This week's author is Emily McKenna, Office Manager for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Mark 13:28-31 (NRSV)From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Reflection:As people of faith we often can tell when something is about to happen. Perhaps we may not know the what, but with each subtle change in our surroundings, we know that for better or worse, our world will not always be the same. Of course there are clear signs of what's to come during this season of bows and lights and nativities and trees, as the symbols of Christmas fill our local shops and our homes. We know we will celebrate the birth of Jesus in a few short weeks. But what is that other approaching change for you?
Just as we can feel the beginning of summer with the changes in the fig tree, we can listen, notice, and feel the start of something new as the season of Advent approaches. Take comfort in knowing that however your world may change during this time, the word of the Lord remains the same. Let the word guide you through whatever is bound to come your way, and anchor yourself in your faith. Something is about to happen!
Prayer:Thank you for surrounding us with reminders of your love. May we remember your word and your will as we trim our trees and make ready for the birth of your son. Guide us through our upcoming season of change. Comfort those who are suffering a loss or navigating a renewal, and be with those who have yet to recognize what this season of Advent will bring them.
Special Prayer Requests:
- The people of Egypt after an attack on a mosque left over 300 dead on Nov. 24; and
- the families and friends of Airman Matthew Chialastri, Lt. Steven Combs, and Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso, who were lost at sea after a U.S. naval aircraft crashed in the Pacific near Guam on Nov. 22.
- The family and friends of Rev. Betsy Bloomfield, retired pastor and long-time active member of the CT Conference, who died Nov. 13;
- the friends and family of Rev. Hugh Penny, paster Emeritus at South Church in New Britain, who died on Nov. 12;
- those grieving or suffering in the community around Rancho Tehama Reserve, in Northern California after a shooting on Nov. 14 left 6 dead and 8 wounded;
- those grieving or suffering after an earthquake struck along the border of Iran and Iraq, killing over 300 and injuring thousands on Nov. 12;
- the family and friends of Clyde Work, member of First Congregational Church of Guilford and life-long missionary, who died last week (Nov.);
- those grieving or suffering after a truck driver ran down pedestrians in New York City, killing 8 and injuring at least a dozen others on October 31;
- those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a church in Texas where at least 26 were killed and at least 19 more were wounded on Nov. 5;
- the people of Catalonia and Spain where tension is high after separatists leaders from Catalonia declared independence from Spain on October 27;
- the family of Rev. Sandra Lea Fischer, associate pastor at South Congregational Church in Granby, whose father, Milton Fischer, died October 26;
- the people of Somalia after a car bomb in Mogadishu killed over 350 people on October 14;
- The people of California where wildfires have led to at least 40 deaths and burned more than 100,000 acres;
- the millions of people currently worried about losing health insurance as the White House and Congress consider and enact changes to the current health care system;
- those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, which left more than 50 dead and over 400 wounded on Oct. 2
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- the thousands of child immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as their future becomes unclear after the President's announcement that the program will end in the near future;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
- the people of South Sudan where nearly 1 million people are facing famine;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- 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; and
- those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational Church of Woodbury UCC
Howard A. Mayer - DT
North Congregational Church, UCC
Richard A. Koenig - P
First Congregational Church of Woodstock, UCC
Jocelyn Gardner Spencer – P
Kate Murdock – Y
Tara Smock – CE
Edward Bradley – MM
Union Chapel UCC
Candace Whitman - P
Abington Congregational Church, UCC
Bruce A. Hedman - P
Emily is the Program Support Associate for the Discipleship and Justice & Witness Teams of the Southern New England Conference. Emily grew up in the Naugatuck Congregational Church UCC and at Silver Lake Conference Center, where she has served as ...