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“I have witnessed faith in action within and

through the members of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection,” she said. “They showered us with prayers, cards, phone calls, visits, hugs, and offers of meals and support. I know my recovery was made possible by the love and prayers poured out to us.” In March, Marth was diagnosed with breast

cancer. She underwent surgery and has several months of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation treatment ahead of her. Again, she quickly credits her faith for helping her stay strong. “My faith has remained growing and centered

on Jesus Christ, my savior,” she said. “My faith family has rallied around my family and me once again. I am known affectionately as ‘God’s miracle.’ During my hospital stay and the cancer diagnosis, I have literally been carried by the power of healing prayer and can attest to God’s abundant grace through faith. I know God has a remarkable purpose for me.”

‘Our communities of faith have, as a tradition and out of conviction, committed ourselves to being specialists in providing support to those in need.’

While there is no guarantee that a secular

community that meets regularly wouldn’t have the same socialization benefits that a faith family provides, Taylor thinks religious communities have a “head start,” so to speak, because they have traditions and practices that have been passed down from generation to generation. “Our communities of faith have centuries of

practice offering support,” he said. “Crystallized in the Sermon on the Mount, Christianity’s tradition places charity and the care of widows, orphans, the sick, the imprisoned and the poor at the center of our faith’s action in the world. Our communities of faith have, as a tradition and out of conviction, committed ourselves to being specialists in providing support to those in need.” So what is religion good for? While that answer

varies depending on one’s religious tradition and experiences, the more one’s faith life develops and adapts, the more possibility it has to enhance someone’s health and contribute to sustained happiness throughout life.

For a study guide, find this article at

Brandsrud is an associate editor of Living Lutheran.

18 JUNE 2016

Practices of a tangible faith By Rochelle Melander

When my daughter was 3 she had a series of seizures. Someone said to me, “You’ll be OK; your strong faith will get you through.” I was an ordained ELCA pastor with two master’s degrees, but I had no idea how something as intangible as faith could carry me through the unknown days ahead. Looking back, I can see that God strengthened and sustained me through the people and practices of the faith community.

The following practices can make an intangible faith seem more evident and have been associated with multiple health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, reducing rates of depression and anxiety, and boosting the sense of life satisfaction.

Connecting In the days following my daughter’s seizures, my husband and I camped out at the hospital. Family and friends called and stopped by, bringing food, hugs and gifts. I called friends, colleagues and clients to share what had happened.

TRY: Go to church. Learn the names of a few people and connect with them each week. Engage with your community by joining a Bible study, work team or discussion group. But don’t limit your faith connections to church. I exercise daily with people from a variety of denominations. Their greetings and smiles start my day right.

Focusing and savoring After my daughter’s seizures, her medical team told us to watch her carefully. The seizures could happen at any time and she could be in danger if she was near water or stairs. Being on seizure watch caused anxiety and affected our ability to work, but it also brought a gift. We played and laughed with our daughter. I still treasure those memories. The practice of attending to the present moment is called mindfulness and recalling it is called savoring.

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