Some are certain that tomorrow is a festival of all things green and Irish. That may be so, but tomorrow at Cedar Park we will be holding a Healing Service to mark our fifth Sunday in Lent. After a month of this “awkward season” it’s a perfect moment to delve into this aspect of our Christian faith, which to many is as awkward as they come!
Healing was such a central aspect of Jesus’ ministry, and yet, since at least the time of the 18th century Enlightenment, scientific approaches to health and illness have detoured the healing arts from the realm of spirituality and religion, so much so that we 21st century folk are schooled now to trust only ‘medical professionals’ with our health, and to distrust deeply the ‘faith healer’ phenomenon. My own reading of Scripture tells me that God is, at heart, a healer. Scripture, and our own experience tell us that brokenness, chaos, death, sickness are woven into the fabric of creation, and that God persistently and repeatedly responds with the desire and power to heal, to restore, to rescue, to recreate beauty, wholeness and meaning. Look at the ministry of Jesus through these lenses and you’ll see, in myriad ways, Jesus making manifest in action this heart-felt desire of God to mend broken spirits, hearts, bodies, and minds, relationships, and even creation itself.
In recent decades, the Christian church has begun to reconnect in real ways with this central ministry of Jesus, as we’ve begun to question the narrow focus of scientific medicine one ‘cure’ of physical or mental ailment, and have sought ways to reconnect people with God’s vision of healing as restoring a healing, holy balance of body, mind, heart and spirit. Parish nurses, pastoral care teams, and now, healing ministry teams are appearing as ministries within faith communities. “Healing Pathway” ministry has emerged in the United Church of Canada since the mid-90s as an ethically grounded, Christ-centred, modality of healing ministry which connects people to God’s heart-felt desire for their healing wholeness.
On March 17th we will read a passage of Scripture from the exilic portion of the prophet Isaiah, (Is 43:16-21) in which God promises the people currently in exile that God will make a pathway through the desert to bring them home to the place where their lives will be whole again. “If you think that’s impossible,” God says, “remember when I made a pathway appear in the sea to free Israel from Egypt.” By retelling the ancient story to a new generation, God’s heart is revealed; the desire to do whatever it takes – build highways in the desert, pathways through the sea, thaw the ice that locks the frozen river, or unblocks every conceivable barrier to God’s healing, homecoming mercy.
I hope you can join us for this healing journey!