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Preaching Relief

Today I met with my CPE mentor.  I really value her insights and appreciate that, in her, I see that she practices what she preaches.  We were  discussing pastoral visits with individuals suffering from mid-to-late stage dementia who have progressive deficits in speech.  This is my current growing edge of learning.  It can be a very hard place to be.  The speech pattern is what I call "jibber-jabber'.  There are occasional 'real' words amidst the pitter-patter of vocalizations, but it is difficult at best to gauge where an individual is, or to know just what to say.  My mentor suggested visits "without words", using only facial expressions and gestures to try to communicate and 'be with' the person.  She herself has a very expressive face and manner so she knows this method and uses it well,  When she tried to equate it to being with a pet after having been away for some time, I understood what she meant.  However, it didn't resonate fully with me because I talk to our 'boys' all the time.  Often, they respond to the things I say, but if they don't get my meaning, they can generally tell how I'm feeling, i.e., calm, hurried, gentle, forceful, happy, sad, mad, etc.   

The other topic during mentoring was my preaching opportunity for Advent IV (Dec. 23).  I'd learned the other day the PT staff chaplain I assist on Wednesday mornings will have family in town the week before Christmas.  Therefore, my mentor will be the Celebrant on the Sunday when I preach.  I asked about the typical Sunday congregation; their expectations of the preacher: a briefer homily of 3-5 minutes or a longer sermon of 6-10 minutes; weaving in all the lessons (OT, NT, Gospel + Psalms) or focusing on one reading.  She said there will be families accompanying residents, a sermon is fine, and to preach the Gospel, the Gospel, the Gospel!  Good.  Understood.  Since it's Matthew's account of the Birth of Jesus, it tells the story from Joseph's perspective.  I shared my initial thoughts for a sermon outline and received a favorable "thumbs up".  Cool!  Now I'm starting to get a little excited about this opportunity! 

Okay, enough blogging.  I've managed to put off long enough finishing the Empathic Listening exercise due for tomorrow's group.  And I have notes for Verbatim #3 which needs to be written.  There's also a rather hefty Family Systems Theory reading to complete before next week, and my Mid-Unit Evaluations to be written.  Hoo-boy!  I expect the tenor of the group will be tested during Evals.  Yes, it's about to get very interesting.  

Lord, help us.  Christ, deliver us.  Lord, redeem us.