Tuesday, June 03, 2014

WHY WE NEED FAITH COMMUNITIES

Everyone does not have a Patty.  You have seen this statement before on this blog, but it is important enough to write again.  People with lived experience or consumers or people with psychiatric labels need a place to be.  I don’t really care what you call me just don’t call me late for supper as the old saying goes.  I get tired of the fight over what to call those of us suffering from the pain of what the medical community has labeled as mental illnesses.  I have grown even wearier of waiting on faith communities to really get into the act of reaching out and embracing us and our families.

Over twenty-five years ago I learned of an organization called Pathway to Promise. They have been trying ever since to raise the awareness of the need and to produce materials to help.  There are other organizations working hard at this same thing, but the stigma has not been reduced and the embrace has not greatly increased.  Some blame it on the mass killings, but I am not that easy on faith communities.

The church was given birth by the violence of the cross, but the resurrection brought the light of love to the early church.  Violence is not a reason to run away from a group of people, but rather the very reason to run towards them.  After her husband Jim Elliot and four others were killed doing mission work in Ecuador on January 8, 1956, Elisabeth Elliot decided to continue her husband’s work among the people who murdered him.  Be very clear; I am not saying mentally ill people are dangerous or even that the mass killings were caused by any form of mental illness, but I am saying the church should not and cannot use dangerousness as an excuse for its lack of ministry to us.
Jim Elliot

We don’t need special programs. We need special people willing to embrace us and welcome us into their community.  We need a place to be.  If you are alone and isolated in the community it is no better than being in a hospital.  Why do we need faith communities?  Because they are suppose to be the place one can find people most like Jesus who said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?   You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

How great it would be to be fully embraced in a community where they were not judging your ever misstep. We need that.

© Ed Cooper, 6/3/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

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