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Hope and Connection

Hope and connection are two things that the church is often uniquely positioned to provide. We see hope front and center in our worship as we celebrate the sure and certain hope of the resurrection during this Easter season. Connection is demonstrated when we gather for worship, fellowship time, pastoral care visits, and simply asking how someone is doing (PS – connection happens both in-person AND online).

This unique positioning means that we can support our neighbors during ordinary and extraordinary times. The ways that we support each other is vital to our organizational and personal wellbeing. During a recent training on Hope and Healing with Youth and Young Adults, it was shared that suicide prevention expert Dr. David Litts (Colonel, USAF Retired) asserts, “People consider suicide for all kinds of reasons but it basically comes down to two: a loss of hope and a loss of social connection.”

Are there ways we help those who are facing a loss of hope? Maybe by spending time hearing the story of the resurrection with new ears. Maybe by spending time in nature and experiencing the wonder of God’s creation.

Are there ways we help those who are facing a loss of social connection? Maybe by reaching out to a friend or neighbor we have not talked with recently. Maybe by spending time in a hobby with someone (baking, knitting, hiking, playing a game).

The pandemic has made things more challenging over the past year. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves there were (and still are) multiple opportunities for more faithfully connecting and hoping. Some we used before the pandemic restrictions; some are new to us. There are formal ways that we connect and the informal connections that develop organically. It does not matter whether the meaningful connection is because of your mutual interest in a book /movie / sports team / baking or because you are together for an officially scheduled fellowship time.

If you are experiencing a loss of hope or connection, please reach out for support and assistance. There are people who love and care about you even when things seem the darkest. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues. Or please give me a call, text, or email because you are not alone. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at: 800-273-8255.

With the challenges of the week ahead, know that we have been assured “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1b-2 NRSV)

As the fatigue and frustration of more than twelve months of pandemic response continue to build, how will you / we maintain connections and hope?

Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois

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