Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, Theologian and writer.
SERMON “A Prayer for You” Rev. Allyson Glass
John 17: 6-19
Have you ever had anyone hold your hand, look directly at you and pray for you? It is an incredibly powerful experience. As I sat in distress some years ago with my pastor, she reached out and took my hands in hers and prayed for me. “Jesus loves you”, she told me, as she began the prayer. The intimacy and passion of this prayer has stayed with me throughout these years. This morning we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together, the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. It is a prayer for us to pray to God. Now we hear Jesus praying for us. He says in His prayer, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me; for they are Thine.” Wow! Can a person be any more blessed than to have Jesus pray for them? I am so overwhelmed with joy every time that realize that Jesus is praying for me, sitting at the right hand of God, praying for me. As I read and reread our gospel text I realize that Jesus is claiming each of us as His own. Jesus is loving us and praying for us – praying for us because He loves us, not because we have earned that love or are worthy of that love. We hear so much about prayer – how we should pray, what we should pray for, who we should pray for – but how about how to accept the love poured out on us through those who pray for us? As people pray for us, we feel their support and a holy connection. When we pray, do we stop and think how people feel when we pray for them? We know that people yearn for our prayers; they even request our prayer but let’s stop and think about how it feels to be prayed for. I received an unexpected Easter card this year; it was from my college roommate. While we keep in touch throughout the year, I don’t recall ever receiving an Easter Card from her. When I opened the card, I found it contained a lovely bookmark with the words of Philippians 4:6 written on it: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” She had written a note on the card telling me she was thinking about me and keeping me in her prayers. The beauty of this unexpected prayer and bookmark brought me a sense of peace and calm as I prepared for the busyness of Holy Week and Easter. I knew that someone was praying for me, I felt loved. I placed the bookmark in the last page of the book I was reading at the time, knowing I would see it before I fell asleep each night. As I finish my reading each evening, I hear those words being prayed for me, on my behalf and my heart is a little less troubled. I think this is what it feels like to overhear Jesus praying for you. The upper room was filled with pain and abandonment: with betrayal and loss, with unsettled hearts and fearful souls. And Jesus ends it all with a prayer for His disciples, and then He prays for us. This is not The Lord’s Prayer. This is not Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. After betrayal and their questions about the rejection Jesus tells them they will face when He is gone, the disciples do not need another lesson, another miracle, or another example. They need exactly what Jesus does, because Jesus knows – for Jesus to pray for them. And then, with the hour of death approaching, He took the time to pray for us. And what does He pray for? He is praying that we may find God’s support and encouragement and that we may be one in fellowship with each other and God. Of course, these two things go together – as we gather together to hear God’s Word and to remind each other of God’s promises, we are not only drawn together in deeper fellowship but also find the strength and courage to face the challenges that come from living in the world. Jesus prays that His joy maybe made complete in us. We are His joy. Author Marlena Graves writes: My three year old daughter caught me staring at her. “Mommy, why are you looking at me like that?” she asked. “Because I love you and delight in you.” I said. “God looks at you that way too.” “You mean, God looks happy at me?” she earnestly inquired.“Yes!” I said. “God looks happy at you.” When we are going through difficult times and things threaten to overwhelm us, we may wonder if God cares. It is in exactly these times that we need to remember that Jesus is praying for us, that no matter what- Jesus is loving us.You and I and all of humanity are worth more than we can possibly understand. Jesus’ own life and prayer declare this. We are the gift He and His Father share and exchange between themselves. In His prayer, Jesus entrusts us to His Father’s protection, even as He entrusted Himself to the Father.Now I want you to say to yourself – I am Jesus’ joy, He is praying for me. As you say – I am Jesus’ joy, He is praying for me – pull those words into your heart and let them fill you with hope and comfort. This prayer is meant to remind us of Jesus’ active and ongoing love and compassion for us and to draw us more deeply together.In the clutter and chaos of our lives we need to take the time to hear Jesus praying for us. We need to find a few precious quiet moments to sit or to walk and listen to Jesus praying for us. In the words of the beloved hymn we will sing in a few moments: “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”Jesus is praying for you, and for me, all we need to do is live out His “amen”. We live His “amen” when we choose forgiveness rather than retribution, when we choose mercy instead of condemnation, and compassion rather than indifference. We live out Christ’s “amen” when we choose unity rather than individualism. In those moments we are the amen to Jesus’ prayer, our hearts are healed and the world is different.Jesus asks a lot from us, but that’s exactly why He prays for us.May it be so in your life.
I recently read a devotional about what we can learn from scriptural mothers. The author began the piece talking about what his mother taught him:
*My mother taught me about logic: “If everyone else jumped off a cliff would you do it too?”
*My mother taught me about medicine: “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they’re going to freeze that way.”
*My mother taught me about weather: “It looks like a tornado swept through your room.”
*My mother taught me about prayer: “You better pray that comes out of the carpet.”
You get the idea, while many of us can relate to these age old warnings, mothers do teach us about life; not only in words but by the way they live their lives and treat others.
The author uses Matthew 15: 21-26 to provide lessons learned from the Canaanite woman who asks for Jesus’ mercy because her daughter is suffering from demon-possession. When Jesus does not appear to help her, she begs again for him to help her daughter and Jesus lauds her for her faith and her daughter is healed.
She teaches us a lesson in love; she loves her daughter so much that she is willing to seek out Jesus and do whatever it took to get Jesus to help her. She asks for mercy and appeals to the compassion of Jesus. She pleads with Him out of the compassion of her own heart and she acknowledges Jesus as Messiah. Love is at the center of our lives in Christ and she teaches us to put love into action.
She teaches us a lesson in persistence: when the disciples say, “send her away for she keeps shouting at us” and urge Jesus to disregard this woman, she continues to ask for mercy and healing. The woman is not willing to give up; she is fighting for her daughter. From her we learn not to give up but to fight for what we know is right, even when we face difficulties.
She teaches us a lesson in humility: when she comes to Jesus and she falls before Him asking for help. She knows Jesus is a healer and can help her daughter so she says, “even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master’s table”. We too need to humble ourselves before Jesus and surrender our own pride in His presence.
She teaches us a lesson in faith: when Jesus proclaims the faith of this mother, He not only acknowledges her faith but grants her request. As we seek Jesus and we face challenges our faith is strengthened.
This Mother’s Day I urge us to think about all of the women in our lives who have influenced us. Many of us are lucky to have had mothers who were there for us and loved us; others had mothers who had difficulty loving, while others lost our mothers too early. I hope that each of you has had a woman in your life that has loved you, inspired you, protected you or in some way helped you feel cared for.
Blessings, Pastor Allyson
Our loving God, we know that love is the fuel for life. When life gets rough, we ask for love that gives us strength. When life lets us down, we ask for love that gives us encouragement. When life seems empty, we ask for love that gives out lives meaning. When life seems sad, we ask for love that gives us joy. We thank you, O Lord, for your grace in mercy in our lives. Amen
Monday, May 14 4:30 & 6 PM Weight Watchers
7:30 PM Amaranth
Tuesday, May 15 6:15 PM Girl Scouts #135
7:00 PM Council
Wednesday, May 16 6:00 PM Girl Scouts #306
Thursday, May 17 7:30 PM Masons
We Love our Veterans Hot Diggity Dog! Come join us for SCC’s 6th Annual “Hot Dog Stand” for Veterans and participants of theSeymour Memorial Day Parade Sunday May 27th
At this time we would like to request donations of Hot Dogs, but only “Hummel’s Skinless” and any kind of bottled water would be greatly appreciated. Items can be left in the kitchen, marked for the “Parade”. This is a wonderful way to not only show our support but to also show others some of the things that are important to us like family, neighbors, our community, faith and fellowship.
We will be setting up the Field of Flags the week before the parade, details to follow.
Thank you and God Bless!
For more information, see Lynne Foreman or call (203) 881-1250
Bible Study: The next Bible study will be held on May 22 at 1:00 pm. All are welcome to join the discussion and fellowship as we study the Word. Please contact Pastor Allyson with any questions regarding bible study.
Scholarship application time is just around the corner. The Scholarship Committee of our church awards funds to qualified scholarship candidates from two distinct funds. The Pittis Fund, the larger of the two funds, is restricted to those candidates who will attend or are attending, on a full-time basis, an accredited four-year college or university for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate degree. The Common Fund is an unrestricted fund, which may be used for awarding scholarships for any form of advanced education.
Applicants are eligible for an award if they are members or children of members of the Seymour Congregational Church. The amount of the awards is influenced by the number of applicants and the amount of income available from the trust funds, which support the scholarship program.
The scholarship committee will once again be having two mandatory meetings – Sunday, June 3rd at 11:30 and Monday, June 4th at 6:30 pm. All scholarship applicants – new and repeat – and a parent are expected to attend one of these meetings.
If you have any questions, contact Karen Baker, 203-888-0394.
SEYMOUR/OXFORD FOOD BANK DRIVES
May 12th Postalworkers Stamp Out Hunger food drive need volunteers to set up and unload trucks date and box food.Hours are 12:t 5:30pm. at the Seymour Oxford Food Bank, 20 Pine St., Seymour, Conn. Please call Seymour Oxford Food Bank with hours you can work: 203*888*-2876 we are there Monday thru Thursday 9am to 11am.
Volunteer driver preferably with a pickup truck to pick on Monday and Thursday at 9:00am in Shelton at the Walmart and Big Y on Bridgeport Ave., Shelton and bring to the Seymour Oxford Food Bank.
Thank you for help. Darlene Swanat
Mental Health First Aid – May 21, 2018 – 8:00-4:00 PM – BHcare 435 East Main St., Ansonia, CT $25 Per person What is Mental Health First Aid? Mental Health First Aid is an 8 hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Why Mental Health First Aid? Mental Health problems are common. There is a stigma associated with mental health problems. Many people are not well informed about mental health problems. Professional help is not always on hand. Who can be a Mental Health First Aider? Educators, College leaders, HR professionals, Members of
Faith Communities, Homeless Shelter staff, Nurses/ Physicians Assistants, Social workers, Police/First responders, Mental Health authorities, Policymakers, Substance Abuse professionals, Family members and Caring Citizens. Studies have shown that the program improves people’s mental health, increases understanding of mental health issues & treatments, connects more people with care and reduces stigma. Participants receive a 3 year certification as a mental health first aider.Register at HTTP://bit.lyMHFAMay2018 by May 14th. For more information, call APW at 203-736-8566 or email Pam Mautte at email@example.com.
PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – Are you interested in being a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry? Please contact Lynda Boynton at 203-888-5473. Shawls are given to bring comfort to those who have suffered a loss, an illness or some misfortune. For more information go to www.shawlministry.com. To request a shawl, call Lynda (203-888-5473) or leave a message at the church office 203-888-6729.