Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Part of what it means to be human–to be alive–is to experience pain, hurt, and even trauma. There are the physical pains that come from injury, congenital conditions, diseases, and just the ordinary aging process. There are the mental pains that come from mental disorders, abuse and neglect, unskillful patterns of thinking, toxic relationships, and not being in control of our past, present, and future. There are the spiritual pains of experiencing distance from God, having been subjected to the whims of those who use faith for their own personal gain, and feeling let down by the one who created us in love. We do not experience these pains individually, but some combination at the same time and they play off each other aggravating each other. This is what it means to be alive: we experience pain.
In these moments of pain, how often do we turn to our tradition? Perhaps we utter an anguished cry of prayer, but I suspect that infrequently we avail ourselves of all that our tradition has to offer. There is a long established practice of healing in our tradition. In our sacred texts, we hear about miraculous healings accomplished through the prophets, disciples, and most notably through Jesus who cures every type of illness from demon possession to gynecological problems to a man born blind. We learn through our scriptures that God cares for our physical state as well as our spiritual state. In fact, so much so, that the risen Christ still bears wounds in his hands, feet, and side.
Before the pandemic, Trinity's Healing Prayer Ministry offered prayers of healing every week in the transept during communion. Through this work they carried out Jesus's commission to the disciples to bring healing and wholeness to the world. Of course this practice halted during the pandemic, but the team continued to meet. They gathered regularly for prayer, conversation, and study and offered a few online healing services over the past three years. But, it was not the same as being in person, physically laying on hands, and anointing with oil.
This Sunday our Healing Prayer Ministry resumes offering prayers and anointing to those in need. Tomorrow we will be doing things a little differently and celebrating a Service of Public Healing in the middle of our worship. We will pray for those who are suffering throughout the world, bless oil that will be set aside for healing, and invite you up to receive prayers and anointing. Whether you have been many times for healing prayer or never, we invite you full heartedly to come because we are all in pain; because we all need to experience God's healing touch. The following Sunday we will return to our practice of offering healing prayers during communion.
Yes, we are all in some sort of pain, but the good news is that God cares about our pain; that our risen savior bears wounds just like you and me. Bring your pains, your wounds, and your discomforts to the Holy One and find there the healing power of God's love.