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Talk about anxiety and depression in Sunday school, and offer practical and spiritual tips for getting better. We have learned the hard way that isolation can be a death sentence for our mental health.

Reasons to Quit the Drugs and Alcoholism

One of the missions of the church is to help people grow. Our journey toward wholeness requires permission to be honest. When we feel safe to confess our mess honestly, evidence suggests our stress levels drop.

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The power of confession shatters shame. Looking for more ideas? The National Alliance on Mental Illness has compiled a list of some model faith groups. Our laws pressure the vulnerable: I lost my husband to cancer. By including mental health struggles in regular conversation, we can fight the stigma that persists in many churches. Start by creating a list of local mental health professionals. Keep it at the office, pin it to the board with other church announcements, and save it in your smartphone for the next time someone from your community is in crisis.

We'll come to God our own way: Churches could win back teens like me if they were more welcoming and less judgmental. One way to bring in mental health professionals is by offering to house a licensed therapist in the church building. Allow them to work rent-free from your space in exchange for offering monthly therapy sessions for your staff and reduced therapy for church members in need. This includes pastors. Pastors are humans before anything else, which means they need space to share their struggles, too.

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If not, work to get that changed. In both scenarios, I have found that outward exercises are designed to lead us toward inward discovery. Five years ago in , I shook things up and read from the Luke Easter Story. But the legacy of kindness and generosity that lived on in his name, inspired by the man he was even though his young life was cut short in such a meaningless way — because of that, I found out about Michael Collins and his life. In a similar way I found out about Jesus and his life. It was interesting to see both the similarity AND progression of my interpretations of the Easter message.

My words were a reflection of where I was spiritually in my life at the time, and where our world was.

Linn, Denise

And even though the inspiration for each message was different, the fundamental conclusions were the same. The first conclusion is that that like Jesus, our life journeys do not end with our death, and that we live on, for good or for bad, after we die. How we live our lives and what we leave behind as our legacy is important.

The second is that resurrection is about how we revive ourselves after a great loss. It is what we do next after a death.

Walking in Wholeness: God’s Way to Health

It is how we came back to the world after we face our grief. Which means that after his death it was his disciples, not Jesus, who were the resurrected ones. They reconstituted their community and began to focus on how Jesus lived on in each of them. They tried to emulate their teacher.

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They dedicated their lives to feeding the poor, healing the sick, caring for the most vulnerable. They were transformed by Jesus because of how he lived his life and what he taught them and in turn, they transformed the world by how they lived their lives and what they taught others. It becomes a cycle. We are transformed, we transform the world. The cycle, the transformation, continues.

There is a magnolia bush in our backyard that started blooming this past week — along with everything else in Bloomington.

My Inner Voice Saved my LIFE

There are no leaves yet — those will come later — instead its branches are adorned with beautiful pink blossoms. Much too soon they will fall off or blow away and be replaced by clusters of tiny green leaves poking out of the ends of branches that seem to open in the blink of an eye.

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Each year this magnolia bush serves as my living reminder of Easter: a somewhat unattractive presence throughout winter with its sparse, dark limbs, until suddenly one day in early spring it explodes into brilliant beauty. And then before I know it, they are gone again, for another year.

This is the impulse this season stirs in us: the capacity to be amazed and awe-struck by the beauty of resurgent life. What other amazing things might the world be capable of, or might WE be capable of, if the earth can go from death to life, year in and year out? What if what follows death is not an ending, but a beginning?

And what might it take for us to live as if that were so? What is most interesting about the Easter story is not some supernatural occurrence at an empty grave, but what it suggests about what ultimately endures among us. Because at the end of the day, the resurrection story is not just about new life arising from a death that happened years ago. It is about finding renewed life in each and every age from that which was or seemed dead or hopeless. Rather, the message is that even in the face of death, our own or that of someone we love, there is the promise of life.

The cycle of life, the transformation, continues, even and maybe especially after death. We are the ending of the story, and our work has just begun.