Luke 9:1-2 One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
James 5:14-15 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
I don’t know what is going on at the moment but so many people I know have cancer. An uncle, a niece. Two neighbours. The daughter of someone we know at Port Ban. Three ladies in our church. In two cases, funeral arrangements are already being made, though death has not yet closed the final curtain. The very word “cancer” seems to strike fear into individuals, families, and the society in which we live. Those who are so afflicted generally don’t talk about it, as though they are ashamed of the diagnosis. Some, usually those without the illness, are quick to say that it is not the death sentence it used to be. And, statistically, it isn’t, but that can be small comfort to the recipients of bad news. The medical remedies are usually intrusive and debilitating. Lives are put on hold while treatment takes place. And when the hoped-for good news emerges, it can be tarnished by a nagging concern that the cancer has returned, when an ache or pain intrudes.
But as Christians what are we to make of this? How can we step back and watch, and let it happen, filling the silence with nervous and pious platitudes? Wringing our hands as the medics do what they can. In the Gospels, Jesus instructed His disciples to “heal the sick”. No qualifications. No prerequisites. And He didn’t say pray for the sick – they had authority to heal the sick. And no disease was exempt. (I can hear my son-in-law shout ‘Amen!’ as I write). Later on in the book of James, we read that the Elders in the church had the authority to pray over a sick person, accompanied by the annointing with oil, and the presence of faith, bringing about their healing. So rather than praying down a shopping list of sick people’s needs, should we be praying rather for healing authority to return to the church, starting with ourselves? O Lord! Please forgive us for our lack of faith, for our unbelief! Please bring revival to Your church.
Leviticus 25:10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you…
Luke 4:17-19 [Jesus] unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
The fiftieth year. The year of Jubilee. Anything significant? Time to reflect, or say, “Just another year”? Time to start something new perhaps? Port Ban has celebrated its fiftieth year this year, but more of that in a later post. But the “fifty years” bit has caused me to reflect.
I was saved in a Pentecostal church nearly forty years ago, at a time when the charismatic renewal was starting to reach every denomination with its refocus on the works and power of the Holy Spirit. Exciting times, with long worship services and sermons. Meetings that people didn’t want to leave. But that was then. What about now? God has been stirring my heart with the thought that He wants us, more than ever, to reach out to the oppressed and bring the message of hope, the message of liberty. Not necessarily by handing out tracts on a street corner, though that might be right for some. Not necessarily by inviting people into church meetings, nice though it would be if numbers swelled. But by bringing liberty to the marginalised at all levels in our society. Setting people free with a kind word, an offer of prayer, a visit to the lonely, imprisoned in their homes or by their circumstances, showing them the Lord’s favour. Jesus went after those who were lost right where they were at, going about “His Father’s business”. In this generation, I don’t think it will be liturgies that will turn people to God. We’ve done that and it doesn’t work. It is God’s love stridently shining in a society becoming increasingly secularised and dark; where love is replaced by “benefits” and the hope of winning the lottery; where people turn to drugs and alcohol to fill an aching, loveless void inside; where the stockbroker and the homeless find themselves united by a poverty of spirit; where the “haves” increase in material comfort, and the “have-nots” become increasingly oppressed and forgotten. It is God’s love making a difference, penetrating into the darkest situation, turning hopelessness into new beginnings. A new realisation that this is the year of the Lord’s favour.