Advent Resources from the Mental Health Initiative, 2018
The NBA Mental Health Initiative Resource Task Team shares these Advent resources to encourage and sustain those journeying life with mental illness during the holiday and winter season. Follow this page throughout Advent, as additional resources will be added in the coming days and weeks!
Lost in the Middle: by Rev. Amy Grogan
During the Christmas season, we may participate in the annual traditions of putting up a Christmas tree or lighting Advent candles, but not have the disposition expected of us. We may be hurting, anxious or depressed, feel drained or disconnected. We may be struggling with mental illness. Whatever the reason, what we are experiencing lies outside the cultural norms. We feel as if we don’t belong. Mary and Joseph chose to go against the norms, but we do not choose to suffer. Like them, we are enduring an arduous time, but like them there is reason to hope.
Already, but Not Yet: by Rev. Tracy Siegman
There is an ‘already but not yet’ of the Christian faith that is especially evident at Christmas. The world celebrates that Christ has come and acknowledges that Christ is yet to come again. Year after year, I cling to the ‘not yet’ promise of faith. … The season is especially difficult as a pastor who feels the pressure to plan a meaningful worship experience for Christmas Eve that will ignite the light within our hearts and make everyone feel like a child again. Thank God I’m a planner and planned a Christmas Eve service in late October. When I’m gathering with my flock on Christmas Eve, all I will have to offer is a calm assurance of the truth we all know: the Christ will come again.
This Joy That I Have: A Personal Reflection of Joy in the Midst of Grief: by Rev. Angela Whitenhill
Regardless of when our loss occurred, or what type of loss we had, it is very common to feel the effects of that loss during the holiday season. Which is all the more reason to acknowledge and talk openly about our real experiences this holiday season – knowing that in the spirit of Advent, the living God can reach us wherever we truly are. … The incredible joy that comes when witnessing the movement of God in the midst of tragedy is one of the most beautiful and costly gifts I’ve ever received: a priceless knowing that can never be unknown. So how does one find or maintain joy in the midst of grief, loss, and heartbreak? The opportunities are endless. Here are a few revelations I’ve come to through my own grief journey. I encourage you to share your own.
Please share your experience of joy in the midst of grief in the comments below!
Advent Reflection on Love, and Planning a Service of Healing: by Amie Vanderford
Love is one of those words that is bandied about rather haphazardly, and often without a great deal of depth behind it. This saddens me, as love is actually the greatest force in the universe. The force of love brought God down to be among us, both in the bodily form of Jesus Christ, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom that whispers to each of us still today. It is that type of love that is required to heal the brokenhearted, and the scars of the traumatized. This is the love that called me to plan a service of healing around survivors of abuse because many people often lack access to such accepting and safe forms of love. While we each need to heal individually, there is also an innate need in each of us to find healing love in relationship in community. In communities of love, we represent the power of God’s healing love in this world.