James 5:13-16: “Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.”
At the end of August you will have an opportunity during worship to participate in a service of anointing. Anointing is one of those things we do in the Church of the Brethren that is unique. I have profound memories of anointing at National Youth Conference held every four years. I was anointed when I was a youth at this conference and that moment initiated my first steps along my path toward ministry. The last two National Youth Conferences I’ve been able to participate as an anointer which has come to be one of my favorite experiences of the conference as I’ve watched young people take important steps in their journeys of discipleship.
About a year ago, in preparation for the 2014 National Youth Conference, the Church of the Brethren denominational offices put together some resources on anointing and why it is an important practice. They said “We anoint one another by gathering with people who are ill, hurting, struggling with decisions or beginning a new phase of life. Our presence, together with the oil and prayers, represents the healing and comfort of Jesus. By anointing one another we trust that God hears our prayers and works for the good of the one we lift in prayer.”
Anointing was a role of Deacons and Elders in the early church and continues in our tradition today. Anointing can be a powerful and beautiful reminder of God’s constant presence. There is strong biblical tradition for anointing with oil. The denominational resources say, “Oil has many uses and meanings. It is an ointment for healing our skin. It has been used to consecrate kings, leaders and even new followers of Jesus. Putting a touch of oil on someone’s head prayerfully assures us of God’s healing, constant presence with us as followers of Jesus.”
In preparation for this time together I ask you to consider several questions? What passions are stirring inside of you? What struggles or pain do I need to give to God? Where am I in need of forgiveness? Is God calling me to accept Christ or into a deeper fellowship with Christ? Maybe you are ready to make a commitment of faith and want to make this first step by being anointed. Maybe you feel the need to renew your faith commitment. Maybe you are ill and are in need of physical or spiritual healing. Maybe you feel God is calling you to something and you are ready to step forward and heed God’s call. Maybe you just know you are in need of extra prayer. Whatever your reason you are invited to come forward during worship on August 23 and receive prayer and be anointed. Pastor Tim and I as well as several Deacons will be available during the anointing time.
May we as a congregation support and pray for one another during this time as we deepen our faithfulness and heal our brokenness in preparation for God’s beautiful work within us. And as we invite God into our individual lives may it strengthen our bond together as the body of Christ. I look forward to sharing in this time of spiritual strengthening and renewal with all of you.