Meditate on Isaiah 60:1-6 and use Biblegateway to look up scriptures that speak about God being light and how a lamp is used as a metaphor for Christ’s presence and our purpose. Throughout your week take one of these scriptures and put in a place that is visible to you as you go through your day.
I was driving to an appointment one morning this week and was on the road well before dawn. I don’t always get the chance to watch the sun come up, but the gift of winter allows me to witness this beauty more often than the longer days of summer. As the majestic orange and yellow ball rose from the horizon, I heard the words of the psalmist play in my mind,
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised! (Psalm 118:2-3)
This time of year, we become more aware of the contrast of light and darkness, simply because there is more darkness. This also causes us to become more aware and grateful when we see and experience the light of the sun.
You have probably heard of “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It is a condition in which the lack of sunlight, often during winter months, can affect our moods and ability to cope effectively. Millions of people suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression disorder. If you do not, chances are you are close to someone who does.
Depression, from its mildest to its most clinical and severe, can look like many things: sadness, irritability, and fatigue. Most of us can probably resonate with having those emotions. And I think all of us can recall a time when we found it difficult to get out of bed. Perhaps it is a seasonal passing depression, perhaps it is thorough and has been lifelong. Perhaps getting out of bed is difficult because of burn out, or because of grief. Depression happens for all kinds of reasons. Grief, unprocessed trauma, and childbirth can all lead to forms of depression that can make even the act of arising from sleep each morning an impossible task to consider.
I often wonder if the dark places or times in our lives can be invitations to “turn on” or seek for more light through relationships that encourage our soul, studies that can help us sort out the confusion we feel in the dark, or even seek someone to walk alongside as counselor or spiritual director. Isolation in the dark places only breeds more darkness.
In our new series beginning this Sunday, we are playing with the SAD acronym and calling out a condition called “Spiritual Affective Disorder,” considering how the uncertainty and pace of life can keep us from the spiritual and emotional wellbeing that the Creator desires for us.
Through worship, Renew and our new study that enhances this series, Crafting a Rule of Life, we are inviting you to experience spiritual practices as an antidote, and highlight how everyday life activities can become healing practices—boosting our mood and helping us shine a light on the “blahs.
So Arise shine! For The true light, which gives light to everyone, has come to you! See you Sunday and bring a friend.
Seeking the Light,
The passage in the Book of Isaiah says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come.” This does not mean that we are supposed to feel good all the time or else we’re not worth anything. It means that each day is a new chance to do things for ourselves and others that helps heal what feels broken, a little bit at a time. Sometimes just the act of getting out of bed is all that is required. What do you notice about how you deal with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty? What are the messages that you tell yourself that are likely not true (like “I’m such a slacker” or “This will never end”)?
Share mental health resources with those who need them. Maybe you need some encouragement? Counseling referrals are available from Pastor Tammy or take time for a monthly spiritual direction or EPIC coaching session. Just reach out!
Is there a friend or family member who may find encouragement through this series? Invite them on a Sunday or to come to the new Sunday evening study group, Crafting a Rule of Life. You could also do this study in a triad with two friends. During this series consider placing an electric candle in a window of your home to represent a place of welcome and the light of Christ who has taken us out of darkness and brought us into His wonderful light.
Use the SAD journal as a guide during the series as a tool of encouragement - you will receive a card in worship that you can use as a reminder of God’s invitation and love. Use all of these tools along with the study to prompt sharing with those in your small group how you are dealing with the winter blues and blahs and pray for each other.