Mental Health Sunday Service Content

Service preparation- If you do not feel confident in taking a service on well-being you many want to read up on what well-being is and discuss it with others. In the previous section you will find some materials to help you on this. In addition, to support the Well-being Service, Christians from the Action for Happiness Northants Hub are offering a Zoom session to discuss the Ten Keys and any questions that you might have on the following dates:

  • Friday Jan 8th at 4:00pm
  • Saturday Jan 9th at 10:00am

If you would like to join in on one of these sessions, please e-mail [email protected]. If you are holding a Well-being Sunday at a later date do get in touch and we can arrange a session on an alternative date.

1.   Personal testimony – You might have someone in your congregation who could contribute to the service, in the form of an interview, testimony, a reading or preaching. Personal testimony can be very powerful.

2.   Video Clip-10 keys to Happier Living by Peter Harper, Clinical Psychologist – you might want to play the video clip in the service or use it to inform your preparation.

3.   Exploring some of the 10 Keys in the Four Lectionary Readings for Jan 17th: From these readings there are many examples of how our relationship with God enhances our well-being. That is not say that life is all perfect, we know it is not and that life happens to us all, but our resilience and ability to bounce back is strengthened through our relationship with God. Examples of the Ten Keys can be found in each of these readings and are indicated by the red text.

3.1    1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

This reading is about listening and calling.

Listening- messages from the Lord were rare in those days v1. Samuel hears someone calling and thinks it is Eli, so goes to him. Eli sends him back to bed twice, but on the third time he realises that it could be God calling him. Eli did listen to him, he took him seriously and told him that if he hears the voice again he should respond by saying, ‘Yes, Lord you servant is listening’ v9. How important it is to listen and to hear what someone is saying. To value what a person is saying and not to dismiss them out of hand. If Eli had not taken Samuel’s experience seriously and shown the boy how to listen to God how would he have learned to hear God’s calling?

Listening is a skill we sometimes underestimate. Both Listening to God and listening to each other. Being listened to is very important for someone is struggling with their mental health. Giving time to listen, giving your attention is both of value to the one being listened to and the listener.

God calls Samuel:

  • Into relationship with Him (Relating) and subsequently many others.
  • For a special task (Goal, Direction) which will involve a lot of learning and many new opportunities
  • To be part of something bigger- Meaning and purpose

This time of year, is a time when life is often quieter, shorter days, poorer weather- for many less to do in terms of holidays, gardening, socialising etc. It can be a time of reflection, retreat and prayer to seek God’s will and purpose. New year, new beginnings can be a time for planning- tricky at the moment with COVID but still important because it provides glimmers of hope in dark times.

3.2    Psalm 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18

This might lend itself well to talking about mental wellbeing. People who are living with depression especially can find it hard to believe that others care for them and that they are important. Hearing about a God who is intimately and profoundly concerned with them, who loves them and will not let them go, might be a good way into talking about mental wellbeing.

Whether we are aware of God or not, we are known completely by the God to whom “all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden”.

God has made us acceptable just as we are, But do we accept ourselves as we are? Self-acceptance, warts and all, is critical in developing our emotional resilience. Recognising that we are not perfect this side of eternity, but God still wants to work with us and use us…. contributes to our direction and meaning, being part of something bigger

Psalm 139 tells us that our identity is rooted not in the things that we say about ourselves or the labels others assign us, or in a diagnosis, ‘but in God who knows us more deeply and more lovingly than we could ever know ourselves.’

3.3    1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Paul is giving clear instructions about how we look after ourselves. The reason behind this is because our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. There is not condemnation here, rather a focus on the importance of looking after the place where the Spirit of God abides. Interesting that this Lectionary reading comes after excesses of Christmas. Perhaps a good time to take stock of how we look after ourself. Proactively looking after yourself, taking care of your body, exercising, being careful how much you eat, drink etc is also important in developing emotional resilience. The idea ‘because I am worth looking after’ is not one we often explore, but perhaps we should. How often do we consider that we are precious and loved by God and therefore worth taking care of

3.4     John 1:43-51

Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to be His disciples. Calling them into a relationship with Him. A relationship which will take the to try out many new things– to go to new places, to live by faith, to listen to God, to do extraordinary things (Philip and the Eunuch from Ethiopia). They were called to be part of something very much bigger, something which would give them purpose and meaning, that would mark out how they were and change their lives.

4.   All Age Service idea from the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF).

4.1 It is hard to find someone in a crowd.

Use a “Where’s Wally?” – type of book to play a game of spotting an individual.

What helps us spot a person in a crowd? (height, hair colour, other characteristics etc.). Each person is unique and special but in a crowd it is hard to find one particular person. If that is true for us finding someone, what about God finding us among the 6 billion people on this planet?

4.2 The Bible says that God knows all about us; that is why he can always find us and never loses sight of us on crowded planet earth.

Read Psalm 139 verses 1-18

4.33. To God we are not just part of a faceless crowd. We are so special and unique that to God we always stand out in the crowd. This means he hears our prayers, cares about our situation and has special plans for us to discover during our lifetime.

(Allen C. McSween in Feasting on the Word.)

5.   Alternatively, you might wish to choose a completely different Bible reading- such as one of the Psalms of lament or the Sermon on the Mount.

6.   This edition of Preach Magazine has a focus on Mental Health and may be a helpful place to start thinking about the well-being and mental health of the congregation and future services. It is free to download https://www.preachweb.org/preaching-and-mental-health-issue