Justice. Mercy. Faith.
Through The Christian Citizen, we seek to shape a mind among American Baptists and others on matters of public concern by providing a forum for diverse voices living and working at the intersection of faith and politics, discipleship and citizenship.
This year, my sun lamp is my Advent wreath. I can’t explain how this works exactly. It only has the one light; there’s no way to turn on more and more of it as the Sundays of Advent pass. But I want to mark this beacon of light with some sort of reverence this December, to bless it in this season of darkness.
Advent reminds us that the best things in life are not the trinkets, toys, thrills, and temptations of this world that come from the outside in an attempt to give us a temporary thrill or some short-term pleasure. Life is about the gifts that God provides that work from the inside out and sustain us even when everything is not going our way. The themes of Advent point us to those gifts of hope, love, peace, and joy.
What would an exercise in developing a liturgy that is “of the people” mean? Forget about the divide between those who like liturgy that is rote vs. those who like liturgy that is spontaneous. I’m interested in the actual “heart” of liturgy, why we do what we do or why we even do it in the first place.
Do you want to know if your work as a pastor is having an impact on the community? Do you want to know if your church is transforming the lives of those outside its walls? If so, stop counting how many people attend worship or walk through your doors during the week. Rather, adopt this new metric: how many dogs did you meet this week?
On November 10, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem published a Statement on the Celebration of Advent and Christmas in the Midst of the War. I realized I needed to put the letter in front of our church council to see how, as a congregation, we might want to respond in solidarity. I’d like to invite you to do the same.
Faith and Mental Health
Many negative references remain in our common discourse about race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religious practice, and a host of other categories of human experience. The difference is, when used in public forums, the transgressor will be fired or politically maligned or cancelled or publicly shamed for using them. In contrast, commentators, politicians, preachers, and celebrities of all kinds can pepper their conversation with pejorative references to those who live with mental illness without consequence.
With more resources than ever for communication and connection, we have an epidemic of loneliness. Why?
Perhaps part of the reason for the phenomenon of loneliness in our culture is that we do not entirely understand one another in our differences, and so what can be lonely for one may feel completely replete with connection for another.
Falling—experiencing failure, grief, loss, and despair—is a fact of life for us, as it was for Jesus’ early followers. However, hope inculcates the ability to get back up, again and again. And where there is hope there is resilience. In this way faith, resilience, mental health, and the post-resurrection experience are inextricably connected.
Connected people live longer, happier, healthier lives. Connected societies do too.
One in five Americans live with some form of mental illness. Additionally, 5.5% of Americans suffer with a serious mental health disorder. There is an epidemic in our midst without an easy cure (if one exists).
In the debate about gun violence, let’s stop scapegoating mental illness and do the hard work of coming together to improve gun safety and public health.
Many of us who have survived the past couple of years have come away with significant pandemic-related “brain fog.” Forgetfulness, confusion, agitation, fear, anxiety. You might have encountered a spike in any or all of these and more. The question marks continue to appear as COVID-19 cases come and go in different parts of the world. If you do not seem to be your old, pre-pandemic self, you’re not alone.
Understanding family systems theory helps us to self-differentiate and remember that we are important and valued for who we are as people, as children of God. While we have different skills and gifts for ministry, the burden should not be solely on our clergy or on one group of leaders.
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At The Christian Citizen, we’re passionate about justice, mercy, and faith. We produce award-winning content that is provocative, timely, and relevant. What started more than 25 years ago as a print publication is now a digital-first publication that maintains a commitment to print. More recently, we’ve added a weekly e-newsletter, podcast, and a growing presence on social media. Now, for the first time, we’re adding a member support program—Christian Citizen Ambassadors!
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