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The Basin and Towel

with Indispensable Churches and Tending the Light

Resources

Centers for Disease Control Vital Signs report / June 2018
Suicide Rising Across US

Here’s a book for pastors and counselors worth reading, from one of the speakers at the Fort Wayne conference
Karen Mason:  Preventing Suicide

Another suicide prevention organization with lots of good resources and trainings
LivingWorks

Here’s a link to the Eventbrite website (with more information) for the Summit County (Ohio) Prosecutor’s workshop on Responding to the Needs of Victims

Domestic Violence and Pastoral Care

At Christ the King Lutheran Church in Lodi, Ohio, we have a page on our website devoted to resources about Domestic Violence.  Here it is.  I’ll grant you, it’s a little outdated – editing it is on my to-do list.  For instance, I need to add a video I did this summer discussing the relationship between the Ten Commandments and the so-called “Power and Control” wheel.  But I’ll wait until after I attend a workshop by the Office of the Prosecutor in a neighboring county on “Responding to the Needs of Victims” so I can have the latest on what the law enforcement professionals are thinking and telling victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

SOME OF THESE FOLKS MAY BE OUR CHURCH MEMBERS.  Not only law enforcement professionals, but also victims and/or perpetrators of domestic violence.  As pastors and church workers, I think we have a duty to learn what the criminal justice system and victims’ advocates are doing and saying in our communities so that we can exercise our pastoral care for such souls in a responsible way.  If such a workshop shows up in your community, take a Continuing Education Day to learn what you can do to help.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

If you are contemplating suicide, please talk to someone now!
OR Please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255 (TALK)

In June my wife Beverly and I had the opportunity to attend a one-day workshop in Fort Wayne on the ministry of the church around the issue of suicide.  We heard difficult conversations about how we think and talk about suicide in the church, how we minister to families and individuals who have confronted suicide, and what we might do to provide emotionally healthy church communities where all people might feel safe.  In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recently suggested that comprehensive suicide prevention efforts in states and communities should focus on several areas that churches might be particularly good at:

  • identifying and supporting people at risk of suicide
  • teaching coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns
  • promoting safe and supportive environments
  • offering activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone
  • connecting people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare
  • expanding options for temporary help for those struggling to make ends meet, and
  • preventing future risk of suicide among those who have lost a friend or loved one to suicide.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Faith.Hope.Life campaign engages faith leaders and faith communities to promote the characteristics common to faith traditions that also help prevent suicide.  Visit their website at the link above for more information.  While you’re there, check out the National Alliance’s website for the Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life(September 7-9) for more resources about suicide prevention.

God Bless Us, Everyone!

I’ve started a new book recently – Trauma Stewardship, by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky at The Trauma Stewardship Institute.  She talks about “trauma exposure response” as the entire sum of feelings, thoughts, actions, and worldview that caregivers (and others) develop as they view and interact with trauma over time.  It promises to be an interesting read – I’ll let you know.

But for now – and since it’s the day before Christmas Eve as I write this – it seems to me that one of the ways in which we can see the Christmas story is as God’s own “trauma exposure response’:  His response of pure love to the deep trauma of sin in our world, the trauma that bent and broke everything in His precious creation.  If He were human, how do you think He might feel upon being faced with such a catastrophic event?  If He were human, how do you think He would feel as time and time again He might reach out in love to a people He had chosen as His own (as in the Old Testament), only to find them slap Him away as if they didn’t need Him?  If He were human, how do you think He would feel at such repeated abuse and neglect and hatred, even now, when He is only trying to make things better?

But God’s “trauma exposure response” begins with the truth that God is not human – God is God, and while that may sound trite, it means that God remains true to Himself.  Unlike human caregivers who become enmeshed in the lives and deaths and toils and tribulations of the people we care for, who suffer from too much empathy or lack of boundaries or codependency or hurt feelings (or you name it!), God remains God, and none of these things that affect us, affect Him.

AND YET He sent His Son to become one of us – to take on human flesh – to suffer exactly all those kinds of toils and tribulations, to learn empathy and boundaries and hurt feelings and trauma exposure and everything else that goes on in our messy, sinful, often awful world.  He sent His Son for a lot of reasons – to redeem us from sin, to break the chains of death and the grave.

And just maybe one more of those reasons might be this: since you and I sometimes (frequently?) become overwhelmed with the deep and unrelenting traumas in life, the presence of Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem, in the fields of Galilee, among the sick in Judea and the synagogues of Israel also means that somewhere, in your office or your clinic or your ambulance or your support group or church or hospital rounds that same Jesus, who is also God, is standing next to you.  He knows you and what your job is like.  He knows the pressures you face, and the challenges that rise up.  He knows that you go home exhausted at night sometimes, only to come back for more the next day.  He knows – and because He is not only human but God, then God knows, and loves you as much as the ones you are caring for.

So dear caregivers, trauma responders, whatever you call yourselves, take heart!  The Lord is with you!  And here’s a Christmas verse for you before we break (really?) for the new year –

“UNTO YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”  (Luke 2:11)

Before Thanksgiving Day,

Asylum Quilts

IMG_2300 IMG_2294

Not too long after we finished the “Essentials” seminar at Ashland – which emphasizes that one of the components of healing is “community” – my wife and I had the opportunity for a little vacation to Columbus, Ohio.  Before we headed home we decided to make a stop at the Ohio Historical Center, just to look around.  I was completely dumbfounded by this exhibit of quilts done by residents at the Ohio Asylum for the Insane in Athens, Ohio in the mid-1900s.  These remarkable works of art and craftsmanship – done as part of the physical therapy program and then given to other residents – exhibit a beautiful mix of healing components that we as caregivers might well consider in our own ministries:

gathering into small groups (since it is well-known that it is difficult to quilt alone);

working on some project together keeps the hands (and maybe the left brain?) busy, leaving the right brain free to talk with others (and it’s also well-known that quilting in a group is not a silent activity!)

working on a project together might give participants a sense of working toward a visible, tangible goal

the idea that the quilt would be given to another resident might make the project and the effort seem all the more worthwhile, and result in a sense of accomplishment but also a greater sense of well-being among the recipients:  “We not only did something together, we did something good together for someone else!”

What other healing factors might you notice about a project like this?  Is there a way you could encourage this kind of project more often in your ministry?

 

 

 

An Experiential Sermon “The Living Water”

March 23, 2014 at Christ the King Lutheran Church.  Based on a devotion I did at the Formational Prayer “Essentials” seminar the previous day.

At the Formational Prayer Essentials Seminar Part 2

If we resemble Jesus enough to allow the woman of ill repute to break the bottle of perfume at His feet (Luke 7:36-50), soon others like her will be lined up around the block, each bearing their own bottle of perfume to break as they cry their hearts out for gratitude at the mercy of Jesus we are showing them.

If we are instead like the Pharisees who are around Jesus trying to prevent the woman from approaching Him and breaking the bottle, others who may have brought their own bottles to break will learn that they will be shamed if they do so.  They will keep those bottles hidden and, perhaps, stop coming altogether.

If we receive the broken and the breakers, the wounded and the wounders into the church with the mercy of Jesus, soon word will get out and others will come bearing their own sins and wounds and brokenness, knowing that here is a place where they can receive healing and forgiveness.

If we insist on public shaming of the broken and the breakers, public condemnation of church leaders who “fall” or “fail,” soon word will get out and others who have their own sins and wounds and brokenness will learn to keep their sins and wounds and brokenness to themselves.  The church will not be a safe place for them to be, and eventually, perhaps, they will stop coming altogether.

At the Formational Prayer Essentials Seminar March 2014 Part I

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Wardle talks about DUCK theology and DANCE theology.

DUCK theology goes like this:

  • God is angry because we have sinned.
  • God’s holiness compels Him to pour out His wrath on us; i.e., God is against us.
  • Jesus comes to stand in the way of God’s wrath and to absorb it all like a lighting rod.

In other words,

  • you are Damned,
  • you are Unloved,
  • you are Corrupt, and
  • God wants to Kick you to the curb (= DUCK).

Then He asked the question, “Or was the coming of Christ aimed at us, the great gift from the Father given to destroy everything that stands in the way of entering the fullness of His love and embrace?”

This is DANCE theology.  In other words,

Jesus comes to the cross so that we can fully enter the love of God that we could never enter on our own.  That is,

  • He Delights in you,
  • He Adores you and accepts you,
  • He wants to Nurture you,
  • He Cherishes you,
  • He wants to Encourage and Embrace you and Extend to you the treasures of His kingdom (=DANCE).

So it occurred to me that DANCE theology is when Jesus says to the woman at the well, “I will give you so much living water that you will never thirst again,” whereas DUCK theology is when God says to Noah “I will give the world so much water it will drown the earth.”  People get stuck on the “cruelty of God” when they hear the Noah story and some other Old Testament stories, and maybe it’s because they are DUCK theologians even if they claim not to believe in God.  Whereas the book of Hebrews tells us that now that Jesus has come, everything that God has said in the past is to be filtered and understood through His Son Jesus – and His conversation in John 4 about water is clearly shot through with DANCE theology.

And a further implication of His DANCE theology is that when He and the woman uncover her marital history His offer of living water still stands!

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