It Is Well - Theme for 2023-2024

Life is a lot. We are swimming in  
    •    busy schedules and competing priorities, 
    •    distressing global issues and disruptive social ills, 
    •    personal griefs and family transitions, 
    •    changes in our health due to illness or aging, 
    •    isolation and loneliness, 
    •    continual stimulation from technology, 
    •    demanding work environments and financial worries, and 
    •    spiritual questions and existential anxieties.  
Given these realities, it is easy to normalize a life that is unwell, or perhaps a life that might look “well” on the outside but is really a façade or not fully authentic. But when we do so, we are left feeling empty, unseen, or unable to reach our full potential. We all long to be well, but so many of us have no idea how to truly “be well” in a holistic, compassionate way.  

While it's tempting to compartmentalize “wellness” into what happens when we’re at the gym (physical wellness) or in the therapist’s office (emotional wellness) or at church (spiritual wellness) or in the classroom (mental wellness) – Jesus invites us to see wellness as something that is integrated within our full selves and that involves all people through teaching, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). 

This year’s theme, “It is Well…” is inspired by the greatest commandment and by the hymn It is Well with my Soul which was written during a time of great tragedy and loss. “It is Well…” is not a trite phrase to sugar-coat over all that is wrong in our lives or the world. Rather, to proclaim “It is Well…” is to speak into being a centeredness in God and in the fullness of who we are created to be, even in the midst of the swirling waters. How do we cultivate peace during chaos? How do we experience wellness even when our lives are a whirlwind?  

The journey toward wellness is a continuum; it is cyclical, not linear. Through scripture and preaching, song and silence, individual assessments, and shared tools and discussions we will explore wellness and wholeness throughout this year in a variety of ways:
    •    In the Fall, we repeatedly proclaim “It is Well…” as we focus on holistic wellness within each of us as individuals – heart, mind, body, and soul. Our foundation is threefold: 1) Jesus’ teaching: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30), 2) the hymn It is Well With My Soul, and 3) resources and tools of assessment for heart, mind, body, and soul. 
    •    In Advent, we ask “How Does a Weary World Rejoice?” Each weekly sub-theme includes a “we” statement because joy is deeply relational and rooted in the fact that we belong to God. In this season we create space for acknowledging the weariness of our world while celebrating God’s closeness with great joy.  
    •    In Epiphany, we explore “The Well BEing of Jesus” through stories of healing and faith and Jesus’ own practices of care and community – looking to his life as an example for our own.  
    •    In Lent, we dive deeper – asking “How DO we become well?” – through identifying barriers to our wellbeing and working on how to self-assess when and how we are not well. This is vulnerable, yet essential work to do in overcoming the challenges we have to being well and staying well.   
    •    In Eastertide, we dream together about “The World Made Well…” returning to the second part of the greatest commandment – to love our neighbors as ourselves – as we focus on the collective wellbeing of our community and world. As we explore how to cultivate trust, belonging, and change through acknowledging and lamenting systemic and societal injustice, two quotes anchor us in this work:  
    •    “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)  
    •    "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.) 

St. Irenaeus, the great second-century theologian, expressed the essence of Christianity with the adage “the glory of God is a human being fully alive." May it be so for us Calvary, as we focus on our wellbeing, individual and collective, this year. May we learn to proclaim together with assurance and hope: “It is Well…”