Passages on healing appear often in the Bible, giving pastors frequent opportunities to speak about health. But when delivered in the context of modern medicine, where true cures are not always available, the concept of "healing" can be a challenging one for listeners to accept.
Many of you have already seen it, but in case you haven’t: the current issue of Circuit Rider (May/June/July 2010) features three articles on Clergy Health.
Melissa Rudolph writes on the physical health challenges of United Methodist clergy, and gives an overview of the efforts of general boards and different Annual Conferences to meet the challenge.
Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, the research director for the Clergy Health Initiative, recently shared some data from our 2008 survey of North Carolina United Methodist pastors on how clergy bolster their own spiritual lives. The survey question asked:
Is there anything else you do to support your spiritual life in addition to prayer and reading religious literature (apart from your pastoral duties)? This can be something that others would immediately recognize as spiritual, or something that only you know is spiritual for you.
When a colleague at the Divinity School asked me to write on the topic of Christian hope as a further exploration of Gary Gunderson's Leading Causes of Life, my thoughts quickly turned to Dusty Springfield, the British pop singer from the 1960’s (confession: I am a card-carrying Boomer).
Ever seen a United Methodist Church with a confessional?
A friend of mine served one for many years. The donor who paid for the new sanctuary wished to honor her heritage from the Roman Catholic Church, and asked that a confessional be included in the new building, just off the narthex. And so it was, Protestantized a bit, to accommodate confession’s non-sacramental status among Wesleyans.
For many Christians, the season of Lent is all about "giving up." Whether it is desserts, soda, French fries or Facebook, we routinely commit ourselves to various forms of abstinence and self-sacrifice.
The historical practice of "giving up” for Lent has multiple levels of significance. We give up that we might prepare ourselves for the Holy Week journey of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion. We give up that we might be reminded of our sin and need to turn back to God. We give up that we might learn to give over our lives – its pleasures, pains, and practices – to God. Sometimes, we give up because it’s a good excuse for a diet that we haven’t otherwise been able to keep, or breaking a bad habit that we’ve allowed to form.
But what if Lent was about something more than giving up?
Kitchen tables matter. Besides being places where we eat and socialize, they are also the daily site where we learn what it means to be human. If all living things eat, people are privileged to dine, and in dining realize what is best about humanity. The point isn’t simply to ingest food or learn a few manners—as important as these are—but to realize the graces of attention, conversation, and gratitude. Raising children, I know this does not come easily. We all have to learn to eat.
Don't miss this excellent piece, Bedside Manners: The Broken Spirituality of Contemporary US Medical Practice, on the blog Religion Dispatches.
In his book The Last Week, Marcus Borg suggests that Jesus carefully scripted what we call the Triumphal Entry, arriving Jerusalem from the East at the same time Pontius Pilate’s entourage entered from the West, attended by all the pomp and flourish of the Roman Empire.