Healing Services: What Are They?
As Christian people, we believe that God’s intent for all of God’s creation is wholeness and abundance of life. As it is recorded in the 10th Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us “I have come so they may have life and have it abundantly.” Unfortunately, that has not been a reality for so many people. Our own human frailty, accidents at no fault of our own, and even the sinfulness of humankind have caused pain, suffering, and even poor health. These are not the will of God. Even worse, there are those that proclaim the name of Christ while also preaching a message of a God of divine retribution that inflicts human suffering as punishment. To see a God that inflicts suffering and pain is to see not the God of Jesus, but a distortion of the one true God that we know weeps for our pain and stands with us when we can no longer stand for ourselves.
The Bible contains so many signs and miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles that point us towards the desire of God for human wholeness. Yet, when we speak of healing in regards to the church we speak to something different than curing. Following a prayer for healing an individual and society may still suffer, but we trust that even in the darkest of valleys God is still at work. Think of the sign of the cross - a symbol of one of the most feared devices of torture and death in the ancient world. There on Good Friday hung the body of our savior, the body of the Son of God...and yet there hung the very essence of our salvation in the midst of such pain. There God stood with all of humankind, past, present, and yet to come.
So, what does healing look like? It looks like increased faith in the midst of times like these. It can be found in the love that empowers a society, a people, a neighborhood to come together and bring about the unity and wholeness within our power even in the face of destruction. Healing is also found when we are able to find the gifts and treasures in the midst of tragedy and destruction. It is when we are able to put together the pieces of our shattered lives and find meaning.
In the description of the Healing Services, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship prayerbook (ELW) tells us: “The Order for Healing may be used in a variety of circumstances in the church’s ministry of care. Those who sense the need for God’s healing in any aspect of their lives may receive the gifts of prayer and of the laying on of hands, which may be accompanied by anointing with oil. These signs, first given in baptism, tell us again that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked forever with the cross of Christ, who is health and salvation for the whole world. In its ministry of healing, the church does not replace the gifts of God that come through the scientific community, nor does it promise a cure. The church offers and celebrates gifts such as these: God’s presence with strength and comfort in time of suffering, God’s promise of wholeness and peace, and God’s love embodied in the community of faith.”
While the anointing of individuals with oil will not be part of our healing service this Sunday - we will still celebrate the wholeness of God in and amongst our church and the world. Please join us on the 17th at 4 pm via Zoom to participate in this holy service with one another.
Yours in Christ,