Body, Mind and Soul – Holistic Christian Life

submitted by . Karin Liebster – Pastor for Faith Formation

Prayer for Healing Blessing at Christ the King Church – Prayer Around the Paschal Candle

The Christian life comprises all aspects of life: body, mind, and soul. In the history of the churches of the Reformation not all of these aspects have always been favored equally. In the Lutheran church which has continued in and helped to expand the great tradition of scholarly pursuit to understand the Bible and the Christian faith, the faculties of the mind have long been of primary emphasis. Of course, also the aspect of the body has received ample attention in the pastoral and physical care extended to the faithful and those outside the church by those who serve Christ through works of love.

In the twentieth century amid great suffering inflicted on lives everywhere, Christians in many parts of the world began to discover how strong a foundation is laid for a life in the service of Christ when body, mind and soul are allowed to engage together in the tackling of life’s pursuits and challenges. People rediscovered the power of prayer, the power of life in community, the power of liturgy and the sacramental life, and among them the age old rites of blessing, laying on of hands, anointing and prayer for healing. The increased mobility and the ecumenical movement brought Christians of different traditions together from around the world. They listened to each other and learned how individuals and communities in other places got through times of suffering under dictatorships and oppression. Surprisingly, people who had grown up in the liturgical traditions of the Orthodox church often faired better than those whose Christian formation had primarily been through catechism instruction. In Western Europe the Taizé community, founded in the nascent ecumenical movement during World War II, quickly gained world recognition because it opened the discipline of prayer, liturgy and music, and taught a wide lay public how to adapt monastic principles to daily lives of prayer and service.

We see the fruits of this development in the second half of the last century in new resources and forms of worship services. The new worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, has added to the Life Passages of Funeral and Marriage a rite for Healing. Services of Healing are intended for times of illness of physical and mental nature, of great burden like divorce or other situations of distress. “In its ministry of healing, the church does not replace the gifts of God that come through the scientific community, nor does it promise a cure. The church offers and celebrates gifts such as these: God’s presence with strength and comfort in time of suffering, God’s promise of wholeness and peace, and God’s love embodied in the community of faith.” (ELW p. 276)

The congregation Christ the King Lutheran Church has put herself on the path of holistic worship and life of the faithful in ever deepening ways. For decades the congregation has assembled for worship in the Holy Liturgy of Word and Sacrament. Body, mind and soul are always actively participating in the Lutheran worship. Both sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist carry in them the dimension of healing and consolation. In the year 2000 the weekly Saturday evening Taizé service of Word and Eucharist was added in which worshipers enjoy silence, meditation and the music of the Taizé community in Southern France. For about two years, the Taizé service on the first Saturday of the month has been held as the Prayer Around the Cross. A large cross made from oak beams lies on the floor for worshipers to meditate on and cast upon burdens of sorrow, worries and wrongdoing. This can be done by kneeling at the cross and touching hands or forehead to the wood of the cross.

Beginning in January 2009, a new worship opportunity will be added to the Taizé service on each second Saturday of the month. It will be called Prayer Around the Paschal Candle and offers the option to receive a Healing Blessing. The Prayer Around the Paschal Candle complements the Prayer Around the Cross which is held on the first Saturday of each month. The first Prayer Around the Paschal Candle will be held January 10, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. in the nave of Christ the King Church. Persons who wish may come forward for a prayer with laying on of hands and anointing with oil. The congregation accompanies and supports the individuals coming forward with songs of hope and resurrection faith. The Prayers of Intercession will deliver to God petitions on various aspects of healing. Gathered by the Holy Spirit around Jesus Christ, the Word of salvation, we pray for God’s healing in all its dimensions.

May God bless the congregation as we embark on this new ministry and show us the kingdom of heaven which has come near.

1st Saturday of the Month
The Prayer Around the Cross:
Casting Down Burdens

2nd Saturday of the Month
The Prayer Around the Paschal Candle:
Prayer for Healing Blessing