Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Small Sips Cares About Stuff

Hey. This is important. We're in the midst of Mental Illness Awareness Week:
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger. 
We believe that these issues are important to address year round, but highlighting these issues during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
This week includes the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding this Thursday, some resources for which are included at the link.

There is still an incredible amount of stigma surrounding mental illness which has only been made worse the past few years by media coverage of mass shootings, so it's important to become informed, pray, advocate, and listen.

This is also important. October is Fair Trade Month. Here's some information from two years ago because somebody hasn't been updating their website:
Fair Trade is a market-based approach to fighting poverty.  That means that it only works when you actually buy the stuff.  So make sure you’re holding up your end of the bargain during October! 
Can you make a commitment to purchase at least one Fair Trade Certified product every time you shop?  In addition to try new products, you are voting with your dollars by showing your favorite store that you support Fair Trade.  You are also supporting the hard working farmers who produced the product. 
Another approach is to make one swap in your everyday routine – like trading in your daily cup of coffee or banana for the Fair Trade Certified version.
At the link are ten ways to celebrate and raise awareness for this important issue.

Yup. Ivan at Lucid Theology shares some words that Eugene Peterson has for seminary students:
“I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are.
The words spoken at my ordination still ring clear as a bell to me: "If you think of this as a coronation…get over it." Being a pastor, if the work is taken seriously and on the terms of both God and the people to whom one is sent, is anything but glamorous. There are many moments of joy, affirmation, and providence, but such things are rooted in earthy interactions with real people, gifts and flaws included.

That being said… Carol Howard Merritt shares some thoughts on ministry being a lonely vocation:
But we must have friends. I talk to pastors who are way too depressed and anxious. We drink too much. We have no hobbies. We don’t have a life outside of church. We freak out at the thought of retiring. Our identities are completely wrapped up in our vocation. 
We go to a clergy group, and we find a bunch of preening egos. We sit there as the self-important pastors suck up all the oxygen, telling us about their work and resumes. There’s no air left for any vulnerability, or even friendship. 
Or our pastor-friends remain in relentless problem-solving mode and they can’t handle hearing complaints without delivering a sermonette to us at the end of it. And we want to bang our heads on the table and cry, “I know what to do! I just want a little space to rant as I’m doing it!”
There are a lot of things to be aware of as a pastor, arguably one of the most important being one's own needs for social support outside the church walls. It's so easy to make the congregation one's only social network…and then what happens when you move? Not to mention the boundary issues at play between pastor and those whom he or she serves. This is by far one of the most difficult issues for many clergy, and one to be intentional about addressing.

No, really, this is perfect. Brian Johnson asks, "Do you have spiritual farts?"

You take stuff in, but if you don't let it out, what happens? It makes sense.

Grape juice for some, miniature American flags for others. Reese Roper reflects on his views of alcohol while growing up in an evangelical tradition, and how they eventually evolved:
But that all changed for me at age 26. During a trip to Chicago with a very young Five Iron Frenzy, our not-being-paid-for-anything-but-gas-band had camped out in my Uncle Todd’s back yard. My uncle was not a believer, and I remember carrying this specific burden of wishing to make him think that we were cool, instead of what I’m sure he perceived most of Christianity to be: boring. It was during our first night there, with that thought rattling around inside my head, that he offered us all a cooler full of Budweisers. He thrust one into my hand, and suddenly this fight I had been waging since high school was at an end. I knew that if I were to tell him “no”, or even to waver- just to pridefully keep some personal record of never drinking alive- I would lose. It hit me all at once. Yes, this is it, I thought. This is what friends do.  
And there it is. Jesus Christ, on His last night before His crucifixion is sitting amongst His friends and takes the greatest path to drunkenness mankind has ever known. This is how much I love you. In the midst of a traditional Passover Seder, He takes a simple piece of bread and breaks it, sharing it amongst His closest friends. Remember me when you do this. This is my body. His friends, assembled there tracing the lines that were baked into those pieces of unleavened bread had no idea that the next time they would practice this, they would come to the shocking realization that those lines were metaphorical representations of the suffering they would inflict upon their hero. This is how much I love you. This is my body, broken for you. This is how much I love you.
Mine was a similar path, as I became a Super Serious Christian You Guys in college, my lips barely touched alcohol for most of my time there, both for moral reasons that I can't say I seriously thought about, and because I was worried about what my evangelical friends would think. This began to relax my senior year, and in seminary I reconsidered that alcohol is not in itself an evil thing. Abuse and addiction are evil things (I don't mean addicted people are evil, but the addiction itself), but alcohol is not. The Bible celebrates it as much as anything. Reese well illustrates the positive role that it can play in moderation and as part of community.

FISHMONGER. Here's a video of what it would look like if Shakespearean insults were used today:

Misc. A Church for Starving Artists on aging pastors here, here, and here. Lord, help me to maintain a certain amount of energy when I reach a certain age. Barring that, a certain self-awareness at least. Amen. Brant on his kids becoming young adults. The room got a little dusty while I read it. Jamie with some blogging advice.