The official title of my sermon for October 21st is “When Understanding Replaces Fear.” The title I put on the sign at church is “Mental Illness Is Not a Sin.” Whatever the best title, I want to talk with you about mental illness and its prevalence in the lives of those we love.
- Sixty million Americans – that’s one in five adults – will experience a mental illness in the coming year.
- That means every one of us knows someone who is living with a mental illness – depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and some additionally have a substance abuse.
- Half of all adults will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.
- Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
- One in five children will have a mental illness by age 18. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide also had mental illness.
May the Lord God Bless you each step of Life’s way. May you learn each day to open yourself to love and the blessings of love. May you find a stick to lean on when the road is hard- and not use the stick to beat yourself. May you be blessed with life’s abundance and blessed in poor days too, learning again what really matters, what lasts. May you never give in to despair or the lie that nothing can change. May you find ways of life and walk them with courage, knowing that every step is within the heart of Christ who holds all our days in love.
© Revd Dr Christopher Jenkins
The conclusion to my sermon
Finally, we can remind ourselves that while there are times people who are mentally ill do terrible things, there are also times when people who are not mentally ill do terrible things. We can take the presence of mental illness and the mentally ill in our families and communities to heart without surrendering to despair. We can be aware without living with perpetual suspicion. We can incarnate understanding rather than perpetuating fear. As is the case in so many situations, the call on the faithful is to let love grow in the places fear wants to take root.
As we take these things to heart, we also pray for the grieving, the hoping, the hurting, the lonely, the angry, the broken, the caring, the serving and the loving.
Forever Young meets this Saturday.
The Hunger Task Force meets Sunday at 12:30.
Oakland School Board Candidates Forum on Sunday, October 21 from 5-7 pm, hosted by Oakland Community Organizations, Californians for Justice, Black Organizing Project & Public Advocates @ Imani Community Church, 3300 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland.