Sunday, May 15, 2016

MAY MENTAL HEALTH MONTH. HAS YOUR CHURCH ADDRESSED MENTAL ILLNESS?: SCS 84

Sunday, May 15, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 84


PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. I pray my fellow sojourners will find a church which embraces them with open arms and shows them not just tells them about God’s love in Christ Jesus.
It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.


SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  

Romans 8:31-39 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

SERMON for Today:


May is Mental Health Month.
Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may



In 1988 I started looking at the question what faith communities could be doing to help those of us with a serious mental illness?  I am not talking about folks who I call the “worried well” or people who are sometimes depressed.  I am talking about persons with a major mental illness.  To be truthful with you I have not yet found a church that I am comfortable with, but that does not mean that others of my fellow sojourners are not in faith communities that have responded well to them.


Most of us do not want some special program or to be treated differently.  We just want to be part of the community of believers.  However, with so many Christians talking so mean about so many people it is hard for me to believe I would be welcome if they knew how sick my mind is.


Right now is just a few days after I was supposed to have completed a major conference on Faith Communities and Mental Illness In Appalachia.  It did not come off.  I had the speakers lined up, but when I thought I had Milligan College lined up as the place to hold it I did not.  After the meeting to arrange the details I got a call saying there would be no room at the inn (college).  During the meeting when I mentioned that I would be speaking from personal experience because I was bipolar the air got a sudden chill.  Before that when I was just someone recommended by a person who was a board member of Milligan and a professor there, I was fine.  Milligan is affiliated with the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are the same churches that supported my family when we were on the mission field in southern Africa when I was growing up and that I have been affiliated with all my life.  I gave up on the conference after that.


The point of our Scripture Lesson is that Jesus/God will not stop loving us.  That thought has kept me going many times.  No matter who rejects me I know Jesus and God will not.  That is a powerful message for any person suffering through anything.  It is a great message for a person suffering with a brain/mind illness.  It becomes an even stronger message if it is delivered within a loving embracing community the person can belong to because we all long to be rooted.


Even if I never find a faith community my prayer is that my fellow sojourners will find one which embraces them with open arms and shows them not just tells them about God’s love in Christ Jesus.


© Ed Cooper, May 15, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is a retired minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

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