Dear Friends in Christ
I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas and that you are now looking forward to a new year with anticipation and hopefulness. I am conscious that for many people 2023 was a difficult year, for individuals in our parish as well as for people around the world. I know that some of you have been ill recently, experienced bereavements or other losses and across the world there continues to be so much suffering due to multiple causes. Therefore, my thoughts are upon the topic of healing. We tend to think of healing as something practical; we have an illness, we take the prescribed medicine and we get better.
This means we are ‘healed’. We are also very fortunate to live in a country with healthcare provided for us: we have doctors surgeries, a hospital and hospice, care/nursing homes, emergency services,
local pharmacies as well as many places to buy ‘over the counter’ remedies. There are also many charities that offer help and support for a variety of medical conditions. In many ways we are truly blessed.
However, as Christians there is another aspect of healing that is important to us, a spiritual side that helps us when we are unwell and also guides us as we support and comfort other people in need. We
have the example of Jesus, the greatest healer, who ‘went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people’. (Matthew 4:23) From Jesus we know that healing is important to God, that our welling-being of body, mind and spirit are of concern to God. That doesn’t mean God rejects us if we have long term illness, injuries etc but it does reassure us that the one who gives us life wants that life to be the best it can be, in Exodus 15:26 the people of Israel are told ‘I am the God who heals you’. Another aspect of healing is high-lighted by the scholar William Barclay who wrote ‘it remains eternally true that we can never be right physically until we are right spiritually, that health in body and peace with God go hand in hand’. Jesus was an ‘holistic’ healer, he was concerned with the person’s inner health, that is, their relationship with God. We can be as physically and mentally robust as it is possible to be but if our relationship with God and the world is ‘unwell’ then we are definitely in need of healing. Some of the
most serious wounds are caused by poverty, abuse, spite, pride, envy and greed. There is nothing our medical or emergency services can do to overcome these ‘diseases’, there are no ‘over the counter’ remedies we can buy. The only healing for these conditions comes from the love of God, obedience to Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You may like to know that our next Healing Service is at 6.30pm St Luke’s on Sunday 18th February. And as we look to the healing of the earth we have a piece
from our Parish Eco-Church Officer Simon Dunn in this edition of the magazine. As we continue to celebrate Christmas it is traditional to wish each other a happy and healthy New Year. May 2024 indeed be such a year for you, for those you love and for the wider world.
Every blessing for 2024