How are you? No really, how are you? It's a common question - one people ask each other all the time. Of course, it's not always the right time and place to spill out all the honest ways we might want to answer this question, but it dawns on me how often I find myself responding on impulse with something quick and easy like "I'm good!" There are those conversations where there might not be a lot of time to delve too deeply into the "real" answer, and there are other times when the focus of the conversation is on other things - but I wonder how often we really do stop and think to ourselves "How am I doing?"
Life as we know it can be a bit of a plunge at times. There are countless stories in the Bible about everyday people like you and me journeying through the ups and downs of life, about the griefs and the triumphs, the hallelujahs and the "oh no's." And while it can be a comfort to many of us that our God will be with us through it all, that knowledge doesn't always break through the storms of anxiety, stress, emotional baggage, (the list goes on) that life can bring us when we find ourselves in the throes of it.
This Sunday, we will be exploring a text from the Gospel according to Luke and a subject that I know is tender for many: mental health. The story is from Luke 8:26-39; Jesus heals the Gerasene Demoniac. It's a tough story about a man who is known to many as "Legion," one who is experiencing great suffering as experienced through what is described in the text as a demonic possession. As I will emphasize more substantially on Sunday, I want to name here that what I believe this story is really about is the crisis of mental health and the societal barriers that prevent individuals from getting the help and support they need, namely due because of the demons of stigma and trauma. While not all of us face the same kind of mental health struggles Legion is described as having in the story, it's likely that you or someone you know or love has or has had some form of struggle when it comes to mental peace and health. I know these stories are tender, which is why I felt it appropriate to write you ahead of time about the subject of focus this Sunday.
I believe that in this story of healing, Jesus models for us a way of compassion and grace; a way to walk with one another and with ourselves in times that feel particularly challenging, encouraging us to seek help and to offer help to others as we are able. My prayer is that we will come to a new appreciation for the ways the God is holding us together and calling us to think even more deeply about how to do that for those who are particularly vulnerable in our community, and for ourselves, too. I look forward to worshipping and praying with this beloved, strengthening community.
With love and blessing,
Among our Joys
We give thanks for the love shared by Mark and Charlene Housman who celebrated 54 years of marriage on Tuesday!
Among our Concerns
Denise Hill, Andrea Alonso's aunt, in the hospital.
The Alvarado family as they recover as a household from COVID.
Charlene Housman, recovering from COVID.
Those battling cancer:
Daniel Davis, friend of Susan Pearson
Rachel Morford, daughter of Mary Morford
We pray for our homebound friends, Helen Bosley, Elaine Jonson, Harry and Margaret Lobberegt, Jane Nelson, Marylu and Thomas Mills and Jim and Kay Thompson.
We pray for Maggie Olson and her entire family on the death Laurie Olson after a yearlong battle with a particularly aggressive cancer. We lift up especially Maggie's son, Carl and their two children.
We hold in our prayers Mark Housman on the unexpected death this week of a longtime friend and former coworker, Steve, who leaves behind his spouse and two young children. Please pray for all who grieve Steve's death, and for this young family as they journey through this very difficult season.
Among our local and global community concerns:
We lift up all in Ukraine in harm’s way, and refugees around the world seeking safety and dignity. Our faith compels us to welcome the immigrant and the refugee as a sibling of our own; we pray for the hearts and minds of all to open and for will and clarity to work together to mend the many broken systems of government and society to make this place more like the one God intended for all of God’s people.
We pray for the 66 current residents living at the village on 6th and Orchard, including 20 of whom are children and youth. We pray for peace in the midst of the many circumstances in which those experiencing houselessness endure. We also pray for a renewed sense of urgency in our city, neighborhood, and congregation in our work to secure housing as a right for all human beings, full stop.
We lift up all who are left in the wake of the tragedies brought to a fore by this country’s complex of white superiority and gun violence. We pray for all whose lives have been forever changed, and for all who dwell in fear. We ask for the Spirit to continue stirring in the hearts of all whose power it is to change the toxic laws, theologies and worldviews that perpetuate the subjugation of human life for profit.
This week, we lift up our Global Ministries partners in Japan as they continue to navigate the difficulties brought to the fore from COVID-19.