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.
November 21, 2016 Edition
There is much pain and fear in our country these days. And there continues to be overwhelming stress after a long contentious campaign season. One psychologist I heard interviewed recommended that it may be helpful to take a break from the media for a spell. If your emotions continue to run high you may want to unplug for a bit; just as Jesus pressed in upon by the crowd pulled away to a quiet place. If you need to talk with someone about your anxiety we in Pastoral Care would love to hear from you: email us email@example.com or call 330-456-0486.
“So, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. . . . As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:1-4, 12-14
by Snatam Kaur
I got off the plane traveling from Zurich, Switzerland and walked through a long corridor with windows that revealed the cloudy Boston sky. CNN broadcasted from a TV monitor with the latest on the presidential election. Rolling my suitcase along at a fast clip across the tiled floor, I was excited to be home. I had to slow down for a long line that formed underneath a sign that read "Immigration and Customs." Now at a complete stop, in a line that was growing quite long, a ripple of confusion erupted through the crowd. There seemed to be one line forming without a distinct line for US passport holders. The man in front of me turned around and commented, "Everything is so disorganized here. This country is just going down the drain."
After being in many beautiful countries in Europe where life just seemed so much better for people, the weight of the trials and tribulations of being an American seemed to wash over me like a big sloshy wave. The dismal soundtrack of CNN overhead didn’t help. Perhaps because I had been traveling for sixteen hours straight up until that point, I did not respond to him with much more than a tired nod. Yet, even in that moment of dull surrender, something awakened and shifted within me. I felt an internal promise like a spark of light in a dark room. It was a tiny voice that silently responded in the core of my being and it said, "I like this country and it's worth fighting for."
As I explained in the concert I had given, when we chant sacred words there is a deep transformation happening and we are accessing our inner truth. However, we may not feel it right away on a mental level because it is a very deep kind of communication.
That moment in the airport, looking at that man’s tennis shoes, was my wake up moment to engage and a new English mantra was born for me.
I like this country and it's worth fighting for.
So I say to you now, with a deep prayer in my heart, it is our turn. Each of us.
It is a matter of belief. Not religious. Just pure and simple inner belief, hope and trust. I am starting small; with my neighbors, my friends, with my power to vote and all the little things that will add up.
I believe we can live for freedom. I believe we can protect our environment. I believe we can be a loving community although diverse in nature. I believe we can be a force of peace on this planet. And yes, while I may be just one voice living in southern New Hampshire, I am Naraayan. We each are Naraayan, a beautiful vibration of God's Name, living in our truth.
We've Always Had A Seat At The Table
Solange Knowles On Conversations That Heal
"I'm inviting you to have a seat at my table," Solange Knowles says. "And it's an honor to be able to have a seat at our table and for us to open up in this way."
Her newest album, A Seat At The Table, is her most commercially successful yet — it hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts last month. It's also her most political. On the record, Solange explores what it means to be black in America today. The songs in this album celebrate black culture, confront prejudice and explore the trauma of witnessing black people killed.
This is Solange's most personal work yet, too. The album includes interviews she conducted with her parents, and she wrote most of the lyrics in the town of New Iberia, La., where her family has roots. "I wanted to reclaim that space," she says. "I wanted to be able to go back as a descendant of my grandparents and stake my claim and create work that honored them."
The Benefits of Gratitude in Spiritual Formation
By Jens Uhder
More than a decade of research has yielded compelling evidence of the benefits of gratitude. Numerous studies have consistently shown that trait gratitude is positively related to happiness, wellbeing, and even some parameters of physical health such as sleep quality or stress-response. Gratitude shows strong correlations to optimism, hope, positive affect, and life-satisfaction. People with a grateful disposition also tend to have empathy, be forgiving, and trusting. Grateful individuals are more perceptive of simple everyday pleasures, show better recovery from traumatic experiences, have a more proactive coping style, and are more likely to seek social support than those who are less grateful.
The potential role of gratitude as a resilience factor is now being studied in educational environments.
Creation Is the Primary Cathedral
by Richard Rohr
Creation itself—not ritual or spaces constructed by human hands—was Francis’ primary cathedral. It is no accident that the majority of Jesus’ stories and metaphors are based on human and natural observations, not classroom theology. It is not unimportant that both Jesus and Francis were peripatetic teachers—talking while walking—and on the road of the world. In our own time, major teachers like Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin have rediscovered this natural and universal theology.
The Gospel transforms us by putting us in touch with that which is much more constant and satisfying, literally the “ground of our being,” and has much more “reality” to it than theological concepts or the mere ritualization of reality. Daily cosmic events in the sky and on the earth are the Reality above our heads and beneath our feet every minute of our lives: a continuous sacrament. I find that a preoccupation with religious rituals tends to increase the more we remain untouched by Reality Itself—to which the best rituals can only point.
Jesus himself commonly points to things like the red sky, a hen, lilies, the fig tree, a donkey caught in a pit, the birds of the air, the grass in the field, the temple animals that he released from their cages, and on and on. He was clearly looking at the seemingly “nonreligious” world, ordinary things all around him, and appeared to do most of his teaching out of doors. Francis said, “Wherever we are, wherever we go, we bring our cell and our soul with us. Our Brother Body is our cell and our soul is the hermit living in the cell. If our soul does not live in peace and solitude within this moving cell, of what avail is it to live in a man-made cell?”
The Second Coming of Christ
by Richard Rohr
Christ is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of God’s nature, sustaining the universe by God’s powerful command. —Hebrews 1:3, Jerusalem Bible
Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The word Christ is a title, meaning the Anointed One, which we so consistently applied to Jesus that to us it became like a name. But a study of Scripture, Tradition, and the experience of many mystics reveals a much larger, broader, and deeper meaning to “the Christ.” Frankly, it is a metaphysical concept more than a religious one, although almost all people today would see it as a religious name for Jesus.
The above passage from Hebrews says that Christ “sustains the universe.” Christ is a religious concept because it can be used to describe reality in an archetypal, symbolic, and profound way. But it names the shape of the universe before it names the individual who typifies that shape, the one we call Jesus Christ. All of creation first holds God’s anointing (“beloved” status), and then Jesus brings the message home in a personal way thirteen billion years later!
This is a different way of thinking for most of us. The three Synoptic Gospels are largely talking about Jesus, the historical figure who healed and taught and lived in human history; whereas John’s Gospel presents the trans-historical “Christ” (which is why so very few stories in John coincide with Matthew, Mark, and Luke). This Christ is frequently making universal “I AM” statements and claims (see John 6:35, 48; 8:12, 24, 58; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1), mirroring the unspeakable name of the Holy One in Exodus 3:14. This is very different than the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Among the four Gospels, we have both Jesus and Christ.
Paul also never met the historical Jesus and hardly ever quotes Jesus directly. In almost all of Paul’s preaching and writing, he is referring to the Eternal Christ Mystery or the Risen Christ rather than Jesus of Nazareth before his death and resurrection. The Risen Christ is the only Jesus that Paul ever knew! This makes Paul a fitting mediator for the rest of us, since the Omnipresent Risen Christ is the only Jesus we will ever know as well (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
Jesus’ historical transformation (“resurrected flesh”) allows us more easily to experience the Presence that has always been available since the beginning of time, a Presence unlimited by space or time, which is the promise and “guarantee” of our own transformation (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-53). In Jesus the Timeless Christ became time bound, so we could enjoy the personal gaze, as it were (see 1 John 1-2).
Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person. All matter reveals Spirit, and Spirit needs matter to “show itself”! I believe "the Second Coming of Christ" happens whenever and wherever we allow this to be utterly true for us. This is how God continually breaks into history—even before the first Stone Age, humans stood in awe and wonder, gazing at the stars.
When Thanksgiving Becomes Thanksliving
by Ann Voskamp
And thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving when joy in the blessings given from above — overflows into the blessings given all around.
Thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving when the thanks for His vertical, coming-down grace — is expressed as a horizontal, reaching-out grace.
Thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving — when thanksgiving to God overflows into a joy of giving.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Ashland Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Canton Faith UMC, 00 9th St. NW—Second Thursdays, 10:30 AM
Sandusky Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 PM
Cleveland Hts Church of the Saviour, 2537 Lee Road – Third Thursdays, 1:30 PM
Medina Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:30 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 - email@example.com
Bruce Batchlor-Glader – firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joyce Gordon – email@example.com
Karen Hollingsworth – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Nau – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Awaken to “The Power of Off”
Scary as it is to admit, I once walked by my own children at the end of a workday, offering them just a quick nod on my way to get to my email, and it wasn’t as if I was expecting a note from the president.
I am not alone in this. For me, this experience, both acted out and witnessed by me, was a turning point. I suddenly woke up, perhaps by grace or some other force, and was in touch with what’s most important to me, my deepest longing, which is not email but loving relationships with my children and other human beings. . .
My deeper wisdom woke me up and told me that I did not agree with what my conditioned mind was telling me was important. . .
Although I awakened to my real truth in that moment, I still sometimes relapse in my behavior around technology. The difference now is that when it happens, my unconsciousness is short-lived; I wake up the power of off much more quickly than before, feeling clearer and more resolved to live in a way that serves my deeper truth. . .
We wake up a little bit at a time, a moment here and there, with naps in between. We keep waking up until we are awake most of the time and finally even able to be aware of when we are not aware. . .
Many people, however, have not yet achieved awareness around technology. The average person now spends 13 hours per week checking and interacting with email. . .
We keep checking, not because we derive great pleasure from email, but because in many cases we are addicted. We are not making wise or thoughtful decisions but rather following a kind of primal urge, which has trumped the part of the mind that can thoughtfully discern whether to check or not to check.
Every addiction, no matter its lure, pulls us out of the present moment—and technology is no different. Technology addiction is no less deserving of our concern than addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or any other substance or behavior. We can’t stop doing something that no longer nourishes us and that very often we don’t even want to keep doing. Knowing that we can always check, we become more distracted and more dependent on something external to escape whatever we don’t want to feel or do. Some people start to abandon other more important parts of their lives in order to engage more fully in their addiction. What’s certain is that the more we check, the more enslaved we become. The next time you feel the urge to check, try asking yourself these two questions before checking: What would be the ideal email I could receive right now? What experience would such an email offer me? Pause for a full two minutes, paying close attention to what happens in your body and your mind. Notice whether your desire to check changes in any aspect. In this way, rather than disappearing into addiction, you can use your email craving to become more self-aware and present.
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new resources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
Or contact our office at email@example.com or call 330-456-0486.
The East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care Office:
1445 Harrison Avenue NW · Suite 301
Canton, Ohio 44708
Toll Free: 866-456-3600
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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