A brief meditation at the Order of St. Luke service at St. George's Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario, on May 15, 2002 by Robert Brow    (www.brow.on.ca)

I used our text exactly 22 years ago on May 15, 1980 (Sermons: Sherlock Holmes). It came back to me as I thought about our ministry of healing this evening. I pointed out that detective stories are based only on the first half of our text. "The wages of sin is death." Even if the local police force and Scotland Yard fail to solve the crime, Sherlock Holmes will of course discover the motives and the criminal will be hanged. But detective stories care nothing about the criminal's mother, or his wife and children, and they tell us nothing of the mystery of healing and life after death.

God is the great detective. He knows the motives of the human heart. No crimes are unsolved in his sight. Criminals have no place to hide. But detection is only the beginning of the story. When Jesus the Son of God puts the handcuffs on us, we discover he is ready to heal the human heart and prepare us for heaven. All the media want to tell the public is about the crime and the trial. God wants to tell the public about the forgiveness of sin, and the free gift of joy in this life and in the heaven Jesus has prepared for us.

But what has that to do with the healing we are engaged in this evening? First we should remind ourselves that we have a very different view of what sin is. In the world a sin is an act, something we have done wrong. In some cases it may be a crime and if we are caught it will result in a jail sentence. There are jokes about being sent to HELL.

But when we think of the "wages of sin is death" we think of sin infecting and pervading the world around us. Sickness may come through the genes we received from out parents. It can come through our food, the water we drink, the atmosphere around us. Some have childhood hurts that cause trouble throughout life. Viruses can invade out body and give us flu and other deadly conditions. Evil forces create guilt and havoc in our thinking. In some cases the cause is obvious (as in a car accident or extreme old age). There may be family factors, and other kinds of pressure at work. Guilt and discouragement cause huge amounts of dis-ease.

So our ministry of healing begins when we look to Jesus, the great Detective, who knows the exact causes of what is going wrong in us and those we pray for. He has no desire to blame us and fill us with guilt, but to assure us that he understands and knows how to heal us. Often the real causes are not revealed to us. And we can say, "Lord you know what is the underlying cause that is working to destroy this person. You already know the correct intervention." It might be a matter of diet, or lifestyle, which the person cannot control. The physician or surgeon may need supernatural wisdom to intervene in he right way without causing greater problems.

Armed with that assurance, we may be able to help the person name what he or she thinks is the problem. This often happens when people come forward for the laying on of hands. We ask "What are you praying for?" We accept the answer that is given, and we do not probe beyond what the person wants us to mention in prayer. Where the person admits an addiction that he or she cannot control, we reject moralizing or guilt, and we point to the Holy Spirit who can work in us what would be impossible by our human willpower.

We may need to explain that we have no power in ourselves to heal. It was Jesus who said "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17). As we lay hands, or hold the hand, of our friend we pray. "Lord, you know exactly what is going wrong in Mary's life (or whatever name has been mentioned). We thank and praise you that you know exactly how to guide her into health. As we lay our hands on her, we pray that she may know your touch of power right now and experience your healing day by day."

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