Prince of Peace

Gallup recently released a poll about the fall of mental health in America from 2019 to 2020. 
The survey across the States that spanned nineteen demographics from age to ethnicity to income to political persuasion to married status was a shocking, but not unexpected revelation of the state of mental health. 
What was a surprise to many was that there was only one group of people rating their mental health as excellent that actually had a rise in 2020. Every other column of the nineteen fell, many in double digits. 
The group that is doing better in mental health in 2020 over 2019 are people who attend church every single week. 
Funny how we look for answers in all the wrong places when the scriptures tell us “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” They would argue, and be backed statistically, that soundness of mind (mental health) can be found in the house of God. 
“You mean rich white people churches?!”
No. Rich white people had a decline in mental health, unless they attended church every week, but then poor black communities did tooJesus was born in a tiny town called Bethlehem and they wrapped him in strips of cloth and put him in a food trough for animals, but he was still the Son of God and brought power, love and soundness of mind with him. 
The shepherds found the Child easily enough, but the wise men went to the governmental palace in Jerusalem only to meet complication and a bit of insanity before the star appeared again and led them where they least expected to find the Prince of Peace. 
One would think that “experts” on covid (I use the term loosely) would have the best mental health, or government, or economic giants, or essential workers, but it would appear their mental health went downhill as well generally, unless they went to church every week. 
It could be argued that if the decision making of provincial and city leaders relied in any way on their mental health they should consider attending church weekly:)
Funny how there was noise at the beginning that churches may have been considered essential but were shut down and our movement and effectiveness limited in the extreme while companies that made roads got subbed in (and Walmart of course). 
Church leaders were not considered essential and removed from moving among the hurting at our own risk, but the stats would argue that we were absolutely essential to mental health in the very least. 
Weekly worship increases our sense of awe and wonder, it reminds us of a loving God who is looking out for us amidst the pains of earth which he shares with us, it reminds us that we tend to ignore God when things are going well and then wonder why the world implodes. It reminds us to look out for others at our own expense. It reminds us to forgive. It reminds us to look up. 
When awe and wonder go down, the scriptures also tell us our minds spin into destruction and don’t work properly. Perhaps like cancelling Christmas and the laughter of children, and telling Santa he’s no longer allowed and sure as heck had better stay away from our covid cookies and milk? That’s maybe all I’ll say about that. 
There’s a guy in my Venue group who told me over zoom last night that his old oil patch buddy has had seven friends commit suicide during covid. Seven!!! We received an email from my daughter’s high school saying another graduated student had too. There are many of these stories and they’re heartbreaking as the cure to covid might actually be worse than the virus. 
But it could also perhaps be our salvation this Christmas. 
I hate what covid is doing to our nation. I’m an 8 on the enneagram (yes, there are a few (somewhat:) healthy 8’s) which means I’m a Protector, and I have watched people in the city and nation I love run themselves and our great nation into the ground in less than a year. 
I have watched the madness and the suffering. I will have to hear the stories of the abuse and incredible warping damage done to children for decades resulting from this time. 
I have watched a nation’s walls fall down and it’s joy and soundness of mind plundered. It has been a nightmare year of pressure as we’ve chosen to keep the doors of Venue open after the shutdown while some neighbours looked fearfully over their fences and accused us of “spreading covid” and hating people (while a pastor friend on a call to the Commissioner of Public Safety of Minnesota was told “There’s no evidence of covid spread in churches”. Church potlucks in the early days don’t count Alberta…).
The wall of fear we’ve had to walk through just to help hurting people has been awful in so many ways, but do you want to know something? 
I’m in excellent mental health. My family is too. 
In fact, Venue people are doing extremely well right now economically, mentally, healthily (couldn’t think of a better word) in spite of what’s going on around them. The only people who aren’t are those who never made it back to church. 
Perhaps a simple Christmas is just what the doctor ordered this year? A return to the simple worship of our grandparents who knew just enough to ask God for help on a weekly basis? I believe with everything inside of me that 2020 could still be the best year of your life. 
My zoom-call friend was asked by the man who’d lost so many this year “So how are you doing?”
“Good” he replied. “We started going to church.”

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