In seminary, I participated in a Christian Education program called the Alpha program. It is a guided study about what it means to be a Christian. It hits on all of the traditions of Christianity. But what struck me the most was the tradition of using the laying on of hands to heal. I have never been someone who felt particularly comfortable with this aspect of the Christian tradition. In the video series, they spent some time with the tradition of healing.
I knew quite a few people who believed in healing by touch. And while at Hartford Hospital, this was taken into account when putting together a treatment plan for their patients. I knew people who were Reike trained. They used the power of touch to help heal the people that they met. Yet I remained skeptical of them and when I suffered from stomach I didn’t trust those friends to help with the healing process purely because I couldn’t make logical sense out of this tradition of healing.
Yet, time and time again I hear people talking about the wholeness they feel after such experiences. And as I studied the scriptures for today, I couldn’t help but think of all those who have experienced spiritual healing at the hands of others. And I realized something. Healing does not happen at the hands of just one person. Wholeness in God is not achieved by the work of one lone believer. Even the disciples struggled to affect healing on their own. It is intended to be a group experience. It is a group calling to affect change and healing in the lives of all those who call to God in their time of need.
The doctors I worked with swore by the power of those with faith to experience miraculous healing and the ability to face what’s next in their journeys with courage, hope and a sense of wholeness. But that kind of wholeness and faith does not develop out of nowhere. It develops in community. It develops out of the ministry of many. It develops and matures by the touch of the hands of a congregation of people. Jesus healed many in our scriptures from this morning. The faith that he awakened in the hearts of those individuals was never kept to silent but rather they shared that healing by sharing their experiences with others in their communities.
Jesus’ message was able to spread like wildfire because of the people that he was able to touch. His message spread because of the hard work of those who experienced that wholeness at the hands of those that Jesus healed. So too in our world, Christ’s message of healing is spread in the same way. There is healing and wholeness to be experienced through the touch of others. Studies have shown that babies will die without the comforting touch and care of another human being.
As the church of Christ, we too participate in this act of healing and offering wholeness in much the same way. We do so through the volunteerism that we all participate in, in the life of the church. We do so through the phone calls we place to check up on those members and friends we haven’t seen in a while. We do so through the work that we do to help provide for the needs of others through the outreach projects we participate in. When we serve at the food kitchen, when we help provide children and families with school supplies, food and holiday gifts we are providing opportunities for families to experience those moments of wholeness in Christ. When we open ourselves to share in the struggles and joys of the lives of others then we are allowing for Christ’s hand of healing to touch the lives of others through us.
When we give of our talents, to help with the upkeep of the buildings and the continuance of this community of Christ then we are helping all those lives we currently touch and the lives of future peoples to attain that sense of family and community that we all long for in this world. We are doing the work of God. All the work that we do aids in providing faith experiences, providing that healing and wholeness similar to what Christ did with his healings that we heard about today. Remember what Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe”.
Christ calls us not to live in fear of the healing offered to us, not to live in fear of the power he instills in all of us but to embrace it and to continue on our quest to change the lives of others. He calls us to continue to use our gifts, our talents to affect change in the world around us and in the lives of all those who find themselves in need. We are to continue to provide for humanity as he did when he healed the woman who was hemorrhaging or for the family whose daughter had passed away.
With the love and care of another, people may find the healing and wholeness they yearn for in life. So let’s live our lives for Christ’s mission to provide a place that others can call their spiritual home, a place where all of our talents are used to help offer wholeness and Spiritual well being to all people. This is our mission, our challenge as a Christian people. This is what we have been called to in life.
(based on Mark 5: 21-43)