Monday, November 23, 2015

CONSIDER THE LILIES OF THE FIELD: SCS No. 63


Sunday, NOVEMBER 22, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 61


PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who around the world are hurting so that they might see a little of You.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.


SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today: Matthew 6:25-34 (KJV)
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

SERMON for Today:


I got a little older on my recent birthday which meant I had to think about the process of aging and what that meant to me and to my wife.  None of my thoughts seemed to be pleasant.  It seems our society loves and collects everything old except old people.  Most things increase in value as they age, but not old people and some makes of cars.


I have had to come to terms with a body that is declining and only wants to recline and a mind which functions at a pace I do not recognize.  The Scripture Lesson tells me to stop this obsession with aging and to stop worrying about what is going to happen.  It tells me that God will take care of me.  You see the problem becomes a problem only to the degree I believe the words of Jesus.


We are being told to fear possible attacks.  We are being told we probably need to buy a gun a carry it at all times.  We are being taught to fear.  Are we learning how to walk in the total trust of the promises of the words of Jesus?


This world would be a very different place if I and the rest of my fellow sojourners fully believed the words Jesus spoke in today’s lesson.  


“seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
   


May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.


  
© Ed Cooper, November 22, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved


(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

FOR THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE: SCS No. 62


Sunday, NOVEMBER 15, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 62
PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners so that they might see a little of You in us.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.
SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today: Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
SERMON for Today:
Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, November 15, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Friday, November 13, 2015

PERSON-CENTERED APPROACH TO PREVENTING SUICIDE

LINK TO STUDY PAPER AT BOTTOM OF BLOG


Yesterday I got caught up in a discussion/disagreement over whether or not there is an element of selfishness to the act of suicide.  Leaving that discussion behind us, let us try to think about what a person-centered approach to helping someone who is in such darkness that they see no light ahead or way out.  I am going to try and explain what I would want and what I would not want.

First, under no circumstances would I want to be locked away again behind doors that others control.  It has happened to me too many times in my life and I have never seen any value come out of any of those times.

Second, I do not want folks with the fix-it syndrome making false promises to me that they cannot keep or never intend to keep just to keep me going on living so they can say they prevented a suicide.

What do I need?

I need a safe place to be where people treat me as a person.  Meaning they do not lock the doors or take my clothes. They engage me from a perspective of respect as a fellow human being.  I can feel their empathy.  They help me find a reason to live more than simply it is their job to keep me living.  They help me find my own individual reason to fight the darkness and they fight it with me by developing a therapeutic relationship as defined by Carl Rogers years ago.

That means they see me and allow themselves to be seen.  

Why is this subject so important to me?  Because I am becoming of the age when males become the most likely to finish the deal.  More Veterans my age kill themselves than any other age group.  I have a right to want to get it right. I have a right to want the Veterans Administration to bring their services into this century and actually begin to serve so we can survive.

© Ed Cooper, 11/13/2015
    All rights reserved    
For further study on this subject you can go here

University of Manchester Doctoral Paper (231 page PDF)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

DYING BY OUR OWN HANDS:DOES THE VA CARE?

 Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Saint-James, Normandy, France
[My father's brother ( S SGT Edward C. Cooper, May 21, 1916- August 28, 1944) who is buried here and for whom I am named did not die of his own hand, but many have and many more will.]

This is a very personal story to try to illustrate why just because Veterans Day is over we cannot stop our efforts to advocate for better services for those who served our country when called on to do so.

The statistic that there are 22 veteran suicides each day is quoted often, but was arrived at by a flawed method.  The researchers said, “It is recommended that the estimated number of veterans be interpreted with caution due to the use of data from a sample of states and existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.” *

It does not really matter if the VA or the CDC or anyone else can get the number right.  What we know for sure is that the VA does not use proven methods to help those who may be in trouble.  Here is a real conversation between myself and my psychiatrist at my last visit about a week ago.

Her: When do you want to come back?
Me: Four months as usual.
Her: How about two considering the circumstances?
Me: Why should I come back when I am in trouble when you cannot help me when I need you most? The State of Tennessee and the VA have tied your hands.  Your only option is to do what the UN has called a violation of my human and civil rights.  Forced treatment behind locked doors and taking my clothes away only makes me know for sure I will never tell you if I really need your help.  There are no safe houses here run by the VA.  I will see you in four months if I make it.

That was a true and truthful exchange.  Put safe houses into a search engine or peer supports for suicidal persons.  The VA here and in many places is not even using what we know works best.  No wonder so many of us are dying by our own hands.

© Ed Cooper, November 12, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

Sunday, November 08, 2015

DO THIS FOR VETERANS: SCS No. 61


Sunday, NOVEMBER 8, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 61

PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who are Veterans so that they might see a little of You in us.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today: Mark 9:35-37 King James Version (KJV)
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

SERMON for Today:

Wednesday is Veterans Day.  The military teaches some folks how to be leaders and some folks how to follow those leaders even into the hell of the battlefield.

In our Scripture Lesson for Today Jesus is teaching something different.  He is teaching something different than is taught in what we today call Servant Leadership.

“Servant leadership is a philosophy in which an individual interacts with others - either in a management or fellow employee capacity - with the aim of achieving authority rather than power. The authority figure intends to promote the well-being of those around him/her.”  from investopedia

Note that the definition does not say that the Servant Leader gives up their power.  Jesus is talking about giving up power and becoming a “servant of all.”  This means not retaining power and being nice to the people under you, but rather becoming a servant to the people under you.

You want to honor Veterans this Wednesday then send a letter to your two US Senators and your US Representative asking them to do the following for Vets.  Make this single request in your letter because more than one request at a time confuses them.  Ask them to do the following.

To establish at every hospital and freestanding outpatient clinic a HUMAN RIGHTS/COMPLAINT COMMITTEE comprised of the following members.

51% Veterans receiving services from that hospital or clinic
20% Staff from that hospital or clinic (at least 1 chaplain and 1 administrator
25%  People from the Community and Family members of people receiving services
 4%  Public Officials Federal,State, Local or their representative

Of course you want to reach out to them from your church home, but Veterans (we) need an independent place to go with some authority and with community people on it when we have a problem with medical services.

If the head of the VA hospital in Johnson City had to answer to such a committee she might begin to understand what Jesus meant and learn the hospital is there to serve the needs of Veterans and not her needs.

The church needs to learn the same thing.  It is to be a servant to the people.  All the people.  Not just the people it thinks is acceptable.

May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

  
© Ed Cooper, November 8, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

WHO WILL HELP ME/WE BECOME ROOTED IN A COMMUNITY?


Paul J. Carling wrote a book in 1995 published by The Guilford Press titled Return To Community: Building Support Systems for People with Psychiatric Disabilities.  You would think the system would have made great progress by now.  However, Disability Rights Florida made this statement when they sued the state of Florida on August 15, 2015 arguing it was violating federal law by unnecessarily prolonging the stays of hundreds of individuals with disabilities in its psychiatric treatment facilities.

“Many of these individuals are segregated in the state treatment facilities for no other reason than appropriate services do not exist for them in the community,” the complaint stated. “Defendants have failed to provide an adequate mental health treatment system that corresponds to the needs and abilities of Florida citizens with mental health diagnoses.

That does not sound like much has improved.

The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament to Christians) tells the story of the Garden of Eden which was God’s first home for His human creation, but no matter how grand He made it we did not think it was good enough.  Jerusalem was the center or main home of the Jewish people, but think of how many times it was conquered and lost to other nations.  Stephen King wrote in his last book Revival that home was where they did not want you to leave. Washington, D.C. is our national capital and our nation’s home so to speak, but if you live on the streets there as I have, you soon find out you are not welcome in our nation’s home.

You have heard said that home is where your heart is.  I say home is where your heart is held in the loving hands of a caring community.  This embrace of soul and self is not always found in one’s family or in the neighborhood church or in any traditional community.  

Home is where your soul and self are embraced, but not where your harmful actions are endorsed to the detriment of yourself or the community.  It is not a place to seek praise, but rather a place to seek peace for your inner self.  It may be hard to find, but it is worth seeking.

The question comes down to who will help me/us find home?  The mental health system is ill prepared to help us integrate back into the community.  I have been hospitalized many times in my life and not a single time did anyone in the system do anything to help me feel at home back in the community they sent me to.

Who will help me/we become rooted in a loving caring community?  Maybe nobody.

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.”
– Simone Weil, in her book The Need for Roots  

© Ed Cooper, November 4, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

Sunday, November 01, 2015

HONOR THE COMMON SAINTS OF YESTERYEAR AND TODAY: SCS No. 60


Sunday, NOVEMBER 1, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 60


PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners so that they might see a little of You in us.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.


SCRIPTURE for Today: Acts 9:32 King James Version (KJV)


32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.


SERMON for Today:


Today is All Saints’ Day which is one of the many Holy Days in the Revised Common Lectionary. All Saints’ Day has been observed since the ninth century.  The early English name for it was “All Hallows” – that is “All Holies” – and it is from this that we get the popular name “Halloween” given to the previous day, October 31. Although looking around you yesterday you would have been hard pressed to see that it had anything to do with a Holy Day or with the word “saint.”  More likely the word “haint” would have come to mind than “saint.”


The word “saint” comes from the Greek hagios - ἅγιος and means “set apart”. As used in the New Testament, the term refers, not to a special class of the especially holy, but to all the people of God. We are all called saints as you can see from our scripture lesson.


John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.”  This is probably true because Wesley was always on the side of the common person.


This is a day to recognize and show our appreciation for all the saints that have gone before us and for all those who labor along beside us now.  Growing up in a missionary family I knew and know today a lot of saints/servants in the kingdom of God.


Let me just tell you about a few of the folks in my life who are saints who are all living. Some living with Jesus right now (don’t get caught up with whether or not my theology about when folks go to heaven is right) and some still down on earth.  This is just a partial list to give you an idea of what I mean.


My dad moved us from a comfortable life in a small town in Kentucky to a mission station in southern Africa when I was 11 years old.  He fully believed in living a life that reflected the calling of Jesus and spent his life living as a saint/servant.  


My wife’s dad served in the Pacific theater during World War II and lay wounded on the battle field for 24 hours playing dead to stay alive.  He lived his life with multiple disabilities with dignity and showing Christian charity and kindness to those around him.  He welcomed me into his home with a smile.  Just like Jesus said to do to every stranger.


I had an uncle who was a Baptist deacon.  That was not all he was, but I remember my Uncle Art who died young for how devoted he was to his church and to his family.  I have seen a lot of pretend (Sunday only Christians), but I believe with all my heart that my mom’s brother was a “full week” saint/servant of the Savior he served.


My mom’s youngest sister probably believes more deeply than I ever will and I have a cousin who when I was so sick last year had her church pray for me and the cards kept coming to my mail box long after I was almost well.


Uncle Den was the doctor on the mission where I grew up.  He died last year, but all the lives he touched saw a glimpse of Jesus.  Even the witch doctor who had a village about seven miles from the mission station sent his wives and his children to the hospital to be treated by Uncle Den.


All Saints’ Day is truly to honor all saints/servants.


May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.


  
© Ed Cooper, November 1, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)