Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts

Friday, July 8, 2016

Praying for All the Victims: Call From the American Baptist Home Mission Societies

We the pastor and congregation of Lansdowne Baptist Church stand by and pray for all who are grieving following the horrible events of the past few days. We are brokenhearted. It is hard to speak out in the face of such violence, such hate, but we must. We Christians do not believe that hate gets to win. We have faith in what we have been taught by Jesus and we work for the triumph of love over hatred, bringing peace and joy in its wake. We work for justice for all people. 

In response to all the death and violence in the past few days, from the deaths of Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile, St. Paul, Minnesota, in police hands to the deaths of five police officers and the wounding of seven others protecting peaceful protesters in Dallas, Texas, at the hand of a sniper or snipers, we are called to prayer. Prayer involves active communication with God, the transformation of ourselves as a result, and then taking direct, positive, peaceful actions following those prayers. We pray for an end to all the mindless hatred swirling through the country, poisoning people's minds, hearts, and spirits. We pray for an end to racism, fear, and the us vs. them mindset that caused so much death and destruction. 

As the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:9: "Do not do evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called--that you might inherit a blessing." We need to temper our responses, remembering what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." 

Finally, let us follow the example Jesus called us to follow in the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37

25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 

American Baptist Home Mission Societies calls for a season of prayer. We at LBC support this wholeheartedly. See their post: http://www.abc-usa.org/2016/07/08/a-call-to-prayer/?utm_content=buffera01ba&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Standing with the People of Paris

We at Lansdowne Baptist Church stand with the people of Paris as they grieve their losses. We pray for all who are suffering and afraid in the wake of terrorism worldwide. You are not alone.

We also grieve and pray over what has been done in Beirut, Lebanon.

Additionally, we pray for the safety of all the refugees fleeing the terror in Syria, for whom these horrid acts of terrorism make life so much more difficult far from home.

For the response of our denomination, American Baptist Churches, USA, please see: http://www.abc-usa.org/2015/11/14/prayers-requested-following-attacks/ 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Are You Afraid



Based on Jesus calming the wind and waves at night for the disciples as found in Mark 4:35-41. Asks each of us to decide how we will live in this life: in faith or in fear. Included is a discussion of the events at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, in light of this passage. 

We stand with our brothers and sisters who mourn but bravely forgive and continue to keep their church open after this horrendous attack. The hate, the racism, the violence need to end. We must all play our part.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Suicide Prevention

Following the awful news of comedian and actor Robin Williams's suicide, there were some truly wonderful remembrances. There was some horrid disinformation and a profound ignorance on the nature of suicide and its victims on display. Awful judgments were passed that were painful to not only Mr. Williams’ family and friends, but to everyone who has ever lost a loved one or friend to suicide. Here is some information you can use instead.

If you are contemplating suicide yourself, please stop. You are a much loved child of God and this is not the solution you are looking for. Seek help. Reach out to others and allow them to help you. Here is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). As they state on the Lifeline website: “You aren’t alone. No matter who you are or what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn’t the answer. We want to help you find hope.”

All of us Christians are called to follow Jesus. Jesus came for everyone, had compassion for all, and healed the sick, including those suffering from mental illness. Here are signs someone is considering suicide.

  1. Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
  2. Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a weapon.
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  4. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  5. Talking about being a burden to others.
  6. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  7. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  8. Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  9. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  10. Displaying extreme mood swings.
Not everyone caught up in these crises of the mind are able to seek help for themselves. We, as members of the priesthood of all believers, need to be willing to step up and get someone help if the signs are strong. We need to risk looking foolish with stakes this high.

Wishing you all God's peace.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Helping Those Who Grieve For Lost Loved Ones

Over the years, under a pen name, I have written a number of posts on faith issues, including how to help those who are suffering through grief. I will, from time to time, add a few of those posts, appropriately edited, to the Lansdowne Baptist Church blog site. Here are some suggestions on how to help those who grieve, both adults and children. 

First, on assisting adults: here are some things to know (care of the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling) about grief and what you can do to help others.

We've all heard grief has stages. They are, in the modern understanding:

  • Numbness and denial: involved in the first five to seven days; 
  • Yearning intensely and painfully for the one (or ones) who has died, which includes preoccupation with that individual, searching, illusions of seeing that person, dreams, fantasies, hallucinations, self-reproach, identification with the behaviors, activities and illness of the dead, and suicidal feelings and thoughts. This lasts for weeks;
  • Disorganization and despair where other emotions dim, apathy and aimlessness set in, and an inability to see a positive future rises like a malign fog. This can last for over a year.
  • Reorganization is the final, sought for stage, in which the grieving person shifts their energies from the dead and begins to see a hopeful future without that person in it. After thirteen months most had not yet reached this stage. 
These are stages each grieving person must go through to heal and our job as friends and loved ones for the grieving is to understand and stand by that person. Assure the grieving that they are not losing their minds and that they will come through the process. It is natural. God intends for us to help those who grieve find their way through this natural process of grief using our love and understanding. 

Here are a few concrete steps you can take to assist the grieving: 
  1. Understand the process and make yourself familiar with the stages.
  2. Visit the grieving often as love is shown by your presence. 
  3. Help the grieving person to express himself or herself by asking about what has taken place and by responding with empathy (don't try to fix the situation, remember Job's friends who got it right by being their for 7 days, but then messed up by trying to fix Job's grief with their recommendations).
  4. Prior to funerals, a pastor will help families talk about the person lost, triggering their memories and allowing the minister to gain information about both the departed and the bereaved. You can help your grieving friends or loved ones by encouraging discussion and remembrance of their lost loved one. 
  5. What is extremely hard today is to allow a person sufficient time to grieve. 
  6. Each grieving family member needs to be helped with equal care and love. 
That's a start. This will help you not to feel helpless and to act as a guiding beacon for those who grieve. Do not worry about what you will say. In the midst of grief, the person in pain will not remember what you said, only that you were there and he/she will love you for it. Be present, be loving, offer a listening ear, offer hope that the person is sane and will in time come through this long, painful process, emphasizing that they will do so in their own time. 

Moving on to assisting younger people: children have heard a lot more about death than we'd like to think. Pictures and stories of death are found on television shows, radio programs, and in newspapers daily. We can be careful, but we can't entirely stop a child from overhearing at least some of these dire stories. Then a pet dies, or distant relation, or a political or religious leader ... and children hear about it some more. 

Returning to the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling (pp. 475-476), there are three stages of understanding children have about death. In short: from 3 to 5 children are likely to deny death's permanence. They consider death like sleep and since they die and rise every night and morning, why shouldn't everybody else? From 5 to 9, children accept the concept someone has died but don't understand this is a universal event that everyone experiences personally eventually. Finally, at age 9 or 10, like Adam and Eve, children discover they too are mortal.

Here's what the DPCC recommends clergy do, and I recommend it for parents as well: 

1. Do not avoid the topic of personal death (denial never helps).
2. Do not discourage emotions of grief.
3. Do not tell a child a euphemism, half-truth, etc. Honesty, though painful, is best. 
4. Do share your religious convictions as to faith, God, immortality, prayer, and death. 
5. Surround the grieving with supportive people who will model God's love and presence for them.
6. Remember that the process of adjustment to the loss takes far longer than the funeral to occur. 
7. Be human: express your own emotions of grief. Don't be afraid to shed a tear when dealing with a child in pain. 

God bless you as you seek to help your suffering family, friends, or those you have just met.

For a related article on anxiety, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/06/coping-with-anxiety-through-faith.html