We Are Healed

When I grow up I want to be stricken with cancer and die at an early age. When I get older I want to have a heart attack and leave my spouse and kids to fend for themselves.

When it's hard to cope and I become anxious I want to escape by becoming an addict. When I finish school I want to live in a cardboard box and spend my days looking for food.

When I am unsure I want to wander aimlessly in a spiritual desert all by myself.

These statements conjure up unpleasant images don't they?

None of us ever hope or dream these types of things will happen to us. Nor do we want them to.

But the reality is the hardships I've mentioned and many others like them do occur, and occur frequently. If they don't happen to us personally I am sure we all know people who struggle with disease, addictions, or spiritual dryness, and are in need of healing.

In the four Gospels, accounts of healing related activities take up 20% of the text. This tells us that Jesus' ministry is not only to teach, but also to heal; in fact Jesus concept of himself is that of a healer.

In today's Gospel reading we are told the story of a man who had been an invalid for 38-years. This man's problem had become a way of life. No one had ever helped him; folks around him just ignored him. He had no hope of ever being healed. And indeed the man's situation looked hopeless, looked hopeless to his friends and family perhaps, but not to Jesus. And Jesus in turn heals the man.

Jesus' healings are signs of the times, signs of the presence of the kingdom of God in him. The kingdom-to-come is already present in the public ministry of Jesus, and is present today.

In the past we haven't always understood the healing stories in the Gospels in the way they were meant to be understood. Jesus healings have been chiefly viewed as demonstrations, even proofs, of his divinity or of his messianic authenticity.

But what is integral and often times overlooked when reading the miraculous healings of Jesus is that God has come to save us. The saving power of God is present in Jesus to heal us, to make us whole. The healings that Jesus works are part of, and reveal the divine work of our salvation.

You'll also note as you read the Gospels that all healings are not physical. Some healings are spiritual: Jesus forgives sins and counsels the sinners to change their lives.

Among Jesus' many exorcisms, the power of Jesus is contrasted with and seen in opposition to every spirit opposed to God. There also appear to be some so called exorcisms that are emotional or psychological cures rather than true exorcisms.

When the Gospels were written, humankind had not yet discovered mental illness as a category of human behavior; it would have been normal to associate psychoses and grave neuroses with the forces of evil, attributing them to unclean or evil spirits. It's very likely that some of the healings that were understood as exorcisms were in reality psychological healings.

When we speak of healing, I believe there are five types of healing: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and death. And yes I do believe death is a healing, because life does not end at death, we just begin another chapter of our life with Christ. To those who are suffering greatly with pain, death can be a blessing.

Today healings happen with extraordinary frequency. Go to any hospital on any day and you will hear stories of healings, and in some cases unexplained miraculous healings. The power of the Holy Spirit works within the medical professionals today to provide physical healing.

Look into the hearts of your loved ones and you will see spiritual healings taking place as hearts are transformed and made whole. Enter the minds and emotions of those you encounter, and you will see profound responses to God's love.

Visit a hospice center and you will see God's healing touch as one of God's children passes from this world to live with Christ forever.

Yes, healings are taking place all around us every minute of every day. Unfortunately we often times don't see, experience, or understand that healings are taking place. We fail to see the glory of God and the power of God at work even though God's actions are all around, and even within us.

We are a people in desperate need of healing, all types of healing. However, often times when we think of, or speak of, healing we think of physical healing. But healing in the broadest sense of the word actually means healing of body, mind, and spirit. And regardless of ones condition, all aspects of body, mind, and spirit must be addressed in order for individuals to be restored to wholeness.

And no matter how trapped we feel in our infirmities, God can and does minister to our deepest needs. We shouldn't let a problem of hardship cause us to lose hope. As long as Christ is in our lives we have hope.

God may have special work for us to do in spite of our condition, or even because of it. Many have ministered effectively to other hurting people because they have triumphed over their own hurts, illnesses, and infirmities. One of the more prominent people right now in the public eye is Christopher Reeves who despite his physical limitations has become a powerful witness and spokesperson for those who suffer with spinal cord injuries.

Recovering addicts are doing wonderful work helping others spiritually and emotionally as they work to be healed as well. And the list goes on. The point is God can use us and does regardless of how we may perceive our condition.

In our scripture reading from Acts we learn that Jesus is not the only one providing healing to others. Paul is being used by God as an instrument of healing through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe God can use all of us as instruments of healing. I bet each one of you here today has been used by God to heal others, you just may not be aware of it.

Perhaps you didn't lay hands on someone and pray, and they were able to walk away from their illness or affliction, but I'm sure many here have offered a healing word or a helping hand. Many have offered a kind expression of comfort, helped someone out in need, offered spiritual guidance, and so on. This is healing; this is the touch of God.

Remember most of Jesus healing ministry occurred in his teaching. This is a fact we tend to over look.

And never underestimate the healing power of prayer. According to the promises of Christ, healings in response to prayer occur frequently and continue today.

In our ministry as a church there are many opportunities for us to participate in healing ministries in tangible ways.

According to American Health, "Godlessness may be harmful to your health." This claim was based on a study from Purdue University, which involved 1,473 Americans similar in age, income, and education. The study compared those who regularly participate in religious activities with those who don't.

The study found that those who don't regularly participate in religious activities were twice as likely to report health problems. The study "found that religion was almost as great an influence on health as age and social class."

Well one way the church can engage people and help them become whole is through the ministry of Parish Nursing. A Parish Nursing ministry is one critical way we can offer hope to those who feel they have no hope.

The Council of Churches in Emmitsburg is in the midst of developing a non-profit organization called Caring Hands of Emmitsburg. Caring Hands will give us the opportunity to minister to those with chronic illness, disabilities, and the elderly by increasing their access to health care and spiritual resources, inspiring them to adapt healthy lifestyle practices.

For example, in Maryland, cancer ranks as the leading cause of death. Frederick County ranks as having the highest rate of cancer over any other county in Maryland, and within Frederick County the town of Emmitsburg ranks as having the highest rate of cancer. Thurmont is ranked fourth. In addition to cancer, alcoholism and drug use are major problems in our community.

Cardiovascular disease is also an issue in Emmitsburg (Thurmont), not only as a problem for middle-aged and older adults, but it's the third leading cause of death in young adults. But what is so encouraging is that with early identification and preventive measures, mortality can be reduced by 50 - 70%.

With the older population projected to increase within the surrounding area and healthcare coverage not meeting the demands of this population, there is a need to implement alternative community-based health care models like Caring Hands.

All the churches in the Emmitsburg area have expressed a desire to offer this type of health and spiritual care to their parishioners and to support Caring Hand's mission to work with all congregations in the Emmitsburg area to create healthy individuals and a healthy community.

Caring Hands will identify existing gaps in services, and identify individuals who can be trained and provide other volunteer services such as transportation, personal care, telephone reassurance, meal preparation, respite care services, shopping, and housekeeping.

Additionally, Caring Hands will provide health education, personal health consulting, chronic disease management, and lifestyle change programs that will promote healthy living and sound spiritual health.

And this is just one example of how God can use us and his healing power to save humankind. The opportunities for us to support God's healing efforts are endless. When you look at all of Jesus' healings, you begin to realize they are fruits of his true compassion and love of humankind. What a gift we have been given, a gift to be shared with all people.

I encourage you to open your hearts to the love of Jesus, allow him to heal you where you hurt, and allow him to transform you into a healer by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You know the man who was an invalid for 38 years learned a valuable lesson, and we are reminded of this lesson today.

Who loves us and forgives all our sins? Jesus Who cares for us with a compassionate love? Jesus To whom can we go to with our every problem? Jesus Who promises to be with us always? Jesus Who conquered sin and death for us by dying and rising? Jesus Who has freed us from legalistic religious demands so that we may serve others freely? Jesus And who is the source of all healing and wholeness? Jesus

And all of God's people were heard to boldly say? AMEN!

Read other messages by Pastor Wade