A Holy Prescription
Ephesian 5: 18b-20
18b Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A friend of mine called me a couple of days ago. He said, “Pastor Hayes I am sitting here wanting to do some bible study and I need a scripture.” I had been in the middle of watching “Rocketman”. I paused the movie and became present to the moment. We began to talk about this time and the various layers of fears he has about compound sickness and safety. I encouraged him to tell God all about it. To not sugar coat nor speak with so much “faith talk” that he was unable to communicate the true depths of his fears with the one, we believe can handle them. I shared with him about the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit and as we talk to God, the spirit within takes over and begins to make intercession for us. Our truth begins to speak and share. It begins to make witness of our reality and hope. And before long Spirit leads us into knowing…that place of faith that is not informed by what is, but through what has been. That knowing that comes from having walked with God and having had experiences in the past. From that place songs and hymns begin to bubble up from our bellies and melody is made unto the Lord. I may cannot sing a note but some how it is always a song that comes to heart. He said, “Yes, you are so right. My song is, ‘We are climbing Jacobs latter’…soldiers of the cross.” I encouraged him to sing it, hum it, share it and every time you do you tap into that place of inter peace and faith that will not only get you through but it transforms you in the process. That this is God’s Holy Prescription for all of us. We shared for a few more moments, sang Jacobs Latter together, said our goodbyes. I took a deep cleansing breath and returned to “Rocketman”.
Ephesians 5:1–21 continues Paul’s invaluable instructions on how Christians should live out their faith. Rather than imitating the world, or being controlled by worldly things, Christians are to be filled with the Spirit. Specific flaws such as sexual immorality, crude speech, and wasting of time are discouraged. Instead, believers ought to submit to one another out of respect for Christ, providing a powerful witness to the world.
In verse 18 Paul taught believers to be controlled by the Spirit. How does this look? This verse offers three expressions.
First, Paul mentions “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” This could include both reading passages of Scripture aloud, spoken poetry or the singing of music, whether in a small group or larger group of believers. Three types of songs are mentioned. Psalms refer to the Old Testament songs sung by Jews and shared among Christians. Hymns were likely more formal songs, meant to instruct, similar to the one quoted by Paul in verse 14. Spiritual songs may refer to more spontaneous, call and response music. These would be the equivalent to “contemporary” music, following cultural styles, yet focused on God-honoring lyrics. Paul notes all styles of music can be used to honor God as long as God is the focus.
Singing is only occasionally mentioned in the New Testament but does play an important role in the early church. Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison (Acts 16:25). Paul wrote about singing to the Roman believers (Romans 15:9) to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:15), and to the Colossians (Colossian 3:16). James commanded believers to sing praise to God (James 5:13). Revelation notes expressions of singing (14:3; 15:3–4). Finally, Paul adds “making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
Believers can both sing with the voice and live with a “song” internally. God instills joy within those controlled by the Spirit.
Embrace the truth of the time. We are scared, fearful, worried, stressed and exhausted. Let’s get honest about it. And with full acknowledgement of God and the universes conscience awareness of me and my truth…do as the saints said, “Tell God about it!
Grief: What are you feeling today? For many we are grieving not being able to be in church today. We are grieving not just job loses but the since of a loss of community and connection. Don’t shake my hand, don’t get to close, don’t hug me… For some of you who are like me you thrive on being liked and loved and go to great extremes to ensure relationships in your life are nourished through touch and acts and deeds of “love”, but the how to’s of today are changing all of that. Others of you who are true extroverts and gain your strength from the social and communal connections with others…this time is draining because you do not feel you are able to refill from the energy your draw down from others. We find ourselves dealing with new emotions and uncomfortable unnamed feelings…Today I want to help you name a great deal of it, “GRIEF”! And what is the best thing to do with and about grief—CRY! Cry it out! Good places to cry are the shower and the car…its ok to cry. There does not have to be shame or fear of weakness. When we cry, we truly are cleansing our soul and re-setting our emotional gyroscope. In the movie Inside Out, Joy had to learn that for Riley to be a fully rounded person life was not about a string of happy memories and wonderful emotions. But rather for Riley to become her best self, there needed to be moments, experiences and events of pain, lose and sadness. Growing up I remember a Sesame Street episode with Rosey Grier when he sang a song entitled: “It’s All Right to Cry”. A portion of the lyrics said:
“It’s all right to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
It’s all right to cry
It might make you feel better….
It’s all right to cry, little boy, I know some big boys that cry too.”
Take it to someone who you trust and does not have the need to “fix it”, just allow sharing and crying. Parker Palmer said, “The greatest gift we can give to someone is the gift of listening!” Listen to a person’s pain and sit with them in their grief by simply sharing the space. People are grieving the chance for that new opportunity that seems to have slipped away. I am grieving a calendar full of events with the food truck that one by one in a sweeping way got canceled. You may be grieving a canceled graduation or commencement ceremony. Someone else is grieving the communal experience of the gym and their workout and groupX partners. There is A LOT of grief around us. Peter Scazzero wrote in his book entitled, “The Emotionally Healthy Church” that, “All grief and lose is for the shaping and building of the compassion of Christ within us.” When we understand it’s role we can see that what is happening and where we are, is doing a work within us that could not be done any other way. Yes, it is painful and yes, it seems very unfair and yes, we can feel very un-cared for…but it is necessary. And that Christ likeness of love, compassion, gentleness, understanding that softens the blows of life are shaped and like good cream it rises to the top. When you let go of the need to solve or have solutions and answers for everyone else, you can listen them to life and truth, without taking on another’s grief and pain. My listening can be full of genuine compassion and empathy without me sinking into “their” well of despair.
Honor the Holy Prescription of Limits…your gift of limits. You can not be to sounding board for everyone! For some of us we do not feel heard or feel we have a safe place to share our fears…well I heard a great way to do that…Tell YOU about it. Trust the God in you. Voice mail your conversation of fear and truth to yourself. Cry it out, talk it out, lay it out from the beginning to the end. Do not look for “you” to answer but rather trust the God in you to speak until way is made clearer and understanding and acceptance is realized…for it has always been there. Then play it back and listen yourself to life and light! And lastly, be the compassionate listener YOU need.
We are talking about a Holy Prescription!
Lonely: There is another word for lonely it is: Solitude. Solitude means: The state or situation of being alone. But it is not experienced as loneliness it is experienced as freedom, peace, sanctuary as in “she savored her few hours of freedom and solitude”. There are many things we are going to have to re-think and re-name during this time. Honoring our need for “me-time” in a house with either too many people or not enough people…either way we must find ways to ask for what we need without subtracting from the need of others. Mom the kids need you so how do you ask for what you need amid their needs? You do that by being honest; “Mommy is going in the bathroom for 20 minutes to regroup, pray and read this article. When I come out, we can begin dinner together.” You have asked for what you need, explained why you need it and have given them something to look forward to because you will be a “better” you on the other side. This holds true with our partners and spouses during this time. Ask for what you need and make the need about you and not them. I never need YOU to leave me alone! What I need is to remove myself for a period of reflection, freedom and inward peace. It is not about them it is about you and YOUR need. Honor that.
Another way to re-name this time is to re-set your body clock. For many of us we have been “off” for some time. We cannot sleep at night; we are up all hours and then can not get going in the mornings or crash during the dreaded 2-4 afternoon slump. GET REST! Figure out when your body ask for bed. My grandfather went to bed every night between 7:30pm and 8pm. Daylight savings time had nothing to do with it. I remember him going to bed before it was even fully dark in the summer. In turn he got up with the chickens in the mornings. Before daybreak he was up having coffee and preparing himself for the day ahead. I never remember him napping or needing to crash during the day. I know many of us have convinced ourselves that we can not sleep without the TV on but hear me, the healed, whole you can! The true you is longing for 8 to 10 hours of SOLITUDE and rejuvenating that is ONLY found through sleep. We have operated and functioned for so long from our unwell selves we cannot even imagine what it would be like to be truly WHOLE. There is a Holy Prescription for us all!
There are some of us that are going to come out of this time having been re-tooled. We will figure out that what we have been doing was not only killing us but it has been hindering us from being our best selves. Some will hear your body ask for a complete change and re-tooling of your relationship with food. Some will hear your true self tell you that you will not return to that job or career because it robs you of life and light and a different path has been laid out for you. Some will come to trust the gifts that rest in you and you will literally come out of this time of solitude: ReNewed, ReFreshed and Ready! There is no road map for where we are going but we are not lost, because we are HERE! Romans 8:28 says, “And we know ALL THINGS work together for the GOOD of them that love the Lord and to them who are called to his purpose.” There is a calling on your life that the Holy Prescription of now is going to bring to full consciousness.
I want to encourage you that you have what you need to make it through this time. God has given us everything we need to navigate the waters of today. Though the storm is raging, and the winds are blowing, God comes walking on the water bidding us to come to where Spirit is; and “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” and peace. So, he says, not to the winds and to the waves, not to corona virus but to you…Peace be still! Be still with me…still away with me…take my Holy Prescription and “know” peace!
I heard a doctor speak about what she called, “informal mindfulness”. We all are washing our hands 700 times a day. Take each time to not just sing the happy birthday song three times but to feel the warm water running over your hands….I mean really feel the smooth nature of the soap and the bubbly feeling of the bubbles as they form and multiply. Still yourself in the hand washing experience. Do not see it as an inconvenience but rather as a gift of the universe to be mindful of yourself, your health and others. Turn hand washing into a religious experience of “informal mindfulness”. And I declare after a day of doing this psalms and hymns of praise will begin to come up from within you, love will begin to take shape and transform you from the inside out. This is not because of hand washing, but because of you becoming present “TO” and “IN” hand washing and to the amazing gift of the universe all around you.
Slow Down…Intentionally: Don’t forget to embrace the power of NOW. Follow the 5,4,3,2,1 rule:
5: Things I can see—Look at them and speak them
4: Things I can touch—Touch them and name them
3: Things I can hear—Listen to them and hear them
2: Things I smell—Notice them and name them
1: One thing I can taste—savor it and only it. Name it.
Thankfulness, Insight/intention, Meditate, Exercise
Put on nature sounds. Burn incense and light some sage. Find away to do for others. Breathe! Know that every emotion of your life is connected to your breath. Breathe out for longer than you breathe in you will naturally relax your mind and body: This is a Holy Prescription.
I trust God’s future for me. I trust God’s future for you. I do not know how all of this will play out, but I hope for the best for everyone. I hope for peace even in the storm. I hope for direction and leading even in the dark. I hope for health even amidst sickness. I TRUST GOD’S FUTURE FOR ME.
Bishop-Elect Roger Billingsley-Hayes