Vicar's Letter October
It’s St Luke’s Day on Sunday 18th October. At 10.30am in our church there will be a celebration of St Luke, the healer, as well as a Eucharist.
Tradition says Luke was a doctor, a healer. Certainly the Gospel which bears his name has more healing stories than the other three Gospels. Last year St Luke’s Day was on a Friday and we decided we’d pray for the NHS; we had a service in church early evening. Only a few people came but I remember thinking at the time, this is powerful - little did we know how important those prayers would be in the months ahead.
In this year’s service we are praying for healing for ourselves, those we know in situations which need changing for the better and whose problems are seemingly intractable. Cancers need healing; climate change needs healing; a relationship may need healing.
I think it’s worthwhile reflecting on what we mean by healing. Our bodies heal naturally: my cut finger has healed, my sore throat too. Healing may involve a cure but not always. I’ll use this small example - I wish my bunion on my left foot could be cured; sadly I think I’m stuck with it. Healing involves more than a cure. It involves our minds and our hearts too. I know there has been some healing around this bunion - I’m buying more sensible shoes which don’t annoy it and I’m accepting it is what it is and trying to love my feet!
Am I right in thinking when we pray for healing often we’re praying for a miracle? Jesus did many of these miracles. One of the churches near Kidderminster I attended before coming here has prayed for several months for the cure of one its leader’s cancer. Sadly, she died last week. However, I do know although there wasn’t a cure, there was healing. She accepted she was dying and bravely faced this. She chose to go into a hospice and in her final days she experienced peace.
Healing is much broader than getting rid of the disease or the illness. Healing covers our minds and our hearts, our wills, our relationships and our faith. In this service on the 18th when we pray for healing, we’ll also pray for wholeness.
Often we just pray for the disease to be cured and often our prayers are answered. Sometimes they aren’t. But we also need to pray for the illness - that part of the disease which needs managing, such as feelings of pain, discomfort, weakness and weariness and depression. Courage, strength and determination are virtues which are often given to us as a result of prayer and these are important in tackling the illness and working with it instead of against it.
In situations which need healing we have to accept that things in ourselves need to be changed before healing can occur. Often in situations where there is brokenness, there needs to be forgiveness and on the 18th there will be prayers of penitence where we will accept our own role in the problem, say we are sorry and seek to change.
Blessings - Jan
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool