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Rev. Dr. Michael S. Penn-Strah, South Central Regional Minister

The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference
United Church of Christ
February 14, 2011

May you be blessed by love this Valentine's Day: the love of those around you, and especially the love of God.

This week's author is the Rev. Dr. Michael S. Penn-Strah, South Central Regional Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:10-11

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ."

Reflection: Where are You Standing?

When I read these words from this week's epistle, I was reminded of two things. First, I recalled the words of one of my favorite Gospel Hymns, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less." I love the chorus: "On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Second, I recalled how easy it is for me to forget the true foundation of my life and ministry! In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates the first sentence of verse 10 in these words: "Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints." I find, to my dismay, that it is all too easy for me to become enamored with my own goals and plans, my own visions and ideas, and forget that I am only using the gifts God has given me and building on the foundation already laid by Jesus Christ.

Like most Regional Ministers on our conference staff, I spend an average of three out of four Sundays preaching in a church other than the one to which I belong. Sometimes I need to leave quite early on Sunday morning to get to the church I'm preaching in that day. As I drive, I sing a medley of my favorite hymns.

Partly I do that just because I love to sing, but mostly I do it because it helps to center me and remind me that whatever good I accomplish that day will be built on the foundation already laid: in my life, and in the life of the congregation I am visiting, by the Risen One.


Gracious God, thank you for the many gifts you so kindly bestow upon us. Help, us, as we share those gifts with others, not to forget the Holy Foundation you have laid within each of us. Amen.

Special Prayer Requests:

New Requests

Please remember:

the family and friends of Paul "Red" Doyle, father of the Rev. Paul J. Doyle, pastor of the Scotland Congregational Church UCC, who died on February 4;
the Rev. Jean M. McCusker, pastor of the Central Village Congregational Church UCC, as she recovers from knee surgery;
the Rev. Mark Pilletere, pastor of the Mill Plain Union Church, UCC, in Waterbury, recovering from back surgery on February 7;
the Rev. Gordon Rankin, pastor of the Congregational Church of Naugatuck UCC, that he escaped injury when his car caught fire on February 9;
the people of Egypt with thanks that their call for change in their government were heard, and for wisdom and guidance as they work to create a new system of government that will support justice and promote peace; and
Connecticut UCC churches suffering from storm-related damage.

Continuing Requests

Please remember:

the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg and all the members of the Congregational Church of Plainville UCC, on the collapse of their social hall roof on February 1;
United Church of Rowayton UCC, on voting to become Open and Affirming on February 6;
First Church of Christ UCC in Woodbridge, on voting to become Open and Affirming on January 30;
the homeless many in the northeast in cold winter weather;
Deborah Taylor, wife of the Rev. Wendell Taylor, pastor of the Congregational Church of Burlington, UCC, who is being treated for lung cancer;
Gail Joslin, former staff member of the Connecticut Conference, who has been diagnosed with advanced liver cancer;
Charles Miles, a member of the local planning team for the 2007 General Synod, recovering from injuries suffered in a fall on December 26;
the Rev. Paulette Harwood, pastor of the Federated Church of Christ in Brooklyn, as she recovers from surgery;
the Rev. Gregory Errgong-Weider, pastor of United Congregational Church UCC in Norwalk, recovering from eye surgery on December 17th;
Ken Esposito, health care organizer with the Christian Activities Council, being treated for cancer;
Bonnie Odiorne, spouse of the Rev. Dr. Raymond Odiorne, who is suffering from vision problems;
US Army Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Carroll, son of the Rev. Carla Dietz Carroll, associate pastor at the United Church of Rowayton, UCC, and her husband John Carroll, who is stationed in Afghanistan; Sgt. Carroll and his wife have a young son Charlie;
Ruth Addison, retired former Treasurer of the Connecticut Conference, as she struggles with ongoing health concerns;
those Australians affected by the floods and cyclone, and those who seek to aid them;
the nation of Tunisia as it reconstitutes its government;
the people of Haiti in the cholera epidemic and civil unrest, and the people who seek to aid them;
the Conference's partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery and their communities on the Korean peninsula, with prayers for peace amidst great tension;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
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;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, confronting the loss of a job, or working to find just resolutions to the crisis; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck, particularly in Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, and the Sudan.

To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Rev. Eric Anderson at: webmaster@ctucc.org.

Please Remember These
Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers

First Cong'l Ch of Portland
P The Rev. Jane E. Hawken
CE Mrs. Ann Labby

Prospect Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Phyllis A. Norman
MM Mr. Stewart Crouse
Y Ms. Kathy Patrick

Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Thomas H. Meyer
CE Ms. Heidi Blackmar

Redding Center
First Ch of Christ, Cong'l
P The Rev. Dean C. Ahlberg
MM M. Cherry
CE Ms. Nikki Foster

Ridgebury Cong'l Ch. UCC
P The Rev. John D. Heeckt

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The Spirit Calendar: February 14, 2011 by Rev. Dr. Michael S. Penn-Strah, South Central Regional Minister

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The Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
United Church Center
125 Sherman Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Toll Free in CT: 866.367.2822