Prayers for healing and wholeness

Today’s service of prayers for healing and wholeness is being held at St John’s, Llandudno, at 1.45pm and is led by Rev Chris Gray. The liturgy and Chris’ reflection for the service are below.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

Jesus said:  ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Matt 11:28-30

Jesus said:  ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ John 10:10

Loving God,
in whom all things are made whole,
you sent your Son our Saviour to heal a broken world.
Visit us with your salvation,
that we may be blessed in body, mind and spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
‘Anyone who comes to me I will never turn away.’ (John 6:37)

In the presence of God, let us confess our sins.

Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to God and to one another.
Lord Jesus, you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Lord Jesus, you offer us a new beginning.
Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

God is love.  Through Jesus our sins are forgiven.
Let us live in the power of the Spirit.  Amen.

Holy God, you give life to all;
you meet us in our need
and bring hope to those who look to you.
Give peace to our hearts and minds as we pray to you with confidence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Reflection:

Reading: John 11: 17-26a

Viv, my wife, and I have a dear friend who is dying. We have known Anne, and her husband Ian, for many years. They live in Nottingham and are members within the circuit where Viv and I served during the early 2000’s. We have many happy memories of times shared together, not least our annual trips to Open Air Shakespeare plays near Stamford, for which Anne would prepare the most wonderful, lavish picnics. They have always been kind, supportive, generous and thoughtful friends.

Anne’s condition is inoperable and she is in her final days. So we phoned her and Ian a few days ago. Ian answered and, after giving us an update on Anne’s situation, took the phone through to her bedside so that we could have a quick word with her. Her still strong voice masked her actual frailty as we chatted briefly together and shared one or two of our memories. As the conversation drew to a close, she asked me to pray for her. “Just don’t pray for my healing,” she said.

Well, I disobeyed her! I know what Anne meant when she said, “Just don’t pray for my healing.” She and Ian and Viv and I all knew that it would be wrong to pray for a dramatic reversal of the hideous disease that has now gripped her. This is sickness unto death. She is ready for death. All has been prepared. Nevertheless, I still disobeyed her, for I prayed for God’s comfort for her; for a sense of peace to surround her; for her to know God’s love within her; and for her to have complete confidence in the truth that she is walking now into God’s eternal embrace. In praying that prayer I was actually praying for her healing. For the journey from this life, through death, into eternal life is in fact a journey into complete healing.

Remember the words of Jesus that we read just now:

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11: 25-26)

Or there are the words of St Paul:

We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5: 1)

Or there is St Peter:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1: 3-4)

Or there is the unknown author of the Wisdom of Solomon, one of the books in the Apocrypha, that collection of additional writings not included in our Scriptures, but often published with them, and deemed by the Church to be worthy of reading and study:

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace… their hope is full of immortality. (Wisdom of Solomon 3: 1-4)

The Christian understanding of death is that ultimately it is not disaster and destruction, but the gateway to healing and peace.

So when we pray for healing, may we ever remember that sometimes God’s will is indeed to bring a person, like Anne, to himself through death that they may know the complete healing and wholeness that is the life of heaven.

I conclude with this wonderful prayer by John Donne:

Bring us, Lord our God, at our last awakening, into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence but one equal music; no fears nor hopes but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings but one equal eternity; in the habitation of your glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.

………………..

We continue in prayer:

Christ our Saviour, born for us,
bring healing and peace to all people….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, baptized in the Jordan,
give hope to all who come to you….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, tested in the desert,
give courage to those who are tempted….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, who comforted and healed,
bring wholeness to all who are broken….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, who hung in agony on the cross,
bring strength to those who suffer….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, who died to save us,
give peace to all who face death….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, raised from the tomb,
bring light and life to all the world….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

Christ, present among your disciples,
unite all your people in love….

Lord have mercy.          Christ, have mercy.

We thank you, gracious God.
You have loved us from the beginning of time
and remembered us when we were in trouble.
Your mercy endures for ever.

We thank you, redeeming God.
You have come to us in Jesus Christ
to save us from our sins.
Your mercy endures for ever.

We thank you, holy God.
You have sent us your Spirit
to comfort us and lead us into all truth.
Your mercy endures for ever.

Gracious, redeeming and Holy God,
glory and praise be yours, now and for ever.  Amen

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray. You may well have others you wish to pray for too…

Graham & Peg T
Margaret B
Carolyn S
David B
Brian S
Valerie B

Take some time now to bring your concerns to God. If it helps, try saying them out loud. Feel yourself held in God’s safe hands.

We say the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the
power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.
Teach us to offer ourselves to your service,
that here we may have your peace,
and in the world to come we may see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord look on you with kindness
and give you peace.  Amen.

Go in peace to rejoice in God’s love
and to reflect his glory.
May the Lord go with us and grant us the joy of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Some material included in this service is copyright © 1989 National Council of Churches USA

Some material included in this service is copyright ©1999 Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

Sunday worship

This Sunday’s worship is led by Anne Taylor at St David’s and on the livestream at 10am, and by Rev Bev at 10:30am at St John’s. Note the earlier time for the St John’s service (due to the civic service taking place at 11:30am).

The text below relates to the service at St John’s and is a follow-up to the service last week about wisdom and humility.

By Ag2gaeh – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48064576

Wednesday meditation

Today’s meditation at St David’s at 11:30am is led by me, Rev Bev. For those unable to attend in person, you can find the reflection below.

Before we go any further, I would like everyone to try drawing a tree.

Read Psalm 92:1-3 and 11-13.

Children’s drawings of a tree:

Top artist’s drawing of a tree: Constable’s painting of Dedham Church and vale and others.

You can get lessons on how to draw a tree.

Constable wrote, “”The world is wide, no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of all the world; and the genuine productions of art, like those of nature, are all distinct from each other.”

Constable’s pictures of trees are wonderful. But compared to nature they are very simplistic, like the child’s painting when compared to the great master painter’s efforts.

The paintings of the great masters are wonderful, but they are simply copies, copies of the originals.

Have you visited an art gallery? I’ve watched people spending hours sitting and looking at a painting of a great master. And I can see to some extent why they do it.

But I wonder, do they spend the same amount of time and focus looking at the works of THE great master artist? Do they actually get outside and stand and stare at the glory that is creation?

At this time of year, how can anyone not stand and stare as the whole of creation bursts into glorious reds and yellows, oranges and golds?

I suddenly thought of God as the great painter last weekend, as I was going on my usual walk around this lovely area we live in. The trees on the hillside were just thinking about changing colour, the plants in my garden were doing likewise. Fruitfulness was everywhere and everything was full of all sorts of shapes and colours. And I suddenly thought, “God has fun at this time of year. I like his style.”

And it made me happy.

How we look at the natural world matters.

We can ignore it completely and see the weather and the seasons simply as either a help or a disturbance to our daily routine.

Or we can see it simply as a result of millions of years of chemical and physical activity, of pure random chance.

Or we can see it as the work of someone’s hand, the work of a creative and joy-filled mind. The same creative and joy-filled mind that created you and me.

I know which way of looking I prefer.

Wednesday meditation

Today’s meditation is held at St David’s at 11:30am, led by Janet Creed. For those not able to attend, she has provided a version for the blog. Thank you, Janet.

Originally when preparing today’s meditation, new beginnings seemed to be what kept coming to mind. But having listened to Bev’s sermon on 29th August, I felt I would only be repeating what had already been said.  Sitting and thinking about what I could do instead, I began to ‘wander’ through the 23rd Psalm and this is what I would like to share with you today.

Probably the most well-known version is from the King James bible

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

This psalm, written by King David who grew up as a shepherd, uses images people would have been familiar with, but he wasn’t the first to refer to God as a shepherd. In Genesis chapter 48 v 15 when Jacob blesses Joseph he says ‘the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day.’ And later Isaiah chapter 40 v 11 says ‘He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.’  Jesus referred to himself as The Good Shepherd, all the following quotes have been taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the bible.  We read from John, chapter 10 v 1-16

Jesus the Good Shepherd

10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd.

The shepherd was someone who had his flock and he looked after them, cared for them, kept them safe, guided them, provided for them and watched over them.

So, if Jesus is the Shepherd and we are his, does this mean we are the sheep?  Sheep are known for not being very intelligent animals, will wander off and follow each other, sometimes into trouble!

Like the sheep, we too often wander and go astray and yes, get into trouble. However, we are told in Luke chapter 15, the shepherd left the 99 sheep to look for the lost one.  We know God will seek us out and welcome us back, however many times we stray he never gives up on us.

God does provide all we need.  It may not be all we want! But he will provide for our genuine needs.

In the story of creation in Genesis, we are told that on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested and he blessed the seventh day and hallowed it

God had set a pattern for us to follow and that we need to rest and not feel guilty.  We need to physically rest, if we just keep on going it can make us ill.  I know for some people this is really hard, for example carers, when do they get to rest? This then becomes a wider issue for society. But we all need ‘time out.’  We need spiritual rest a time where we can worship and be renewed and emotional rest, knowing God is in charge.

Sheep have no concerns about what will happen next, it is left to the Shepherd.  Jesus tells us to live with that attitude – Matthew 7 v 34 – ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.’ But oh, how difficult that can be sometimes!

Jesus set us an example of taking time out to be with God to be restored and refreshed especially after ministering to others

We can ‘lie down in green pastures’ safe in the knowledge He is in control and watching over us, we can feed on His word and the Holy Spirit can fill us with the assurance of His love.  We can safely rest in His Presence knowing he embraces us, and our souls restored and we are healed.

Life is a journey, we travel many pathways, come across many crossroads and pass through dark and dismal places.

We need to take time to listen to God and be guided by Him.

In John chapter 10 v 27 ‘My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.’

God will speak personally to each one of us, we need to give him the chance.  It can help if we take some time out, to rest and be ready to listen, we can read and reflect on the scriptures, we can pray on our own and with others, and we can share and discover with others along the pathway.

In times of travelling through the darkness and shadows we need to trust God even more, but it can be difficult and feel very lonely, and we have to remember that He, the Good Shepherd never abandons His sheep.

His rod is there to comfort us, to remind us that our enemies were defeated at the Cross.  The staff, often used by the Shepherd to pull the sheep out of danger or harm also brings comfort, knowing he is guiding and leading us. Following Christ is not an easy option, we have to trust if he leads us into difficult times, that he will lead us out safely.

God provides for us; he has prepared a place for us and he invites us to join him.  He welcomes us and we are accepted as we are. As he filled the first Disciples on the day of Pentecost with His Holy Spirit to overflowing, so will our cup overflow with His blessings.

God does not give up on us, even if we are tempted to give up on God.

So, taking each verse there will be a short time for your own reflection.

  1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want 

The Lord will provide for all my needs – if I let him and follow him

Spend a few moments, thinking of the Lord as your shepherd

  • He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides still waters;

The shepherd created a safe enclosure for the sheep where they could eat and sleep safely – God will give me a place to rest where I can feel refreshed and restored – if I listen to him

Think of the times God has given you the chance to lie in green pastures and be led besides still waters.

  • He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

God gives me choices but will guide me if I let him                                                                 Think of a time you may have reached a crossroad, what helped you take the path you chose

  • Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.

God asks me to trust Him – there are times I don’t.

A few moments to think of a time you have trusted God and perhaps a time you didn’t.

  • You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, my cup overflows.

God, the creator of the universe prepares a table for me and provides for me according to my needs his blessings pour down – do I always appreciate what he does for me.

Spend a few moments to reflect on how God provides for you and the blessings he has given you

  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Am I always aware of God’s presence, perhaps I need to stop and look back for a while and see God has been with me always?

Use this time to pause and look back, can you see where goodness and mercy have followed you, know and feel his love is present with you right now.

I have tried to put the 23rd Psalm into my own words which I would like to share with you and perhaps later you may like to try and put your own words to this psalm.

The Lord is my carer and guide, he will provide for my needs
He gives me time to rest and be restored
He will lead me to follow His way
In times of trouble and fear he will be there guiding and comforting me
God, the creator, provides for me and blesses me
I know he will be with me always.

Let us pray,

As followers of the Good Shepherd, we spend a few quiet moments praying for people and situations in our minds and on our hearts.

The Lord is our shepherd, and we are the sheep of his pasture in him we trust.

Amen.

You might like to listen to hymn 481 in Singing the Faith:

Wednesday meditation

This week’s meditation will is led by Arline Griffiths and is at St David’s, 11:30am today. For those who can’t make it in person, here is her reflection. Thanks Arline. Your meditation picks up from my sermon theme on Sunday perfectly!

When it’s my turn to provide the Wednesday meditation, the most difficult  thing for me is choosing a subject – or rather waiting for an idea for the subject to pop up in my brain,  then allowing it to chase around in my head until my thoughts start to take shape and I can start to make notes.  So when the new rota appeared, about three weeks ago, my first thought was, ”Oh gosh, so soon!”,  but once I looked at the date it seemed obvious that the subject should be New Beginnings. After all, September 1st is the first day of the Methodist year, and aren’t we all constantly experiencing new beginnings in our life, all of which bring a plethora of mixed emotions? There is marriage and starting life as a twosome, then a new birth again altering the dynamics of the family and so on through life: first day at school, leaving school, starting work, retirement and death for example. Together with the events comes the whole tapestry of life’s emotions: happiness, excitement, expectancy, pride, nervousness, hope, fear, sorrow, anger and so on.   Surely there was material for a meditation in this?

Then, during this thought process, I was told a true story which seemed an appropriate example.  It was about Ali, a young Afghan man some of you may have met, or seen at least and he has given permission for me to use his story in this meditation.  He is a member of “Citizens of the World”, a choir of refugees founded by Roger Roberts (and no, Roger did not tell me the story) with the hope of bringing some quality into the life of refugees.  Based in London, a couple of years ago they were brought to Wales to sing in the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen on the Saturday, then during Morning Worship at St. John’s on the Sunday, after which, if I remember correctly, they were given lunch at St. David’s.  At this time Ali was about 16, but there had already been several new beginnings, with all the attendant emotions and suffering, in his life.  When Ali was 7, his father was shot by the Taliban and the family fled to Pakistan, where he was a clever and diligent pupil, vying with one of the girls to be top of the class whenever they had exams and it seemed a good new beginning. But this happy period was not to last: the Taliban began to assert their authority there too, and when a bomb exploded directly in front of him, Ali decided he had to flee again. This time he ended up in the Calais Jungle where he endured constant danger and appalling conditions for 9 months.  Indeed, he almost lost his life and would have done so if one of the volunteers had not seen how ill he was and managed to get him into hospital where he was told that another 2 or 3 days and they would not have been able to save him.  Some time after this, he managed to get across the channel and arrived in London.  He was then 14. Surely he could start again here? But no, it was not to be, at least to start with.  First there was a placement where he was abused and forced to sleep on the sofa so that his so-called “welcoming hosts” could rent out his room and make more money, then uncertainty among  the powers that be over whether he really was 14 and not 19 and therefore not their responsibility.  Finally, with the help of the volunteer who had helped him in Calais and who had now returned to London, the problems were sorted out and he met someone prepared really to care for him and give him a good home.  He started attending college and, in the autumn, will be taking up the place offered to him at Cambridge.  This, surely, is his new beginning, but at what price!  Ali says that, throughout his ordeal, he was kept going by words said to him by his mother; “Remember my son, however bad things get, they will get better.”

In our case, as Christians, it is God himself who makes firm promises of support and protection.  In Isaiah 43, verse 2 we read: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze.”

And in Isaiah 40, 28-31: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

In Matthew 11 v 28, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are burdened and weary, and I will give you rest.”

And in Matthew 28 v 20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our God is truly our “someone to lean on.”

To finish, a prayer from one of Rev Bev’s Prayer Cards, which I find very helpful:

Steadfast God, teach me to trust you in all things.
I may not be able to see the way ahead,

and the future may look dark and forbidding to me.
But remind me that you are with me,

and you provide others of faith to go with me.
I am never alone.
Though the way may be dark ahead,

all life is an adventure
and I will travel it in company with you.
Amen.

The latest from Tanzania

We’ve received an update from Derick, our contact in Mafinga, Tanzania. The parish there have a partnership with St David’s. It is good to see such progress being made.

Shalom. We hope you are all doing well there by God’s grace. We thank God we are doing great here in Mafinga. I have managed to visit Kitelewasi Church and seen the progress of permanent church building. It is going very well and they are almost about to finish the walls and church is big enough to hold more than 200 people, it has vestry, pastor’s office, Sunday School room and a small office for elder of the church, so it is a beautiful big building. They are now collecting some money to buy gravel and steel for the beam and then they will finish it with 17 brick lines.  We hope by the end of this year the building will be complete. Derick

Prayers for healing and wholeness

I am leading today’s service or prayers of healing and wholeness at St John’s, Llandudno, at 1.45pm. The liturgy and reflection are below for those who want to join in from home.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

Jesus said:  ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Matt 11:28-30

Jesus said:  ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ John 10:10

In Jesus Christ, we hear the Good News
that God is like a mother hen
who shelters her chicks
under her wings.
We believe that God is love.

In Jesus, we see a God
who wept for the people of the world,
and weeps for our mourning.

In Jesus, we see a God
who reaches out with healing hands,
who sees our pain and makes us whole.

O God, you died for us and conquered death for us,
but sometimes we find it hard to believe in your love.

We see your creativity in all the earth,
but fear to ask for our own healing.
Forgive us and bring us to faith.

Hear Christ’s word for us:
If we have faith as small as a mustard seed,
God’s power is released in us.
Our healing is a gracious gift. Amen.

Reflection:

Read Matthew 8:1-3

In earlier times while we’ve been here in Llandudno, Mark used to go out to work. We developed a pattern for daily living, one which included a hug as soon as he got home. Now he is not going out to work and coming home at set times I have missed out on the 5:30pm hug. For others, of course, the pandemic and its regulations and safety measures has meant that they have missed out on far more of those simple encouraging touches.

This is not a minor matter. A lack of regular closeness and in particular touch can have a very detrimental effect, not only on a relationship but on general health and well-being. I think we have all realised the importance of touch during the pandemic. Why is it that we realise the true importance of something only when it is denied to us.

Touch and the social contact with a loved one which accompanies it are an important part of both our emotional and physical health.

Medical research backs this up. For example:

Skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her baby benefits the baby’s physical development and contributes to a positive attachment between the two. Placing a baby on the mother, skin to skin, is so beneficial that it is now an intervention strategy for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units worldwide.

Gentle touch has been shown to facilitate physical and psychological functioning, particularly in terms of reducing stress, relieving pain, increasing the ability to cope, and general health ratings.

Participants in a study examining the effectiveness of therapeutic touch as a treatment for managing pain experienced both a decrease in pain and a significant improvement in their quality of life.

The majority of nursing home residents suffering from dementia develop symptoms such as restlessness, wandering, tapping and banging, pacing and walking, and vocalization. Treatment often involves drugs, but studies have shown that intervention consisting of the simple use of touch significantly reduces these symptoms.

Clearly, the importance of touch cannot be underestimated for people of any age. We need to be touched with love and compassion, and we need to touch others in the same way.

Jesus knew this. That’s why he touched the sick man in the bible story. He didn’t need to touch him in one sense. He could have healed him without any touch at all. But nonetheless he chose to touch the man, because touch is healing in and of itself, and when it is associated with the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus then far more so.

And this man in particular. Who was he? He was someone suffering from leprosy, a dreaded disease, one which people though they could catch by being touched by the infected person. So for Jesus to voluntarily reach out and touch this man…what a thing to do. He was showing compassion, love, and power. He was not going to let this dreadful thing come between him and the person who needed him.

And so it is still. Jesus is not going to let anything come between him and anyone who calls on him for help in suffering. It doesn’t matter what you have done, how far you have fallen, how much you are suffering.

In these complex times, we have to continue to be careful about who and how we touch. But not so Jesus. He wants to reach out and touch you by his Spirit and bring healing to your life.

——-

We continue in prayer…

O God, we cry to you in our anger
that people hurt each other.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We feel the fear and pain experienced by
an innocent and trusting child.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We carry with us the things
that have been done to us which hurt and destroy.
They stand before us and weigh us down.
They stop us living with joy and hope.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We watch on, as around the world
War and conflict abound.
And we feel helpless to prevent or resolve.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

Lift us up on the wings of your Spirit.
For you are stronger
than all the forces that stand against us.
Set us free with your peace and your power.

Set us free,
heal our wounds,
O God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. Amen.

We say together the prayer that Jesus gave us:                                                

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
your kingdom come,
your will be done 
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial 
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, 
now and for ever.  Amen 

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray….

Graham and Peg T
Margaret B
Carolyn S
Alan G

Spend some time in prayer for those God places on your heart. Include yourself.

May the Lord of love,
who is more powerful
than all those who would harm us,
give us healing for all that is past and peace for all that is to come.
May he surround us with comfort and warmth
and fill us with life that is stronger than death.
Amen.

Lift your face to the light.
You are beautiful in the sight of God.
The seal of the Spirit is upon you.

Walk freely
and open your heart to life,
for Christ walks with you
into a new day.

Go in peace.
And may God keep you safe:
God the Father hold you firmly,
God in Christ take you by the hand,
and God the Spirit guide and protect you.

May the Lord go with us and grant us the joy of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Some material included in this service is copyright © 2000 Dorothy McRae-McMahon