At a clergy retreat earlier this week, we focused on the topic of clergy wellness. The approach was holistic. We discussed wellness as it pertains to our physical, spiritual, emotional and social lives. In his closing homily, our Bishop related this theme to this Sunday’s gospel lesson as he underscored that self-care is integral to living out the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Experience was our teacher as we shared various strategies for getting the support and direction we all need from time to time if we are to live in a way that is life-giving for us and for those with whom we live and work.
This notion of resilience as a way of acting in the world speaks to our ability to respond to ever-changing circumstances. To the extent that we are able to be flexible, to adapt or to find new ways of approaching or overcoming challenges, we are able to realize health – a sense of wholeness — in body, mind and spirit. Often this requires the help of others. Often it requires God’s help.
Yesterday marked the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist, the Gentile, physician missionary who was a contemporary of Paul. Luke is widely considered the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Holy Women, Holy Men notes that “only Luke provides the very familiar stories of the annunciation to Mary, of her visit to Elizabeth, of the child in the manger, (and) the angelic host appearing to shepherds” (p. 644). These are all stories that demonstrate resilience – the ability to respond to changing, even startling, circumstances in a way that is life-giving. To do so requires a childlike trust in God. A trust that all will be well.
Resilience is something we do. Resilience is moving forward in faith even and especially when we don’t see the full picture. It is a practice to which we are called as followers of Christ. This is something to remember as we move forward in any ministry.
Next week, we begin our first small group meeting for the new diocesan ministry we are calling St. Clare of Assisi. This ministry draws on the tradition of house churches that is first attested in the Book of Acts. We will gather for prayer and study but most of all for fellowship with each other and with God. What is next for this ministry? Prayer, study, persistence. Listening to the Holy Spirit and to the people we hope to serve. And, most of all, obedience to Christ. An obedience that comes in the form of resilience.
(photo taken at clergy retreat at Epworth-by-the-Sea)