Third Sundays in our congregation are healing Sundays. During communion, two healing ministers position themselves behind the altar rail, anointing oil in hand, to offer healing prayers and blessings to anyone who approaches them.
Some people come forward to ask prayers for themselves – prayers for upcoming surgeries and for broken relationships and for grieving spirits.
Some people come forward to ask prayers for loved ones – prayers for family members in medical crisis or friends in economic distress.
Some people come forward asking for nothing in particular. They just want to hear again the good news that God binds up the broken-hearted and promises healing for us and for all creation.
Healing ministers lay hands on their shoulders, pray, trace the sign of the cross in oil on their foreheads, and remind them, “You are a blessed and beloved child of God, and you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” There is nothing in death or in life that can separate these beloved children from the love of God shown to us in Christ Jesus.
It is a privilege to pray for healing. But as a church we recognize the great privilege it is for so many of our members to be called into the work of healing as their vocation, both inside the church and out in the community.
We have many caregivers in our congregation: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, hospice workers, guidance counselors, and the list goes on. At least once a year, we take the opportunity as a congregation to craft a Sunday morning worship service around themes of healing and caregiving, and to offer a special blessing for all the caregivers in our midst.
We believe that Jesus walks with all who are in need. We believe that Jesus carries us through our times of trouble. In the same way, Jesus empowers those who care for the needs of others and Jesus strengthens us to carry one another through times of trouble. Our experience of healing most often comes through the blessing of human hands and hearts that have been set apart for the work of tending to body and spirit. Caregivers of all kinds do this holy work. Their vocations take them to places of immense joy and profound grief. Their work is vital.
When we bless our caregivers in worship, we recognize and honor their gifts and their work. We involve the entire assembly into the blessing process, whether by using a spoken dialogue, inviting members to raise up a hand in blessing, or inviting the assembly to participate in a laying on of hands. We ask God to bless our caregivers and to give them strength and peace in their vocations. Should you want to include a blessing for caregivers as a part of your community’s worship life, here is a template to help you get started: Read more