Your Weekly HELPER 112917

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Does God help you with dominoes?


As a pastor I get to visit all kinds of groups and learn what they do. The other day I went to a group who call themselves “mature adults” – dozens of people who get together for an afternoon of games. That afternoon two ladies introduced me to Farkle. All the other tables were playing different versions of dominoes. One of the dominoes tables raised a good question:

Does God help you with dominoes?
I had to leave and I did not want to rush the answer. That is why I punted to the time of this writing. So the very short answer is YES!

God helps you with dominoes: Look at you! God called you out of the house this afternoon. God said get out and don’t worry about dusting or dishes. God wants you to be connected this afternoon and have a good time with people you enjoy being around. God uses dominoes to help you not be home alone. God uses dominoes to help you bring joy to others.

Let’s talk religion and politics around the Thanksgiving table

In classic Western movies and children’s games cowboys are the good guys with revolvers in their hands. Indians with bows and arrows are the bad guys who are after your scalp. Thanksgiving is one of the few stories that interrupts that image. Here the natives are good because they help the newcomers. There are other stories where Native Americans have positive images: the love story of Pocahontas or the image of the noble savage who is so civilized and gentle to animals and the natural environment that he becomes a romanticized role model.

One thing that strikes me is that all these stories, positive or negative live off a stark contrast and an oversimplified dualism. Good versus bad, us versus them, white versus colored, civilized versus savage. I would love to think things have changed. But I guess this pattern is too tempting to give up. America continues to be divided between native and immigrant, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, urban and rural, liberal and conservative, turkey or ham on the Thanksgiving table.


The world has always been divided. That is part of human nature. It is the original sin. The emblem of the United Church of Christ recognizes this reality by displaying the globe with lines cutting across the orb. God’s children live divided into different nations and religions. From that divided world rises the cross. It is a symbol that Christ has suffered as one of the least of us, an outcast among outcasts, a Jewish radical crucified by the Roman Empire, a Native American speaking up against occupation, a pilgrim trying to establish a safe haven. The crown on top reminds the church that Christ reigns. That is what the last Sunday of the liturgical year is all about: The reign of Christ. Your nationality, your religion, your education, your wealth, your political leanings, none of that has the final say. None of that is supposed to govern how you live your life, but the person of Jesus Christ. The cross reveals that all the labels that divide us are false idols. This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for diversity and nuanced conversations.

Your Weekly HELPER 111517

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Tips for Supporting the Caregivers and Family of People Who Have Dementia


On November 28 and December 5, 2017 family ministry will host two presentations on Alzheimer’s Disease. Everyone is welcome to learn more about the challenges of living with dementia. The events go from 10 am to 12 noon and light refreshments will be served.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips for supporting the caregivers and family of people who have dementia:

Keep in Touch
Cards, calls, and visits to the family are always appreciated.

Do Little Things
Cook and drop off a freezable meal. Ask the family members if you can pick up something for them while you run errands. Surprise the family with gift certificate for a dinner out and offer to help arrange care for their loved one for that evening.

Care For and About the Family Caregiver
Family caregivers are easily depleted, overwhelmed and often feel alone. Let them know they are important to you, not just as caregivers, but also as themselves.

Remember All Family Members
Alzheimer’s affects all family members. They may not seek out help because many families feel they should be able to “handle it” alone. Let them know that there is a spiritual community there for support and help.

Give Them a Break
Spiritual community members can offer to give the caregiver ‘a rest’ by staying with the person who has Alzheimer’s; the caregiver can get out of the house for a couple of hours of private time.

Ask the Family for a To-Do List
Family caregivers could often use a little help with chores like yard work, car repairs, grocery shopping and the like.

Be Alert
Learn about community resources and how to help the family find appropriate help for their loved one.

Offer a Change of Scenery
Invite the family to community activities that will allow them to see familiar faces and stay connected to the spiritual community such as festivals and breakfasts.

Listen
Families facing Alzheimer’s may just need someone to talk to about their feelings and needs. You do not have to fix the problem for them — rather offer support and comfort until they feel better.

Your Weekly HELPER 110817

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Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day on November 11?

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11?
Last week I posed this question to a group of community leaders. They did pretty well. They remembered that Veterans Day was initially called Armistice Day. Then it got a little more shaky: Was it to commemorate the ending of World War I or II? A slight majority got it right and settled for World War I.
– A great way to commemorate Veterans Day is to promote peace!

Why did the 1918 Armistice take effect on November 11?
Negotiating and drafting the Armistice took well over a month. So what made them decide to let it take effect on 11/11? This day is dedicated to Saint Martin, the patron saint of soldiers. Saint Martin was famous for using his sword for charity. Martin was a soldier in the army of the Roman Empire and he was stationed in Gaul (modern-day France). One day he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, where he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man.
– A great way to commemorate Veterans Day is to promote charity!

Why should the church care about November 11?
The remainder of Martin’s cloak eventually turned into a relic venerated by the Catholic Church. The priest who cared for the cloak in its reliquary was called a cappellanu, and ultimately all priests who served the military were called cappellani. The French translation is chapelains, from which the English word chaplain is derived. Nowadays a chaplain is an individual who is ordained or endorsed by a faith group to provide chaplaincy care in diverse settings including, but not limited to, hospitals, corrections, long-term care, sports teams, palliative care, military, hospices, workplaces, mental health and universities.
– A great way to commemorate Veterans Day is to promote spirituality!

Support our veterans!
Remember Saint Martin!
Promote peace!
Promote charity!
Promote spirituality!