My dear friends,
This fall, I groan looking at leaves that need raking. When I lift my eyes to bare tree branches, I see they are stripped of cover, and their true selves exposed. As I view those branches, I realize that this season also gives each of us the opportunity to search below our public image and to consider who we are at our core. In that transparency, we can focus on both our strengths and our weaknesses. That is essential preparation for Thanksgiving, to celebrate our blessings, and for Advent, to work on improvements in preparation for Christmas. So, I take a lesson from the autumn trees.
This month, as you may know, I will undergo repair surgery and recovery. I confess a lack of enthusiasm for the process. However, it does remind me of the many members of our church community who bear mental and physical ailments – loneliness, depression, memory loss, disease, pain, loss of mobility – with patience and grace. Your resolve to live your lives to the fullest, all the while, is inspiration for each of us. And, more than that, you rally to support and comfort others in need. At the same time, the Church has always recognized that we can benefit from special intercessions to strengthen us in our troubles.
The apostle James, the brother of Jesus, described the ancient ritual: “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, he assures us that the ceremony also brings healing for the soul through forgiveness of sin. It continues the ministry of Jesus to bring health for body and spirit.
I invite each of you and your families to join me in asking God for healing on Tuesday, November 14, at 7:00 p.m. The service begins quietly as we join in silent and sung prayers. Then, those requesting healing come forward together with their spouses, families and friends who join in prayer with the priest for God’s healing. It is a powerful moment that continues with an anointing with oil of the sick, in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and concludes with quiet prayers by healing ministers for specific relief while the congregation offers communal support.
This healing service is open to all, members of Saint Michael or not. Please invite any acquaintances who might benefit. In it, we will all acknowledge our human frailties and join in supporting each other in begging God’s healing mercy and forgiveness. I know that I am need of healing and confident that together we can experience the renewal and healing that prayer brings!