THE CONGREGATION IS A HEALING PLACE
Amidst the stresses, tension, and confusing issues and problems we face at home, at work, with friends, relatives and ‘over the back fence’ neighbors, where can we turn for help? How can we find relief for our anxieties and sort out the complexities of our life? When disease, aging, and mysterious maladies slow us down and stop us, where do we turn? Of course, we have UPMC/Highmark and other medical facilities - but they may not be able to address the spiritual aspects of our sickness.
Jesus addressed the spiritual aspects of sickness and confusion. The healing he brought included actions like healing a person of their physical maladies, casting out whatever demon was driving a person away from God and from community. It was not his aim to be a ‘faith healer’. His aim was to heal the brokenness he saw in people’s lives and to restore them to their family, their community and their work. All of this came from the compassion he had for humankind.
Imagine what it meant for the man who sat by the Pool at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem for 38 years hoping to get into the pool when the waters were disturbed (John 5.2-9). Jesus addresses his dilemma with the words “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” Imagine what it meant for the women with extreme osteoporosis (Luke 13.10-17). She was not able to function normally in her family or the community for eighteen years.
The church has known about the spiritual ingredient of our ministry by listening and watching Jesus, by hearing the instructions to the disciples who were sent out (Matthew 10.7-8a) and simply by their experience and observation.
At the church I served in Chicago, we had a Parish Nurse who was associated with Lutheran General Hospital. She received support (training) and some financial assistance. She, in turn, became an invaluable part of our ministry to members and friends of all ages, especially seniors. She worked in ministry partnership with the pastors and taught the congregation how to live more effectively healthy. The presence and ministry of the Parish Nurse affirmed the notion that the congregation is a healing place.
On September 20 at 3:00 p.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church (7600 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071), PLUM will sponsor a ‘Faith Spirituality Service of Prayer’. This is the Fourth Annual Healing Worship PLUM has offered. Through meditation and prayer, you will be invited to lay your ills and spiritual blocks before the cross. You will have someone lay hands on your head as they pray for your healing and then will mark the sign of cross on your foreheads with oil. The practice of marking individuals with oil as a sign that they are set apart by God goes back to King David - and perhaps earlier (I Samuel 16.11-13). And, of course, we all remember the familiar verse from 23.8: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” In the early days of the Christian Church, anointing the sick and praying for healing was a common practice (James 5.13-16).
If you attend the Prayer Service, you may not suddenly experience the lifting of the physical burden you are bearing or the healing of the spiritual brokenness you are experiencing. However, you will experience the support of the whole community, as well as the healing presence of God, embracing you.
Come and see!
+Pastor Paul Koch
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773