Hallo again to all.
In every Anglican church we've ever attended, and the number is in the hundreds, the congregation usually receives communion by walking towards the altar. Typically there is a (real or imagined) rail at which the communicant stops to receive first the bread and then the wine. At the appropriate time, the communicant walks back to his or her pew by a path that prevents traffic jams in the aisles.
We cannot imagine that there is anyone reading Anglicans Online who has not experienced this at least once, or at least witnessed it. In most parishes the Eucharist is the core of the modern Sunday worship service.
In some parishes, at some services, members of the Order of St Luke the Physician tend a small 'healing station', off to one side of the chancel or perhaps nearby in the transept, to which you can walk instead of returning to your pew. It's been our experience that at most times in most congregations, there is not much traffic to that OSL station. It's as if modern people don't believe in healing prayer.
Jesus commanded the disciples to heal in His name. There are hundreds of references to healing in the Gospels and the New Testament. Since you probably haven't ever stopped for healing prayer in church (we mentioned above that the OSL stations in most parishes are usually empty if they even exist), we thought we'd write about what it's like to ask for and receive healing prayer.
When we need it and are ready to ask God for the healing power of Jesus, we stop at the OSL station after receiving the Eucharist. Unless it's our knees that need healing, we kneel. Sometimes there is one person behind the kneeler; sometimes there is more than one. We tell them our name and then usually say something like 'my knees need to be healed' or 'my shoulder is in terrible pain' or 'my hand is broken'. One time a few years ago we just started to cry, unable to get out any useful words.
Those members of the Order of St Luke the Physician lay their hands on us and quickly devise and say a prayer in which they entreat Jesus to make our bodies as perfect as His own, to use His powers to mend us. Some healers are masterful prayer poets; their words are as memorable as their healing touch. Others get the job done; after all, the healers are just the intermediaries and the beauty of their language is not part of the healing process.
At the end, after lifting their hands, most OSL members ask if we want to be anointed, and if we reply in the affirmative, they trace on our forehead a chrism cross, as in the baptismal service. After a moment of silence and re-entry to the physical world around us, we return to our pew where we kneel for a quick prayer of thanks to all involved.
There is never a lightning bolt. There is never an instant cure. Broken bones do not suddenly mend. We walk from the healing station with a strong sense that Jesus has heard our plea and may well do something, and the hard-to-categorize feeling that we have just reminded ourselves that our health is more than mere biology.
In the secular world that surrounds us and our church and our religious life, we are already considered odd simply because we attend church and look people in the eye and tell them that we believe in God. When we are visiting a church far from home and stop at St Luke's healing station, we don't much care what people around us think. In our own parish, we've observed that not everyone is on board with the very notion of healing prayer. We've heard whispers that healing prayer is too Baptist or too anti-intellectual for our highly educated parish.
Quite often, our ailment is better in a few days. The pain in our knees is often suddenly gone. The hurt shoulder has stopped hurting. The urge to cry uncontrollably has abated. Sometimes not, in which case we try again and pray a little harder.
See you next week.
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