By The Rev. Daryl T. Hay
On Wednesday, March 21st at 12:15 p.m. Saint Andrew’s will offer a Public Service of Healing with the Holy Eucharist.
From the beginning healing has been part of the church’s ministry. Jesus’ ministry included the healing of the sick who came to him or were brought to him by others. When asked if Jesus “was the one to come,” Jesus said, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news preached to them.” Jesus sent out his disciples continue and expand his work by preaching the good news, casting out demons and the healing the sick. We continue this ministry through our prayers for the sick, but we also do it through rites contained in The Book of Common Prayer and The Book of Occasional Services.
Our prayer book contains the service, “Ministration to the Sick.” At the beginning of the service the rubrics instruct, “In the case of illness, the Minister of the Congregation is to be notified.” It is not primarily to be used at time of death. It is for a time of illness and can be conducted before or after surgery and during other times of illness. The service includes the laying on of hands and/or anointing with oil. Both of these acts are acts of claiming and blessing. Liturgists Charles Price and Louis Weil in their work Liturgy for Living say that through the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil the sick person is claimed for the Kingdom of God. These acts also symbolize and communicate the coming of the Spirit. Through the laying on of hands and anointing the church declares that illness cannot separate a person for God’s kingdom nor cannot it prevent the presence of the Spirit from living within them. The laying on of hands and anointing is usually preceded by the Liturgy of the Word which includes a reading from Scripture and can conclude with Holy Communion. This sort of service usually takes place at home or in the hospital.
The Episcopal Church also provides in its Book of Occasional Services an order for a public service of healing. It consists of readings from Scripture, the Litany of Healing, the laying on of hands and/or anointing, followed by Holy Communion. This service will occur at Saint Andrew’s on March 21 at 12:15 p.m.
If any member of the congregation is ill, it is entirely appropriate to contact Father Daryl or Father Matt to let them know. If it is an emergency please call them at the church or at home. If anyone is interested in receiving the laying on of hands and anointing and/or Holy Communion before or after surgery, or during any time of illness please contact Father Daryl. The ministry of healing is offered to us through Jesus Christ and it is one of the ways he gives us his grace. We may always avail ourselves of his grace in times of need.