Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu and Faith Communities

My friends at HopeandHealing.org have compiled articles related to swine flu and what the faith community can do. Be sure to take a look at Churches Respond to Swine Flu.

You can also find a good link the CDC’s swine flu site from an earlier post on this blog.

Easter 4 – Acts 4:8-10

From Acts 4:8-10 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.”

In verses prior to these, Peter had healed a crippled man who would sit at a gate to the Temple and beg for money from those entering. Healing was an integral part of the Apostles’ ministry as it was in Jesus’. Yet, the acts of healing were also seen as radical and disruptive to the religious authorities of the time. Those of us in the faith and health movement continue to find ways to practice this radical hospitality toward our brothers and sisters today.

Prayer:

Healer God, may we be healing presences to those who come before us today. AMEN.

Easter 4 – 1 John 3:17-18

1 John 3:17-18 – How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

1 John 3:18 is one of my favorite passages first introduced to me twenty years ago. For me, it is simply not enough to believe. Our faith should change us…make us act differently toward one another.

Prayer:

Loving God, as we grapple with our faith, help us see our neighbor in a new light, as a child of God. AMEN.

Did You Know? Table – May

This is the second month of providing you with ideas for your own congregation’s Did You Know? table. This is a simple and effective way any congregation can get out needed health information to the members of its faith community. You can check out my introductory post as well as the post for April. Simply check out the Did You Know? Tables category.

May is:

Mental Health Month: The site Mental Health Ministries offers a wide range of fact and information sheets and bulletin inserts that you may print out and share with your faith community. The National Alliance on Mental Illness supports FaithNet, which includes an explanation of eight steps a congregation should follow when establishing a ministry to those with mental illness.

American Stroke Month: While stroke can affect any of us, it is a health disparity in the African American community. This link to the National Stroke Association offers good information for your table including a High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet and brochure on reducing stroke in African Americans. You can also find NSA’s home page from this link. You can also find good information from the American Heart Association.

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month: I wrote a reflection for HopeandHealing.org last month on asthma as a part of that sites Earth Day observance. If you haven’t already, I hope you will read, “Think Earth Day, Act Locally.” Asthma Answers Online offers a helpful fact sheet, and based in Atlanta, Not One More Life partners with communities of faith to bring asthma education and awareness to people where they worship.

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month: With the arrival of summer, it is time for all of us to be reminded about skin cancer. Fact sheets are available from both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Melanoma Foundation.

There are many other obervances in May which may affect members of your faith community including National Arthritis Awareness Month, National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and Lupus Awareness Month.

Good luck with your Did You Know? table in May.

Easter 4 – 1 John 3:16

From 1 John 3:16 – We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

Would you die for a member of your family? I know many of you would immediately say, “Of course!.” But would you die for your neighbor? Consider today what it means to live sacrificially toward your neighbor, especially the neighbor who is actually a stranger.

Prayer:

Gracious God, many people will come before us or pass by us this day. Help us see each of them with your eyes. AMEN.

Swine Flu

With the nation being brought to alert about Swine Flu, I wanted to share with my readers the website from the Centers for Disease Control which gives numerous links to additional information and prevention tips. Congregations are wonderful places to disseminate reliable health information. As public spaces, congregations must also be mindful of ways to minimize the potential spread of diseases such as Swine Flu.

You should also check out my more recent post on churches responding to swine flu.

Easter 4 – Psalm 23:1-2

We are approaching the fourth Sunday of this Easter season. The lectionary selections for this week include: Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18.

From Psalm 23:1-2 – The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters…

I bet most of you reading the first two verses of Psalm 23 went ahead and completed it by saying the other four verses to yourself. If praying publicly or if someone asking you to pray for them makes you nervous or uncomfortable, consider simply using the 23rd Psalm as your prayer. It is a wonderful prayer for many situations.

Prayer:

Almighty God, help me this and every day to be a better shepherd for my brothers and sisters. AMEN.

The Season of Resurrection

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Easter 3 – Luke 24:39-42

From Luke 24:39-42 – And when [Jesus] had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

I love to eat. I can tell when I am really sick, because I have absolutely no interest in food. When I can eat again, I know I am well. To me, Jesus is showing his disciples through the seemingly simple act of eating that his body and his spirit are one.

Prayer:

Almighty God, thank you for the gift of our wonderful bodies. May we find strength in you as we strive to be better stewards of all our gifts from you. AMEN.

Easter 3 – 1 John 3:2

From 1 John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

As much as any other idea in scripture, our relationship as brothers and sisters informs my understanding of our responsibility toward one another. I know I often fall short in this regard, but I think that is why it is called a faith journey.

Prayer:

Steadfast God, thank you for standing by us even when we are prone to wander. AMEN.

Easter 3 – 1 John 3:1a

From 1 John 3:1a – See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.

Happy Earth Day 2009! While it ages me, I remember the green “e” (it may have been a Greek theta, Θ) of that first Earth Day in 1970. As brothers and sisters of one another, I hope you will take a moment today to think of this home we share called Earth and determine one more way you can help care for it.

Prayer:

Creator God, thank you for green grass, snow-capped peaks, emerald green seas and clear blue skies. Help us be good stewards of this amazing abundance you have entrusted to us. AMEN.

Easter 3 – Psalm 4

From Psalm 4:3-4 – But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds and be silent.

When I read these verses I thought of the quote by Thomas Jefferson, “When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” It is so easy to act on impulse, especially in those most trying times in our lives, but we are reminded to pause and let God inform our actions.

Prayer:

Understanding God, you are with us always, and for that, we thank you. Help us be better listeners to you. AMEN.


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