Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Trinity on June 18, 2017, the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. The service includes the liturgy for healing. The text for the sermon is Mark 6:7, 12-13, “Calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits…They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today in the life of our congregation we have a Service of Healing. I believe this is a first here at Trinity. Today I want to make sure you know up front that every one of us needs some form of healing. We will not be singling out people with the most pressing need. I will be inviting every worshipper to participate in the laying on of hands and anointing with oil in just a few minutes from now.
We’re engaging in a practice that is older than the Christian Church. The Kings of Israel and Judah were anointed with oil on the day they became king. Oil was also a sign of hospitality and welcome in the homes of people in Israel and Judah. You offered scented oil to your guest as a sign of respect. By the time of Jesus, olive oil was treated as a medicine. In the Gospel of Mark, we hear that Jesus sent his disciples out two by two to preach the good news and to heal. And part of their healing ministry was to anointed people with oil and ask God to grant healing.
In the Book of James, we hear how the early Church practiced the ministry of healing:
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (James 5:14-16a).
Another element in today’s healing service is the laying on of hands. You’ve seen the pastors do this to our young people on the day of their confirmation. Each of us pastors had this experience on the day of our ordination. WE follow the example of Jesus who allowed the Holy Spirit to work through his hands. We believe the power of the Holy Spirit comes to the Church in powerful ways and we gladly offer our hands as ways to transmit this power.
This day what kind of healing can we expect to receive? What should we expect to happen either in this Healing Service or when we have prayed at other times? This is a key question, I believe. What keeps some folks from even wanting to come forward in a Healing Service is the negative association with some television faith healers. WE really don’t want that sensationalism to be a part of our worship experience here. Here are some truths about healing that I think are important for us today:
*We expect healing to take place.
*Healing is not always what we want or expect
*In every instance, we believe a healing does take place
*There is no such thing as unanswered prayer
That God can take away disease and sickness, I have no doubt. That is one form of healing. That God will give us strength to endure our sickness, and grant us an enduring faith, that is another form of healing. That God will provide medical care through doctors and nurses, I believe is an answer to prayer, and a healing. That God will release us from our suffering through death and entrance into heaven, that too is an answer to prayer and a healing.
The first time I ever earnestly came to god in prayer for a healing was when I was 9 years old. My grandmother was told that she most likely would have to start taking insulin shots for her diabetes. That worried me so much that I prayed and prayed in church for her. When my grandmother told me that she would be taking pills rather than shots, I took that as answer to my prayer. The first time I ever participated in a formal service of healing was at Asilomar Conference Center near Monterey, California. It was the annual pastors’ conference and a healing service was part of the schedule. During the conference, I received a phone call that my father was being taken into surgery for emergency by-pass surgery for his heart. That day I needed to have the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil, to bring me comfort and assurance for my fear and on behalf of my father. That was 1986 and dad lived another 15 years.
Every person here today needs some kind of healing in your life, whether it is for you personally, for other folks you know, or for our congregation, community and world.
This day I Invite you to step out of your comfort zone and experience a Lutheran Service of Healing.