Mental Health

Hey God,
We’re not down, we’re not out, but we’re hurting.
This vulnerability sits like an open wound and
every new hit jars it.
We breathe through it, lean into it,
listen for what the pain has to tell us.

Lend us quiet that allows us to hear
the harmonies of the universe that let
us know, even in this, as we are, we have
a place in the order of things.

Lend us space that allows us freedom
for those things that are tight to loosen,
those thoughts and events moving quickly
time to slow so that we can look and
see them clearly.

Lend us peace that allows us grace
to tell the difference between our internal
and external insecurities – our own and
also of those around us.

There is much that is unknown,
but You are not.
We are grateful for that.

Lead us. Teach us. Send us. Amen
(Talitha Fraser, Godspacelight)

New resource, Caring for Community: a mental health resource for congregations, prepared by Uniting Church in Australia, SA Synod. While this is not a resource for worship, it does offer many ways of understanding mental health that may offer entry points for reflection or a sermon.

Dark Dealer: There’s a dark inside for everyone (Sarah Agnew) – including Soundcloud reading.

Mental illness is something which needs to be included in liturgy and prayers, not only on particular ‘weeks’ and ‘days’ but acknowledging that many people in congregations struggle with mental illness while at the same time they seek to worship God and find meaning in their life, and faith. Farmers struggle with depression and sadly the rate of farmer suicides in the USA and Australia is double the average for the rest of the population (especially in the younger age group of farmers).

(NB a caution against closely linking mental illness with racist acts and hate crimes such as the Lindt Cafe siege and shootings in Sydney and the Charleston shootings – actions such as this perpetrated against innocent people need to be considered separately, even if mental illness may be considered a factor).

friendsR U OK?Day 2018 is held on 13th September. See also Wikipedia link here.
From Wikipedia: R U OK?Day reminds people to ask family, friends and colleagues the question, “R U OK?”, in a meaningful way, because connecting regularly and meaningfully is one thing everyone can do to make a difference to anyone who may be struggling. Around 45% of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, while 20% are affected every year. [7]

Mental Health Week 2018 will be run from 7th – 13th October 2018 and World Mental Health Day  is marked every year on the same date: 10th October.
(these are dates for Australia – check out dates in your own country eg Mental Health Day in USA is in May)

The following has links to worship resources related to mental illness, depression etc. It is an area that clearly affects almost half the population at some stage in their life, and yet is almost never mentioned in church and worship.

For those Sunk in Depression
by Jon Humphries

God of Joy and Hope,
Christ of compassion,
For those sunk in depression we pray for their uplifting.
In the maze of dark emotions, may your light guide them to a way out and may it shine in those who care to help them on the journey.
In the midst of hurt and hopelessness, may your life awake in them the promise of healing and better times.
At times when the cycles of and habits negativity take root, weed them out and plant the seeds for happiness and positivity to grow.
When all certainty seems to point to no future which does not hold sadness and the aching of the soul, may they know the truth of your love and promise.
In the paralysis of unfeeling apathy and no desire to rise from sleep or no purpose in caring to care, may your will be lent to them so that the reason for love may awake within them.
In the battle against this insidious enemy, may those who struggle find allies to help them in the fight.
For those lost in the valley of the shadow of death, may they find that you are there looking out for them.
God of Joy and Hope,
Christ of compassion,
We pray for all whose life is being crushed under the burden of depression,
Bring around them people of sympathy, empathy and compassion.
May your people embody care and support for all who need it.
May grace and patience be gifted as they struggle to escape into wellness.
May love and healing be willingly and freely offered and received in the crucial times of desperate want.
So Lord, for those sunk in depression we pray for their uplifting.
Please may this be so and may none be lost.
This we pray, Amen

My God, my God – Depression and the lament in Psalms by Stacey Gleddiesmith
A prayer for mental health by Stacey Gleddiesmith
(incorporates Psalm 23, and parts of Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1)Bold section is for congregation. The plain print and italic print is for two different readers. The final section may be read by either of the two readers (or both) or by a third reader.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
Although sometimes we feel we lack everything. Sometimes we cannot see what you have given us through the lie of what has been taken away. Show us how to see your blessing. Show us how to see your provision when the world teaches us an economy of fear and scarcity.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
Refresh us, Lord. Let the raging waters be quite. Let dry pastures be watered. Let us lie down and rest without fear.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
We so often turn from your path—believing lies about ourselves, about others, about you; taking on burdens that are not ours to bear; struggling to entrust you with ourselves, our family, our friends, and our circumstances. Guide us along your path of trust and contentment.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
The valley of depression, the valley of medication, the valley of sorrow, the valley of pain and abandonment, the valley of past wrongs done to me, the valley of despair, the valley of derision, the valley of fear, the valley of waiting, the valley of misunderstanding.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of the valley in which you walk, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Although we sometimes feel abandoned, you have not left us alone. You have not left us alone with our depression, with our sorrow, our pain, our illness, our despair, our fear, our waiting. You have not left us alone with the past wrongs that have been done to us, with the derision and misunderstanding of others. You have not left us alone. You are with us.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
With your rod, you protect us from ourselves. With your staff, you protect us from the harm of others. Your truth comforts us, as we find our identity wholly and firmly locked up in you.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Although we are surrounded by people who do not understand the weight we bear, the struggles we face, we gather to eat at your table. Although we suffer ignorant comments, laughter, and sometimes shame—we are worthy to eat at your table. We can eat our fill—even feast—because you have not despised us. You have made us welcome.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
You have made us worthy. You have made us chosen. You accept us with all our flaws, with all our illness and frailty, with all our failings. You have anointed us, us, to serve with you—our cup overflows with joy.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
Surely goodness and love will follow us. Surely goodness and love will chase us down—despite ourselves, despite others, despite our circumstances—goodness and love, by the power and grace of your Spirit, have found us. And will never let us go.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Forever. In health, in strength, in love, in mercy. Forever. Amen.
The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

And as we rest in that assurance, we pray for those who live without it, and who live with the pain and stigma of mental illness. We ask that you would watch over those who live on the street, without the medication they so desperately need. We pray that you would hold accountable those systems that have let these precious children of yours down, that have left them destitute. We pray for those who are in positions of power—that, as they make policies and work to improve existing structures of care, they would faithfully and carefully consider the welfare of those who struggle with mental illness. We pray that you would prevent us from putting distance between ourselves and those struggling with mental illness. That you would grow in us the love we need to take action, and to make their struggle our own.
Comfort those who live with the darkness of depression. May we be a light in the darkness for them. Teach us to avoid false cheerfulness, and instead give us wisdom to know how to help our friends and family who struggle in this way to come up for air. To see, again, your goodness. Lord, watch over those who are, even now, contemplating suicide. Stop their hands. Send someone to intervene.
Guard our tongues from unthinking and unkind words that contribute to feelings of worthlessness. Empower us to use our words, instead, to speak for those who cannot. To proclaim your worth over those our culture denigrates. To defend the powerless, and stop others from contributing to the stigma that mental illness so often carries.
Bring the comfort only you can bring to those who have lost a loved one to mental illness. And use us to bring comfort. May we, your church, be a healing presence, a safe community, a strong advocate for the mentally ill.
Thank you for the assurance that you do not let go. That you are always with us. May we in turn extend that hope to every person we encounter. Amen.

 

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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