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April 13, 2007

Stressed out?


Monday, April 16, is “Stress Awareness Day.”

This news comes from Germany via e-mail from Jeffrey Myers, the American pastor of St. Paul’s Congregation, or St. Paulsgemeinde, in Frankfurt am Main, who contributes to The Lutheran from time to time. Jeff can always be counted on for interesting, trans-continental reflections, and so his note about the international observance of the worldwide experience of stress comes with two definitions: The earliest, dating to the Middle English destresse and meaning “hardship, affliction, distress” and now obsolete. (Really?) And more recently, from Scott Adams in his Dilbert comic strip: “Stress is you body’s way of saying you haven’t worked enough unpaid overtime.”

And then there are the “10 essentials” to deal with stress:
1. Breath deeply
2. Drink water
3. Sleep peacefully
4. Eat nutritiously
5. Enjoy activity
6. Give and receive love
7. Be forgiving
8. Practice gratitude
9. Develop acceptance
10. Develop a relationship with God

I do wonder about the order of those recommendations.  Maybe we should take some time to ponder that over the weekend—especially on Sunday, the Sabbath—and see if there’s a clue to why we do get stressed out. For a cyber companion in your reflection, meet Dawn Hansen at Cafe, the e-zine of Women of the ELCA.

But it also occurs to me that we’re heading into travel season, which can be a source of tremendous refreshment—and serious stress. If your summer plans include time in Germany’s crossroads city of Frankfurt am Main, consider a visit to the St. Paul’s Congregation. It’s home is the Alte Nikolaikirche (Old Nicholas Church) on Frankfurt’s historic market square. And because of it’s location in the center of this central city, the congregation has an “Open Church” ministry of day-and-night hospitality that provides international visitors with everything from guided walking tours to a quite niche to pray and light a candle to evenings in the sanctuary with music till midnight.

There’s much more—and much our ELCA congregations can learn about outreach. It all comes, says the web site, from the congregation’s understanding of the Greek term for hospitality, a combination of two words meaning “love for strangers.”  What an antidote to stress—others’ and our own!

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