December 17, 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 ...
A Way Forward
“Collectively, we’re moving toward the Omega point; but every time you and I hate, fear, compete, attack, judge, separate—thus avoiding the necessary letting go—we are resisting the full flow of Love, the energy which is driving the universe forward.” (Friday) --Fr. Richard Rohr
Advent, Dare to Feel the Depth
by Samuel Wells
Have you ever known what it means to be hungry?
All waiting is a kind of hunger. All hunger is a kind of waiting. You can fill up your life with good and worthwhile things, genuine and valuable tasks, absorbing and deserving projects, admirable and interesting people; but suddenly, you get moments when you see with piercing clarity that it’s all a distraction, all a way of making you so busy that you don’t need to think about the one thing you desire above all else, and long for with your whole being, and need like a hungry hole in your stomach.
The church has a season for helping us set aside our distractions and get profoundly in touch with the powerlessness of waiting. It’s called Advent. In Advent, we dismantle our elaborate defenses and, for a few weeks, or days, or moments, face up squarely to our deepest yearnings, our unresolved longings and our rawest needs. But Advent is also about a confidence deeper than our needs, a hope more far-reaching than our desires, a future more comprehensive than our most poignant yearnings.
The answer to the agony of waiting isn’t width. It’s depth. Just this once, in this Advent moment, feel the depth of your life, and look into the deep heart of God.
Advent says, “Yes, you’re hungry. Yes, you long for fulfillment and resolution and completion and consummation. Yes, you’re aching all over; yes, if you stopped your incessant activity and paused for one second to look in the mirror, you’d be sobbing with disappointed dreams and deflated desires and unmet longings and dashed aspirations. . . .
Advent also says, gently, cherishingly and tenderly, “No. No, this isn’t the way the story ends. No, God isn’t ignoring you or punishing you. No, this isn’t God’s last word on the matter. No, God hasn’t finished with you. No, this groaning, this aching, this longing won’t be your eternal condition. God came in Christ to be with you, to groan with your groan, to ache with your ache, to yearn with your yearning. . . .
This Advent, take the risk on God that God’s taken on you. Feel the quality. Feel the depth. Go deeper and keep digging. Keep digging until you find you’ve dug deep into the heart of God.
How Do We Make a Lasting Impact in a Culture of Instant Gratification?
By Gretchen Ziegenhals
Artist Makoto Fujimura describes visiting the Fra Angelico (1395-1455) exhibit at the Met one December. As he gazed at Angelico’s “Madonna and Child,” he says he had to close his eyes. What he saw on the canvas was so powerful that he felt overwhelmed, so that he physically staggered.
In his book, “Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art and Culture”, Fujimura writes that as he gazed at the painting, the “five-hundred-year question” popped into his mind.
“What is the five-hundred-year question?” he writes. “Well, it’s a long-term, historical look at the reality of our cultures that asks, What ideas, what art, what vision in our current culture has the capacity to affect humanity for more than five hundred years? ... If our decisions matter and make ripple effects in the world, then should we not weigh what we say and do in light of the five-hundred-year question?”
Many of us know the company Seventh Generation, whose plant-based household products take their inspiration from the indigenous tribal wisdom that every decision made should be considered in light of its effect on seven generations hence. But 500 years from now? That seems harder to get our minds around.
In addition to this unusual timeline, Fujimura acknowledges our fragile place in the world today, noting that future-oriented thinking has been clouded by our “capacity to blow ourselves up a thousand times over.” Apocalyptic movies and literature witness to a mood of despair in which there is no future. Many millennials are deciding not to have children.
Yet the power of Fra Angelico’s vibrant and luminous “Madonna and Child” endures.
Fujimura notes that the artist learned his craft in the church. At 20, Angelico entered the Dominican order, which trained him as an artist’s apprentice, recognizing and cultivating his great gifts. Were he alive today, Angelico likely would have to find a different path. “The church is not the first place a creative genius would look to be trained in art,” Fujimura notes.
Ouch.And it’s not that the artist lived in happier times; Europe was devastated by the Black Death, hunger, political assassinations and a church in turmoil. Yet Angelico’s “Madonna and Child” reflects a hope and a faith that still illuminate and empower the Christian message, centuries later, and cause at least one viewer to stagger.
Praying for Peace in Advent: Praying with Elizabeth and Mary
by Creighton University Online Ministries
Part of our Advent longing will be to grow in our desire for peace - a hunger and thirst for it. For at midnight Liturgy on Christmas eve, we will hear the angels say to the shepherds:
"Do not be afraid; for behold,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people."
Let's let a desire for the Good News of Christmas grow in our hearts each day now. Let's feel the pain of "hostility" and fear and anxiety of all those who are in the middle of the terror of war - civilians, soldiers, and all of us. And as we feel this tremendous longing and hope, let's turn to God and ask for peace in our own hearts. In these precious days of preparation, we can all be peace-makers at home, with our friends and relatives, in our parishes and faith communities and where we work. As we make our own efforts at peace around us, let's turn to two of the Advent guides that scripture gives us. . . .
In what places in my life do I ask, "How can this be"? There are impossible barriers to peace. How do I say that I just can't see how it is possible to believe in the power of God - here in my heart, in my home, among my family and friends, at work, among these peoples? How am I being invited to respond, "May it be done to me according to your word"? How can I be faithful to being in God's service - and not be so worried about what people think of me? And in my growing desire to be more intimate with Jesus in my everyday life, in what concrete ways, with what particular persons, can I let the pattern of his life transform my life? How can I hurry to support others, while finding the community of faith I need to be faithful servant in Jesus' own mission?
Let there be Peace on Earth!
The angels announce to the shepherds:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Let us all continue to pray for peace in our world. Let's pray that hearts might be transformed, to find the path of peace together. But, as we pray, let's let peace have a chance in our own hearts, in our own world, close at home. The peace-making begins with God's work in us. This is truly Advent longing.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!
Walking with the Wise Men: A Meditation on the Feast of Epiphany
by Charles Pope
There are so many wonderful details in the Epiphany story: the call of the Gentiles, the nations, and their enthusiastic response, the significance of the star they see and the gifts they bring, the dramatic interaction with Herod and their ultimate rejection of him in favor Christ.
In this meditation, I would like especially to follow these wise men in their journey of faith. We can observe how they journey in stages from the dim light of a star to the bright and glorious Light of Jesus Christ. And, of course to authentically encounter the Lord is to experience conversion. All the elements of this story serve ultimately to cause them to “return to their country by another route.” Let’s look at the stages of their journey to Jesus, let’s walk the way of the wise men.
Focus of the Year: “Being Peace”
Considering the conflict and lack of civility in our world and communities, our churches and families, and within ourselves, the focus for the year is: “Being Peace.” Following Jesus’ practice of going into a quiet place to spend time alone with Abba, we will seek to find our center and listen for what God is calling us to, so that we may emerge as agents of transformation in the world.
Ashland—2nd Wednesdays, 1:00-2:30
Canton—3rd Thursdays, 1:30-3:00
Solon—2nd Thursday, 1:00-2:30
Vermilion—3rd Friday, 11:00-12:30
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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.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Ringler - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
5 Tips for Holiday Stress Management
by Julie Peters
Stress is an inevitable, natural, normal part of our lives. The problem is that we don’t always know what to do with it, so it can get stuck in our bodies and make us sick. The holidays are particularly triggering of toxic stress—family stuff brings up older baggage, the new year makes us question our lives existentially, we tend to eat and drink a lot more—and we have to go shopping! Here are a few tips for keeping calm and taking care during the holiday season.
10 Minutes to Defuse Holiday Stress
by Mark Bertin
‘Tis the season to give up the guilt. Here’s a practice for taking a more mindful approach to the holidays.
It’s almost a cliché to say the holidays can be stressful. Instead of peace and joy, the reality is we’re often just trying to stay sane. Not everyone gets along, planes are delayed, and dinner gets burned—it’s an emotional minefield.
Any picture-perfect image of the holidays we build up in our minds, filled with expectations of how life should be, rarely gets met for long.
It’s easy to get caught in the mental trap of the “the comparing mind.” We might think to ourselves: This is how things are—and this is what I picture they should be. We strive to recreate images of holiday bliss, and it exhausts us. Illusions portrayed in shows, movies, in our friend’s social feeds, or holiday advertisements set our more complex reality into disturbing relief. Consumerism itself leads to unhappiness, encouraging our endlessly hungry and restless craving for even more.
Instead of aiming for perfection and letting every detail cast us into bouts of worry, we can use the holidays to actively appreciate the people around us and our good fortune wherever we find it. We can enjoy those moments that feel like holiday bliss, and find humor in the moments that clearly aren’t.
Even when things fall apart, there’s often more to see.
Letting go of hard-and-fast expectations opens you up to more opportunities for connection and joy.
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