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.
April 18, 2016 Edition
May is Mental Health Month
by Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Mental Health Month was created over 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all by Mental Health America. There are now designated times in May for groups to raise awareness and advocate for improvements in research, prevention and treatment on specific mental health issues. The first week in May, for example, has been designated as Children’s Mental Health Week.
The May Mental Health section on the Mental Health Ministries website has several downloadable resources specific to Mental Health Month including three downloadable bulletin inserts or flyers, May is Mental Health Month, Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents and Children’s Mental Health Week.
Spirit God, you know our needs
Even before we can form them
into words of prayers.
You are patient with us.
You are protective of us
You are present with us
until such time that we are able
to ask for what we need.
Thank you, Spirit God,
for your healing taking place within
before we are even aware
of how broken we have become.
7 Healing Steps to the Trauma of Charleston
by Thelma Bryant-Davis
An Eastertide Meditation
I am an African-American ordained minister in the AME Church. I am the daughter and granddaughter of AME bishops, and I am a licensed clinical psychologist. I have spent my career working on the integration of faith and mental health, especially in the context of trauma, ranging from the medical trauma of HIV to the trauma of human trafficking. As I received the news of the terrorist attack on a historical church in Charleston, I felt an urgency to respond not only spiritually, but psychologically to address the wounds of my community. These are not new wounds, unfortunately, so this urgency is also not new, but was instead rekindled by the hate crime that left nine people dead, including a pastor who was my age as well as six women. This most recent tragedy is not an isolated violation, but an exclamation mark in a long string of violations.
As a minister, I would like to briefly share some important healing steps that have empirical support and which also mirror the steps Jesus took after the trauma of the cross.
Many times we may jump to action, which is admirable, but we must also remember not to neglect tending to our souls, minds, bodies and, hearts as we move from surviving to thriving. We come from a church tradition of honoring our humanity in the face of discrimination and violence and as our elders taught us, “walk together children. Don’t you get weary. There’s a great camp meeting in the promised land.”
The Jesus Prayer
by Rev. Stephanie Lee
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”
…is a well-known prayer that has been prayed by Christians probably from the time of the Early Church! It is sometimes referred to as a “breath prayer” because it can be prayed on the sigh of one breath. The prayer echoes the plea of the blind man who, in his season of need, encountered Jesus one day on the road to Jericho. (It is also reminiscent of the so-called “sinner’s prayer” prayed by the tax collector in Luke 18:10-14. Not even daring to raise his eyes toward heaven, he beat his breast crying out in the temple before God.) And this breath prayer echoes our own cries and pleas as we journey through this life and indeed our entire lives of faith.
In the spiritual formation group I attend, we have been using this particular prayer to usher us into our time of meditation and into the presence of God. Like the blind man, we too need Jesus to speak to our need, and to heal what ails us. Recently, however, our group’s facilitator offered us the opportunity to go deeper with this prayer: “what if,” he suggested, “instead of just praying, ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,’ we expanded the prayer to, ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, deepen my awareness of Your mercy!’”
You know it is often said that when God’s people pray, phenomenal things tend to happen! As I began to pray this version of the breath prayer, I began to notice more and more where God’s mercy was indeed active and poured out… and not just upon God’s people in general, but also in particular upon me! It was Like the hymn writer once penned, "Morning by morning new mercies I see!" I got to feeling a bit like what I imagine the prophet Elisha’s servant must have felt like when, after realizing they were all alone and completely surrounded by the enemy’s army, a remarkable thing happens. Elisha prays that his frightened servant’s eyes might be opened, and then Elisha bids the servant to ‘look again.’ At that moment God opens the servant’s eyes and he sees that he and Elisha are literally surrounded by chariots of fire... an entire army of God’s soldiers fighting alongside them, protecting them! (2 Kings 6:15-17, see below.) In other words, it seemed like each time I prayed the expanded or deepened prayer – “Jesus, Son of God, deepen my awareness of your mercy…” – I would notice more and more instances of God’s mercy around me, and in places where before I could see only despair! How had I been so blind before? How had I missed so many places and circumstances of His mercy?
You see, sometimes it is hard to see and discern God's mercy in the midst of the difficult situations in which we from time to time find ourselves! And yet, wasn’t that part of the point of our discipline during the Lenten Season … to reflect, to return, to repent, and to release our will unto God and journey with him to the cross—and then on to resurrection?
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, deepen my awareness of your mercy!”
“Jesus Christ, Son of God, deepen my awareness of your mercy!”
I invite each of you to join me as I continue to seek a deeper awareness of God’s mercy over these 50 days of Easter, culminating in the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Church at Pentecost! Who knows, but maybe as we pray this prayer together, we too will begin to see with new and unblinded vision the mighty moves of God for and through us, God’s people!!
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy Hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
Changing Our Minds
by Richard Rohr
People who are in early stage religion usually love the "two steps backward" quotes in the Bible. They seem to be drawn toward anything that's punitive, shame-based, exclusionary of "wrong" people, or anything that justifies the status quo, which just happens to be keeping them on top socially, economically, and religiously. They start by thinking that's what religion is about--maintaining order and social control. They see God as a glorified Miss Manners.
Once you idealize power and being at the top, you tend to emphasize the almighty, all-powerful nature of God, who is made into the Great Policeman in the sky to keep us all under control (or at least everybody else under control!). Frankly, you are totally unprepared for Jesus. He is a scandal and a disappointment.
Now you see how revolutionary God's "new idea," revealed in Jesus, really is. Suddenly we have a God who is anything but a police officer. This God finds grace for those who break the law and finds life and freedom among the lepers and the sinners who do not have good manners. This is now an upside down universe (Acts 17:6). I am sad to say most Christians have yet to participate in this Divine Revolution.
Mature religious people, that is, those who develop an actual inner life of prayer and outer life of service, tend to notice and imitate the "three steps forward" quotes in the Bible. First they change their life stance, and then they can be entrusted with the Bible. For all others who will not change their idealization of dominative power, the Bible is merely used as self-serving information and ammunition against others. It actually would be better if we did not read the Bible until we undergo a conversion.
Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible--with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias, which is from the side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. This is foundational and essential conversion. The Greek word metanoia, poorly translated as "repent" in the Bible (Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15), quite literally means "to change your mind." Until the mind changes the very way it processes the moment, nothing changes long term. "Be transformed by a renewal of your mind," Paul says (Romans 12:2), which hopefully will allow the heart to soon follow.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Monday, May 9, 2:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Cleveland Heights: Church of the Saviour, 2537 Lee Road – Third Thursdays, 1:30 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:30 PM
Painesville: Painesville UMC, 71 North Park Pl. – Third Thursdays 10-15-15, 10:30 AM
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 PM
If you are interested in being part of one of these groups, it would be helpful if you let us know for planning purposes. For questions and to receive information about a particular group, please call our office 330-456-0486 or email us at email@example.com
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.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Karen Hollingsworth – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Nau – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Palmer - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Carol Topping - firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Simple Mindfulness Practices You Can Use Every Day
by Mirabai Bush
Every minute of our lives serves up something new and gives us an opportunity to learn. But when it comes to the usual ways of learning—reading, writing, and listening to others—we often lose the freshness of direct experience and instead just shovel information into our brains. Follow these suggestions to learn more deeply and with more enjoyment.
We’re all learning all the time. Parents learn to care for children, students learn physics, soldiers learn survival skills, and all of us learn the latest app or how kale will make us healthy. But much of what we call learning isn’t particularly useful: I just “learned” on Facebook that someone I hardly know baked cupcakes today. Riveting!
Mindful learning, on the other hand, cultivates insightful knowing rather than just a brain overloaded with information. Mindfulness creates space to let new information in and to allow us to see how it relates to what we already know. Recent neurological research at Harvard shows how this happens: mindfulness may actually increase the size of your brain.
When I learned mindfulness practice in 1970, I felt for the first time in my life that I knew something to be absolutely true. I was breathing in and breathing out—that was really happening. I actually saw thoughts and judgments arise, like “I’m not nearly as good as these other meditators. Look, their backs are straighter than mine. They’re wearing the perfect white clothes. I’m in a funky embroidered shirt.”
Where did those thoughts come from? They arose in my mind, and then, if I wasn’t obsessing about them, they would float or fall away. The important thing was how I saw thoughts arise and disappear. I was beginning to see how my mind worked, and even if I didn’t like what it was doing, I felt more whole, more integrated, more confident. Not reallyknowing my breath or my mind seemed like not knowing what my face looked like. How could I have missed them? Of course we all know we are breathing and thinking, but it was radically different to experience them directly instead of intellectually. It wasn’t just an idea that I breathe—it was me breathing. I had learned something important in a whole new way.
That led me to look at the other ways we learn, to see whether they could benefit from mindfulness. I wanted to understand ideas, images, skills, and people in an intimate way, with the clarity and confidence I was experiencing as I came to know my own mind and body. I wanted to create space in my mind instead of that crowded carnival of ideas and information and judgments. I wanted to be open to learning something new, to see things with new perspectives and understanding. Mindfulness, with its focus, openness, inquisitiveness, and humility, seemed like the perfect approach.
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
A new study suggests that pain should be seen as a complex interplay of elements that form an experience called pain.
You hit your thumb with a hammer. And you swear. That’s pain. It’s that simple. Or is it? Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, have proposed that we need to rethink how we view pain. It’s not a one-time thing, they say, but rather a multi-layered event that involves both physical and psychological components. . . .
Having this theory should be comforting to people who are suffering, as they can more thoroughly see a relationship between the physical and psychological factors in pain. And, “the fact that our brain processes pain and other unpleasant events simultaneously for the most part, no matter if they are experienced by us or someone else, is very important for social interactions,” wrote Anita Tusche a neuroscientist involved in the study, “because it helps to us understand what others are experiencing.”
20 Affirmations to Start Your Day
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
“Each morning we are born again. Do today what matters most,” writes Jack Kornfield, in The Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.
We get a remarkable gift each day: A fresh start. That chance to do what matters most. Now, not all of us are morning people, it’s true. Some of us pop out of bed at 6 a.m., raring to go, while others stagger out from under the covers, zombie-like, toward the coffee maker and a hot shower. It’s okay—you can’t help being a night owl or a lark, as those factors are largely determined by genetics. But once you’re awake... are you really awake? Are you receiving the gift the universe has handed you? Or are you wandering into the day in a fog of to-dos? Don’t waste such a precious gift. Here are some morning affirmations to start the day off with clarity, purpose and joy.
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