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“Disturb Us, Lord” — A Prayer from Long Ago for Today

This past Sunday in worship my Pastoral Prayer included lines from long ago. Several have asked for a copy. I’m happy to share these words of Sir Walter Drake with you, and thanks for asking —

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

— Amen.

All We Can Do For Grandma

It had been a rough visit.

Our son had come from two states away to see my mom in her nursing home, and it had not gone well. She wasn’t sure who we were and wasn’t interested in finding out. We were dismissed with language I’d never heard her use when she was younger, and clearer, and I’ll just say it: when she was herself.

Walking to the car, I apologized to him for her and began trying to explain the disease that’s stealing her memories and her mind.

He interrupted me with a line I’ve clung to ever since.

“Dad, all we can do for Grandma Ruth is love her and pray for her.”

Diagnosis of a Cold Heart

Warren Lathem was “Wally” when I knew him in college. Now a retired District Superintendent in The United Methodist Church, he’s heavily involved in an international ministry, primarily in Venezuela.

He recently wrote this, which he graciously gave me permission to share with you —

“I was preaching in another UM Church recently and had to sit through the 10 minutes of prayer requests so typical in many of our churches… 10 minutes of telling everything about Aunt Sally’s gall bladder and cousin Jim’s biopsy.

“Then to my utter surprise, one man said, ‘I want to ask you to pray for my son who is lost and does not know Jesus.’

“I quit listening to the hospital report at that moment and tried to remember the last time I heard such a prayer request in a Methodist church in the US. Almost never!

“Why? We have a cold heart.”

— And so? What say ye? Is he right or wrong in his diagnosis? RSVP

See It Everywhere: Suicide Prevention, number 10.

In an emergency, contact:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
Hospital emergency room
Urgent care center/clinic
Call 911

Suicide.

Suicide prevention.

Friend and colleague Sara Lund recently listed 10 things each of us can do that will help save lives. It’s with her gracious permission that I share them with you here.

We’re going to take this list slowly.

Please read, absorb, apply as needed and then repeat as needed.

Please. —

10. See it everywhere.

Suicide gets its power from being invisible. When we aren’t looking for it, we don’t see it. We assume it could never happen to the straight-A-student athlete, or the pastor, or the lawyer.

The stigma and shame around mental illness in all communities is real, but especially on communities of color. We need to see suicide everywhere because no one is immune. Suicide impacts every race, religion, gender, age, income and educational level, culture, nationality, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in our country. Once we acknowledge its presence in our communities, we can work together on prevention.

In an emergency, contact:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
Hospital emergency room
Urgent care center/clinic
Call 911

Add One More: Suicide Prevention, number 9

In an emergency, contact:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
Hospital emergency room
Urgent care center/clinic
Call 911

Suicide.

Suicide prevention.

Friend and colleague Sara Lund recently listed 10 things each of us can do that will help save lives. It’s with her gracious permission that I share them with you here.

We’re going to take this list slowly.

Please read, absorb, apply as needed and then repeat as needed.

Please. —

9. Add one more.

People who are high risk for suicide often will isolate themselves. This can be because of their symptoms of mental illness that effect their ability to be in social settings. However, reach out to people who you know are struggling.

Add one more chair to the dinner table, inviting them to join you. Be persistent in your efforts to connect. One teen told me that when she was feeling suicidal, her friends didn’t want to hang out with her because she wasn’t “fun” anymore.

Add one more place to include someone who needs to be reminded that they are not alone.

Show Compassion: Suicide Prevention, number 8

In an emergency, contact:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
Hospital emergency room
Urgent care center/clinic
Call 911

Suicide.

Suicide prevention.

Friend and colleague Sara Lund recently listed 10 things each of us can do that will help save lives. It’s with her gracious permission that I share them with you here.

We’re going to take this list slowly.

Please read, absorb, apply as needed and then repeat as needed.

Please. —

8. Show Compassion.

People who attempt suicide, the survivors of suicide and their loved ones, and for those who have experienced the death of a loved one to suicide are in great need of compassion. There is absolutely no place for judgement or blame, especially from religious communities. Suicide is a tragedy that leaves a terrible amount of suffering in its path.

Anger, shock, grief, disbelief, sorrow, and fear can all be part of the mixture of emotional responses to a suicide or attempt. Given the devastating nature of suicide and the sense of helplessness associated with it, compassion must be demonstrated in order to facilitate healing. People who live with chronic thoughts of self-harm need our non-judgemental, compassionate support.

Sew a Safety Net: Suicide Prevention, number 7

In an emergency, contact:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
Hospital emergency room
Urgent care center/clinic
Call 911

Suicide.

Suicide prevention.

Friend and colleague Sara Lund recently listed 10 things each of us can do that will help save lives. It’s with her gracious permission that I share them with you here.

We’re going to take this list slowly.

Please read, absorb, apply as needed and then repeat as needed.

Please. —

7. Sew a safety net.

I don’t sew (just ask my grandma). But I do know how to ensure my loved ones who are at high risk for killing themselves have a safety net. We all need a safety net, people and a plan in place to protect us and keep us safe.

A safety net means a clear way of being connected to others who care. It’s often informal, but it can be recorded in a contract, promising that if thoughts of self-harm persist, then others will be notified. My brother promises to call his psychiatrist, and to go to the hospital if he is feeling at risk of killing himself.