Welcome Wednesday Update
Happy Wednesday Friends!
I type this with a heart heavy for the brokenness in our community and a heart filled with hope for what God can do in the brokenness of this county where we've been placed. It is with even greater urgency that I call out: "Stand Tall in Prayer, Ya'll." Follow the list you'll find at this link: www.stillnaz.com/prayer.
OUR HEARTS BREAK IN THE AFTERMATH OF TWO LOCAL YOUTH SUICIDES
Over the holiday weekend, two separate families in York were struck with tragedy when their adolescent (12 and 14) boys took their own lives. Jeremiah's words to God, "Oh my comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me..." (8:18) are an entirely appropriate response in light of this aching news. So we turn to God and pray for peace for these families and for the communities who are grieving around them. We pray for the Northeastern and Dallastown school districts as they cope with this loss.
Some of you are parents of children who are dealing with this news. As Christian parents, it is essential that we help our children learn to grieve in a Christ-centered way. Here are two helpful articles that can guide you in this time. First, "How to talk to your child about suicide": https://bit.ly/2wISBvm. The second has a more general approach to how to respond "In the Aftermath of Suicide": https://bit.ly/2wKSQa2.
For all of us, at the bottom of the email, I have included a helpful guide to helping others in grief.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
...for allowing Christ to lead & for your willingness to spread His fragrance...
God's love poured out through your generosity filled 154 backpacks, which were shared with the Parkway Homes Community on Saturday, August 18th! The kiddos, the parents, the resident council, the housing authority staff, & many community service members were overwhelmed by your giving! Please continue to pray for the Parkway Homes' neighborhood. God IS at work. Please also pray for the women and men, teenagers, and children serving through the bus ministry every Saturday morning at 9:30. (If you'd like to join them, email ChsFrederick@aol.com to learn more about the Xtreme Xpress Bus whose mission remains simple - to share the love & message of Jesus Christ with kids and families in the City of York.)
NO, THE DUNK TANK IS NOT DOUBLING AS THE BAPTISMAL AT THE WELCOME BASH ON SUNDAY
We're going to have a blast worshiping Christ on Sunday! If it doesn't rain, we'll be outside on the front lawn! If not, we'll be inside. Either way, we'll be baptizing a few people and celebrating with a potluck and games (dunk tank, yard games, bounce house!). We’ll worship at 9:30 and party at 11:30! Bring a lawn chair, a side dish and a friend!
PIZZA WITH THE PASTORS
For those who are interested in learning more about Stillmeadow and how you can get involved, this is an introduction to all of that! We're gathering at 12:30 (after the 11AM Discipleship Hour) on October 7. If you'd like to join us sign up here: www.stillnaz.com/pizza.
DON'T FOLLOW CHRIST ALONE
We have created discipleship groups as places for people to learn and grow in their faith in Christ with others. We have a few new groups this fall! Check out the list and sign up here: www.stillnaz.com/discipleship/.
THIS WEEK'S BLESSING...
As you go on your way this week, may your hearts and minds be focused on the good news and work of Jesus Christ. May you live fully attentive to and always remembering His abundant love so that He may show that abundance to others through you. Amen.
This week's bulletin: Click Here
10 WAYS TO COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE GRIEVING
A pastor friend of mine (Scott Marshall) offered this advice to his church family when they were walking with some families through grief. This may be helpful to some of you who are walking with those in grief.
Here are 10 ways to be there for someone grieving.
1 - Recognize that you don't know what to say, and that's okay. You don't need to have the "right thing" to say. Your presence matters more than your words. When my mom died, I don't remember anything anyone said, but I do remember who was there. And often what SOUNDS helpful to you is often received as something dumb and offensive by the person you are trying to help. Button your lip and open your arms.
And if something more concrete would help, here are some unhelpful things people routinely say out of a desire to help:
"God needed him/her more than we did."
"She's an angel now."
"Just pray, everything will be okay."
"Just rely on your faith to get through this."
"You know, what you need to do is..."
"This is all part of God's mysterious will."
People usually say those sorts of things because THEY feel uncomfortable and don't know what to say. So they blurt out what sounds helpful as a declarative statement and walk away. Be okay with silence and you'll be a huge source of comfort to them.
Realize that when Jesus' (JESUS!) friend Lazarus died, his response was to weep (John 11:35). Best practice: "Weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)
(By the way, if you realize you've said one of those things, don't kick yourself, realize there's a more helpful way that you now know.)
2 - Rule of thumb about saying anything: The closer you are, the more words you can say. It's enough to say "I'm so sorry for your loss, I'm praying for you, and I'm here for you." If you're CLOSE, ASK "How are you doing? What do you need?" Then LISTEN.
3 - DON'T say "Let me know if you need anything. I mean that." (Even if you really do mean that.) The person is grieving, and the last thing they'll do is generically respond to your generic offer. Instead, make tangible offers ("Is it okay if I bring dinner over tomorrow night?" "Would it be okay if I came and got your laundry and did it tomorrow?" "Do you want to go to a movie with me/your kids/________? My treat.") Anticipate their needs and seek to meet them.
4 - The first week is a trauma scene. Dealing with the funeral arrangements, contacting family, experiencing wave after wave of grief. It's traumatic. Just know that. Your presence matters most the first week.
5 - The second week it hits. The funeral is over, all the family leaves, life for everyone else "goes back to normal" and they are left trying to even figure out if normal will ever happen again. This is when #3 above matters.
6 - The first year is the hardest. The first Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother's Day, etc all happen for the first time...without them. Understand that and let them grieve.
7 - There is no manual for grief. In other words, there isn't a "right" way to grieve. Anger, sadness, depression, long-stares into the distance, laughter--they are all part of the process. Be careful not to put your expectations of how you think it ought to go on them. Respect their process.
8 - Don't correct someone's theology when they are grieving. "That's not the right way to think about that" or "The Bible says that..." are super-unhelpful and insensitive. I have a pastor friend who says, "You get to pick your own theology when you go through grief."
LATER (usually much later), if you are their friend, you can talk about what it all means and help them sort through what might be unhelpful ways of thinking about God and death.
9 - As they progress past the shock into the first year, don't put your timetable onto them. "Well, they should be past that by now." You aren't them. Don't should on them like that. Instead, be there for them.
10 - Love them. Love shows up. Period.