Health & Wellness Corner: Instruments of Healing
In the beginning, when all things came into being, they were made whole and good (Gen. 1:31) and God gave pre-eminence to man to care for all things in creation. Brokenness entered into creation with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. In spite of man’s disobedience, God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live and dwell as one of us and to reconcile the whole world to Him, thereby restoring wholeness to the original creation.
All health and wholeness is rooted in God. The Holy Scriptures provide us with an understanding of God’s love and healing activity as well as a paradigm for the health and wholeness of the community. The scriptures abound with narrative accounts which disclose the essence of what it means to be part of the people of God or the body of Christ.
In the Hebrew Scriptures health is portrayed as one of God’s great gifts, and responsibility is placed on people to lead lives that cherish and protect this treasure. While the cure of disease was left to the Divine Physician, the prevention of disease was very much the province of the community. The primary emphasis of the Torah is on prophylaxis. The New Testament scriptures provide us with yet another understanding of God’s love and a congruent paradigm for wholeness and healing activity. The themes of creation, brokenness, restoration to wholeness, and transfiguration revisit us in many of the New Testament stories.
All four canonical gospels cast Jesus in the role of healer and highlight his ministry of healing and exorcism. In his teaching and proclamation, Jesus interprets his acts of healing as signs of the beginning of God’s reign. Throughout Jesus’ proclamation, and healing stories, there is a fundamental conviction that God wills the wholeness of human beings in their physical, psychological, and social dimensions.
Healing was central to both Jesus’ ministry and that of the apostles. Jesus as the Messiah was the bringer of ‘health and salvation’ and he shared his power of healing with the disciples as he sent them into the world equipping them to witness to the kingdom of God by word and act. The gift of healing is not given to build up one’s self, but to enable a right relationship to occur between the individual, the healing presence, and God the Father. Healings were an operation of the ascended Lord through the Spirit and were not restricted to the local leadership. For example, one of St. Paul’s spiritual gifts is that of healing (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30), a gift that may to any member of a congregation.
The apostolic Church preserved this connection between salvation and healing. Throughout Acts it is implied that the power to heal was an apostolic gift. To be sure, the apostolic ministry of healing was a normal and natural part of the historic Church and within the early Christian communities; healings never occurred alone but were bound with the community in prayer.
Christians have a unique role in participating as agents of healing and health, for it is God who heals and as vessels of God we are commanded and empowered by our Lord Jesus Christ to do so. As followers of Jesus, we are called not only to preach but to teach and to heal.
A Prayer for Healing:
Loving and tender God, touch our heart with hope, touch our minds with clarity, touch our souls with peace, and touch our bodies with the warmth of your healing presence. Grant us courage to face the future, insight to understand life’s trials, wisdom to discern how we can touch the lives of others, and compassion that makes us instruments of your healing love in all that we think, all that we say, and all that we do. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
The Rev. Dn Stephanie Ulrich, RN, SD, Minister of Health All Saints Episcopal Church