Monday, March 30, 2015

Children at the Healing Service

Yesterday, in addition to all the Palm Sunday festivities, we did healing.  When it's a day when the service will run long, we often have healing stations where people can stop as they leave Communion.

I was one of the healing ministers yesterday.  I anointed foreheads with oil and said, "Accept this oil as a sign of God's love and grace and healing, through Jesus Christ our Lord."  I looked deep into the eyes of people who looked up at me.

I was surprised by how many parents with children stopped in front of me.  I blessed parents and children.  The children, some of whom had been quite hyper on the way up to Communion, grew quiet and somewhat somber.

At the other healing station, I watched a young girl wrap her arms around the healing minister, and her little sister followed her example.  The healing encounter with the mother turned into a group hug, a different kind of laying on of hands, but theologically in the same neighborhood, I think.

There are days when I'm the healing minister when I can feel a kind of energy coursing through me.  Once, a parishioner asked me, "Did you feel that too?"  I knew exactly what she meant.  I nodded.

Of course, I'm just the vessel.  But I know that many people aren't willing to go even that far.  It can be hard to find healing ministers.  It can be hard to find Communion assistants, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I thought back to an earlier time when we might have thought that children didn't need healing.  But it's hard to believe that these days. 

We can all use a visible sign of God's love and grace and healing.

I thought back, way back, to an Ash Wednesday service I attended at an Episcopal church--it was the only church that was close to my Lutheran theology that had a noon service.  I taught at night and couldn't make it to the evening service.

Apparently an AA group usually met at the church at noon, so they arrived, and some of them stayed for the service.  It was an interesting group that came up for ashes:  little old ladies who didn't want to drive after dark, an assortment of people making time for Ash Wednesday in their workday, some homeless people who wandered through, and some people who wore their brokenness most openly.

Our Sunday healing service isn't quite that interesting.  But I know that we have the same kinds of needs for healing that every assemblage of humans has whenever we gather.

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