Colleen Montgomery, Salem, VA

Warm-up Question

How would you define the feeling of burnout? Have you or someone you know experienced burnout? 

Burned Out

Americans across the country are resigning from their jobs in mass numbers. Though you may not be in the working world yet, chances are that you know an adult who has resigned from their job sometime since March of 2020. Maybe your teacher or your medical provider has resigned. 

One of the major reasons cited for resigning is burnout. The feeling of extreme exhaustion due to prolonged stress makes it difficult to take care of oneself and work. While burnout isn’t an official medical diagnosis, it does affect your physical and mental health. Preparing food is harder. Moving throughout the day feels like a challenge. You experience additional stress knowing that your school work or job performance isn’t at the level you would like. All of these put additional stress on your body and mind. 

Even if you haven’t experienced burnout, my guess is that you have felt increased stress because of the pandemic and all the changes that have happened in your life and in the world because of it. None of us are the best versions of ourselves. 

Figuring out how to take care of ourselves and others when we are facing high stress or burnout is tricky. Each person’s experience is different. Black, Indigneous, and people of color face additional stressors from racist structures in our country that affect their school, work, family, and health. Likewise, members of the LGBTIA+ face discrimination that affects their lives as well. For those of us who are white, like me, it is important for us to learn about, strive to understand, and then work to improve the discriminatory practices of our society. The same goes for the allies of the LGBTIA+ community. Again, managing our own needs and caring for the community around us is challenging. 

Discussion Questions

  • How do you take care of yourself when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed? 
  • Who in your life is experiencing burnout? What is a simple way that you can show them you care for them?
  • How can you show care and compassion for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); LGBTQIA+,  and other marginalized individuals communities in your school, workplace, family, and community? 

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Jeremiah 17:5-10

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Luke 6:17-26

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

When I think about where I find myself in today’s gospel lesson, I know right where I would be. I am one of the people in the crowd who has come to Jesus for healing. It’s easy to pass over these first verses, but they help to set the scene for us. People from all over the region, from all walks of life have come to Jesus to be healed or to seek healing for someone they care about. 

I see myself as one of the many who have come to Jesus. Maybe you can imagine yourself there too. The tired, burned out, stressed out are all there. And we bring with us those who are sick and ailing from any number of illnesses, diseases, or mental health concerns. We gather to be healed and then we stay and listen to the words that Jesus has to share. 

Jesus begins with a word of blessing. He offers grace, compassion, and comfort to those who experience poverty, hunger, grief and sadness, and discrimination. If you have experienced any of those hardships, Jesus’ words are for you. 

Then Jesus goes on to share warnings. He warns those who experience wealth, food security, lack of grief, and privilege that life will not always be so good. All of us who are living through this pandemic, know that our circumstances can change overnight. Jesus shares this warning to remind those gathered there (and those listening today) to care for those who experience hardship.  Someday it could be us. We are all together in this thing called life. 

This gospel both comforts us in our burnout, exhaustion, and illness, and also challenges us in our security and privilege to care for those around us as well. 

Discussion Questions

  • What is going on in your life or in the lives of those you care for which urges you to sit at the feet of Jesus?
  • How has God or God’s people been there for you when you have experienced hardship?
  • Does your church or community support those who experience poverty, hunger, grief, and discrimination? How can you join in those efforts? 

Activity Suggestions

  • Look at a biblical map to locate Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. How far apart are these places? How long would it take to walk between them? 
  • Write, paint, draw, or create in another way blessings to those in your life who are in need of encouragement. You can send them via snail mail, text, or another type of messenger. 
  • Take individually wrapped food treats to local schools or hospitals to support teachers and healthcare workers. 

Closing Prayer

God of all compassion, we come to you with weary hearts, minds, and bodies. We are worried as we watch burnout effect so many in our lives and community. Help us to know ourselves, so that we know when we need to rest, to seek help, and to support others. Remind us that you are always with us. Amen.