From the District Superintendent

Responding to Anxiety

Posted 17 December, 2018 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

In her book God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church Elaine Heath names a four-fold practice that helps leaders and congregations respond to the mounting anxiety that occurs when a system begins to change. Re-reading this during Advent, helps me see the ways in which Jesus embodied this.

Show up to God, ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. As we move through these Advent-Christmas-Epiphany days I am increasingly aware that Jesus, Incarnate, Emmanuel, shows up: in the stable, with the children in the day care playroom, at the hospital bed of the dying, among the inmates, along the migrant's journey, in legislative halls, and executive suites.

Pay attention to what is there, what is going on inside and outside ourselves. Throughout his ministry Jesus was deeply aware: of immediate need of healing whether from illness and disease or through life transforming forgiveness, understanding those in power and the powerless, centurion and Samaritan, Pharisee and possessed, of insiders and outsiders, to all he pointed out signs of God's in-breaking reign. Cooperate with God as God invites, instructs, corrects, or encourages in the situation at hand. Jesus crossed boundaries, challenged those at centers of power, comforted those on the margins, invited all, ate with the religiously pure and those publicly identified as sinners.

Release the outcome of cooperation with God. Consciously let go of the outcome, recognizing that God is God and we are not."Not my will but thy will" was Jesus' final prayer before his arrest and crucifixion. 

Where are you showing up? Who are you showing up to? What are you noticing in your prayers, through what you see and hear, observe from a distance, and touch? Where is God seeking your cooperation? What next step to take, what hope to offer, what challenge to extend? How are you releasing the outcome to God?

Not just in the anticipation of Advent and the candle-lit joy of Christmas, but in the glare of wintery Epiphany days. As the called 2019 General Conference acts. As your congregation grows in discipleship, circles of influence, and service.