God of the early morning inhales and the deep evening exhales-
We remember the souls who have gone to the other side of heaven- to your realm, where all souls, or saints as we often call them, bask in your light for all eternity. For your grace which welcomed them from near and far, and your mercy that gave them comfort upon their last breaths, we give you thanks.
We remember the souls who are here among us, dining with us at tables, sharing with us their extravagant love, quarreling with us, challenging us. Through Jesus the Christ, we work to forgive them. And while reconciliation may not happen on this side of heaven, we trust in the healing space of eternity to find everlasting peace.
We nod to the souls of the future who abide with and in the Divine energy. Through their time with God, may they carry wisdom and love into this world when their time comes to abide on this side of heaven. May their love radiate beyond the bounds of heaven to shower our earth with light and love.
In this moment, we know the mouths of people are tearing up the hearts of your children. In this hour, our siblings are crying tears from the hate setting this world on fire. Words melt hope. Words erase progress and possibilities. And as our friends are working to pick themselves up again, more venomous sentiments inflame their weary souls.
In this moment, may we work to build up the hearts of your children. In this hour, may we dry the tears and build joy as we calm the flames of hate. May we build hope in the hearts of our neighbors. May possibilities and progress appear in the visions and dreams of our loved ones again.
For our souls are too weary to worry about what will come next.
God of love, can you awaken us to the ways we enable hate? God of grace, can you fill us with ways that we can extend your mercy? God of hope, can you build a healthy power in each one of us- A power where we walk away from words, and fists, and systems of destruction?
May your loving-kindness surround us like a refreshing stream, Cooling us from hostilities and resentments, And reviving us for the road ahead.
For the first awakened breath we take for this day, we celebrate with you. We pull ourselves out of our slumbers to see where our adventures with you will go.
But first, coffee.
We give much gratitude for the beans that you have produced to give us an elixir of awakeness.
For the smooth (or bitter) tastes that cross our taste buds, we give you gratitude. For the many ways that we can enjoy the fruit of your creation, we give you thanks. For the second and third winds these beverages bring our way, we share our appreciation with you, Holy One.
With our mugs and recycle-able paper cups, we toast our ritual of dawn with you, God of alertness and light.
Invitation May the Spirit of love be with you And may the love of Christ be with you Open wide your cautious hearts. May the hope of our Creator pour peace in our souls. Let us give thanks to the one who created this time and space From our joy we give God thanks and praise.
Prayer of Communion God of the fair winds and bounteous fields, Of the storms overhead and the seas below, With joy we celebrate the connection we have with all of creation “From sea to shining sea,” 1 From the beauteous mountain caps to the rivers winding across the land.
We honor the connection we have with your beings- from the chipmunks scurrying through our yards to the swallows swooping in the air above.
We embrace the relationships with our neighbors near and far- the ones who are close to our hearts, and the ones with whom distance in miles and souls sets us apart.
And so we come to this table: The ones with many opportunities, and those seeking liberty. The ones who have been disregarded and those embraced, knowing that Christ’s welcome receives all. knowing that Jesus the Christ ate with sinners and tax collectors, with those who disapproved and those who leapt for joy, with Judas and Peter, with Mary and Martha, with Philip and Thomas.
And so we too come to the table. The table of God’s freedom. The table of God’s justice and love. The table which reflects the true kingdom, empire, realm of God where all are welcome.
We come to the table remembering the night before Jesus died. As he ate with his followers in a room away from the world, “taking a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant.”2 Whenever we eat and drink at the table, we remember the Christ in our midst.
Spirit of Hope, Holy Winds of Divine Freedom, encircle this bread and cup, Encircle us in our eating and drinking that we may experience the radical love of Christ here today and sharing this care as we journey throughout this week. Amen.
Liturgy (c) Rev. Michelle L. Torigian 2022. Permission to use liturgy with attribution.
1“From sea to shining sea” from America the Beautiful.
This day and always, we send our gratitude for our educators. From the preschool teachers who instilled a love of education from a very early age to the professors who mentored us as we sharpen our crafts, they have reflected your image as a Divine Educator.
Bless the ones who stood by us when life was hard, who listened to our pain that went far beyond the classrooms. May they realize how much their words and moments saved us from our own self-doubts and the torment of bullies.
Bless the ones who taught us information that would impact the rest of our lives and the ones who gifted us information that we never integrate into our callings. May they know that moments of education never are wasted.
Bless the ones who pointed out our talents, who spoke holy words into the world that led us to our callings. May they realize their life-long impact on the ones they taught.
Bless the memories of the ones who have passed on to that side of heaven with you. We thank you for each step walked, each word uttered here on earth. Their gifts will make an impact for generations.
And for the ones who seemed extra frustrated, whose patience ran short and their emotions ran high in the classroom, bless them with the grace they need and healing from tough moments in life.
Whether they impacted our life when we were four or fourteen or thirty-four, their words and gifts build us into the people we are today. For their time and talents, we are forever grateful.
The tension rises into my forehead. Is that where this headache is coming from? The aches in my stomach are new and gnawing. And, God, what is this pain going up my neck? Is it because my shoulders are up by my ears?
Stress has been my unwanted companion for so long. But why is it I wont take the time to deep breathe, to meditate, to walk around the block?
So my mind keeps churning and turning and worrying.
God of each inhale and exhale, be my source of chilling out. Encourage me to find time to release the stress this day and each day hereafter.
The first Wednesday in November is Stress Awareness Day.
As the dawn of a new chapter begins, we yearn for the scenes of yesterday. Our hearts miss the saints who no longer abide with us here on earth. Our souls ache to hear their voices once again, to feel our hands in theirs, to hug them again.
On this All Saints Day, give us the strength to move forward in a world without them. Comfort our grieving hearts. May your peace calm the spasms of our spirit when the grief overtakes us. May beautiful memories accompany us each day of the rest of our lives. Amen.
Our joints stiffen and swell. Radiating pain shoots across our necks, backs, knees, and hands. What aches will tomorrow bring? we ask ourselves. How do we walk one step at a time or fulfill our callings with the limited use of our bodies?
As we mark World Arthritis Day, may the gifts of treatments better our lives. May inflammation decrease and movement increase. May we figure out how to live fully even when various types of arthritis threaten our futures. May your Spirit guide us in the shadows and lead us into the sunlight again.
Like many of you out there, I’ve become a fan of Ted Lasso. (I probably should say that I’m now a superfan of Ted Lasso, considering all of the times I’ve watched the series all the way through.) Ted provides a leadership that is constructive and encouraging of the team – from its owner to the players to all who work for the Richmond team.
There’s a piece of the story that I believe is crucial to write about today, World Mental Health Day. (Friends: this part might contain spoilers, so turn back now if you do not want to know what will happen before the end of season two.)
In the first season (or series, as it’s called in Britain), Ted has a panic attack one night during the team Karaoke event. The owner of the team talks him through his attack, supportive of his struggles from their early days together.
In the second season, Ted has another panic attack during a game. I’m not sure what brings this one on, and I don’t think it really matters to the viewers. The most important piece is that Ted has a panic attack and must face what is happening.
Ted begins to open up to the people closest to him that the reason he left the game was due to a panic attack. And one of his confidants (Nate!) discloses this anxiety event to the press. Up until that point, Ted’s mental health issue is not public knowledge. Yet, Ted decides that talking about it with the world is crucial to bringing an end to the stigma of mental health and sports. In fact, the entire season focuses on mental health, as Dr. Sharon Fieldstone helps out the Richmond players with their own struggles.
What a blessing the story has been for the movement towards mental health. As someone who struggles with anxiety and panic disorders, I identified well with Ted’s journey. (I first wrote about my childhood journey here.) When Nate outs Ted’s panic disorder, I became very angry. “How could he do such a thing! It’s not his story!” I thought to myself. Nate attempted to discredit and shame Ted through sharing such personal information. I didn’t care how much Nate was struggling himself; I was extremely angry that a person used a health struggle to damage the reputation of another human being.
I suppose I felt embarrassed for Ted. I felt the shame that was surrounding him and that others imposed on him. And yet, when it comes down to it, why was there shame? Ted began to address the struggles. Ted went back to work the next day. Ted opened up and spoke about it to normalize the experience.
More people than we realize struggle with mental health issues. From anxiety to depression to personality disorders to being bipolar, many of our neighbors go through temporary and life-long struggles with mental health issues. But in our struggles, we feel alone. We feel like no one else is going through what we are enduring. I felt that way as I child and sometimes as I got older. But then people began to talk about it, and I spoke about it – not just to be transparent in my journey but to help someone else as they go through something similar. I give thanks for my friend Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund who has been an inspiration to me writing about my journey. I find her books Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church as well as Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness and Marriage incredibly important for progressive Christianity. Like Dr. Lund, I am encouraging of anyone enduring mental health issues to seek help through a counselor and medication as well as other self-care activities. And like Dr. Lund (and Ted Lasso!), I am open to sharing my story as well.
Again, you can read something I wrote years ago here. But also, I’ve written a chapter in the forthcoming book When Kids Ask the Hard Questions, Volume 2: More Faith-Filled Responses for Tough Topics (edited by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Karen Ware Jackson). This chapter includes encouragement for parents to seek help if their child has anxiety or any other mental health issue. Children or adults should not feel alone in their journey, and if I can help one person feel less alone, then sharing my story is well worth it. I highly encourage you to check out this book because of the myriad of topics included. Children and parents should never feel alone in any struggles.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:
“ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
Today, to use the phraseology of Paul, I boast of this weakness of mine. I boast not from pride, but because I feel free and light in being able to tell my story. I boast because I see the presence of God in my weakness, and my relationships with God and others have grown closer in this vulnerable state. And that means, like Paul, seeking contentment in this very vulnerable moment and becoming transparent will hopefully bring strength to the entire body of Christ.
So today, on World Mental Health Day, I celebrate the stories of others who became a little vulnerable to be honest so that others feel less alone. And I celebrate my story – because it shows both my vulnerability and resilience, knowing through baby steps and the strength of God finding a wholeness is possible.
As we stop to ponder the past, we recall the ones who placed their lives on pause to risk, to strengthen and nurture the spirit of our country.
With gratitude today, we remember our veterans. For many, the wars aren’t over. For many, trauma is relived day after day. For many the pain in their bodies and their missing limbs remind them of the horrors of war.
Can we thank them enough? Can we create a world in which war is rare? Can we ensure their post-war care is strong and fruitful?
For their risks, for their sacrifices, we honor them. For the veterans who are now our saints, we celebrate their memories with love.
May peace abide in their hearts. May comfort claim their souls. May we see that our lives are connected to their efforts, and their care is essential to the Body of Christ being whole.