Sermon Series: SAD – Spiritual Affective Disorder
Title: Flip the Switch
January 6, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
“Millions of people suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression. Some experience this only seasonally, others endure these maladies every day of their life. If you don’t, chances are you are close to someone who does.”
Many of you know that I have had depression all my life. As a little girl I can remember an overwhelming sadness when I was by myself. Thankfully being the youngest of four didn’t give me much time to be alone. In college I went through a deep depression, contemplating suicide at one point but couldn’t bring myself to go through with it.
I didn’t begin taking treatment for it until after I had my son, Calvin. For 28 years now, I have been dutifully taking my medication and am living a balanced life as a result. Several times over the years I have tried to stop taking the medication, only to realize that my quality of life was not great without my antidepressant medication. The malaise and unending sadness darkened my world to the point that I couldn’t function.
Our series on Spiritual Affective Disorder is a play on the depressive disorder that often plagues folks during the winter months, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, it’s called. I was reading up about it and found that some of the symptoms of the winter-type is oversleeping, appetite changes (like over eating), especially craving foods high in carbohydrates, weight gain and tiredness or low energy. I don’t know about you but that pretty much summed up my Christmas holiday! Anyone else?
I call it my holiday hangover. My mind is begging me to throw out all the treats and goodies that were gifted to our family and to go back to my healthier, leaner diet. My stomach says, “just one more truffle! Afterall, it’s Christmas time.” With the new year I think of possible resolutions to move my body, to get back to the yoga studio, and basically to get off the couch!
This past year has been a challenge for me. Although I didn’t realize it when I mapped out our series for the year, this particular series is just what I need – a reminder to flip the switch, to reconnect to the divine through simple and effective spiritual practices, to pull myself out of the holiday hangover I’ve been stuck in. Anyone else feeling a lack of motivation?
I sort of feel like Paul, in Romans 7:15, where he says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Time to flip the switch!
Since we are a church not a therapy center and you’re here for spiritual enlightenment not psychotherapy, we will focus our attention this series on the Spiritual Affective Disorder and begin to look each week at spiritual practices that will help us to get ourselves out of the mid-winter blues and back into the light.
“While not a replacement for medical resources to alleviate depression, we will see how experiencing the everyday activities of our lives as blessing, filing us with God’s offer of radiance, that God can offer us a chance to be filled with the Light in whom we believe. This first week we affirm that the very act of “arising” each day is a gift from God.”
I think it’s time to flip the switch! It’s time to change our direction. It’s time to turn away from the darkness that is bogging us down and face the light, fully, completely, to allow the warmth of God’s love and grace to radiate into our very soul. To literally glow with God so that we understand that there is NOTHING we can’t do when we’re connected to the source.
When we allow ourselves to flip the switch that’s when the love and grace happens.
Notice that I said, when we allow ourselves to flip the switch. You all know that the switch is right here…it’s here for all of us. It will only be turned on when we choose to flip it. God provides the switch, it’s up to us to choose to turn on the light. When we choose to allow the Light of Christ to take control and not sit alone in the dark wishing for someone else to come and flip the switch, our lives are transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Through the spiritual disciples we’re going to focus on during this eight-week series, each of us will be given tools that we can use to help light the fire, to redirect a burning flame and to continue to move forward on our journey toward Christ, toward perfection, toward the fulfillment of our calling; to be disciples of Jesus Christ, here to transform our world.
Jennifer shared with me this week part of an article that we’ll be putting into the newsletter. It was from Rev. Charles Stanley’s Intouch Devotional, where he asked, “are you a spectator or a participant. Are you a spectator seeking what you can get or a participant looking for ways to give to someone else?”
Is your light turned on? Or is it turned off?
Our scripture points out that light is the opposite of darkness. “This light is identified clearly with God’s epiphany: “the Lord will rise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
We just celebrated the birth of Christ. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Christ is our light. He taught his disciples, 14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Flip the switch sisters and brothers. We know God is light. We know we are children of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ. Then why do we fight the urge to come into the light? Why do we feel somehow safer in the darkness? Coming into the light brings joy and peace, and gives each of us the opportunity to fully live into our call by God to share his love with one another. When we allow the light to permeate all of ourselves, when God’s love is so evident that it nearly is coming out of our pores, others will see that joy and want what you have.
This series will require each of us to “do something.” There will be great opportunity to be participants rather than spectators. At the end of worship, while we are singing, This Little Light of Mine, we will pass out a votive candle for everyone along with a spiritual practice homework card. Your homework is to use this votive candle to bring the Light of Christ into your spiritual practice of prayer and meditation. Turn an ordinary activity into a time of prayer – driving your car, taking a shower, mowing the lawn or doing dishes – while you’re doing one of these things, say a short blessing prayer – two suggestions are provided on the card with your candle.
I’d like to close this morning with a poem from Esther Leclerc called Light And Darkness.
Light And Darkness – Poem by Esther Leclerc | Poem Hunter
bodies house life
life houses souls
souls house light
light shrinks from darkness
darkness douses light…
yet Light overcomes darkness
with spiritual sight
…in the beginning was darkness
darkness again at the end
awaiting those who despise Light – –
Light’s gift of love for all men
yes, Light overcomes darkness
with love’s perfect sight
 Isaiah 60:1
 John 1:14, The Message Translation