"Healing is an indispensable part of the coming wholeness
that God intends for all creation."

— John Koenig

The practice of healing is a central part of the reconciling activity of God in the world. Healing events are daily signs of the divine mercy that is surging through the world and guiding it toward its final perfection. This is true whether they take place by the sharing of chicken soup, the performance of delicate surgery, or the laying on of hands in a service of worship.

The Paradox of Healing
Illness, injury, and psychological distress dog virtually our every step. Serious illness brings us to where life and death meet. What do we mean by "healing"? Is it the same thing as being cured? What is the difference between a cure and wholeness?

The Gospels are full of stories of healing (Mark 3:1; 5:25; 7:25, for example). What do these stories tell us about Jesus' priority of health and wholeness? What role, if any, does suffering take in forming or testing a person's character?

For Christians, life and death meet at the cross. This mysterious paradox means that we may be hurting desperately, but we can simultaneously experience peace and strength. What testimonies have you heard in which illness brought someone closer to God and to loved ones, and feeling more alive than ever before? When have you seen some new kind of health come even when physical illness continues or even ends in death?

Christian Healing, Then and Now
The early church considered prayer healing and laying on of hands as part of its mission. Over the centuries, however, the Christian emphasis on healing has waxed and waned. In what dire circumstances might the church instead emphasize preparation for death? Is it the same as healing? Why or why not? What effect has thinking of spirit and body as separate from each other had on the ministry of healing?

How do you understand the relationship between "faith cures," faith, and modern medicine? How has this understanding changed over time, for you and in society at large?

Congregational Ministries of Healing
The media makes us all too aware of our vulnerability. What effect do daily reports on environmental hazards, violence, pathology, poverty, or genocide have on our hopes for healing? How might our Christian heritage of healing help us to live with hope in this context?

How have we let healing activities become separate from congregational life? What connection could they have? What new conceptions of healing can the church offer people who suffer from chronic illness? How might people who struggle together for healing become 'priests' of faith and love to each other?

What shape might your congregation's healing ministry take? In what ways can people who aren't health care professionals be part of a healing ministry (Matt. 10:1; Mark 6:7, Luke 9:1-2, Acts 3:1-10; 4:30, 9:32-43)?

How can the congregation support health care professionals in their midst - when they make mistakes, when they're too busy to attend to both body and spirit, when they forget to connect their faith and profession? How does our health care system drive wedges between those trained in healing arts and those who require their talents? What effect does the current climate of litigation and high health care costs have on the ministry of healing?

What kind of healing can liturgies offer - confession, anointing, laying on of hands, Eucharist? Jesus models for us how preaching, teaching, and healing combine to form a seamless garment. How can we make healing ministries of the church more integrated, more normal, more public?

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Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

— Acts 3:6-7

Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits... They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

— Mark 6:7,13

© 2006-2011 The Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith