Rev. Rosemary Webb
16th October 2016
God Offers us His healing Grace

Today we are celebrating the festival of St Luke, the physician, and on this day we give thanks for the ministry of Wholeness and Healing. As we heard the Gospel reading ended with the words ‘Heal the sick who are there and tell them ‘the Kingdom of God is near you’.

Christ came to heal not just sickness, but also to heal anger to bring reconciliation and peace. He offers us his healing grace because he doesn’t want to see us suffering, God wants us to be whole, to feel his peace, to know his love for us all, a love which is with us in the good times and the bad.

Our God isn’t a god who just stands on the side-lines and watches; he is the God who suffered for us on the Cross. He could have fled, he knew they were coming for him, but he stayed to be stoned, abused, mocked and then hung on the Cross, As Archbishop Justin said in an interview last week he became part of our suffering, he understands pain, all he asks in return is that we are faithful to him.

Wholeness and healing is for everyone. It is not denying the healing power of the Eucharist nor of intercessory prayer and it is certainly not an alternative to seeking professional medical help. For the gifts of medicine and nursing are God given gifts and people who have been given them are called to use them. The Healing Ministry doesn’t promise miracle cures, although of course people can be healed of their earthly ailments. The emphasis is that wholeness which brings us that inner strength, that peace, which enables us to live each day as fully as possible within our circumstances.

Today as well as the need for our own healing, our desire to pray for those we love, we are thinking of the healing work done world-wide by charities, and today we are particularly thinking of the International Red Cross and their work with children in Syria. For this is our overseas charity this year and as we daily see graphic pictures of the suffering of children in Aleppo and other towns we give thanks for the commitment and dedication of all who are willing to risk their lives to ease the suffering in Syria.

In an attempt to give you a fuller picture of their work I am now going to read excerpts of a speech given by the ME Director of the International Red Cross at the UN General Assembly.

‘This is such a critical time for the Syrian people in the aftermath of yet another appalling attack on humanitarian workers. What happened to that aid convoy amounts to an attack on humanity itself. I remember all those who died – whose only crime was to try to help others., As with all the aid workers, their work has been selfless, tireless and unrelenting.

He went on to say ‘The International Committee of the Red Cross has a unique insight into events in Syria. We’ve been present throughout the conflict, with hundreds of staff across the country. ‘

Supplies have been delivered and are now being distributed as needed including 15,000 food parcels 6,000 hygiene kits with essential items such as soap 5,000 emergency kits for women; 30,000 blankets. They are also supporting families forced to flee western Aleppo

Fighting that started earlier in August has had a bad impact on several parts of the city. At least 270 families have fled their homes as a result. The lack of safety, freedom of movement and access to humanitarian supplies, or goods in markets or shops, remains of serious concern.

The ceasefire, sadly, appears to be broken. We hear of renewed fighting in Idlib, Aleppo, Homs and Rural Damascus. If a ceasefire is to survive, there must be a renewed and determined effort – now – to keep it alive.

He ended his speech by saying – And, let’s be honest, some here today ( the UN) have great influence over the warring parties. Please, use that influence. Every day. Every night. Insist they abide by the laws of war. What must the world do ? One day the guns will fall silent. What will be left? Lives will need to be rebuilt; we must sow the seeds of a better future now. Turn that disillusionment into hope.

And what can we do? Through our support here at St Matthews for the IRC Syrian Children’s Appeal we hope to be able help show all those children whose only experience of life is violence that people do care. When the bombing does stop they will need to be helped so that they can rebuild their lives, develop a pride and belief in their country. They need to learn that bombed buildings are not the norm. They also need to be reassured that God does love them, that he suffered with them, that they are his dearly loved children.

War scars, war damages, war is foul.. I think we all know that it is said that a child who is abused often, even though they hated being abused, quite often becomes an abuser as an adult, what does that say for all those children whose only experience of life is being bombed? Can we be surprised if young people brought up in war torn zones begin to think that violence is the answer, they may hate it but it has probably become a way of life. So what is the world doing to their future? We must pray that the Syrian Government will put their people first.

But let us now turn our attention back to ourselves. God knows how fragile we can all be at times, how even though we know him, there are times when we forget he is always alongside us. How at times we can feel we are alone, when in fact he is there with his arms outstretched reaching for us to turn to him. For God knows us better than we know ourselves; and he knows our needs before we even voice them in prayer. But he is a loving God who never dominates us, he never forces us to turn to him – that is our choice.

There always will be times when life is difficult, for we know that we cannot achieve that wholeness we pray for until we have died. Our life is a journey to reach the Promised Land, which is why the church puts such emphasis on the healing ministry. It wants to teach that none of us are whole, but that through God’s healing grace we may walk along that path to salvation, in the knowledge of God’s never ending love for us.

Luke 10:1-9, 2 Timothy 4:5-17