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Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference Minister

The Spirit Calendar
A Weekly Devotional from the Connecticut Conference
United Church of Christ
December 5, 2011

This week's author is Cecile Gilson, Assistant to the Conference Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.

Scripture: Luke 1:45-55 (Translation by Miriam Therese Winter)

[Mary and Elizabeth sang:]

"My soul proclaims the power of God,
my spirit delights in Her wonderful ways,
for She has shown favor to me a woman.
Generations of women will all be blessed,
for She Who as power to open the womb
has done inconceivable things through me:
Holy is Her Name.
Her mercy flows through mother and child
from generation to generation.
She silences the arrogant
with the strength of Her outstretched arm,
puts down principalities and powers
as She empowers the poor,
feeds those who are hungry,
while those who seem to have everything
are left unsatisfied.
We have felt Her compassionate presence
as She spoke through our mothers and grandmothers,
keeping the promise She made to Sarah
and her daughters, now and forever."

From The Gospel According to Mary: A New Testament for Women, by Miriam Therese Winter


The Song of Mary is a joy-filled recounting of the hopes and dreams of all people, especially those who are most in need.

This particular adaptation of the Song of Mary speaks to my soul as a woman. As God has done for Mary, Miriam Therese Winter's rendition recognizes the power of women in a world that often sees only a vessel. Jesus, Mary's son, came to recognize all as children of God equally. Just as God is not complete for me unless there are male and female images, humanity is not complete unless all are recognized and celebrated. Jesus' teachings and stories help us do that.

Mary's young life was disrupted by something bigger than she could begin to imagine. Her trust in God and in God's plan for her gives us all hope and joy during Advent. Her willingness to be a vessel for God's work serves as an example for all of us to follow. In her recounting of the promises that God has made throughout time, we are reminded that God is here even today.

The Rev. Kenneth Samuel reminds us in his UCC Daily Devotional that Jesus is much more than words (see link below). We see Jesus incarnate through our joy in our faith. In our actions, in our priorities, in our relationships, Jesus is ever present. Like Mary, we should celebrate and sing praises to a God who, in whatever form, is ever-present. We need only ask.

Rev. Samuel's reflection is here:



God of Mary and Elizabeth, God of promise and fulfillment, God of strength and God of joy, be and remain present with us. May we see Mary's child in all those who surround us, and give him new life with our joy. Amen.

Special Prayer Requests:

New Requests

Please remember:

with joy the birth on November 22 of Margaret Lillian McLaren to the Rev. Nancy Boldt McLaren, specialist in Christian Education and Faith Formation at the Storrs Congregational Church UCC, and her husband, Kenneth.

Continuing Requests

Please remember:

the friends and family of William Lane, son of the Rev. Robert and the Rev. Fidelia Lane, retired ordained ministers in this Conference, who died on Thursday, November 24, after being struck by a car;
the Rev. Howard Tobak, the lay leadership, staff, members, friends, and community of the Saugatuck Congregational Church UCC, which suffered severe damage from a substantial fire on the night of November 20;
Megan Levine Lukens, spouse of the Rev. Jeff Lukens, associate pastor at St. John's UCC in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, as she faces a lengthy hospitalization to discourage a premature birth of their first child;
with gratitude: the members of the United Church of Christ, who so generously gave food items, and wrote, and contributed financially toward the Mission:1 effort to feed the hungry;
Amy Hoffman Becker, daughter of the Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman, former Conference Minister in Illinois and Southern California/Nevada, who is being treated for leukemia;
Cameron Chase Brouillard, grandson to Don and Carol (Larson) Ward, born prematurely on July 21, and still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Woman and Infants' Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, with thanks for his birth and prayers that his improvement continue;
Mark Watkins, Music Director/Organist at the First Church in Windsor UCC, suffering from kidney failure;
Gail Joslin, former staff member of the Connecticut Conference, being treated for 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;
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;
the Conference's partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery and their communities on the Korean peninsula, with prayers for peace;
the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the people of Japan and across the Pacific recovering from the earthquake and tsunami;
the people of Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories: may they have justice and peace;
the people of Haiti and the people who seek to aid them;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
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 Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Colombia.

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 Ch of Christ, Cong'l
IN The Rev. Brenda M. Pelc-Faszcza
MM Ms. Shari Lucas

South Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Marybeth Marshall
CE Ms. Kathleen Grib Novak

The First United Ch of Christ Cong'l
P The Rev. James P. Tudesco
AP The Rev. Adam E. Eckhart
MM Mr. James Balmer
MM Ms. Mary Nelson
CE The Rev. M. Ashley Grant

Wildermere Beach Cong'l Church
P The Rev. John A. Thursby

Woodmont UCC
P The Rev. Gary D. Witte
CE Ms. Debbie Mastroni Kenyon
Y Ms. Debbie Mastroni Kenyon

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The Spirit Calendar: December 05, 2011 by Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference 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