pastoral care, Pastoral Presence, pastoral psychology

Words I Hear as a Chaplain

Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve been trying my best to listen to each word, inflection, and ways employees are communicating. I’m convinced that it’s in these words and communion that something holy is happening. Yes, there is pain and loss. But there is also marks of God’s presence nearby. Just gotta look underneath the text, what some call the sacred subtext.

Every word and phrase someone shares is revealing the life material. It’s my work to listen and unpack it with them.

As a corporate chaplain, I’m thinking about the workplace context, the person’s context, and the God of context. All of these have an interplay. And we discover God’s presence and activity in the words, deeds, and life of an employee. So here are some of the words and phrases (they’re mixed for anonymity) some have used during the pandemic:

“I’m tired of waking up each day, not knowing what else is unknown”

“I wanted to quit…”

“Losing my job and getting it back showed me how much I really value work”

“Fear, stress, and anxiety are contagious like a virus. They’re just always buzzing in the air.”

“Lord, give us emotional/mental/spiritual distance from fear and anxiety. Give us six feet apart, masks, and hand sanitizer so that we won’t be infected with the fear of the unknown”

A couple lost both jobs and needs help to stay afloat.

“You’re always listening to us complain….how’s your family”

“When are things going back to normal?”

“I’ve been listening to this band…It gives me hope”

“Did you know about [insert latest conspiracy theory]…”

“Lord, hear our prayers”

“My kids are driving me crazy!”

“I’m getting to be closer to my kids. Never had this kind of time with them”

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pastoral care, Pastoral Counseling, pastoral psychology, Pastoral Theology, spiritual formation

Advent Hope

Psychology has done a wonderful job of giving us words and concepts such as vulnerability and the false or shadow self to talk about our weaknesses.

The AA or 12 step program starts with the admission of powerlessness.

The Bible starts (in Genesis) with two concepts of humanity:

  1. Original goodness
  2. Original sin

We need a way of looking at both our God given identity (of original goodness) and admitting our sins (the shadow self). It’s how we become most human and reflect a divine image in this world.

The appointed prayer of the week during the Advent season helps us to be vulnerable about our sins but also looks toward the coming of Christ in our lives so that we might reflect a new “original goodness” identity. We admit that our powerless to be this new type of original goodness person and need help from a Higher Power.

Prayer

“Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.†”

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culture, gun regulations, pastoral care, pastoral psychology, Uncategorized

For Research: Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR

This article is a great plan and resource for reducing violence and gun related issues. Posting it for future use.

Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR
— Read on www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/03/07/590877717/experts-say-here-s-how-to-prevent-the-next-school-shooting

And, these experts say, you remove the major “environmental hazard” that contributes to gun violence: the guns. The eight-point plan calls for universal background checks, a ban on assault-style weapons, and something called Gun Violence Protection Orders: a type of emergency order that would allow police to seize a gun when there is an imminent threat.

What sets this call to action apart from other policy proposals is not gun control, however, but the research-based approach to violence prevention and response. This is a long haul, say the experts, not a quick fix.

“No matter what you try to do by just hardening the target, we’ve learned that having the armed officers isn’t necessarily going to stop it,” says Matthew Mayer at Rutgers. “Having the metal detector or the locked doors isn’t going to stop it. The hard work is a lot more effort. You’d better start thinking in a more comprehensive manner about prevention instead of reacting.”

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lent, pastoral care, Pastoral Counseling, pastoral psychology

Homily – God’s Unfailing Love towards the “idiot”

andre-hunter-350301-unsplash

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Liturgical Readings for the day:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022318.cfm

Three readings tying three themes of sin, forgiveness, and God’s unfailing love.

In Ezekiel 18, the writer begins with listing a set of behaviors that are considered sinful, worthy of death because the act themselves cause pain and sorrow for others.

In Matthew 5, Jesus has started listing his “10 commandments” and continues the prophet’s line of thought and spelling out what is considered harmful and wrong.  The commandment, “You shall not murder” is reinterpreted in Jesus as “You shall not WANT to murder.”

In Ezekiel 18:31, the Lord offers a remedy:  a new heart AND mind.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus focusing on the motive of the heart.

Thoughts, heart, and behavior are all connected.  And somehow God’s faithful presence, as well as the faithful, loving presence of others in our lives, have something to do with how we live among one another.

The themes of sin, forgiveness, and God’s unfailing love are very present in our lives each day.  During the Lenten season, I am confronted with my own heart/mind/motives, attentive to all the interior rooms, where there is light AND darkness.  God’s unfailing love gives me the courage and ability to reflect inwardly and confess the darkness and need for change.

I am also aware of my need for a spiritual community to help me live as unto the Lord and his unfailing love in our lives.  Our culture tends to live isolated from one another, leaving us influenced by our own thoughts and whatever we’re exposed to (i.e. video games, netflix, youtube, tv, etc).  Not all of it is “bad”.  I enjoy a good “netflix and chill” with my bae.  But I’m also aware of how easily I’m influenced.  I’m aware how I can be tempted to pick a side on an online debate that mostly gets me in trouble.  I’m aware of the constant barrage of sexual fantasizing that media sources convey.  I’m aware of violent images that I’m exposed to, making me feel like others are “stupid, idiotic fools” (for context, read Matthew 5:22.  The word “raca” is stupid/idiot/fool).

Ezekiel reminds us that it’s not God’s doing that we’re in broken situations.  It’s our unjust ways.  The remedy is always a return to a God who is unfailing in love, ready to give new hearts and minds in full redemption.

Lord, we confess the anger in our hearts towards others.  We ask that you heal our broken hearts that we might be reconciled to you and one another.  Amen.

 

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