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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
And all of God's people were heard to
boldly say? AMEN!
Read other messages by Pastor Wade