The Basin and Towel

with Indispensable Churches and Tending the Light




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

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  I’ll grant you, it’s a little outdated – editing it is on my to-do list.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.

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.

The Least of These

Here’s a portion of Mark 10:13-16 NIV

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

A familiar story, no doubt.  Loving parents want Jesus to bless their children.  Disciples (protective? businesslike? efficient?) try to stop them.  Jesus intervenes – “The Kingdom of God belongs to ‘such as these’” and proceeds to bless them.

So what might Jesus mean by “such as these””?  Such individuals?  Such innocents?  Such curiosity-seekers?  Such trusters?  Such little ones?  People with small physical stature?  People with limited education?  I don’t know that there’s one answer.  Perhaps He means some of all of these, and perhaps He means even more.

But as I read this Gospel today I wondered to what extent, if any, it might be possible to apply the words of Jesus to congregations.  After all, some congregations are quite small in terms of membership or attendance, and sometimes this means that they seem to get pushed to the side by their judicatories, publishing houses, or others.  Not, of course, if they are mission plants where they are expected to start small and grow (lots of time and effort and attention is devoted to them); but certainly with congregations that have remained at a “small” size for some time or that have once been larger but have grown smaller over time.

So in what ways are these congregations like the children in this Gospel lesson?  In what ways are they treated like the disciples treat the children – and who takes on the “role” of the disciples for these churches?  And how are they among the “such as these” children that Jesus speaks of?

I’m not sure I have all the answers to these – maybe some of you do – but I’m pretty sure that this needs to be said:  the Kingdom of God would be incomplete and unfinished without children, and the Kingdom of God would be incomplete and unfinished without these Indispensable Churches.

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