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Mental Wellness

Do not approach the Lord with a divided mind. (Wisdom of Sirach 1:28)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
It is not a subject that many people are comfortable talking about. Fortunately, thank God, that is changing.  But there is still a stigma, partially due to ignorance and partially due to fear.  If we are willing to confront both of these obstacles with Truth, then we can have a meaningful conversation about mental wellness.
Note that I am starting from a place of health, because that is where God is.  When we start from a place of sickness or abnormality, it literally infects the conversation from the very start and limits our ability to trust that God is in the midst of whatever situation we are facing.  This is not easy, especially for those of us who have dealt with those suffering from illnesses of the mind, like depression, schizophrenia or addiction.  It is impossible …

Can I get a Witness?

A couple weeks ago during our Patronal Feast worship, we proclaimed various aspects of our life together as the community of St. Barnabas that we value – acceptance, inclusivity, fellowship, food (!), music, worship, support for each other to name a few. Can I get an “AMEN!”? These are wonderful ways of how we demonstrate our commitment to our live as disciples of Christ and our commitment to support each other in our journeys of faith.  Let’s dare to take this one step further.  How have you witnessed these (or other) values played out in the community?  A couple of people offered short explanations of why these values were named, but in the context of the sermon, we didn’t have the time to offer longer stories about particular times when these values were exemplified.  So take a moment right now. Think about your time at St. Barnabas and allow your heart to remind you of a time then you felt nurtured or challenged in your life in Christ. What was happening?  Who was involved? How…

Our Patronal Feast

Yes, “patronal” is a churchy word since it is not used in many other contexts (and should not be confused with the Patronus charm from Harry Potter, but I digress).  It is the adjectival form of the word “patron” and, in this case, refers to the patron saint of our church, i.e. St. Barnabas. I think it is wonderful tradition to name a community of believers in remembrance of persons of faith.  Many of these people have been given the title of “saint” for their extraordinary life and are usually remembered on the day of their deaths in the Church calendar.  Often times a church is dedicated on the feast day of a specific saint and hence takes on the name of that saint.  Such is the case of St. Barnabas. A faithful community of believers gathered together on June 11, 1872 (June 11th is the feast day of St. Barnabas) and dedicated themselves to living as disciples of Christ in this area of New Jersey, along the Route 1 corridor.  In the 145 years since its inception, several buildings…

Speak in the Tongue of Men and Angels

I decided NOT to do something this year that is very popular in our Church culture (even beyond St. Barnabas).  In many churches I have attended over the years, the Day of Pentecost showcased the various languages people in the congregation could speak, reading all or part of the Gospel in another language, or perhaps the passage from the book of Acts, or just the verse, “Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21. For many years I thought this was a great way to celebrate the diversity of people that had come to know the Lord.  I even offered my feeble attempts at speaking Spanish and Koine Greek, feeling like a bit of an impostor since I am not fluent in either of those languages.
To be honest, there was always something about this event that made me anxious, but I couldn’t articulate it.  There was some trepidation about making sure everyone who agreed to speak would be there and have a translation they could read (not that most of the other people…

Essentially Ascension

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My inner seven-year-old always giggles a bit when seeing two dangling feet in church iconography – usually in a church dedicated to the Feast of the Ascension. It is a bit humorous to depict this momentous occasion with just Jesus’s feet, seemingly detached from the rest of his body, as he ascended into heaven.  And while it would have been the last part of him that was visible from the ground, the symbols look like someone is waiting to play “This little piggy” on wiggly toes rather than bidding a final farewell to our Lord and Savior. Perhaps the most neglected feast of the Church calendar – partially because it always is on a Thursday – the Ascension is a critical moment in church history, but difficult to get excited about. Jesus in his earthly form (whatever that was post-Resurrection) leaves his disciples and they really wish he wouldn’t.  If it were up to them, they would have held onto him like static cling and made a Jacob’s Ladder all the way to the right hand of the Fathe…

Reiki

Some of you know that I practice Reiki and am now a Reiki Master.  I have trained with Beth Scibienski, the Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church down the street from St. Barnabas, at their Wellness Center, where we also have a weekly Reiki share. 
The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means "God's Wisdom " and Ki which is "life force energy", or what Christians would call the Holy Spirit. So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy." It is also how I understand how Jesus healed. In Mark 5: 25-34, we hear the story of a woman who suffered from hemorrhages who touched Jesus, “Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’”  There is a palpable essence to the presence of the Spirit that Jesus reports, and it is something that I feel as well when I practice Reiki.
I cannot guarantee that I can offer absolute physical healing like Jesus, but I have…

Death and Taxes

Because April 15th – the day our federal income taxes are due - was on a Saturday this year and Easter was that Sunday, we got a reprieve for a couple of days. I made an ill attempt at humor in my Easter Sermons about this reprieve, saying that while both death and taxes are inevitable, at least we don’t have to worry about them until Tuesday.
The other truth about death and taxes is that they both need to be planned for.  Many spend lots of time, energy and even money to owe less in taxes, but few use any resources to plan for death.  It is understandable.  It is not a pleasant subject and there is always something else that seems more pressing – that sock drawer won’t organize itself!  And yet we do a disservice to our loved ones when they are left to make decisions that they may feel ill-qualified to do or create tension when opinions differ within the family of what should happen.
National Healthcare Decisions week was April 16-22, the 1st week of Easter, and I’m disappointed I l…