Thought for the Day by Angela Birkin (St Michael’s)
God with us in Headingley and Hyde Park – Houses of healing.
As I write this the cathedrals in Lichfield, Salisbury and Blackburn are being used as Covid-19 vaccination centres. A perfectly apt use of these beautiful houses of God as church buildings have long been centres of healing and wholeness.
St Michael’s, St Chad’s and All Hallows’ all incorporate prayers for healing and wholeness within their services, and individual prayer and anointing with oil is available to those who ask although this is sadly restricted at the present time.
The Eucharist is, of course, a service of healing and wholeness: we pray,
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,
but only say the word, and I shall be healed.”
before receiving Holy Communion.
When I began my curacy at St Michael’s I enjoyed walking round the church and looking at the stained glass windows in particular. Most of the windows date from the the time the current church was built, but some glass from the previous 17th century church building was reused. My favourite window is a simple window in the Lady Chapel.
It shows Jesus raising the young daughter of Jairus, one of the leaders of the local synagogue (Mk 5. 22-43, Mt 9. 18-26, Lk 8. 41-56). The girl’s parents watch and pray as Jesus takes her hand and says, in the lovely language of the day, “Damsel I say unto thee arise.”
That window and those words became very important to me as I recovered from major surgery and underwent rather debilitating chemotherapy in late 2017 to mid 2018. My healing involved all the expertise, skill and modern medicine that the NHS had to offer, all of which is truly a gift from God, but also involved, and continues to involve, the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God, and that whatever happens my hand is held by my Saviour who offers ultimate healing and wholeness.
As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, healing of individuals and society is needed. May our churches be houses of healing for our communities through prayer and action.