According to an article in the National Library of Medicine:
Experts have predicted a ‘’tsunami of psychiatric illness’’ in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic (Tandon, 2020). For such a large scale event like COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on mental health can be long lasting (Galea et al;, 2020). The prevalence of common mental health disorders is expected to rise during the post-pandemic time as a result of the long term effects of the pandemic, the restrictive measures such as social distancing and quarantine and the socio-economic effects.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7507979/
As a society, we are exhausted. In fact, it might be safe to say that the whole of humanity is exhausted right now. How are you doing mentally? Are you feeling the stress and strain of more than a year spent in a pandemic? I am.
Of course, it didn’t help that right in the middle of the pandemic we also had the most divisive presidential election in well over 100 years. (Or was the election so divisive because of the pandemic and our stretched thin mental capacity?)
When we get mentally unhealthy, we revert to coping mechanisms. Some of us go back to old vices (which is why addiction skyrocketed during the pandemic), some of us go back to old mistaken beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. The unfortunate affect on the church nationally is that many Christians took their personal internal battle to the public arena. The result has greatly damaged the already marred reputation of the church.
While SixEight Church worked really hard to remain neutral during the pandemic, we still see and feel the effects of this decreased perception our neighbors have of the church at large. We want to be a part of the solution.
We are seeking to restore the heart of the gospel message – blessing. We want to be a blessing to our neighbors and the people in our lives. But in order for us to do that, we need to get healthy. We need a season of rest.
So, for the months of June, July & August (someone pointed out that those are months 6-8, ironic eh?) we are intentionally resting as a church. What does this mean?
It means no sermons, no high pressure obligations, no big push to participate in this or that program. Our Sunday gatherings will be focused on worship, fellowship, prayer, encouragement and sharing what Jesus is teaching us individually. No, that last one isn’t a sermon. Let me explain.
Part of the healing that we all need will only happen in the presence of Christ. When Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, (Luke 10:5-6) he said: “‘When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.'” After his resurrection, he was with some disciples and said: “Peace be with you.” (Lk 24:36) There was something peaceful about the presence of Jesus. I think it was his peace that drew people to him.
We need peace.
To find peace we need to be in the presence of peace. So, if we’re going to heal, if we’re going to be restored, we need to spend time in the presence of peace. So, we have taken the last 14 chapters of Luke and spread them out over the summer months (an average of about 12 verses a day, you can read or listen to it in 2 minutes) and we’re asking people to just spend some time with Jesus every day.
“But wait, I thought you said you weren’t doing a big push to get people to do something?” That’s true. It does sound like a contradiction. And, if you don’t want to do it, there’s absolutely no pressure. You are free to choose to participate or not, your call. You know yourself better than I know you!
So in our Sunday gatherings, I’ll just be talking to one person each week about what they learned last week with Jesus. What I think will happen as we each spend time with Jesus every day is we get Jesus’ perspective on the world. And, I’m just guessing, but I think we’ll be able to be a blessing to our neighbors in the way that Jesus was to the people around him.
And maybe, just maybe, we will be a catalyst for peace in a hostile world. Maybe we will be able to bring Jesus’ healing to the looming mental health crisis affecting our neighbors. Maybe we will be able to walk with people who are full of anger and don’t even know why, and maybe because we’ve been in the presence of Jesus we’ll be able to let the peaceful presence of Christ flow through us. And maybe someone will experience a “peace that passes understanding” simply because of Christ in us.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”Jesus