The term mend brings many ideas to life. The obvious thought is to repair, or when speaking of people, to heal. However, if we go a little further outside the lines of conformity, we can think of mending as rejuvenating, putting on something new. One of the readings from James reminds me that when a person was suffering in biblical times, people would gather around, pray over the one who was sick, then anoint him with oil, purifying him with the presence of the Lord.
This is an interesting custom that we no longer practice. It could be that we no longer have the time to gather when a person is suffering, or it could be that it being a Jewish practice, the Christian community rejects this practice. Or, it could be that we lack the faith to travel down this ancient road; we no longer have the faith that God heals. All too often, we run to a clinic to get a magic pill to heal us, overlooking God’s plans for us.
I am pointing my fingers at me. At my age, and after all that has happened to my body, I rush to my family GP to be cured, when I know that the cure I receive is only for my physical side . . . only!
One thing that certain Christian faiths do is the practice of laying on of hands. I have been the recipient of a laying on of hands ceremony. The first time was a prayer by the congregation at our church in New Jersey as we said goodbye to them after being a part of the congregation for 34 years. The experience was very moving, but I was not in the frame of mind to appreciate the true meaning behind it. I merely accepted their wishes for a safe future.
The second time was orchestrated by my wife and my personal trainer. They suckered me into attending a prayer service at a church in Spotsylvania County; it was a Wednesday evening prayer service. After the regular participants shared their needs and were prayed over, my trainer spoke, announcing a guest who needed prayers . . . me. Not wanting to embarrass anyone, I agreed. And was brought to tears.
Since then, I have become a prayer minister at my church, laying on of hands to those who join my prayer circle Sunday mornings. The presence of God in the prayer corner, when we are praying together for grace, is always apparent. We can feel God’s presence, as we turn our attention from ourselves to reflect on the Goodness, Love, and Compassion of our Lord. In a word, we are both healed; we are both mended in the presence of God. It is a most enchanted moment for both of us. It is not new; it just seems that way.