Be Gentle

Dearly Beloved,

Thank you so much for the time away! Thanks to everyone who stepped up to lead especially Rev. Elizabeth Endicott who led worship and preached and Paul Heintzleman who is Zoom hosting while Nikki is away. 

Please be sure to bring your backpack/school bag to be blessed this Sunday! You can also bring bags for your kids/grandkids if they can't make it, and if you're worshiping from home, just have your bag with you during our worship time. 

Our theme for this coming Sunday is loving God with all our minds, and I've been doing a little bit of reflecting on what that looks like given the beauty of neurodiversity and the challenge of various mental health conditions. 

Living with post-partum depression for the last couple-few months, I'm aware of the chemical nature of my mind. That sometimes it's not as simple as being "as happy as you decide to be" or thinking my way better. That depression, anxiety and other mental conditions can be genetic, situational, chemical, cyclical or brought on by physical or emotional trauma. These conditions may be with us our whole lives or be something that comes and goes. Either way, they certainly impact how we think, feel, and behave. What does it mean to love God with all our minds when our minds and mental states shift and sometimes cause us great pain or a sense of isolation? 

On a very different note, we are blessed to live in a world of neurodiversity -- our minds are all different. They work differently, processing information, absorbing knowledge, engaging with inner and outer stimuli differently. A little boy that Cora and I spent a lot of time with during her first year of life has been diagnosed with autism in the last year. I am constantly amazed by what this 5 year old can do -- complex mathematics, memorizing countries and their capitals, exploring pattern, shape and size. He can already do things with his mind that Cora will never be able to do. And vice versa. What richness this diversity brings to our world! As a congregation, we have beloved members who are neurodiverse, and this too enriches us and their gifts help our community more closely resemble God's Beloved Community. 

Surely then, loving God with our whole minds means loving God with the minds that we have -- as we are. And holding our differences gently and with gratitude if and as we can. 

Sunday's scripture reading from Philippians 4:4-9 reads, to me, like a prayer, and I think it is aptly chosen (thanks Dana Stanke!) for this Sunday. Here's my paraphrase of verses 5 through 7:
"Be gentle to everyone, yourself included, for God is near. Let go of anxiety by turning your worries over to God in prayer and the practice of gratitude. Then God's peace that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ."

This is my invitation for myself and my prayer for each of you this week -- to be gentle with others and ourselves. To turn to God in prayer and gratitude when we feel anxious. And to trust that God's peace is far greater than we can even imagine and it will keep us safe (mind and heart). May this prayer for ourselves and one another move us towards inner and outer peace and empower us to work for that peace and justice for all people.

In love,
Thandiwe