Perspectives by Rev. Janet Evans

 

Love One Another, As I Have Loved You

This past weekend marked the second anniversary of “Run for Davi”. Friends and family ran, walked etc. in memory of David Freire, a fine young man who suffered from a mental illness and died at a young age.

Davi touched the lives of many people, and his family cherishes his memory by helping others who live with mental illness. Money raised as a result of “Run for Davi” goes directly to mental health research, care and support.

I had the privilege of presiding at David’s funeral service several years ago. I was struck by how much his mom and other relatives and friends loved him, how much they want to create a world where anyone suffering from a mental illness obtains proper help, is not stigmatized, is understood to be precious in God’s sight.

One of the best known lines in the Bible is “Love one another as I have loved you.” Perhaps we might reflect upon loving our neighbour in this month of May, this month which focuses on mental health awareness.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

During my years in ministry, I have often had people show concern for those with cancer, heart disease, addictions…yet those ill with a mental disorder sometimes receive little care and may even be ridiculed. Even clergy, a few of them, will say, “no one in my congregation has ever had a mental illness. I doubt that is true!

One in 10 is affected but as times no cards, phone calls etc. come to someone dealing daily with depression, schizophrenia, manic etc.

Mental illness can rob people of their joy, their dignity, their ability to function. Men, women and children can act “out of character” while suffering from an acute mental illness, but even when they apologize later, there is no forgiveness.

Unfortunately, some who profess to be atheists often show more compassion than those who profess to walk in God’s ways.

I urge all of us in this community to be the hands and feet of Christ by respecting those who are ill and celebrating when they begin to feel better.

In the eyes of God, we all have value: Perhaps we all need to remember that to ostracize the mentally ill is surely not the will of the Lord.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

Let us not blame any who are ill, but share of God’s love with our brothers and sisters everywhere. Know that you cannot possibly know how an individual with a mental illness feels–don’t presume to understand until you have walked a mile in his or her shoes.

Over the past months, I have been touched by the grace and light that has shone forth from David Freire’s dearest ones. May every one of us pass on God’s love in words and actions, as they do.

I believe that David is secure within God’s compassionate embrace. I believe that those who have gone before us are at peace and rest with God.

It is so comforting to know that whether we are healthy or ill, male or female, outgoing or reserved, God is with us. We are never alone. In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are never left desolate.

God sheds His love upon us–how blessed we are.

The goal of “Run for Davi” is to ensure he did not die in vain. His spirit lives on and can encourage all of us to raise awareness and money to fund treatment and research for Mental Health.

God calls us to be His faithful disciples–to minister to the ill, the hurting, the forgotten. God can bring joy out of sorrow, comfort out of pain, resurrection out of death.

In God we have our hope, our inspiration.

Amen.

 

Rev. Janet Evans, 

Iroquois United Church

 

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