(This week’s mid-week devotional is from Janine Kanagy)
Dear Weavers Congregation,
Thanks for loving Henry.
When Phil and I began attending Weavers ten years ago, I was delighted to know that Henry Brenneman attended here. Henry was part of the community-based program with Pleasant View Inc., where I have worked the past 13 years, and I was his case coordinator at that time. Occasionally in his planning meetings, Henry talked about Weavers, and it was apparent that he was very committed to his church, and to attending worship and Sunday School weekly, and that it was a place where Henry felt he belonged. Henry looked forward to special events like fellowship meals and our annual church campout. He especially liked observing the creek-baptisms. Henry truly felt like this was his church family and that he was a part of us. Thank you for making a place for him, for making him feel included, and helping him feel like family.
This spring I audited a class at Eastern Mennonite Seminary on “Spirituality and Disabilities.” One of the many things we talked about in that class was evaluating how well our faith communities integrate persons with disabilities—both in attitude and in accessibility of our building space. As a couple of classmates shared of church buildings and worship gatherings that were less then welcoming of persons with disabilities, I became even more grateful for the way that Weavers has made a home for Henry. Many of you provided transportation for him to and from church for many years. Others have welcomed and integrated Henry into your Sunday School class, and many of you greeted him weekly and welcomed him to church, even though you probably struggled to understand his attempt to return the greeting or to converse at length.
Two long-standing members of our congregation have died in recent weeks. Ron Deputy died on May 5 at his home—in his sleep, not from COVID-19, so far as anyone knows. Henry Brenneman died on May16 from complications due to COVID-19. Henry also had underlying health conditions that made him more vulnerable to the virus once infected. For both Ron and Henry, there was only a private graveside service. Their respective families still hope for memorial services and celebrations of life later on, if possible—once the virus is more under control. But no one knows when that might be.
Resilience: the capacity to recover from difficulties. Resilience is what gives people the mental and psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It is the mental reservoir of strength that people call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart. Resilient people are better able to handle adversity and rebuild their lives after a disaster, a setback, or some other hardship. They find a way to change course (if needed), emotionally heal, and rebuild their lives.
Hope and reassurance are at the heart of Psalm 23. This beloved Psalm is decidedly more about life in the now than it is about life after death. It’s rooted in the real-life circumstances and experiences of a real shepherd in Middle Eastern Palestine, tending sheep that required constant attention, and where ample pasture and water could be hard to find. Tending flocks meant venturing about widely in search of life’s basic necessities for sheep—not in sprawling flat and fertile fields, but on rocky hillsides with sparse vegetation that cause us westerners to wonder how in the world shepherds could raise sheep in such a place?! Yet even in such circumstances, the Psalm writer testifies, the shepherd found abundance for the sheep. And likewise, our heavenly Shepherd does for us exactly what the shepherd does for the sheep—provides food, water, guidance, protection, and care in so many ways.