Today we witnessed Samuel’s anointing of David as a replacement for the failed kingship of Saul. Saul fell under the weight of leading a new kingdom as he sought to move it from a mishmash of tribes into a collective way of thinking and living; he wanted to create a new culture. Many have attributed his failure as one of lack of spiritual courage. But, perhaps a modern reading, our reading, should be a reflection on Saul’s lifestyle; his need to succeed, his deep love of his people and his love of God. Perhaps, like God, we too should take a second look at the inside of a Saul and not just David his replacement or by extension any man or woman, before we make any decisions about him or her, before we reject them or cast them aside. For too long we have allowed victims of history to be treated as fodder for the victory of the oppressors, for in doing so we assist in sustaining unjust power structures in the name of God. Sometimes under the pressures of life and belief in something greater or a better alternative many cave in and implode. We may see real symptoms of mental illness that cause people to fall short of our own expectations of them or of themselves.
St Paul is being accused of being mad by those who opposed his ministry.
2 Cor.5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
St Paul struggles with the two dimensional world for his everyday experience would be a life constantly lived on a lonely Damascus road where he encountered Jesus on the other hand where his constantly striving to be in the presence of God.
Depression is real.
Depression kills, and it doesn’t discriminate.
Many within our urban community, especially African Americans struggle silently with mental health issues. “Historical adversity, which includes slavery, sharecropping and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources, translates into socioeconomic disparities experienced by African Americans today. Socioeconomic status, in turn, is linked to mental health: People who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated or have substance abuse problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.
The Souls of Black Folk was written by W.E.B. DuBois in 1903. In this book, he coined "double-consciousness", which he defined as a "sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” "One ever feels his twoness, - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
Many among us can identify with this feeling of two-ness that mask that we wear in the world in the hope to assimilate and hat which occurs when we remove all the vestiges of correctness.
Sadly sometimes the church is complicit in that crime for we try to sell a hope that all will be well in the afterlife while we leave our children to grow into the mess without any true hope. argues that one of the reasons for the increase in suicide is that African-American young men may see the afterlife as a better place.
My friends, the role of St Elizabeth’s church goes much further than providing a place of worship for people but can be for many a healing sanctuary. Within its framework is more than hymns and creedal recitals but a place where the broken can find restoration. Here they are able to find and live out their identity and develop a sense of personhood that is denied them every waking moment of their lives. This is where women and men can commune with God and each other as they seek a sense of wholesomeness which is denied them in the society.
My friends, in order to be complete or to live out the wholesomeness promised by God one has to believe that Saul and all others who fell under the weight of life’s struggles are not separated in order to be complete or to live out the wholesomeness promised by God one has to believe that Saul and all others who fell under the weight of life’s struggles are not separated in any way from the love of God in Christ Jesus who loved even those who were posed by demons.
God has forgiven and healed them why can’t you and I?
Spirituality can provide the avenue through which many who are silently struggling with mental illness can find the confidence needed to seek out professional support on their journey through the darkness. The Old Testament giant Elijah seems to have struggled deeply with depression as it seems David as well, yet their faith God led to them to place of healing and wholeness. “The lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want” was possibly written while in one of his darkest places.
Let us be that balm of Gilead for those who are struggling with mental health challenges in our community.
One way we can do that is to guide our community into a fresh understanding of the fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”. Often times we place a lot of emphasis on the commandments which seems to be built upon fear and the consequences of human error. Yet for many of us we struggle to take care of our own well-being. We are made to feel guilty for taking some time out to stop…breathe…watch and listen…and imagine the world, your life, as God intended it to be at the beginning.
We dwell in an environment where it seems we are expected to always be on the clock and if we are not busy we should act busy. One is not sure if it is a holdover from the plantation slavery days but in a phrase coined in Trinidad we need to hear “Massa day done”.
Our Jewish brothers have much to teach us in the value of Sabbath observance. In other words it is more than ok to stop, breathe, read, pray and just sleep and rest in the arms of our loving Savior. It can be lucrative and beneficial in many ways.
To the men as we celebrate Father’s Day make Sabbath observance a central part of your household and lifestyle you deserve it.
Happy Father’s Day.