Seong Won asked me whether CPE has changed since I took my last unit 32 years ago. I told her that the structure of CPE hasn’t changed much, but I’ve changed a great deal. Naturally, she followed up with, “How have you changed?”
I’m more comfortable with answers than questions, authority than weakness, and qualification by academic degree than qualification by suffering. But I’m learning that effectiveness in chaplaincy requires me to walk into the circle of my discomfort.
Through the apostle Paul, God paints a vision for his people in 1 Corinthians 12 as one body, together in Christ. No one excludes another. (The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”) No one self-excludes.
Susie Angel talks about the rejection and the welcome she experienced in churches as a person with cerebral palsy. She says, "God needed me for a purpose to be the way I am, that purpose was to teach able-bodied people that it was okay to be different."
As congregational members who do not have intellectual disabilities engage week in and week out with those who do, everyone learns and grows. People have to learn how to talk with others who are much different from them. That requires everyone to take risks, to reach out to one another, to have awkward conversations that will, over time, become less awkward.
Many people loathe December and January. Holiday parties can bring pain along with joy. People renew old tensions, unbury hatchets, and pronounce judgments on others. Perhaps even worse, some people sit home alone, uninvited to gatherings with loneliness blowing cold like a winter draft.
In the 1960s and early ’70s, U.S. military personnel were often treated shamefully upon returning to civilian life. I hope that your church will consider ministry with veterans as a significant way to serve men, women, and families who gave so much for their country.
"We are all a part of God's story, and trusting Him through the twists and turns isn't easy. At the heart of our stories is the essence of belonging - to each other and to Him. And we need to know that we belong - even with our abnormalities and idiosyncrasies." - Sara Pot
The novel, Divine Towels by Beau Jason McGlynn, describes a mother and son, Claire and Ethan, who are led by God to begin a healing ministry called Divine Towels. By washing the feet of those seeking to be healed God uses Claire and Ethan to effect healing.
If you have experienced a stroke and are involved in a church community, Dr. Peggy Goetz and her student assistants would like to be in touch with you for a study Goetz is conducting. She would like to interview stroke survivors and attend worship and other church activities with them over the course of several weeks
As issues started coming up, we had to make decisions together. When should mom stop driving? Is she using the stove safely? Is she taking her meds correctly? When do we need to consider moving mom into assisted living? Facing such decisions can bring out old tensions and even tear families apart. We did not want this to happen to us.
Mental health is not a particularly religious term. But the concern for wellness, for healing and recovery, and for the effects of illness and disease are part of spiritual care. It has never been easy for individuals suffering from brain disorders to find place among us.
Mom hasn’t been able to initiate conversation for several years, but only a few months ago yet, mom and I could have two sentence conversations. I would say a brief sentence, and she would usually give some appropriate response. Those appropriate responses are gone too. Except one.
When faith communities show non-judgmental love to members affected by mental illness, parishioners feel safe to acknowledge their needs and overcome their fears of rejection. A faith community can establish that reputation with persons who have a mental illness and their families in a variety of ways.
The language of creation replaces, and transcends, the language of loss, just as it does in life. The pastoral care-giver's question is not, “What have you lost? But “What’s it like?” and “What’s happening?”
Deacons who serve well work hard at connecting with members of the congregation, organizing ministry, and finding appropriate resources. This final installment on deacons and people with disabilities suggests ideas for ministry and provides some resources to implement those ideas.