Each Thursday morning, I lead a healing service at St. John’s By-the-Sea Episcopal on Oahu, Hawaii. But if you attended one, the name might confuse you. In fact one attendee had no idea to call it that!
Let me explain…
Of course, we do a lot of what we do on Sundays. I open with a prayer. We read the Scripture for that week. I might give a short commentary on them. We greet one another during the Peace. We have communion. And we close with a prayer.
Though we use the healing service liturgy from Enriching Our Worship 2, it is not a formal church service at all. It’s very informal!
In fact, what you’ll find here is something more like a support group. Each participant shares in the responsibility of helping one another heal in Christ’s name.
We pray for one another. We encourage one another. We share our most deepest pains with one another. No one ever leaves feeling ashamed by what they’ve revealed.
It is the perfect environment for those intimidated by Sunday worship! They don’t need to worry about saying or doing the wrong things.
A lot of what we do is converse with one another, telling our stories. In Hawaii, we call this “talk story”.
We always talk about faith. We talk about the ups and downs our week has been. And though I facilitate the group, I see myself also as participant. I can honestly say that the group has helped me feel God’s grace even during the toughest times of my ministry.
I say all this partly to encourage you to check it out. Not as a substitute for Sunday worship. But as something to help spiritually energize you during the week.
I say it because it serves as the perfect example of what today’s readings focus upon.
Christ calls for us to be servants to one another. But not just for any old reason.
We are not called to serve out of duty or obligation. Or to make us feel good for doing for someone a favor or something nice. Or because it is the right thing to do.
We serve others so that they might find healing in Christ’s name. We serve so that others may see and feel God’s loving presence.
Serving others allows Christ’s healing to begin. Through it, we share in each other’s pain and suffering. We learn humility and grace. And we allow Christ to bring new life to the sick, the poor and the needy among us.
Have a look at our NT reading (Hebrews 5:1-10). It says that when Jesus the Son of God walked the earth:
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
Through this “source of eternal salvation”, Christ opens others to the grace we share.
We become transformed into our Lord’s “instruments of his peace”, as the Prayer of St. Francis says. We follow Christ’s example set in our Gospel from Mark:
(Jesus said:) “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Serve, then, in the spirit of Psalm 91: Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him (v. 14). Let us do more than meet people’s needs. Let us always deliver Christ to them as well.