HEALING AND WHOLENESS
On the outside wall of St Mark's, on the corner of Main Avenue and St Mark's Road, is a large - almost life-size - figure of Jesus on the cross. This is back-lit at night; and you may have stood underneath it waiting for a bus or a friend. Have you ever thought about what it is saying?
It is a picture of a human being in terrible pain. And not only physical pain, but also fear and despair. Hanging there by his hands and feet, half-dead already, not fully understanding what was happening to him or why. At the lowest ebb of human endurance, unable to suffer any more.
The figure hangs there because pain, suffering and hopelessness are part of the world in which we live. This portrayal of Jesus is in some way a picture of us – of the neighbour dying of cancer, the couple whose marriage has broken down, the child who never seems to be quite healthy. But, when you come to think of it, there is no life in which there is no pain, no anxiety, no suffering of some kind. We all long for healing.
You may remember from the Bible that, before he was crucified, Jesus himself healed people who came to him in desperation. These were often people with physical illnesses or disabilities; but also people who had somehow come under the influence of evil, whose lives were being controlled by something driving them to self-destruction. Or sometimes people who were just unhappy, whose lives seemed to be a failure, for whom things just wouldn’t go right.
Just as they sought Jesus’ healing touch, so can we. The man who died in such pain and misery on the cross overcame it all; and promises that we, his people, can overcome it too. And because he overcame death, he still offers comfort to those who have the courage to approach him – those whose need for healing is strong enough for them to put aside their reserve, ignore what other people might say or think, just to get to him.
In this spirit, St Mark’s and St Stephen's offer a ministry of healing to individuals, both within the context of public services, or privately. But whether public or private, the service will always include prayer for the individual for whom healing is sought, and may also include a minister gently “laying hands” on the head, and a priest signing a cross on the person’s forehead using special oil blessed by the Bishop. When a person receives this ministry, he or she may be asked quietly if there is anything in particular that healing is being sought for (partly because it is possible to do this on behalf of another person who needs healing, as well as for oneself) but there is no obligation to give details. There may also be a hymn or other music at the service.
Healing services are advertised and, depending on the number of people, need take no longer than about half an hour. They may also take place immediately following a celebration of the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or Mass) or other regular service. If you would prefer to receive this ministry on a one-to-one basis, please contact the vicarage.
There is no magic at our healing services. We cannot promise miracles. But we welcome in Jesus’ name everyone who has a pain, and who needs to lay it quietly at his feet.