More on the Healing Ministry at St. Paul’s
October 20, 2016 by Rev. Helen Trainor
The healing of a man with leprosy in chapter five of Luke’s gospel is one of the most revealing stories about the nature of Christian healing in the gospels. Even today, when we know that leprosy is a disease of the central nervous system and not contagious, we dread even the thought of leprosy. In Jesus’ time, lepers were so dreaded that they were required by law to stand apart from everyone else and cry out: “Unclean, unclean” to anyone approaching. Every person with leprosy, reduced to rags and compelled to wander the countryside, had once had a family, friends, and a home.
So imagine what it would have been like for the man with leprosy to see Jesus approaching him instead of shunning him. Instead of revulsion, the man with leprosy saw eyes of deep empathy and love. And as the man with leprosy would have been crying out “unclean, unclean”, he would have felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, the sweet solidarity of human touch.
Christian healing occurs when, in our suffering, we cry out to God in desperation for relief. When we do that, God cannot respond except with love. God’s love is offered out of God’s own deep empathy with our suffering—an empathy that came from God’s own experience among us, sharing our suffering, the most essential human condition. The primary focus of God’s overwhelming love for us—and recall that Jesus would have believed that in touching the man with leprosy, he risked catching the disease himself—is the healing of our suffering at whatever the cost to God.
In touching the man with leprosy, Jesus reached out over a chasm of dread and rejection. And so, touch is at the heart of the Christian healing rite. That touch conveys God’s own compassion for us and his solidarity with our suffering. If the underlying condition of the suffering is cured, that is merely the result of the deeper healing that has occurred.
We will be offering the healing rite on the second Sunday of every month at all services, starting on Saturday/Sunday, November 12th and 13th. At the Sunday services, a kneeler will be provided to the left of the altar rail, as you face the altar, near the red suspended lamp. At the Saturday evening service, the healing rite will be offered to the right of the altar. You are invited and encouraged to participate in the healing rite as you come up to receive communion or afterwards, assured that your prayers will be heard by God and also kept in the strictest confidence.
A Note on Healing Ministry at St. Paul’s
October 13, 2016, by Rev. Helen Trainor
Jesus, during his lifetime, was perhaps best known for his power to heal people. The gospels tell us that crowds of people followed Him wherever he went, begging and pleading to touch or be touched by Him. The gospels recount many stories of healing, all of them different, but all sharing a common feature: someone came forward in faith and asked for healing, either on his or her own behalf, or on behalf of another person. That was the only invitation Jesus needed to pour out His love.
Empowered by the risen Jesus, we are now living in the age of the Holy Spirit, the power of God among us as healer. But, since Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet on the earth, our participation is also essential! As it is being envisioned at St. Paul’s, the healing rite will involve two trained healing ministers, one standing in front of the supplicant and one standing behind. The person seeking healing through prayer (the supplicant) kneels or stands as both ministers lay hands on his/her head or shoulders. The ministers then offer prayer for the healing requested. The ministers will then also offer anointing with holy oil, a sign of God’s gift of love and restoration to wholeness.
The language in the rite of “Laying on of Hands With Prayer and Anointing” in the Book of Common Prayer eloquently describes what the healing rite is. As the ministers lay hands on the supplicant, they may pray: “In the name of God and trusting in His might alone, receive Christ’s healing touch to make you whole. May Christ bring you wholeness of body, mind, and spirit, deliver you from every evil, and give you his peace. Amen.” When the ministers anoint with holy oil, they may pray: “I anoint you in the name of God who gives you life. Receive Christ’s healing and love. May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant you the riches of his wholeness and his peace. Amen.” (Common Worship: Pastoral Services, page 21)