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.
Browsing the internet recently for resources that address the health of our interior lives, I randomly came across this list of Spiritual Practices intended to cultivate our spiritual well-being. I’ve modified and adapted some for our purposes, but they offer practical things we can do to create openings for God’s Spirit to enter and refresh our spirits. You may be drawn to some more than others, and that’s OK.
Menno Media has been collecting written and recorded pieces from pastors and leaders around the church in the U.S. and Canada, and sharing them as an encouragement during these difficult days. The following reflection is from Jim Lapp of Lititz, PA.
Loving God, we find ourselves asking the meaning of this time that has been thrust upon us. We wonder:
Is it about slowing down?
Is it about becoming more dependent on you?
Is it to stimulate the church to more creativity and resilience in how we practice community?