of explosions at a fireworks market left more than 30 dead on Dec. 20;
- the people of Berlin, Germany, grieving or suffering after a tourist attack left 12 dead and many others injured on Dec. 19;
- the Democratic Republic of Congo, where clashes between protestors and authorities have left dozens dead and many more injured or arrested;
- those grieving after a Russian military plane crashed on Dec. 25, killing all 92 passengers;
- the Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership & Vitality, who is recovering from surgery on Dec. 16;
- Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
- Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
- Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
- the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
- our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
- the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
- the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
- this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
- those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, seeking employment, or working to find just resolutions; and
- those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Drew Page at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational, UCC
Raymond Kostulias - P
The First Congregational Church of Ansonia, UCC
Nancy W. Svalberg - SP
Avon Congregational Church
Donna M. Cassity - IN
West Avon Congregational UCC
Brian C. Hardee - P
Miranda Moeller - CE
Berlin Congregational Church
Pamela Rose Vollinger - DT
The Eastern Regional Minister works with churches in transition, providing support, resources and leadership training. He assists in connecting the churches to the mission and ministry of the UCC beyond their local programs and concerns. His work ...