More pastors than will admit it don't like this season.
Some will offer reasons like Santamania, Sparkle over the reason for the season, pewsitters who pretend they're nice not naughty for a few weeks, the need to make the season bright for everybody but their own families by presence and presents, semi-annual pilgrims to the holy land, and those extra ecclesiastical efforts that are really appropriate more than semi-annually.
More than some will say it's the added hours and collateral crises concomitant to the previous paragraph's citations.
Candidly, as a pastor, police chaplain, and occasional professor, I know people who are normally stressed out or depressed become especially stressed out or depressed during this season; for when you're already stressed out or depressed and see people who aren't...
You know what I mean.
And for folks who are suicidal...
I've never considered suicide; except for when Ruthie dumped me for a NFL quarterback and when I realized I'm as phony as my phony peers and when my truck got wiped out in the church parking lot over five years ago and I made a succession of stupid financial decisions that means I won't get another one until the parousia and when...
O.K., I thought about it once.
I wasn't feeling very loved and wasn't very loving.
That seems to be the, uh, motivation/temptation/mistake that prompts such thoughts/actions.
While there are lots of books/opinions about the reasons why people cash in prematurely/precipitously, two reasons seem to dominate the decision: not feeling very loved and not being very loving.
I guess that's why a very famous friend who writes books that actually sell likes to say, "I've got this idea that God greets people who have committed suicide at the heavenly gates and says, 'I know it was too tough for you down there. It was almost too tough for me. Welcome.'"
While I don't know if God digs that kinda muse, I think my friend is a lot closer to what God has in mind than some religious fruitcakes who say people who do it go to hell for sure.
God who showed up in Jesus and remains as Spirit to assist/advocate/activate our knowledge of Jesus is infinitely more invitational, welcoming, and inclusive than the human limitations/projections/auto-suggestions placed on Him/His.
Pick up your Bible and read the words in red.
Or as the first black elder in a church that I served until insisting she become an elder urged, "You love 'em and let God judge 'em!"
Not trying to understand why apart from charismata, I've always counseled lots of suicidal people.
Once I figured out that the best way to keep 'em around is to identify people who love 'em and people that are on the receiving end of their love, my "success" rate for their survival moved to pret' near 100%.
However, there are people who really don't feel loved by anybody and actually may not be loved by anybody and there are people who actually don't love anybody.
And that's when we've got to get right to the only real reason for this season: Jesus.
Really wanting the unloved (imagined or real) and unloving (sometimes real) to have merry Christmases and happy new years, our best counsel is to tell 'em about the existential and eternal love of Jesus for them.
The one time that I thought about that permanent solution to my temporary problems was when I did not feel very loved and wasn't very loving.
Jesus was/is/remains my/our/their answer.
Yes, there will be times demanding a quick trip to the hospital; and when in doubt about someone's suicidal feelings, don't assume three points and a poem will fix 'em. Get 'em to the hospital!
Everybody needs a bridge or Band-Aid on occasion.
But most often, in my experience and from what I've read/studied over the years, knowing Jesus is the only sure thing for healing the heart.
That's why we call Him our/their Lord and Savior.
Blessings and Love!
The subject of suicide has vexed me lately, as I have been alongside my sister who has been dangerously close since April. Your post today comes across as a little too glib and frustrating. But I will deal with my own feelings, and not subject you to them while I work things out in my own mind and heart.
However, there is one fact I want you to check out on your own before you make any other connections between suicide and the Christmas season. You did not say so directly, but many do, that during the holiday time suicides go up. The Centers for Disease Control actually keep statistics on this, and it turns out December has the lowest incidence of suicide. Check it out at http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html
The Rev. Mary Holder Naegeli
Walnut Creek, CA
Thanks, Mary, for your insights. You're right! It's a complex issue; however, again, in my experience/education, love (absence/presence) is usually the cause/cure of suicidal thoughts/actions. I will be asking divine dispensations for your sister in my prayers today.
Blessings and Love!
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