As a part of our Lenten journey, we will include a Rite for Healing and Wholeness on the second Sunday in Lent, March 16. As in our past observance of this rite, this will be an integral part of the 8:30, 9:00 and 11:00 AM services in our worship together. You will be invited to participate in several opportunities for enacted prayer, including the laying on of hands, lighting a candle, or placing a written prayer request in a prayer banner. You will choose to participate in the enacted prayer opportunities that are most meaningful to you.
Those desiring the laying on of hands and anointing with oil will be invited to come to one of the ministers or elders. Each may make her or his request known to the minister or elder. Foreheads will be marked with the sign of the cross and a prayer will be given. You may also choose to write a prayer request on a prayer request slip in the pew and weave it into the prayer banner or light a candle at the center of the chancel area. You may also remain in the pew, praying in silence or by listening to the music or joining in singing of hymns.
Healing was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus. The church has been called to continue this ministry as one dimension of its concern for the wholeness of people. Through services for wholeness, the church enacts in worship its ministry as a healing community. (Book of Order, Directory for Worship W-3.5401)
The ministry of healing concerns our interior and exterior lives. We are invited to pray for the divisions and splits in our lives. We are invited to make changes in our lives that lead to wholeness for ourselves, our relationships, our world.
A service of healing and wholeness includes many different kinds of prayer: prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, supplication; prayers that are silent, prayers that are spoken, prayers that are enacted through the laying on of hands, and prayers that are sung; prayers that are given for individuals, for communities, for nations.
The following are a few notes of guidance:
- The ministry of healing is not something to be practiced in secret or to be limited to particular individuals. It is the work of the whole Christian community, and it is as much a part of the Christian life as prayer and service. It is appropriate, therefore, that a service of wholeness is included in our regular worship with one another.
- The New Testament evidence is that both Jesus and the Christian community prayed for the sick and laid hands on them when they prayed. We know in our daily lives that it is often touching, the hand on the shoulder, the hug of a friend, the cuddle of a child, that lets us know that we are loved. Touch, often more than words, is a way of giving physical expression to our prayers and concerns for other.
- Christian healing is about wholeness. Dis-ease is not limited to physical inability. Our past experience of hurt, our tangled emotions and our inability to forgive or be forgiven, all make us less than whole, and in need of healing.
- The prayer for healing is about communities as well as individuals. Justice and healing walk hand-in-hand. The things which cause people to be hurt sometimes require a larger community solution arising out of our prayers.
- To be involved in the healing ministry requires our willingness to be involved in the process of change. We may find ourselves called to listen, to visit, to support, to forgive. We may find ourselves involved in social change that may challenge the way things are, and challenge our attitudes and values as well.
- The healing ministry is a shared ministry. The healer is God, who makes us whole, and can use each one of us, broken as we are, to express God’s healing and love to others.
- People, situations, and communities can be prayed for by name or anonymously, for each person and situation is known to God. These are not prayers for problem solving, but prayers to lift up people as ones who are understood, accepted, and loved by God. We trust God to answer our prayers for healing, but we do not know how or when healing will happen. We trust God to act in love.
- A service for wholeness involves the recognition that healing comes in many ways, and is in essence concerned with wholeness and not simply cure. Healing is to be understood not as the result of the holiness, earnestness, or skill of those enacting the prayers, or of the faith of the ones seeking healing, but as the gift of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Directory of Worship)