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Ministry of Healing

In the gospels we read how Jesus healed many people.  He forgave sins, cast out demons, cured physical ailments, made the blind see and the lame walk.  He commanded his disciples to go out to proclaim the good news of God's kingdom.  They also were empowered by God to heal.  Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:  "As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'  Heal the sick.".  They went out and preached that people should repent.  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.  (Matt 10:1, 5, 7-8a; Mark 6:12-13)


After Pentecost, the apostles discovered the power God gave them to heal and to preach good news, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Many miracles of healing are recorded in the Book of Acts.  The Church continued the ministry of healing in the name of Jesus Christ.


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.  (James 5:14-16a)


The Church today practices the ministry of healing as well, though we do not suggest that physical healing must follow our prayers.  We also do not suggest that those who do not experience physical healing after prayer have not found favor with God.  The service of healing as we practice it is meant to expand our understanding of God's goodness, care, and concern, as well as offer comfort through prayer and the laying on of hands.  This ministry may be done privately in people's homes and in hospital rooms, where two or three are gathered, or in the full Christian assembly.


The term healing should be understood in the widest possible way.  Every human being needs healing in some dimension of life, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual or relational.  The gift of healing is not limited to physical healing, or to those seeking remedy for a particular illness or disease.  Healing also refers to working through stages of grief, coming to terms with life-threatening illness or accepting inevitable death.  With the rite of healing we do not seek to replace or diminish the gifts of God through the scientific and medical community, nor do we promise a cure.  Instead, we seek to convey God's love and care for all who suffer, and celebrate the presence of Christ though the Christian community.


At Lutheran Church of the Redeemer we observe the ministry of healing with prayer, the laying on of hands and anointing with oil both in pastoral care visits by the pastor or lay ministers, and in occasional Services of Healing.  The rite of healing and laying on of hands may take place during the Sunday morning Holy Eucharist, following the prayers of the church and preceding the Holy Communion.  The Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist (October) is often observed with the rite of healing.  Every Sunday the healing rite takes place immediately following the 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist worship service.   All persons are invited to come forward for prayer, laying on of hands and anointing with oil by a healing minister.  They may share their personal prayer concerns at this time if they wish.


Through our healing ministry at Redeemer, we seek to convey God's compassion, forgiveness and grace for all people, as well as God's power to heal and forgive, in the name of Christ.  The practice of laying on of hands has deep roots in the apostolic tradition of healing ministry.  Anointing the forehead with oil in the sign of a cross is remembrance of the anointing of baptism.  Thus the laying on of hand and anointing with oil are powerful signs of God's love.


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