The Reverend Kathleen O’Toole Peters is a retired UCC clergywoman who divides her time between CT and Florida, is a grateful and joyful member of the  First Congregational Church in Southington, Connecticut and an associate member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Wildwood, Florida.  In retirement she clowns around as her clown persona SweetCakes, volunteers as a chaplain and fundraiser for a local soup kitchen and pantry, and travels to be Nana to her granddaughter in California! 

Scripture: Micah 6:6-9 (NRSVUV)

6 “With what shall I come before the LORD
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
    and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Reflection: Delivering What God Asks is Not Always  Easy


Discernment around what God requires/asks of each of us in particular is not for the faint of heart or as my father used to say about growing old…is not for wusses!

At first glance the question “what does the Lord require of you?” has a straight-forward answer: do justice, be kind and loving, walk humbly with God. Add to that the imperative to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and we should have this “what is good” according to God down pat. 

The words flow off of our lips but the delivery of the “good’…not always so easy.

I have had the joy of knowing without a doubt what God was requiring me to do…actually I feel better using the word “nudging” me towards what was best…on several blessed occasions in my life.  Thank you, God!  But way more often I have struggled to discern exactly what God was calling me to do in the particular time and place that I found myself in.  Please God, no need to communicate with me directly.  Just leave your requests on my answering machine – or in later years – just send me a (detailed) text, has been my prayer. 

Doing justice, and loving, and humble walking are some days just beyond tough. Please God don’t ask “that” of me!

I naively believed that once I reached this ripe “old” age of 70 that God would give me a break.  Well done good and faithful servant, I imagined God saying. Enjoy your retirement, rest, spend your time in quiet reflection and loving me more deeply and I’ll get some of my “younger” peeps to carry the majority of the load and do all the heavy lifting.  Not so much.

What does the Lord require of me is ever on my lips and in my heart.  This scripture, this call will not let me go.

The sermon I heard on New Year’s Day included the refrain: New Year…New Me! As I looked around the Florida congregation with whom I was worshiping, I marveled with joy at this pastor who dared to tell her folks, average age of 80 (I am one of the young ins’) that they could aspire to be a new, more loving and more just creation this new year.  Hope never dies that we can be all what God wants us to be…no matter who we are or how far along we are on this life’s journey.

God asks each of us each day to be open to all that we are and all that we can do. God calls us to listen and to discern where we might be used, how justice might be done in and with our lives. The particular ask does change (I could get down to the floor to sleep on a mission trip to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota, but getting me up would not be pretty), but the call is still alive – no matter our age. 

Thank you, God, that you keep asking, knowing that you will equip us to answer. The call is to work for justice, to pray, to speak your truth even when it is hard, and mostly to love even when we don’t always like! 

Mary Oliver says it for me:

My work is loving the world…
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?                                                                                 
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
                   (from “Messenger” in Thirst: Poems 2007 by Mary Oliver)


Holy One, no matter our age we know you call us to the hard work of being your just and loving people. Grant that we might not be wusses but full, humble and astonished participants in your world, this world that you love so much. Even as we are not “half-perfect” in our attempts, grant us courage and the hope that with you all things are possible. Let us do our best and then humbly leave the rest to you!  Amen

New Prayer Requests:

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 Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the over ~2,600 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the new year,  including the Lunar New Year mass shooting killing 10 people and wounding 10 others in California this past weekend. 
  • For the family and friends of Ruth Turner Tyrol, a member over the years of the South Glastonbury Congregational Church, the Sharon UCC Church, and The Salisbury Congregational Church UCC. Ruth and her late husband, Alden, were beloved directors of the Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT, for thirty-one years, and Ruth was the inaugural recipient of the Silver Lake Award.
  • To be open to all that we are and all that we can do.
  • For January's month of prayer recipients. 

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

January 27, 1945 (78 years ago): Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps — and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Starting With Scripture is a weekly devotional and prayer request of the
Southern New England Conference, UCC.
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Marlen Gasdia-Cochrane, Editor