March 5, 2018
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. Archives Here ...
Lent is a time of self-reflection and self-denial. In our reflections during this season may we wake up and discover how precious to and loved by God we are. In our denial may we let go of our limiting beliefs about ourselves and others, our judgments and preferences, and with all our sisters and brothers and all creation run joyously into the loving arms of Jesus.
On Changing our Minds
by Bishop Bruce Ough
Council of Bishops President Bruce R. Ough challenged colleagues to be open to changing their minds as they grapple with how to avoid a breakup of The United Methodist Church over homosexuality.
He noted that the council’s meeting here this week coincides with Lent, a season for reflection and change.
“Let us practice the Lenten discipline of self-emptying, letting go of the positions we came here to defend and the battles we are plotting to wage in this council or the Judicial Council or on the floor of the special General Conference.”
“Let us practice the Lenten discipline of listening to God and one another to the point of dying to ourselves.”
Ough’s sermon, titled “On Changing Our Minds,” stressed that the apostles and other early church leaders, as well as John Wesley and fellow leaders of the Methodist movement, drew on the Holy Spirit to move beyond “anxious passion for security” and take on the mind of Christ.
“There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of United Methodist laity and pastors among us who are discovering how to move behind a ʻsingle-story’ narrative or a ʻchurch-dividing’ narrative on human sexuality, while maintaining a clear, theologically grounded, integral sexual ethic and a passionate, effective evangelical mission, particularly to younger generations,” Ough said.
Pastors, churches respond to Florida massacre
By Sam Hodges
Photo courtesy of United Methodist Board of Church and Society
The sign at the United Methodist Building in Washington, where the Board of Church and Society’s offices are, was changed after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
The Way of Non-Violence
by Patty Humphress
Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt. 26-51-52).
Have you ever heard of the statement ‘might makes right’? Well…as I sat listening to another school shooting and then heard a Jackson Junior High student shot himself on school grounds, I wondered, what is this world coming to? Might certainly does not make right, no matter what we have been conditioned into believing! Doing further research I found an article that said a pastor, his wife, and his teenage daughter barged into a Sunday school class and assaulted and robbed the teacher at gunpoint. In their own church! When will the violence end?
In the Matthew passage above, Jesus is trying to teach the disciples there is another way. There is a large crowd with clubs and swords, led by Judas Iscariot, who has come to arrest Jesus and take him away. One of those who was with Jesus, many presume it to be Peter, draws his sword, and Jesus rebukes him. Violence on top of violence does not bring peace. When we think we can solve an argument, a fight, or a war by having the largest arsenal, we have already lost.
Jesus is teaching that non-violence is always the preferred solution. When we practice non-violence, we are adhering to a different set of ethical standards, based on loving God and loving neighbor. If we choose to follow Jesus, which as his disciples we must do, then we choose to be peacemakers. We choose not to do violence with our voices or with our fists or with our weaponry.
I don’t know what violence is being done to these young people who are committing suicide. I don’t know what violence is being done to these young people who are harming or even killing others. What I do know is the cycle must stop. We, as disciples of Jesus, must find our voices and our hearts so that we can help these young people recognize they are loved and beloved.
In some school districts, parents and other adults are standing outside of schools with signs that read, “you are enough” and “you are amazing” and “you are brave”. What can we do to show our young people they are beloved of God and loved by us?
I invite you to pray about this and ponder this as we continue on this Lenten journey. We are not immune to violence and suicide here just because we live out in the country. Last year there was at least one suicide I know of within a quarter mile of the church! How can we reach out? What can we do?
If you have ideas of how this church can be involved in a non-violence campaign, either in the school or in our community, please speak to me. Jesus was an advocate for another way. We can be the same.
The Tao of Chronic Pain
by Beth Darnall
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Finding the teacher inside.
Pain is a catchall term for an uncomfortable if not noxious experience. Examples of emotional pain are crushing sadness, depression, and grief. Examples of painful physical experiences include torturous stabbing or burning pain. There is so much overlap and shared neurobiology between physical and emotional pain that rendering distinctions between the two can be trivial. I became a pain psychologist in part because I learned that lesson the hard way.
Though exceptions apply, humans are largely bio-behaviorally hardwired to escape pain, regardless of its form. In other words, pain is a warning meant to promote survival. In part, physical pain works through triggering emotional responses—fear, anxiety, and anger—all of which motivate action to escape from the source of pain and potentially from physical harm. A child who is painfully attacked by a cat will quickly learn to escape the cat, and to fear and perhaps to hate cats. Humans are hardwired to behave in ways that foster escape, avoidance of pain, and safety.
Persistent or chronic pain is different because it no longer has survival value. Chronic pain is internally generated, and as such there is no external threat or potential harm to run away from. However, the body and the nervous system do not understand this distinction. To the body and the nervous system, pain is pain. Stress responses and neurobiological processes to facilitate escape are set in motion, despite the fact that one cannot escape a migraine or back pain in the same way that one can remove a hand from a hot stove. The common pain-related emotions—fear, anxiety, and anger—fuel more pain, despair, and suffering.
A critical part of the solution is simple but far from easy, because it runs counter to our hardwired biology: It is to be in the midst of pain—with nonreactivity and nonjudgment, and with compassion for self and others.
Nobody wishes to have chronic pain. Like many major diseases and health problems, chronic pain can alter the trajectory of one’s life course and perceived destiny. Chronic pain can greatly limit engagement in activities, relationships, and one’s roles and responsibilities to the point that it threatens one’s identity. Feelings of injustice may set in. Anger directed at oneself and one’s body may arise as people feel their body has failed them. Feelings of betrayal or abandonment may also arise and be directed toward one’s body, others, or even God. While such feelings are understandable and can be hard to avoid, they make the problem worse.
Less appreciated—but much more helpful to reduce suffering—is chronic pain’s role as a teacher and an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. Living with pain limits one’s energetic resources, thereby forcing a reflection on one’s real priorities, life goals, self-concept, and identity. Chronic pain can force individuals to begin giving to themselves—filling their own cup first—so that they may offer others a drink, too. To function maximally and continue to be of service to others, self-care must become a priority.
The cultivation of self-compassion, learning to honor oneself, and making authentic choices that align with one’s deepest desires is holy work. Pain can provide the opportunity to set appropriate limits with others and with oneself; in doing so, right relationships may emerge, and imbalances may be corrected. In this way, pain can be the teacher that shapes behavior toward honoring oneself.
Interview: Calming Chronic Pain
Rabbi Rami Shapiro with Beth Darnell
Rabbi Rami talks with Beth Darnall, PhD about figuring out unmet needs to understand chronic pain, suffering, and the use of mindfulness meditation.
An Interview: A Stage-4 Cancer Patient Shares the Pain And Clarity Of Living 'Scan-To-Scan'
Terry Gross with Kate Bowler
Here's a few of the things my guest Kate Bowler doesn't want to hear about living with her incurable cancer - everything happens for a reason. God is writing a better story. Heaven is your true home. God needs another angel. It's not that she's lacking in faith. She just wants to avoid trite life lessons. Bowler is an associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. Her new memoir, "Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved," is about how her faith has affected the way she deals with cancer and how her cancer has affected her faith.
She also reflects on the paradox that her first book was about, the history of the prosperity gospel, which preaches that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. Bowler was diagnosed in 2015 with stage IV colon cancer that had already metastasized. She's married, has a young son and can't bear the thought of him growing up without her. What's kept her alive in addition to colon surgery and chemo is experimental immunotherapy treatments that helped shrink her tumors.
Kate Bowler, welcome to FRESH AIR. I want to ask you to start with a reading from the preface to your book.
Oh, sure. Married in my 20s, a baby in my 30s, I won a job at my alma mater straight out of graduate school. I felt breathless with the possibilities. Actually, it's getting harder to remember what it felt like, but I don't think it was anything as simple as pride. It was certainty, plain and simple, that God had a worthy plan for my life in which every setback would also be a step forward. I wanted God to make me good and make me faithful with just a few shining accolades along the way. Anything would do if hardships were only detours on my long life's journey. I believed that God would make a way. I don't believe that anymore.
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved
by Kate Bowler
A divinity professor and young mother with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis explores the pain and joy of living without certainty.
Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost 30 pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.
As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the listener deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the "American prosperity gospel" - the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough - Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same "outrageous certainties". She wants to know why it's so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.
Practice: Reflecting On Our Stories
by Judy Cannato, Field of Compassion: How the New Cosmology Is Transforming Spiritual Life (Sorin Books: 2010), 22-23.
Settle into a quiet inner space, take a few deep relaxing breaths, and then, when you are ready, enter into the following exercises:
Holy One, you have given us the gift of story in our lives, ways of understanding who we are, ways of making sense of our world, of finding meaning and knowing how to respond to all that happens in our lives. Please show us where our stories fall short or are too narrow, where they exclude rather than include, where they divide rather than unite. Help us to see where a story we live out of may go amiss of what is real, where it allows us to escape becoming whole, where it lets us live comfortably in fear. Fill us with your story, the story of unity and compassion and love. Fill us with images that energize us and give us hope and lead us to the fundamental truth that you have tried to teach us all along: we are all one. Amen
The Science of Happiness in Life’s Everyday Joys
Dacher Keltner, host of PRI's "The Science of Happiness," talks about how the "Three Good Things" practice can foster a deeper appreciation of life's everyday joys.
Monthly Live Online Spiritual Practice Groups are being provided by East Ohio United Methodist Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling using ZOOM. The ZOOM format is very easily used by just responding to an invitation email and following the links; no subscription or downloads needed. These groups will be limited to 8-10 participates and will be added as they are populated. Current groups are meeting 1st Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. and 2nd Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.
The purpose of these groups is to create space for our souls to be nurtured by exploring a variety of spiritual experiences, spending time in meditation and through the fellowship and encouragement of other sojourners. We use the term “Practice” to indicate that these are groups engaged in the practice of spiritual formation.Please contact the Office of Pastoral Care for any questions and to be added to one of the groups. Phone: 330-456-0486. Email: 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 Batchler-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
Hazel Partington – lakehavenministries.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Ringler -- email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Carol Topping - firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Tradowsky -- email@example.com
Laurie Tucker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ways Your Body Can Help Bolster Creativity
By Kristen Fischer
Getting in tune with your body can be a powerful tool in accessing your creativity. Feeling uninspired, or just looking for your next big idea? You could get quite the creativity boost by trying the following practices.
Look to your own sky. Rashmi Bismark, M.D., a preventative medicine physician and Yoga Medicine instructor, noted that there have been a slew of studies touting the health benefits of meditation on health, but few about its effects on creativity.
A small 2012 study found that open-monitoring style of meditation—when you have a receptive, open awareness compared to focusing on an item or thought—was better at improving creativity.
Bismark recommends a form of open-monitoring meditation known as The Sky of Awareness. To do it, settle into a comfortable seated posture and imagine your mind as expansive as the sky. Take in environmental sounds and sensations in your body. When it comes to thoughts, emotions and images, remember that they change like weather patterns.
“Instead of ignoring them or pushing them aside, see if it is possible to open attention to all of them coming and going, along with sounds and sensations,” she says. “Allow for the unfolding of life just as it is, remembering the breath is always available as an anchor when you need it.”
Mindfulness practice. Kate Kerr, a Canada-based mindfulness consultant, said mindfulness is key to cultivating creativity.
“Mindfulness is about having a curious, open attitude to your present moment experiences, whatever they are,” she said. If we can cultivate a beginner’s mind—seeing things from a new perspective—it can increase our skill in seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes and innovative thinking.”
Breathe differently. Not only is Nadi Shodhara Breathing (also known as alternate nostril breathing) a great way to literally clear your head of congestion, but it helps people calm down to reach a state of creativity.
To begin, close your eyes and fold down your index and middle fingers of your right hand. Put your thumb on your right nostril and other fingers gently resting on your left nostril or just relaxed. Breathe in through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril using your ring and pinky finger and release the right nostril, exhaling through it. Inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril and release closure of your left. Exhale through your left nostril, and then inhale from it to begin a new round. Breathe normally afterward.
Whether it’s a breathing exercise, repeating a mantra or practicing mindfulness, it looks like those types of activities are key to cultivating creativity. After all, don’t your best creative moments occur when you’re not forcing your mind to be creative? Sometimes, making space for creativity to occur is all we need.
“When we can bring a loving mindful presence to whatever it is we are doing, we naturally create the conditions necessary for creativity to flow through us.”
Awakening Love in Relationships
by James Tolles
As love awakens within you, the door to deeper, loving relationships opens wider. You have to understand, though, that this isn't just in the romantic context. While love definitely is growing in a romantic relationship, it's also growing in all your relationships. It's growing because that's the space that you're choosing to come from. As you fully embody that choice, you then move from that space without any need for an active choice. For example, when someone is first kind to you, you may need to choose to be loving in response. You may not be used to kindness, so that's why the mental choice is necessary. Over time, the loving response is the natural reaction; it is what arises for you.
As you've worked through other issues inside yourself that block you from love, the depths of love become more available to you from others.
Spiritual Romance: Love Awakens More Deeply - Abiding that you're with a partner who has a similar dedication to spirituality, your romance will deepen. There will be spaces of union, compassion, and understanding that get opened that you could never have imagined. The flow of it will be beautiful. The ability to conflict resolve will be more peaceful. The ego has let go of so much of the relationship that it might be initially scary (at least where the ego is still trying to control it), but it will be far more true to both you and your partner. You'll be able to ride the ebbs and flows of the relationship with much more integrity and grace. You'll know that when something is happening for your partner that it's not about you and vice-versa. The lack of personal claims and grievances clears the space for whatever needs to grow and flourish between you.
And when it is ready to complete, the relationship is let go with little to no effort. Because in awakened love, you understand that all relationships are transitory. Even if they last 3 lifetimes, they will come to an end. The point is to appreciate all aspects of it until we come to that ultimate space of union at the end of our lives and the cycles of soul learning.
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 email@example.com or use our quick contact form.
Or contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-456-0486.
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