Christian Healing

 by Fr. Hardman

On Sunday, November 8, we will be holding a Celtic Healing Service. I have already said a few words about Celtic Spirituality and its emphasis on God's presence everywhere. Now I would like to say a few words about Christian healing.

First, forget most of what you know or think you know about Christian healing if the television is your only source of knowledge. Much of what happens on TV is manipulative, simplistic, and often damaging to all who listen-whatever the effect to those who may or may not be healed.

Christian healing goes back to Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God. We are healed when we enter that kingdom or when that kingdom comes near.

To understand what is meant by that think about our world as being made up of two kingdoms, the kingdom of me and the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of me kind of dominates our thoughts and experience while the Kingdom of God is often hidden from view.

The kingdom of me is characterized by a quest for prestige, status, and power over others. It is about grasping all we can, getting what we think we deserve, and establishing our worth through our own efforts. This is how the kingdoms of the world operate, and we, of course, get caught up in thinking that is the way life operates as well. But, the more we live into that way of thinking, the more restricted and diminished our life becomes. When we think life is about grasping everything we can, we soon find we can never grasp enough to satisfy our increasing desires. When we think life is about getting what we deserve we find we never get what we think we deserve. When we think life is about securing our worth through what we do, we find we can never do enough to feel worthy. Thus, trying to grasp at life does not bring life. Instead, it diminishes our life because we get caught in cycles that alienate us from ourselves, from God, from each other, and from the world. Before we know it, we are emotionally distraught, spiritually bankrupt, and often physically ill.

Jesus invites us into another kingdom, with a more expansive way of looking at life. When Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world, he does not mean it is other worldly; he means it is not like the kingdoms of this world. It is not about a quest for prestige, status, and power over others. It is about sacrifice, service, and love. It is about receiving the love of God so that we are empowered to love ourselves and reach out in love to the world around us.

The sacraments of the church not only proclaim the kingdom of God they actually bring us into that kingdom. In Baptism we are declared God's children and are brought into a community of love that continually reaches out beyond itself. When we receive the bread and wine of communion, we receive the very love of God, which empowers us to give up that grasping, possessing self and to take on that generous, loving self.

The laying on of hands and anointing with oil do the same thing. When we touch someone, we convey our love for that person. When the priest lays hands on someone, it brings that person more concretely into the whole Body of Christ so that the health of Jesus may be received. When we are anointed with oil in the church, the sign of the cross is made on our forehead. That not only reminds us of our baptism, it reminds us of Jesus, who anointed many who were sick. Thus, anointing, too, brings us close to Jesus, close to the kingdom that heals. Sometimes these sacramental actions open us up to that larger life of God's love more intensely and in such a way that emotional, spiritual, and physical healing may occur immediately. More often, however, that awareness and that healing take place over an extended period of time as we experience God's love and become more open to allowing God to reign in our lives.

Our Celtic Healing Service will bring all those sacramental elements into one service. In addition, the music, the trees, the candles, and the whole Body of Christ gathered will make us much more aware of God's healing presence all around us. We do hope you will join us.