The Scripture Readings this week are:
- Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
- Lamentations 3:19-26
- Psalm 79 (VU p.793)
Early Thoughts: Have you ever felt that the world, or more precisely YOUR world, was falling to pieces around you? Have you or a loved one struggled with depression?
Arguably Jeremiah did. Tradition tells us that Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in response to the disaster of the fall of Jerusalem. We even have a word, jeremiad, that comes from his laments.
The UCCan worship resource Gathering had this suggestion for this week:
Sermon StarterNormally I don't use many of the sermon starter suggestions in Gathering (often I find myself wondering where that idea came from). But this one struck me as something that needed to be done.
Last week the passage we read from Jeremiah described the desolation of the land. This week we read about the desolation of the people, perhaps an appropriate time to inform and educate the congregation about the issue of mental illness in our communities and country. Goodness knows, enough people in the pews are dealing with issues of mental illness including stress, anxiety, and depression, but they are probably suffering in silence. It’s time to open the discussion. (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (www.camh.ca) has information, statistics, and resources.) As the people of Jeremiah’s time found, it can be impossible to hold on to faith in the midst of depression, grief, and anxiety. Talk about the role of the faith community in being the strength and hope of faith for someone at a time in their life when they can’t hold on to faith.
Last time I checked (I have to do some research this week for current information) prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications were increasing steadily. Mental health issues are arguably reaching epidemic (or even pandemic) levels. And to be honest the church has not always been helpful in response.
I hunch that we all know someone (relative, friend, co-worker) who has had struggles with depression or anxiety (or both). Some of us are that person. Sometimes it is a short "episode" sometimes it lasts for years, sometimes it is lifelong. AS a community of faith how can we help each other in our struggles? Can we help find the Balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole?