In some past years we have included a “Rite of Wholeness” in our regular Sunday morning worship services during Lent. This year we’ll be doing it the Sunday before Lent. Our usual format is to have a Litany of Healing early in the service, a sermon focused on healing & wholeness, and then the rite following the sermon. We’ve used a fairly traditional Book of Common Worship Rite with confession, pardon, and laying on of hands and anointing with oil.
During that laying on of hands time we have pastors, elders, and Stephen Ministers stationed around the periphery of the worship space and people are free to come to them as they wish for prayer and anointing. While this goes on the congregation is invited to sing songs like There is a Balm in Gilead, Seek Ye First, Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Healing River of the Spirit.
Recognizing that not everyone feels comfortable approaching another person for prayer in that way, or may not even have a particular need they can articulate, we are going to try something new this time. In addition to the usual prayer opportunities we will have a station to light a candle and a station to write prayers down. The original idea for the written prayers was to do something like a Wailing Wall where people could place their prayers. The group brainstorming ideas couldn’t figure out a good way to do that so we’re adapting our own version of prayer weaving that Theresa Cho shared http://theresaecho.com/2012/09/20/interactive-way-to-pray-in-worship-part-ii/ .
2 of our Sunday morning services take place in the formal sanctuary with a pipe organ and more “traditional” style. The other Sunday morning service is in a more informal space, is lead in music by a contemporary band, and includes the celebration of the Lord’s Supper each week. The folks at this informal service are accustomed to me doing different things from time to time, asking for responses, more participation and interactive stations.
In the past I’ve preached on stories of healing in scripture, but this time I’m going to use Romans 8:18-28. Verse 26 is the part that is most prominent in my thinking at this point- Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. I expect the sermon will extend beyond just individual needs of healing, but the whole of creation crying out. So much is broken/fallen- the earth, systems of government, relationships, bodies, etc.
Prior to serving in this congregation my only experience with services of healing and wholeness were all outside of the usual Sunday morning worship and were attended by a smaller group of folks who went there particularly for that purpose. I’d love to hear what others have done in this realm.
Does anyone have scripture or liturgy to share? Creative ideas for offering meaningful ways worshipers can connect?
Submitted by Rev. Camille LeBron Powell, Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR