This week's author is Debby Kirk, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Scripture: Colossians 1:11-20 (NRSV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Isn't this our prayer for children and youth? To be strong in spirit? To understand themselves as gifted with a divine flame? To feel connected to the power of God's fire? To know that they share a legacy with saints in the light? To be agents for love by reflecting that brightness and warmth to others around them?
SHINE was the theme of the recent Thinking About Working for God (TAWFG) retreat at Silver Lake. The goal of TAWFG is to identify, nurture, network, affirm, and build the capacities of leaders. The annual retreat is a place for youth to discern their own gifts and passion. The conversations and activities were a way to fan those flames of faith and justice.
What a privilege it is to work with TAWFG youth! They are talented and thoughtful folks who have been raised in faith by loving families. They have been nurtured by caring congregations. They have been formed in spirit by wider church ministries such as Silver Lake, National Youth Event, and Synod. When asked to fill in the blank "I am___," they not only name themselves as children of God, but also see that the "fullness of God" dwells in each other.
The weekend had many shining moments, but most impressive was how easily beloved community was created across lines of race, gender, orientation, ability, and age. Thanks to all of the faith-formers in their lives, these youth have spirits that are generous and welcoming, kind and mature. Their joy spills over as they break into impromptu song and exultant dance. They listen carefully, ask questions, and offer thoughtful reflections on injustices in the world. They shift easily into sacred space, breaking bread together, and pouring out prayers for family, friends, and the world.
Even as the world is reeling with acrimony and division, there are spaces where God's love breaks through. When we doubt that the arc of the moral universe is bending toward justice, there is hope! The impact of our collaborative ministries is that our youth are indeed light-bearers who are carrying the torch with grace!
Prayer:Loving God, we thank you for wise young spirits who are stepping into leadership. May we be made strong in your spirit and let us give thanks with joy when we see your light shining through others.
Special Prayer Requests:New Requests:
- the family and friends of Pauline “Polly” Parmalee, former President of the CT Women of the UCC, who died on November 11;
- those grieving or stranded in New Zealand after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South Island on November 14; and
- prayers for a peaceful transition in our nations government.
- the friends and family of the Rev. Dr. Don Westerberg, former pastor of Roxbury Congregational Church, UCC, who died on November 1;
- the Rev. Paul Goodman, interim pastor of Plantsville Congregational Church, whose father died on November 3;
- the Rev. Edwin Ayala, transitional pastor of Bloomfield Congregational Church, whose mother-in-law died last week;
- the people of Italy who experienced a high magnitude earthquake, their second in 3 months, on October 30;
- the friends and family of Rev. Gary Miller, retired UCC pastor and former pastor of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, who died on October 23;
- those grieving or suffering after a bus accident in California killed 13 and injured over 30 others on October 23;
- the people of Iraq impacted by the renewed fighting in and around the city of Mosul where Iraqi forces are trying to retake control of the city from ISIS;
- Rev. M. John Arens, Pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, who had surgery on June 28;
- Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership and Vitality, and her family as they face a loss and difficult illness in the family;
- The Rev. Sara Smith, pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, and her sister Ellen, who is recovering from a stroke;
- Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Associate Pastor of the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, whose parents were involved in a tragic car accident. Kelly’s father, Wallace, has died and her mother, Janet, is hospitalized;
- 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 Rev. Mary Nelson, South Central Regional Minister of the Connecticut Conference, whose brother is recovering from surgery;
- Alisia Selders, daughter of Bishop John Selders, pastor of Amistad UCC in Hartford, in a new round of treatment for cancer;
- 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:
United Congregational Church Torrington
Rhonda Myers - P
Trumbull Congregational Church
Timothy Hare - P
Tara Brophy - CE
Ilana Ofgang - MM
Elena Arone - OL
Unity Hill UCC
M. Todd Shipley - P
Congregational Church of Union UCC
Timothy Gilbert - DT
First Church of Christ, UCC
Cynthia J. Carr - P
Debby Kirk is the Faith Formation Team Leader of the Southern New England Conference. She serves on the Faith Formation Team and oversees the Youth and Young Adult Ministries programs of the Conference. She organizes leadership development programs ...