The Sheffield Diocesan Advisory Group for Healing and Wholeness has been set up with the core aim of encouraging healing to be a central part of the ministry and mission of the Diocese.
As a group it includes acute, mental health and hospice chaplains, a parish nurse, a retired parish priest. Louise Castle is an SSM and a GP and recently licensed as the Bishop’s Adviser in healing and wholeness. Here Louise writes:
What does healing mean to you? How central is it to your everyday ministry and mission?
We would love to find out what you are doing already in the way of healing ministry, so whether it’s a well-being café or space, parish nursing, holding healing services or partnering with social prescribing or health services, please get in touch and let us know what you are doing and what sort of support would be helpful. We hope to learn together and develop a Healing and wholeness section on the Diocesan website sharing ideas, guidance and resources.
Modern definitions recognise that ‘health’ is more than the absence of disease. The Group recognises that Health is to do with human flourishing, and includes aspects of wholeness, resilience, and a sense of being in community with others.
Healing and saving have the same word in biblical texts. There is no doubt that Jesus healed the sick and called us to do likewise. There are at least 35 healing miracles in the Bible and it’s estimated that Jesus spent more than 70% of his time healing. But what should this healing ministry look like today? Is it still part of our everyday ministry? Perhaps we don’t always recognise that much of what we already do is healing ministry. One of the words for healing in the Hebrew Bible is ‘Rapha’, with the sense of literally being stitched back together or made whole. As a doctor who does minor surgical procedures this particularly appeals to me. However, I mention it here to emphasize that Christian healing ministry is more profound than simply helping people get better from illness and that there are many ways to heal. For example, a chaplain described how bereavement support offered healing. Our parish nurse spoke of how the provision of a mobile phone enabled healing in someone who lived on the streets; enabling them to engage with support services and take more responsibility for their life.
Traditional healing ministry comes through the eucharist; anointing and the laying on of hands; through absolution, deliverance ministry and pastoral care. There is healing through offering loving care and through listening. We can offer a safe space and a trained prayer team. Prayer can be part of a healing process that may involve medicine, friendships, and other agents.
Jesus calls us to go out and preach the gospel and heal the sick. In what ways might God be calling you to offer healing and wholeness to others?