Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 NRSV).
Since the global pandemic was declared in March 2020, many of us have endured extended emotional and psychological anguish. That experience may be dramatically worsened by the ugly realities of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or poverty. Our anguish has taken the form of sadness in isolation, anxiety in uncertainty, grief over loss, stress over economic challenges and worry over events beyond our control — including the tremendous impact of the crisis on our children. This pandemic threatens our mental health just as much as our physical health. For millions of us adults living in the United States, receiving the vaccine and the hope it brings has alleviated our unease, sorrow and grief.
This past year has provided some of us with a deeper understanding of and empathy for the ongoing mental health challenges endured by our neighbors, friends and family. During Mental Health Awareness Month, especially, our church intentionally recognizes the anguish our siblings in Christ experience daily — pandemic or no — and the fear many of them feel about sharing their stories.
As a church we also acknowledge the true depths of these invisible illnesses. Our children, neighbors and friends grappling with mental health issues need to know that God does not love them any less. They need to hear that they, too, are embraced by God’s unfathomable love.
Our church cautions against judgmental words and actions that might suggest to someone that their faith is not strong enough or that their outlook on life would improve if they would change certain behaviors. Praying, socializing and exercising are great activities that can help someone get out of a slump or move past a painful episode. But this is not always the solution for moderate or severe depression, bipolar depression, anxiety or even grief. Telling someone they aren’t doing enough to be happy creates a sense of stigma that they are not living “correctly.” We need to listen so that our words of care and compassion guide others to the help they need. We need to support people in their struggles, walking side by side in partnership with them through the good days and the bad.
Dear church, God loves us all. No matter how we are grappling, we are not alone; God is with us. Throughout May and beyond, we must seek ways to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and continually love everyone compassionately as a child of God. We must embrace the benefits of therapy and encourage the use of medication when necessary in supporting and sustaining mental health and wellness. We must also work to ensure access to affordable mental health care for all people, especially those living in poverty or in historically marginalized communities.
Our faith teaches that caring for health is a shared endeavor. Being the body of Christ means carrying one another’s burdens; it also means placing our burdens in God’s hands and admitting to a caring person close to us that we need help. This is true no matter how great or small our anguish may be.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Mental Health resources:
“The Body of Christ and Mental Illness
Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry
Mental Health Awareness statement Spanish translation
ALL TENNESSEE 2020 - November 14
For all youth in 6th through 12th grades
THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD IN A HYBRID FORMAT!!!
MORNING SESSION: on your own, in your household, or with your youth group (if you are gathering in-person, physically distanced, of course). Suggested start time is 10:00am EST / 9:00am CST.
AFTERNOON SESSION: we gather via ZOOM at 3:00-4:30pm EST / 2:00-3:30pm CST
CONCERT WITH RACHEL KURTZ: after our afternoon session, Rachel Kurtz will join in our ZOOM call to lead a concert!!!
So cool! So excited!
PLUS, we get to reveal the theme that SESLYO developed for our 2020-2021 youth events for the synod...Accept. Embrace. Spread Grace.
Cost? FREE, since this event is a hybrid event, with part in-person / part-online
Who Can Come? This gathering is for 6th-12th graders from congregations in the WHOLE SOUTHEASTERN SYNOD,
but especially for the Lutherans and friends of TENNESSEE. ALL are welcome.
This year, we are taking registrations on an INDIVIDUAL BASIS, NOT through a congregational registration.
To see information from prior years, scroll down...
ALL TENNESSEE 2019 - November 9-10
Check out the pictures from 2019 All TN HERE
All TN 2019 took place at Trinity LC, Tullahoma, TN
ALL TENNESSEE 2018
122 youth and adults met November 10 & 11 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hixson, Tennessee for All Tennessee. During the event youth from across Tennessee gathered to learn more about the "GODISNOWHERE" theme by participating in different activities throughout Saturday afternoon. Youth looked at where God was through an interactive Stations of the Cross activity, they also got to ask Pastor Ed Myers and Pastor Katherine Museus any question they wanted to ask, they learned about how we can be God's hands in the midst of disasters through the work of Lutheran Disaster Relief and put together hygiene kits for Lutheran World Relief. To finish out their service that day they moved mulch on to the church's playground. Worship started with a group of youth from Christ Kiswahili Lutheran Mission leading in song and during the confession participants were invited to take a piece of string to represent their confession and tie it on nails that formed "GODISNOWHERE" - a powerful way to see that God comes to us in the midst of our brokenness and as we communed together we saw God come once again in the body and blood of Christ. Special thanks to the volunteers of Trinity Lutheran Church for their hospitality and meals, as well as the ALL Tennessee planning team for their hard work putting it all together.