“Now Compassionate God;We confess our weakness and our need for yourstrengthening touch.We confess that some illnesses stem from our own fault,while others are beyond our control.We turn to you, source of life,and ask in the name of our Savior Jesus Christfor the gifts of true healing and life in you. Amen.– Confession of Sin, A Public Service of Healing, Enriching Our Worship
Dear People of St. David’s,
Last Wednesday I sat in the chapel before the weekly Healing Service at 7:30am. I was looking over the service bulletin and marveling at the beauty of the language. You all know that we occasionally use Eucharistic Prayers from Enriching our Worship, a series of texts authorized by The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 1998. The theory was that it’s a huge expense to print a new Book of Common Prayer, and perhaps prohibitive for individual parishes. So, the texts became available in electronic form, and they paved the way for many more new texts to be written and approved for use.
This makes them accessible, but for most of you, invisible! How would you know they even exist? We now have beautiful texts that address some issues no one was thinking about when the Book of Common Prayer 1979 was created, like a liturgy for the Discontinuation of Life Support, or a liturgy for The Burial of a Child. We have some invisible treasures.
One such treasure is the A Public Service of Healing. It’s public because it isn’t solely between two people, as we used to practice in the corners of the chapel following the reception of Holy Communion. This is an entire service devoted to healing – collects, prayers, and even the Confession of Sin which is printed above.
I think we often think about healing as related to health. Of course, we know there are so many other kinds of healing, like healing from anxiety, or anger. Perhaps we think more in terms of relief, but it’s really healing we pray for. In the season of Lent, we turn inward for a time of self-examination, but also for amendment of life. All of us have habits or practices that distance us from God, and in Lent we try to take an unflinching look at them and eliminate them, or at least minimize their power over us.
That brings us back to the Prayer of Confession printed above. I think it works beautifully for Lent! There is an acknowledgement that some of what is wrong with us is our own fault, and equally important, some of it is beyond our control. It’s very important to pay attention to the difference between the two. God does not wish us to agonize over that which we cannot change, rather, to work at what we can change. As the prayer says, “We turn to you, source of life.”
A prayer that follows the confession says: May the God who goes before you through desert places by night and by day be your companion and guide; may your journey be with the saints; may the light of the Holy Spirit be your strength, and Christ your clothing of light, in whose name we pray. Amen.
This is a wonderful assurance of the support of no less than the Trinity of God as we do the work of Lent. God is our companion, everywhere, all the time. We make this journey in the footsteps of other inspiriting people who have lived the Christian life, and we derive encouragement from their examples. Jesus clothes us in light as we struggle out of darkness, and the Holy Spirit gives us strength.
At this halfway point in Lent, my prayer for you is that healing is taking place, with the Trinity of God as your constant companion. If your schedule permits, you might wish to experience this lovely healing service on Wednesday mornings. May the “gifts of true healing and life” be yours.
The Rev. Elizabeth W. Colton
Our Healing Eucharist is offered weekly on Wednesday mornings at 7:30am. All are welcome to join in the Chapel, up in the choir seats behind the altar.