Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
During the month of October, the South Shore UMCommunity will explore five common images of the ‘spooky season’ as they appear in Scripture – darkness, writing appearing from nowhere, ghosts, demons, and skeletons. These stories are amusing, and their knowledge we will be using! Join us for a spooktacular month of study and song at South Shore!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 6:45-52.
Devotional Scripture ~ Matthew 9:21.
Services of Healing are incredibly powerful. They are an opportunity for the Body of Christ to surround a fellow believer in crisis with love and hope.
These services became a beloved part of our ritual life at the last congregation I served. Before the conclusion of a worship service, I would invite the person that requested healing prayer or a family member to kneel at the altar rail. Once we even gathered around a prayer shawl that was later presented. I remember vividly the first of these prayers we shared in the congregation. After the person kneeled and their family stood nearest them, I invited any from the congregation to come forward that would like to lay on hands as well. I kid you not. In the span of time it took me to look down, take hold of my anointing oil, and look back up, the entire congregation present that day was at the altar.
Y’all know that I talk. A.lot. And I was speechless. We prayed together. All of us. In such nearness and care. When the prayer was over, I asked those that had gathered around the family to take one step back and pause before going to their seats. I then asked the family to turn around so that they could behold the faces of their church that through prayer committed themselves to walk with them not only through the present valley but onto glory.
I cherish the prayer that is part of The United Methodist Healing Service Liturgy. It names our loved ones specifically, just as our God names each of us specifically. It inspires the community with healthful and practical care that they can offer during this time of healing. And in boldness, it claims the reality that healing is coming. Though its arrival may not be in the way we want or expect, God promises our complete healing. The prayer breathes,
Almighty God, we pray that [Names,] our brothers and sisters, may be comforted in their suffering and made whole. When they are afraid, give them courage; when they feel weak, grant them your strength; when they are afflicted, afford them patience; when they are lost, offer them hope; when they are alone, move us to their side; when death comes, open your arms to receive them. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.*
Thanks be to God that God promises we will all be reunited again.
In recent months, I am leaning hard on this truth in our faith. That God is shepherding us through the valleys. That healing is present and coming, in ways that we see and cannot see, in ways that we know and that we do not yet fully know. Our God is faithful, and when it is a struggle to respond in kind, that is when it is most important that we try.
Reflection: Faith reaches out to the One who heals and makes us whole. What is there in your life - heart, mind, body or soul - that needs to be healed and made whole? Identify your area(s) that need healing, and share them with God.
Prayer: "In the midst of tribulation, stand by me (stand by me); in the midst of tribulation, stand by me (stand by me). When the host of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail, thou who never lost a battle, stand by me (stand by me)."* Amen.
*The United Methodist Book of Worship 621.
**"Stand By Me," The United Methodist Hymnal 512. ***Devotional Resource: The Weekly Faith Project by Zondervan.