The Beginning of the Birthpangs

The Beginning of the Birthpangs


Rev. Cheryl Anderson is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Washington

Scripture: Mark 13:5-8, NRSV

Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

Reflection: The Beginning of the Birthpangs

Through all history, there have been signs of “the end.” Climate change related disasters, the refugee crisis, rampant sexual abuse, white nationalism, and the Pacific garbage patch make Mark’s “earthquakes, wars and rumors of war” sound tame. Mark’s word to any of us who are tempted to give in to despair, is “the end is not yet.” No matter how we try to decode the signs of the time, it isn’t given to us to know the end of the story until we get there. “Therefore,” he says later, “we must keep alert.” A monk of the ancient Carthusian sect said, about our desire to know the future: “The darkness of the future is the necessary space for the exercise of our liberty and our faith.”
The social upheaval, then and now, call for faith in God and faithful action in the world. We are to interpret the signs of the time as birth pangs, as Mark says, rather than death rattle. As followers of Christ, we are called to exercise our liberty and our faith by assisting at the birth of a social order that doesn’t encourage xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, misogyny, and environmental destruction. A social order based on love and on an understanding of our interconnectedness with all beings…not just all humans. We assist at this birth by living in faith…living into that reality…thinking, speaking, and acting as though it is already reality. That is what Jesus’ admonitions to stay alert mean. We are to stay alert to the kin-dom of God already manifesting in our lives and our world. Our calling is to live fearlessly in a scary time, to live lovingly and inclusively in the midst of prejudice and exclusion, to live generously in the face of financial uncertainty. By living into the kin-dom of God, we give it space to manifest more fully, in our lives and in our world.


God of Love, grant us courage to live faithfully in these troubled times. May we keep always before us, the example of Jesus, as we walk the Way of Peace, the Way of Love, the Way of Christ. Amen.

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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 those grieving or suffering in California where wildfires have killed 29 people, left over 200 missing, and destroyed thousands of buildings
  • For those grieving or suffering after a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California,which left 12 dead including the shooter

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • for all those who have served in the armed services, dedicating their lives to this nation.

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

United Congregational Church Bridgeport
Bridgewater Congregational Church UCC
First Congregational Church, UCC
Broad Brook
Broad Brook Congregational Church
Congregational Church of Brookfield

This Week in History:
Nov. 12, 1954 (64 years ago): Ellis Island closes. As the nation's first federal immigration center, Ellis Island served as the official gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants. Prior to 1892 immigration was handled by individual states. In 1907, Ellis Island saw 1 million people immigrate to the United States. At that time, it is estimated that only 2% of all immigrants were denied entrance to the U.S. The island currently houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum which opened in 1990.

Cheryl P. Anderson

pastor of the First Congregational Church of Washington

November 12, 2018
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