During this period, where we are unable to meet together in church, Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 19th July 2020.
Over the past few days I have been reflecting on ‘Healing’. We tend to think of healing as recovering from an injury or from a physical or mental illness, but in the context of the Church healing can mean more than people being restored to physical health and well-being.
From early Christian times the Church has exercised a healing ministry. Healing does not necessarily mean physical healing. It can include
• A feeling of mental or spiritual well-being in the face of serious physical illness
• Mental healing
• Spiritual healing (including reconciliation with God)
• Healing of relationships
• Finding peace (for those who are burdened by worry, or for the dying, for example). The Jewish word “Shalom” means peace, in the sense of being in harmony with God.
• Forgiveness (for example, for someone who has found it hard to forgive, or who feels they need forgiveness).
Some churches exercise a healing ministry. For example, Longthorpe has a Service of Wholeness and Healing on the first Monday of the month at 7.00pm. And at the 10.30am Eucharist on the second Wednesday of the month members of the congregation are invited to come forward to the altar rail, if they wish, for anointing with holy oil, at which the priest will say to each one of them, as he anoints them: ‘I anoint you in the name of God who gives you life. Receive Christ’s forgiveness, his wholeness, healing and love. Amen.’
Jesus gave high priority to healing the sick. The same concern has always found expression in the ministry of the Church through the Eucharist, the prayers for the sick, and the personal love, care and compassion offered to sufferers by individual Christians.
To the Christian, forgiveness can be just as much healing as physical healing. If we harbour guilt in our hearts, knowing that Jesus can and wants to heal us can, through faith, help to relieve us from our guilt and restore us to spiritual wholeness. A story about Jesus’s power to forgive and heal can be found in Matthew, Chapter 9: “ … some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’, – he then said to the paralytic – ‘stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home.”
So, if we are troubled in body, mind or spirit, or in need of healing by forgiveness, what can we do to help ourselves to be healed. Here are some ideas from some famous people.
Laughter. ‘Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.’ (Lord Byron)
Change your habits. ‘The Alexander Technique works… I recommend it enthusiastically to anyone who has neck pains or back pain.’ (Roald Dahl)
Get more sleep. ‘Sleep is the best meditation.’ (Dalai Lama)
Listen to music. ‘Some of us are born with a weakness for music. As a baby, music would stop whatever thought I was having. If I was worried, it would stop me worrying; if I was crying, it would stop me crying. Music was a healing thing for me.’ (Andrea Bocelli, Italian opera singer)
Find solace in poetry. ‘Prose, narratives, etcetera, can carry healing. Poetry does it more intensely.’ (Ted Hughes, former Poet Laureate)
Turn to the Bible. ‘Within the Scripture there is a balm for every wound, a salve for every sore.’ (Charles Spurgeon, a famous 19th century Baptist preacher)
Be patient. ‘Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.‘ (Hippocrates, Greek physician)
Believe in healing. ‘The wish for healing has always been half of health.’ (Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman philosopher)
Have faith. ‘The worst forms of depression are cured when Holy Scripture is believed.’ (Charles Spurgeon)
Try not to worry. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ (Jesus Christ).
The important thing is to do something, rather than nothing. Don’t be like the Irish comedian, Dave Allen, who once described how he often found it difficult to make up his mind what to do: ‘I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin’.
If you have need of healing, I pray that you will find ways to alleviate your suffering, to have faith in God for his healing love and forgiveness, and that you will find comfort, healing and peace.
The Peace of the Lord be always with you.