Healing Service Feb. 12

Our worship service on February 12 will be a special Service of the Word for Healing. This is commonly referred to as a “healing service.” Because these services occur rather infrequently here at St. Matthew, a word or two of explanation is in order.

In many ways, the service will be quite similar to our normal Sunday liturgy. We will have hymns, prayers, Bible readings and a sermon. But for this one service we will add a few new things and take a one week break from a few others (like the Hymn of Praise) so that on the whole the service will be about the same length as usual.

The best explanation of the purpose of a healing service comes from Philip Pfatteicher, a Lutheran pastor, writer and theologian. In his Commentary on the Occasional Services, he writes that the service “is an affirmation of God’s concern for the whole person. It is, moreover, an occasion for those who suffer from various sicknesses and mental distresses to pray for themselves and for one another. The service further provides opportunity for the congregation to offer prayers of intercession for the sick and suffering in the congregation, the community, and the world.” Healing has a very broad meaning. It can indeed involve physical wellness. But it can also mean acceptance, understanding and spiritual comfort.

At a designated point in the service, I will invite all who wish to participate to come forward to the communion rail and kneel or stand (if kneeling is not possible). I will lay both hands on the person’s head and pronounce a blessing, after which I will lightly trace a cross on the person’s forehead with my thumb, using an aromatic balm, and will conclude with a brief blessing of anointing, at which point the person may return to his or her seat.

No one is obligated to come forward, but we hope that all will feel welcome to do so and that this service will be a meaningful experience for everyone and a tangible reminder of God’s healing presence in each of our lives.