Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter
September 2018, Volume 3, Issue 9
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PLANNING FOR HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
This is the time of the year when we are coordinating with other church staff the variety of activities that will occur between the middle of November and Epiphany, the first weekend in January. There may be plans to expand visitation activities, go caroling, share gifts such as bake goods or plants, support to those who find the holiday period difficult, or are affected as the darkness of night before the winter solstice.
How do these activities interrelate relate to a ministry of health?
- Are there people in your congregation who will be spending Thanksgiving alone because family members or close friends aren’t around?
Organize a “church family” Thanksgiving dinner at the church. This isn’t a soup kitchen meal. It is a church family potluck where the church supplies the turkey and attendees bring their favorite Thanksgiving food item. The various food items brought to share in turn leads to the sharing of memories from past Thanksgivings. The tasks of set-up, cleanup and distribution of leftovers are shared just as they would be within any family gathering. This event also supports families who are facing the holidays after the death of a loved one, people new to the church and community, and those who have a family member who has to work so no dinner is happening at home, etc.
- Is there a cookie exchange planned?
Suggest that each package be labeled with a complete list of ingredients so the chance of allergic reactions is reduced.
- Are food items being taken as Advent gifts to the home-based or those in residential facilities?
Review the list of recipients and offer guidance if you are aware of any dietary limitations. Authentic caring shows when the item given is something the recipient can safely eat.
- Will flowers, small plants or pieces of pine be shared?
Suggest the selection of items that have no or extremely low levels of fragrances, other wise the recipient may have to remove them from their room or home.
- Are trips for caroling being planned?
During the winter months contagious illnesses are common.
Plan ahead and call individuals in their homes and residential facilities to receive permission for a visit. Explain to the listeners you will not be coming in. Explain to the singers why you will not be having close contact with their audiences.
- How are you supporting those who find Advent a difficult time?
Collaborate with the pastor in offering a special service. The most common services are either “Blue” Christmas or The Longest Night.
- A ‘Blue” Christmas service focuses on recognizing that for a variety of reasons many of us do not feel the joy that is advertised in the media and expressed by others. This is especially true if a person has experienced the loss of a loved one or other tragedy. The service validates the pain, emptiness, or loss that may be felt, supports the person in using healthy means to bear it, and most importantly provides a reminder that God is still present.
- The Longest Night service is generally held the evening of the winter solstice. This is the longest night of darkness in the year. After that date the time of daylight increases each day until the summer solstice in June. The symbolism of the light returning may be addressed in within a variety of themes.
- A church may offer a service focused more on one or the other of these themes, however many combine them. Since congregants across a variety of faith communities experience these feelings, within a community one or more churches may collaborate in offering a service to which the whole community is invited. Resources may be found by searching the web using Longest Night service or Blue Christmas.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24
In the entire history of the universe let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today. There will never be another one just like it again. Each new day is a gift from God, offering new grace and new opportunities. This day will be gone before you know it, so rejoice in what each hour provides whether it be for an activity or rest.
RESOURCES FOR OUR PRACTICE
- Holiday Fire Safety
Holiday activities present an increased risk of fires. They often involve cooking, Christmas trees, candles and decorations. Holiday Fire Safety and Talking Points provides some preventive steps. Following simple rules most fires can be prevented.
- Changing Misperceptions to Create a Healthier Community.
During the Advent holidays we see attendance at our services and other activities increases. This provides an important teaching moment that could start conversations that positively affect a whole community by reducing isolating tensions and mistrust. Jesus of Nazareth had a darker complexion than we often see depicted. It was not unlike the olive skin common among native Middle Easterners today. As a Jew, Jesus was part of an ethnic minority. He was a refugee. He was poor. He knew the pain of being a member of an ethnic group whose culture and religion were marginalized by those in power.
What might change if we were more mindful that the person we celebrate during Advent was a Middle Eastern Jew? Using accurate images of Jesus might lead us to thinking more inclusively of all those in our community. We can then “delight in the magnificent array of shade and shape, of culture and context, of personality and purpose and give God thanks for it.” (John Dorhauer) With intention, openness, and awareness we can then move beyond the illusion of separateness. Honoring our human commonalities we can start to heal ourselves and our community. You may read more in an article in Christianity Today titled Why Jesus' Skin Color Matters. and a number of other articles on the web.
- Spiritual Practices that Re-orient the Shopping Experience.
For millions of people around the world, December means going shopping for family, friends, and others. However, the activity of shopping can create feelings of anxiety, indecisiveness, and sometimes even guilt. The article Spiritual Practices for Shopping – 20 ways to make shopping a richer and deeper experience suggests intentions and prayers to integrate into your shopping experience. When used they slow your level of activity and refocus your mind, bringing you to a place where you nurture yourself while making important choices. Provide the list to the congregants and discuss how they have been able to integrate these spiritual practices and how it has affected their shopping experiences.
- What Individuals Can Do to Respond to Sexual and Domestic Violence
Recently the public has been made more aware of or drawn into exchanges about sexual and domestic violence. After learning the extent of the problem the question is often raised, “How can I effectively intervene when I suspect that someone is a victim?”
The Faith Trust Institute has a list of 18 suggestions in a document titled: What Individuals Can Do with links to further resources. Also connect with you local domestic violence prevention organization and learn what workshops they offer for church and community groups.
- Caring responds when life happens
CVS and Hallmark cards have collaborated in developing helpful one-page guides that share ideas for how to be supportive of people we care about.
They are titled:
- Reaching out when someone Looses A Loved One
- When someone is Battling Cancer
- Awareness of Mental Illness
- If a friend or loved one is undergoing a Medical Procedure or Treatment
Look for them in a rack located beside the Hallmark cards that you might be looking at if a friend or family member was experiencing one of these situations.
RESOURCES FOR OUR ONGOING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
- Moral Courage, Moral Distress, Moral Resilience
Moral resilience has been defined as “the capacity of an individual to sustain or restore their integrity in response to moral complexity, confusion, distress, or setbacks” (Rushton, 2016a, p. 112a). Most individuals experience moral distress due to employment situations, activities of social or community organizations, and/or actions and activities within their church. Moral resilience is a health promotion factor to foster in ourselves as well as those we serve.
No matter our practice roles and specialties ethical challenges, uncertainty, and distress arise from conflicts among competing values and obligations. Upholding our professional commitment to individuals and communities requires significant moral courage and resilience. It involves the willingness to speak out, whether alone or collectively, to do what is right. Download A Call To Action Report: Exploring Moral Resilience Toward a Culture of Ethical Practice. It provides guidance in how to respond to moral distress and further develop moral courage and moral resilience. Additional articles are available on the American Nurses Asso. website Ethics in Healthcare: Nurses Respond
- Why Faith Matters in Ending Gender-Based Violence
Faith is fundamental to ending gender-based violence. Through the Faith Trust Institute website there is access to a section titled Why Faith Matters that offers educational videos that assist survivors, advocates, groups in faith communities, and allies explore the role of faith and religion in addressing and ending domestic and sexual violence.
Some of the featured videos are:
- Keeping the Faith - How to Respond to Domestic Violence in Your Faith Community
- Battered African American Women: An Examination of Gender Entrapment
- Batters: What Does Accountability & Forgiveness Look Like?
- What to Do If a Registered Sex Offender Comes to Your Church
- The Role of the Faith Community in Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse
A wide variety of other specific topics are also available. Each one could be used to stimulate a group discussion after viewing.
- Keep Safe the Haven of Your House of Worship
The Insurance Board is a nonprofit corporation established by the participating Conferences of the United Church of Christ. They provide very helpful resources free of charge. The Steward, their quarterly newsletter provides relevant articles that can guide us as we strive to ensure the safety of all who enter our facilities. The Steward Issue Archive lists the titles of articles in the 50 past issues and provides links so they are easily accessible for use.
DATES TO PUT ON YOUR PLANNING CALENDAR
Some of these dates provide the opportunity to integrate your health ministry activities with other activities in your church such as advocating for a just wage, working with the building and grounds committee addressing access issues, collaborating with the Christian Education committee regarding the health needs of students with medical or behavioral issues, etc.
Oct. 14th Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week
An occasion when all the UCC will join together in celebrating the gifts of persons with disabilities and the strides that the church has made in being more whole through being more accessible. It is also a day that we, the church, acknowledge the journey yet to be taken with our sisters and brothers with disabilities. Information and resources available.
Oct 19th - 21st 27th Annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbath® Celebration, “Realizing Dr. King’s Vision: Ending Child Poverty”
Ideas for how to begin conversations with other congregations and community groups so that you might partner together are available.
Nov. 11th National Donor Sabbath
Donor families, transplant recipients, and donation and transplantation professionals participate in services and programs to educate the public about the need for the lifesaving and healing gifts passed to others through transplantation, while also encouraging people to register their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donors.
Dec. 1st World AIDS Day – A day to honor those who have died and re-commit to ending the AIDS epidemic. Worship materials are available on the UCAN pages of the UCC.org website. Additional teaching resources are also available at https://worldaidsday.org
Dec. 10th Human Rights Day – Advocating for all God’s children. Search the UCC.org site used the words Human Rights Day to find a liturgy to use in worship, as well as stories of the actions the UCC and other denominations have taken to advocate for human rights for all.
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Contact: Peggy Matteson