It was interesting and encouraging that Dr Rowan Williams emphasised the ministry of healing in his 2005 Easter message this year.
It should not need saying, but it must be said: our Christian faith is a faith in the rising of Jesus Christ from the tomb in his glorified body; and so it is about leading lives that take the life of the body seriously. The words for ‘salvation’ and ‘health’ cannot be distinguished in most languages, and this should remind us that faith in Christ has to be bound up with care for suffering bodies as well as suffering souls.
Only Christ can make us whole in every aspect of our lives. But we can show the world something of the nature of that comprehensive hope in Christ as we put our energies to work for healing. First we have to begin to learn what it is for each one of us to receive healing: quietly and thankfully, we must let our wounds be exposed to the physician and allow his life to ‘sink into’ our lives. And then we must act as if we believed we had truly received authority to heal – in all sorts of different ways.
One of the least known features of the life of the Anglican Church over the last twenty years has been the dramatic revival of the ministry of healing as a routine part of the life of thousands of congregations. But it is the same hope for healing that is shown when we also look at how we can put our resources at the disposal of programmes to combat disease and poverty.
This is not an additional extra— the boring bit of a message in which all the excitement is generated by church politics. [. . .] This Easter, let us, as Paul tells us in Colossians 3, try to live as if we had truly been raised with Christ— clothed ‘with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’ and showing all these things in our priorities for action to heal suffering bodies. – Rowan Williams
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. (James 5.14-15) When I was seriously ill, I was much encouraged when our parish priest came to our home, annointed me with oil, laid his hands on me and prayed, with James joining in as well.
The Easter message is one of new life, resurrection life. But this is not only spiritual but physical and mental. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquitie the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53.5) I’ve long believed in, ministered and benefited from healing prayer.
Sanctify, O Lord, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing. Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the community may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.