Speaking Into Silence: Services of Hope and Healing for Today's Congregations
As many theologians and pastors have pointed out, there is much fertile ground to be discovered in combining worship with intentional pastoral care and vice versa. This concept of pastoral care being integrated into worship is rooted in the theology of an incarnational God who is intimately involved with our daily lives. When we worship God, we encounter God’s presence, which is inherently full of grace, mercy, and love. There are times in our lives when this encounter is desperately needed for what we refer to as “healing.” Unlike physical healing, spiritual and mental healing often requires that which goes beyond the body, yet involves the body. Worship services can offer this.
As a pastor, I have taken vows to walk with people through life, to care for and nurture them spiritually. A large part of this responsibility is leading them in worship and helping them make sense of their lives, as well as helping them find words to express their life experiences as they commune with God.
This thesis will explore how the Protestant Church has ministered to congregants (or failed to minister to them) through two specific life experiences: miscarriage and sexual abuse. Through surveys and interviews, I will share real stories and examples of how these individuals felt cared for (or uncared for). Finally, I will offer new liturgy for worship services that might offer pastoral care to people in similar situations. Each service will include liturgy, suggested music, Scripture passages recommended for a sermon, and ideas for interactive elements that will allow people to acknowledge their feelings and stand together in community while turning to God for hope and healing.
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