Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news.
January 25, 2016 Edition
Heal the Healer – A Day of Renewal for You
with psychologist Tom Holmes of Winged Heart
Friday, February 19, 2016
North Canton Faith UMC
More information and registration here.
What are the Practices of Lent?
Fr. Robert Barron
Three ways to make Lent a very lively, spiritual time. The classical practices of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This video suggest how we may practices of Lent today. He holds up the Jesus Prayer as a focus we might give ourselves to during these holy days. “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.”
The Politics of Jesus
by Matt Landry, Reflections of a Franciscan Methodist Pastor
As we enter into 2016 the national political races are contining to heat up with primaries and the general election on the way. There have been plenty of debates, ads and arguing over issues already and I’m sure it will continue into the New Year.
The politics of Jesus call us back to love, grace and mercy. Within political debate? Yes. Within governing? Yes. Within the way we handle terrorism or immigration or handling anyone who might be labeled “different”? Yes, yes and yes. Anything else is just plain politics, not the way of Jesus.
5 Tips for Achieving Lasting Change in Congregations
by Edie Gross
In 2013, the Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella organization of Reform Jewish congregations throughout North America, launched a movement-wide set of experiments with Communities of Practice.
Each of the URJ's Communities of Practice wrote a report on their experience and included a list of "best principles" for achieving lasting, meaningful change within a congregation.
Here are some of the principles identified by the URJ:
Empower lay leaders. Encourage your target audience, whether it be young adults, young families or both, to take ownership of the process. Establish a trusted, trained core of lay leaders who will be networking while creating the community they want to be part of. Staff can't, and shouldn't, do it all. "If you build a world that's about maximal entry points, you can't be every place," says Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas of Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Play the long game. You may need to devote several years to an experiment before you see results, so be willing to invest time and patience, Thomas said. "My biggest take-away is you absolutely can't back down. Nothing about this is 'set it and forget it.' You constantly have to stoke the fires. ... With experiments, anytime you're pushing the boundaries, you can't just do it once. You have to do it consistently to create structure."
Don't get caught up in numbers. Traditionally, congregations have looked at quantitative measures of success: How many people showed up to an event? Was there enough food for everyone? Did we stay within budget? All of those are fine to track, but the URJ urges congregations to develop deeper measures: Did anyone make a new friend? Are participants hanging out together outside the synagogue? Are they learning meaningful ways to apply a Jewish lens to their broader lives?
Be authentic. Temples seeking to attract young adults often assume -- incorrectly -- that if events are "too Jewish," young people won't participate. "What we found was interesting and fascinating. In every congregation, they didn't want anything purely social," said Lisa Lieberman Barzilai, the director of the URJ's Leadership Institute. "You shouldn't be walking away from the Jewish piece -- that's why they were going to you. If they wanted something purely social, they could go to a bar."
Take programming beyond the walls of the institution. Engage your audience wherever they feel comfortable -- whether it's in coffee shops, offices, pumpkin patches or people's homes. And particularly when trying to reach young adults, make sure your online and social media presence is responsive, engaging and reflective of the type of environment you're trying to create.
From Love to Love
by Richard Rohr
No matter what your definition, we all want resurrection in some form. And I do believe "the raising up of Jesus" (which is the correct theological way to say it, conveying a relational meaning between Jesus and God, and not a self-generated "I can do this") is a potent, focused, and compelling statement about what God is still and forever doing with the universe and with humanity. Science strongly confirms this statement today, but with different metaphors and symbols, like condensation, evaporation, hibernation, sublimation, the four seasons, and the life cycles of everything from salmon to stars--constantly dying and being reborn of the same stardust. God appears to be resurrecting everything all the time and everywhere. It is not something to "believe in" as much as it is something to observe and be taught by.
Many do believe in the bodily resurrection, as I do too, but in a way that asks little except mere intellectual assertion of a religious doctrine. We can go much further than that. I choose to believe in some kind of bodily resurrection because it localizes the whole Mystery in this material and earthly world and in our own bodies, the only world we know and the world that God created and loves and in which God chose to incarnate.
We all want to know that this wonderful thing called life is going somewhere, and somewhere good. It is going to someplace good because it came from someplace good--a place of "original blessing" instead of "original sin." "I know where I came from and where I am going," Jesus says, "but you do not" (John 8:14). So he came to tell us! The Alpha and the Omega of history have to match, or our lives have no natural arc, trajectory, or organic meaning. The end has to be in the beginning, as T.S. Eliot said. In the Book of Revelation (1:8, 21:6, 22:13) it states that Jesus is the Alpha of history, which Duns Scotus called "the first idea in the mind of God," and also the "Omega Point" of history, which was the phrase used by Teilhard de Chardin.
If the original divine incarnation was and is true, then resurrection is both inevitable and irreversible. If the Big Bang was the external starting point of the eternal Christ Mystery, then we know Creation is being led somewhere good, and it is not a chaotic or meaningless universe. Alpha and Omega are in fact one and the same. No one taught this better than the Jesuit mystic and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, who has become the champion of evolutionary Christianity. (Pope Benedict XVI quoted him several times in the final years of his Papacy.)
For Teilhard, the Risen Presence is the Prime Attractor that keeps alluring and inviting history forward toward its certain conclusion. The Cosmic Christ is the divine lure, a blinking, brilliant light set as the Omega Point of time and history that keeps reminding us that love, not death, is the eternal thing. Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are. All life is inexorably drawn to the fullness of its own existence. "Like knows like" and, similar to an electromagnetic force, Love is drawing the world into a fullness of love. I firmly believe we will finally be unable to resist the allure. Love will always win. God does not lose.
10 Best Reads of the Last Year (2014)
by, Fr. Ron Rolheiser
The pressures of work and ministry, unfortunately, limit the time I have available to read as widely as I would like.
Still, addicted as I am to books and knowing that without the insight and stimulation that I draw from them I would forever stagnate spiritually and creatively, I scrupulously carve out some time most days to read. As well, given my ministry and personality, I like to read various genres of books: novels, biography, critical essays and, not least, books on Scripture, theology and spirituality.
Here’s my bias apposite reading: In my freshman year at university, I was introduced to good novels. I realized then how impoverished I’d been without good literature in my life. Since that time, more than 40 years ago, I’ve never been without a novel lying open somewhere within my reach. Good novelists often have insights that psychologists and spiritual writers can only envy, firing the imagination and the emotional intelligence in a way that academic books often cannot. As well, always lying open somewhere within reach too will be a good biography or a book of essays. These serve to stretch my horizons, as these perennially constrict both my imagination and my heart. Finally, there are theological and spirituality books which, given both my temperament and my vocation, I read with passion, but which also serve as a source of professional development for me.
So given these particular appetites, what are the best 10 books that I read in 2014?Find out here:
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The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
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by Tara Brach
Through the practice of “the sacred pause” we create space to deepen presence; feeling what is happening in the body, resolving the experience and cause of our suffering, and coming home to our true Self. Tara uses the acronym RAIN to enhance our practice. R—Recognize what is happening (coming to an awareness of our experience); A—Allow what is (acknowledging what is true); I—Intimate investigation (deepening the recognition, what is really happening and through profound presence allowing our identification with suffering to dissolve. Seeing dissolves identification with fear). Tara senses an evolution of consciousness is happening in the world and it is speeding up. She sees a conscious desire to grow and more and more we as a species are intentional about practicing “the sacred pause.”
Video: How to Relieve Back Pain with a Tennis Ball
This is a great video demonstration for how to relieve pain and tension in your back, neck, shoulders and hips with the help of a tennis ball. In this Grokker Premium video Amy will demonstrate how to use the tennis balls to break down the myofascial tissues in your lower back to promote blood flow to the region, relax the muscles, get you back into alignment and on the path to being pain-free.
Does Everyone Call You "Negative"?
by Anneli Rufus
I'm not telepathic. But I probably know something about you. It's this:
Familiar? Say yes, not just because that would raise my self-esteem, but because it is true—because, unfortunately, I am right.
Now see? I'm doing it already: being "negative"—by calling my rightness unfortunate. This morning, someone called me negative for assuming a certain letter held bad news. Last night while we watched TV, someone called me negative for mentioning which characters I hated but not those I liked.
What would it take for us to "lighten up"? Should this become our resolution: withstand the draw of the dark, and seek bright spots instead in every situation, even if those bright spots seem to us, obscure and absurd?
It's worth a try—if for no other reason than to make life pleasanter for those around us and thus trigger fewer fights.
But the first obstacle is our belief that "negativity" is both reality-based and intrinsic to our souls: that our sense of impending doom, which finds us framing every circumstance in stark terms—even when such frames are sorta funny—is coded into our DNA.
It's not. Granted, all individuals are born with fledgling personalities, and thus with tendencies toward pessimism, optimism or neutrality. Maybe an innate pessimistic tendency played into those traumas that sank our self-esteem. And maybe now that pessimism—plus the fear, shame and pain of hating ourselves—manifests as "negativity," so now we see in every crowd an opportunity to be the ugliest, dumbest or worst-dressed and in every sport an opportunity to lose.
To have low self-esteem is to inhabit a dark place. Maybe we don't like darkness, but it's what we know. Those with high self-esteem don't understand: We think that we taint everywhere we go and everything we do and everyone we know: that parties sparkle until we attend them. Landmarks lose their luster at our touch. Flashes of joy we see as fleeting phantasms, as tricks, as acts (because we do not deserve them) of theft.
As long as we despise ourselves, our hearts carry this curse. We did not write it there. Things happened to us. We were thrust into the dark. We were warned: Sunshine? Flowers? Not for you.
But now it is a choice.
A super-, mega-, totally hard choice.
How can we who know darkness way too well begin to conjure brightness, even feeble streaks of it? First, let's try silence. Before saying almost anything, stop. Count to ten. This will feel weird at first. But in those instants, ask yourself: Is what I want to say true? Really? Could I simply keep it to myself? Could I say something else instead -- not flat-out lying, but from any other vantage point? Or even change the subject: Hey, look at that cat. Whatever, as long as it dwells outside the darkness.
Yes, for us that darkness is a hungry maw. It mesmerizes. Whoosh.
The more we can forgive ourselves, the less seductive it becomes.
And yes: A little darkness now and then adds texture, contrast, richness. Let us learn to touch it sparingly, as cooks do with cayenne. Let us learn to dip into darkness, then emerge.
It is not us.
Anneli Rufus’ latest work, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself, was released by Tarcher Penguin in May 2014 and continues this path, addressing self-esteem.View online ...
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