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Resources for Desert Times

The arrival of the COVID-19 virus in 2020 has been a challenge worldwide. Communities of faith have striven to find creative ways to stay connected. Sometimes Christian leaders struggle to maintain a buoyancy in their own faith even as they support and encourage those in their care. We offer the resources here as a gift from our community to encourage you in your ministry and life of faith. Check back often for updates!

Communion During COVID

In response to questions about how to approach the sacrament of communion during the coronavirus pandemic, The Reverend Dr. Jennifer Lord, the Dorothy B. Vickery Professor of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies at Austin Seminary, offers three encouragements for ministerial leaders. This is one part of a three part series which includes, a video on "An Earthly Need of the Soul" by, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Rigby and a webinar on Friday, October 30th, where both scholars will converse about their perspectives and field questions from pastors.Building on Professor Lord's insights in "Being the Bread,"

The Reverend Dr. Cynthia L. Rigby, the W.C. Brown Professor of Theology at Austin Seminary,  reflects theologically on how we are thinking about bodies in these strange times and what they have to do with celebrating the Lord's Supper. She reminds us that bodies are created good, that they are broken, and that they are taken up, in Christ, into the life of God. Finally, she frames the chewing and swallowing of the bread and cup as an "earthly need of the soul."

Resources suggested by Professor Helsel

• That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief

• Alan Jones, Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality, Harper, 1985.

• Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, Abingdon, 1975.

• Jean Pierre-de Caussade, The Sacrament of the Present MomentTrans. Kitty Muggeridge, Harper, 1989.

• Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled IdentitySimon & Schuster, 1963. Discussses the experience of stigma surrounding illness and disease.

• Arthur Frank, The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness & EthicsU. of Chicago Press, 1995. Discusses the difference between illness and disease and how people manage these transitions.

• Wendy Farley, The Wounding & Healing of DesireWJKP, 2005. Discusses how we allow our soul’s dispositions to transform through an encounter with God’s grace in contemplation.

To support all pastors and congregations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Westminster John Knox Press is offering a free ebook of their popular lectionary preaching commentary (Cynthia Rigby, co-editor). This volume covers Lent through Pentecost. If you prefer print, you can save 35% on this volume and volume 3, which releases this month and you can preorder now. Click on the button below for the free Kindle edition.

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Video messages from President Ted Wardlaw