One pastor puts it this way: “The connection is frayed,” she said. Elders and deacons on disability are falling through the cracks. Deacons and elders supporting children and spouses with mental illnesses do not have a supportive system to lean into. There is an experience of ostracism among those living with disabilities. “It is as though we have ceased to exist.”
One man I spoke with was deeply concerned about the loss of civic dialogue in the church and in society. He remembers when there was a good working relationship between our identities as United Methodists and as as American citizens with voice and vote. Over the years, he has seen those identities become fractured and has seen divisions, similar to those between political parties, arise within local churches such that we don’t seem capable of trusting one another’s faith.
He sees the church as a power which can change the culture, but believes it has stifled its prophetic voice because it fears for its own survival. Instead, it evidences a willful blindness to the connection between the violence in our lives and the violence in our culture.
I had lunch with a small group and the topic was wellness. What does it look like? How do healthy people, couples, families, churches, communities, and institutions maintain balance? What do they hold on to? How do they let go?
People are suffering from too many hours on the clock, not enough friends to rely on, and an almost pathological inability to say “no” even when schedules are full. We are not eating well, sleeping enough or choosing to believe the best of one another. We have forgotten how to spend time with ourselves. We have forgotten how to experience Sabbath. We have forgotten what it is to play.
And our life in Christ becomes a stone we are pushing up a hill alone.
In John 10: 10b Jesus says, “I came so that they could have life-indeed so that they could live life to the fullest.” Among the social principles of the United Methodist Church are these statements related to health and well-being. “Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted. Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility.“ (The Social Community, subheading V) “We recognize the opportunity leisure provides for creative contributions to society and encourage methods that allow workers additional blocks of discretionary time.” (The Economic Community, subheading C).
As I have thought about wellness, I have thought about the difference between wells and conduits. Conduits are vessels through which power flows. Wells are vessels which fill, and when they have reached capacity, overflow. Maybe we have gotten so addicted to the currents of power we have chosen to be conduits rather than wells. Yet, Jesus, the Messiah of the Well, promises us living water, a flow of joy and sustenance which has no end. This Advent season, I encourage you to let yourself fill. Take time, find space, say no, and turn off the power switch for a while. Be a well.