The Ministry of Healing in the diocese - Healing. It’s not the same as curing, is it? I know people who have been cured, of a serious illness, and yet are far from being healed - there’s still so much of anger and lack of wholeness in them. Conversely, I know people who have failed to make any recovery, and who are hours from death, and yet are wholly healed - they have come to a real sense of peace and joy, as they near that perfect healing which we call death. Healing comes in many ways - healing of body, of spirit, of emotions and healing is something in which the church has been closely involved throughout its history. Yes, there have been healers, who’ve given religion a bad name - calling out people from a huge crowd, to perform some dramatic miracle. That’s not the church’s ministry of healing, as I see it. It’s about something quiet and undemonstrative - a healing often only know to God, but none the less real.
Real healing, to me, is somehow to become more closely allied to Jesus - more like him. I love that phrase - ‘To be like Jesus, we must pray like Jesus’, and I believe it to be true.
Of course, we receive Christ’s healing weekly, daily. Every time we receive the Holy Communion, do we not receive the medicine of soul and body? And yet, we can take it for granted. The same is true with forgiveness of sins. Yes, we can receive this daily, just by kneeling down and opening ourselves to God in sorrow and penitence; yes, we receive forgiveness each week, as we make our general confession in church; but for all that, I need to go twice a year to my spiritual director, a priest, to have real, re-assurance of that forgiveness.
And so it’s true with healing - yes we receive it in many ways, but sometimes, we need that re-assurance from another human being. ‘Yes, listen to me - listen to God - you really can be healed - you really have been healed’.
As a diocese we’re looking at ways in which we can raise the profile of this important ministry and Bishop Richard and Bishop Alistair have asked me to coordinate this.
We have a major ‘Day of Healing’ at the Cathedral on Tuesday 18 October, under the auspices of the Guild of Health/St Raphael. The day will offer a number of workshops, on listening, on guided meditation, on how we can bring healing to communities. Details of the day will be circulated via the diocesan mailing/website and we hope that as many as possible will find time to be part of this event.
And may I say a big thank-you to all those parishes which faithfully, patiently, often in small and unsung ways, offer the ministry of healing - through services, yes, but also through the quiet ministry of clergy, ministry teams and individuals, who, through their actions and words communicate Christ’s healing to those they meet, day by day.
A letter from the Dean of Hereford