Rev. Rosemary Webb
15th October 2017
To be Healed is to be Whole

Today we are celebrating St Luke, the physician, and the healing power of prayer. Thinking about the full meaning of the word healing and what it means, not just for us, but for the world today…

We are here to remember the Good News that we know who the true Healer is, what the good news is, where help is. Luke shows us the Son of God who has come to restore all things. who knows each of us. He is showing us God’s promise is to be with us in all our suffering, to strengthen and guide us, and to bring us the gift of new life. He is showing us Jesus’ promise that even if nothing much in our life seems to change, that the world is still a place full of anger and hatred we will feel more confident, more at peace through the healing Grace of our risen Lord. That it is through prayer, through trusting in God that we can achieve wholeness. But we need not just to believe it, but also to teach this, just as Christ sent out the seventy he is sending us out to spread the Good News, to show God’s love to all.

One of the very sad facts about life today is that depression, lack of confidence, being fearful of what the future holds is becoming an increasing problem, not just in our country but throughout the world. And how can we tell people to hand over their worries to God if they have never heard of Jesus, never read the Bible, perhaps never said a prayer. How can we say ‘have faith’ when they don’t know what it means.

We live in a country, which increasingly is not teaching children about God, where they are not taught to pray, children who do not really know who Jesus is, they know the Christmas story but not Jesus’ life, not the Easter story And when I say that, I am not saying we must be prejudiced against other faiths, we must always remember that Moslem, Jew and Christian are all descendents of Abraham, all believe in the same God. We need to remember we say we are a Christian country but that is slowly being undermined by the lack of teaching, if we continue to allow this to happen who will be the next disciples?

We must never forget that there are still areas in our world today where being a Christian is a dangerous thing. Often they are extremists who claim to be of other faiths, but we still have countries like China where there is no true freedom. Last week a Coptic Orthodox priest in Cairo was brutally murdered. One of my lasting memories of my visit to the Holy Land some 30 years ago was worshiping with Coptic Christians, they were so devout and spiritual.

Luke is telling us to see Jesus in the sad and weary, the lost, in the child and in the adult, in the neighbour and the stranger, and calling on us to reach out to them, to show them God’s love. He isn’t I believe calling us to look for Jesus in the dictator, the bully, the people who so often the media hold up as heroes. When we say that God is all powerful we do not mean he is a dictator, he is not like those people we see in the news waving their fist at us, telling us they are right everyone else is wrong. Nowhere in the Gospels do we hear Jesus behaving like that, 2 Jesus healed those banned from the Temple, he reached out to the unloved. When Jesus chose his disciples they were not people of wealth and power, they were everyday people, one had been a sinner, St Matthew the tax collector, but when he answered Christ’s call he was forgiven.

For many years on this day we have had a short healing service at the end of the Eucharist when we invite you to come forward for the laying on of hands to pray for oneself, someone else, you may make a request if you wish or you may remain silent. A Healing Service is for everyone, it is not denying the power of the Eucharist or intercessory prayer, but is does offer a quieter, peaceful service. The church doesn’t offer sensation, we are not claiming to be The Healers but we are offering the opportunity to kneel before God and seek his healing and his wholeness, for ourselves or someone else. The problem may not go away, but if we turn to God and put our trust in him he will help us to cope, to lead our lives as fully as possible.

Most importantly, we are certainly not an alternative to seeking the help of the medical profession. In no way are we denying the need to visit the doctor and listen to their advice but we are inviting you to hand over your worries to God to seek his support, his healing, to truly come to realise that however hard life may be God is always with us, sustaining and supporting us.

Another thing I will mention, if you would like us to pray for someone at Morning prayer just write their first name on the pad on the ledge outside the Lady Chapel and stick it on the board. They will then be prayed for that month but you are always free to ask us to continue praying for them. Please don’t wonder if perhaps it’s not alright to do it, if you should ask first, just write the name and hand them over to God.

But back to the Gospel, we are being called to be the people who go out to witness to Jesus. We are not being asked to necessarily give up our jobs, leave our homes, but to draw people to God by the way we talk, the way we show Christ’s love. Christ was quite firm with the first disciples if the response of those they meet is negative, not to waste time, but to move on, for not everyone will respond to the word. But there are so many who are just waiting to learn more, who are not quite sure how to go about it. Who perhaps think they will not be made welcome if they came to church. This is our role to make sure that everyone who comes here to St.Matthew’s is made welcome, is spoken to, not left standing alone a few yards from the coffee table.

Also as a parish we need to make sure we continue with all the outreach we do, it may seem a lot at times, but we should never forget the words of St Francis, ‘preach the Gospel at all times, use words if you must’. The Harvest is still waiting. Let us pray for the strength to be the harvesters, let us be today’s disciples and work towards bringing a new generation to know and love our Lord.