Friends in Christ,
The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA) reminds us that healing was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus which the church has been called to continue as one dimension of its concern for the wholeness of people. Through services of wholeness, the church enacts in worship its ministry as a healing community. (BOO W-3.5401)
The above paragraph has particular relevance for me. I happened to check my spam email and noticed that I had received an email several days ago that had been automatically directed to the spam category. It was from a young parishioner in a previous congregation. She informed me that her father had recently been diagnosed with a very serious illness and they were just a matter of days from seeking the assistance of Hospice Care. Remembering the friendship between her father and me, there were two requests made in the email. The first request was that I pray for her father and their family during this time of special need and care. The second request was a simple one. She asked, if the way be clear, that I visit.
Mindful of this situation, the many needs within our congregation, a friend’s recent loss of a sister, and a friend’s recent loss of a brother, the scheduled Service of Wholeness for this Sunday, 5:00 pm, in the sanctuary seems to be very, very timely and important. Accompanied and supported by the deacons of the church, the liturgy will emphasize the grace of intercessory prayer as we remember the names of those who are ill, who are serving on active duty, who are deployed, who are serving overseas as missionaries, who are homebound, who are mourning for loved ones. We will also pray for the thousands who are fleeing Syria for safety, for the townspeople in Utah who have suffered from flash floods, for the people in California who are trying to overcome a severe and “exceptional” drought in addition to the many out-of-control fires that continue to rage, for people who are the victims of violence, and for the work, mission and ministry of the church that her witness remain true to Jesus Christ and the gospel.
Finally, Kay and I will come Sunday afternoon to pray for the people of this community of faith, for the church and needs outside the immediate parameter of this church, and for a close friend and his family that each person might abide in the peace and grace of Jesus Christ. In the midst of a new NFL season, Sunday afternoon rest and recreation, and preparation for the beginning of a new week, the invitation is extended for you to come and spend a few minutes doing one of the most important things we do as a church family and that is praying not only for ourselves but especially for friends and neighbors who stand in the need of intercession and God’s healing presence. We will enjoy a very simple liturgy that includes prayer, the reading of God’s Word, anointing with oil (for those who elect it), and the breaking of bread and sharing the cup. May the Lord be with you.
Peace and Grace,
+ Pastor Steve