Paul Huneke, MC2
In looking at my calendar, I discovered with some surprise that Ash Wednesday in March 1st. That is less than a month away. For many Church Workers, Lent is a time of heightened stress because there is extra work in service planning, some special activities and, I believe, just the desire to make the Lent and Easter cycle meaningful — for those already in our care, but also for those in whom the Holy Spirit is at work to bring faith or renewal.
We want to be faithful and fruitful in this Holy Season for God, His people and the world. In browsing through some material on Church Worker wellness and the stress of being a care giver, I found some things that you may find helpful to think about. They have been gleaned from the resources available on the Ministerial Care pages of the Concordia Plans website.
Lent can be a time for us to explore some spiritual disciplines that are old for the church, but perhaps new to us. Try experiencing in a busy time the value of quiet meditative prayer
Take regular time off, even during Lent, and develop the discipline of “being done for the day.” That avoids the trap of having "just one more thing" to do that becomes another hour or so of work. I watched my father for years close his desktop portfolio, turn out the light and close the door to his office.
Get proper exercise and sleep. Exercise fairly vigorously 3-4 times a week (work up a sweat). Allow adequate time for sleep. Most adults probably need 8-9 hours a night!
Relax. The relaxation response is the opposite of the fight/flight response. Just 20 minutes a day when we’re free from the tyranny of ‘things present’ is enough to counter act the harmful effects of stress. My practice is to go in my thoughts to my brother’s farm (upstate New York) every day and sit on his deck, to listen and see again all the things that brought me a sense of peace. This includes for me reciting biblical verses and short prayers memorized over the years, along with the smell of cut hay, the rattle of cows in their stations and the snoring of the world’s laziest dog, “Flash.”
These suggestions are offered with prayer that this Lent and Easter will be for us a time of repentance, and a time of joy in the resurrection and the embrace of God’s peace in Christ.
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