Beyond Job’s Friends: Accompanying Those in Trauma Pits

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The afterlife of traumatic experiences and long-term stress lives in our bodies. It impacts nearly every part of congregational life, including how we relate to ourselves, each other, and God.

When and how do leaders name this trauma outright? How do trauma and trauma-informed care fit within the Biblical story or call for adaptation of worship and faith formation? How do we coach others out of sympathy into empathy that leads to care and action (compassion) against sources of ongoing trauma? How do we take care of ourselves and our own pain? To varying degrees, everyone has experienced some trauma from the COVID-19 pandemic. How do we walk alongside them now? Let’s talk about it.

A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance

Tony Rodriguez was a compassionate and well-respected trauma therapist who devoted his life to helping survivors thrive until his life was cut short in a tragic accident. Traumatized by the sudden loss of her husband and overwhelmed by the impact of his untimely death on their two sons, Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez was determined to blaze a path toward healing.

From the excruciating days immediately following his death to navigating the bewildering labyrinth of young widowhood, to forging a new life for herself and her sons, A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance chronicles her story with unabashed honesty and deep vulnerability, blended with authentic faith and teeth-clenching determination to do the hard work of healing. Ohman-Rodriguez retraces her own steps out of trauma’s grasp from the depths of despair back to the joy of living.

This book is infused with Jennifer’s heartfelt prayers, real-life applications of somatic and spiritual healing practices, and the kind of profound and practical wisdom that only reveals itself in life’s moments of truth.

A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance
Honest to God Preaching

Honest to God Preaching

Old Testament scholar and interpreter Brent A. Strawn focuses on the importance of honesty in preaching, especially around three challenging Old Testament themes: sin, suffering, and violence. He makes the case that preaching honestly is critical in the church today. Without honesty regarding these topics, there is no way forward to reconciliation, health, and recovery.

Further, it is imperative for today's preachers to deal with the questions of faith arising from these themes in the biblical text itself. In addition to key scripture passages, he turns to several contemporary authors and works as dialogue partners on the three themes.

Asserting that keeping secrets can lead to a kind of sickness, Strawn uses texts from the Pentateuch and the Psalms to model honesty about sin, without which there can be no reconciliation, and honesty about suffering, without which there can be no healing. He also looks at the book of Joshua and various psalms to model honesty about violence, which can serve as a way to contain, limit, and ultimately transcend violence.

Strawn frames these themes specifically for working preachers, so they can create sermons that speak to these thorny themes with depth and clarity.

What You’ll Gain

  • Tools for conflict management, storytelling and empathetic listening
  • A better sense of the universality of unhealed traumatic experiences
  • Ways of experiencing poetry and the arts as a way of unpacking racial trauma
  • Tools for recognizing unhealed trauma impacting congregational conflict
  • A highly nuanced approach to traumatic healing
  • Common points in ministry when sensitivity to trauma is crucial
  • Trauma-informed approaches to worship, preaching, teaching, equity work, and pastoral care


Learn More

Trauma, in all its forms, can feel like an injustice. That’s because it is. As people who have all experienced trauma in one form or another, it’s safe to imagine that we wanted, needed, or deserved something different – something less traumatic. We may not be able to restore the past, but we can repair the future.

Meet the Authors

Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez, M.Div., M. Ed.

Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez recently graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota with a Master of Divinity degree. During the height of the pandemic, she served as Vicar in a sole pastoral presence to the congregation of St. Andrew Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Currently, Ohman-Rodriguez is awaiting her first call in Word and Sacrament ministry in the ELCA. Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez’s first book, A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance: A Love Story of Grief, Trauma, Healing, and Faith, was released earlier this year and is published by Chalice Press. She also curates Trauma Recovery at Compassionate Christianity. Ohman-Rodriguez’s extensive work in faith formation curricula published by 1517 Media and Westminster John Knox Press is in the resources Spark, Whirl, Frolic, Feasting on the Word, Christ in our Home, Sundays and Seasons, as well as in leader sourcebooks accompanying the work the Dan Erlander. Her magazine articles and essays appear in Gather, The Christian Century, Young Children, Young Children and the Creative Arts, QC Family Focus, The Lutheran, The Lutheran Digest, Zoay, Books Make a Difference, The Living Lutheran, Faith+Lead as well as The Little Lutheran and The Little Christian. Ohman-Rodriguez worked in the early care and education field for twenty years earning a Master of Education degree from the Erikson Institute for Advanced Studies in Child Development in Chicago, Illinois. Before becoming an educator, Ohman-Rodriguez was a professionally trained musician with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Brent Strawn, Ph.D.

Brent A. Strawn is a Professor of Old Testament and Professor of Law at Duke University. He specializes in ancient Near Eastern iconography, Israelite religion, legal traditions of the Old Testament, and Old Testament theology. He has appeared on CNN numerous times on topics ranging from the Bible to politics, Pope Francis, religious holidays, and gun violence. Listen to his interview on an episode of the Working Preacher Books podcast here.

Practicing justice includes a commitment to healing from trauma – individually as well as communally. This is an opportunity to do just that. Please join us.

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