June 2018

RW 128
THEME: Mental Health
Reformed Worship Issue 128 cover

Articles in this issue:

  • Last night I was offered mulberry sauce for my cheesecake and I felt myself recoil. It’s not that I don’t like mulberry sauce. I have never even tasted mulberry sauce. But I used to have a mulberry tree in my backyard—a lovely mulberry tree that dropped big, juicy, purple berries all over my yard and left behind a fermenting wasteland of purple juice. The mess—the stench! My daughter was six months old, getting ready to crawl, and I envisioned a future of purple handprints and footprints all over my home. Before the next summer that tree was down.

  • The parables of the kingdom that Jesus told are word pictures that entreat the hearers to engage the imagination and visualize the story.

  • Most worship services regularly include preaching examples and prayers for people living with physical illnesses. Do your worship services regularly include people living with mental illnesses in these same ways? If not, why not? If so, what language is used for people who live with mental illnesses? Are psychological disorders or symptoms named? Are themes of human struggle and resilience, lament and hope included in your services?

  • I work as a chaplain at a private, nonprofit, intentionally Christian agency that offers residential treatment for boys and girls ages seven to nineteen. The majority of the residents are wards of the state, waiting to be adopted or to enter foster care. On average, the youth stay in the program six to eighteen months, allowing for significant relationships to be built. I offer spiritual care to the clients through pastoral counseling, weekly worship services, Bible studies, and off-campus volunteer opportunities.

  • In one of the congregations I served, a friend of mine went through the training to become a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministers work alongside the church’s elders and pastors in providing pastoral care to members of the congregation. One week the training focused on how to handle mental health issues. The training was given by an expert from a local Christian mental health hospital, and among the topics covered that week were depression but also more severe chronic conditions including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

  • Lord, you are the great Healer.
    Today we pray for those who live with mental illnesses.
    For those crippled by depression and anxious feelings,

    bring healing, bring peace.

    For those who suffer from the high and lows of severe mood swings,

    bring healing, bring peace.

    For those who are tormented by voices and hallucinations,

    bring healing, bring peace.

    For those who find it difficult to cope with tasks of daily living,

    bring healing, bring peace.

  • Psalms 139 and 88

    Psalm 139 is a testimony to God’s unlimited capacity to know us and to be present with us. Psalm 88, by contrast, is a psalm of lament and unrelenting darkness and is the only psalm that does not include a vow of praise or a statement of hope.

    Yet Psalm 139 contains surprising verses of imprecation asking for God’s vengeance, and even amid the darkness of Psalm 88 the psalmist cries out to the God believed to be his Savior.