The Healing Team at the Parish of the Epiphany has 12 ministers dedicated to offering prayers during the 10:00am service every Sunday. We take turns being at the healing stations, during the distribution of communion, one in front of the lectern and the other in the rear of the Church. About once a month my turn comes up to serve, as I dress that morning I pray for the serenity to meet God as a channel for companioning another in prayer.
I arrive at Church a little early. Inside, it is busy with the warmth of friends greeting friends. As I slip into a familiar pew, I pray again. Then the service begins. When the consecration ends, I walk quietly up to the altar to receive communion before taking my place at the healing station. I stand and pray while people begin to file up for communion. A woman whose husband died a week or so ago passes by me. I send up prayers for her to find comfort in her sorrow. A woman with a cane limps by in visible pain. I pray for her healing. A man with his arm in a sling walks past. I give thanks because I know he is doing better. Soon people begin to find their way back from the altar rail. Not everyone who needs healing stops to ask for prayer, but a line does begin to form by the prayer desk. A young boy asks for prayer for his sick dog. He fears his dear companion will die. A woman asks for a prayer of Thanksgiving for her son's graduation. A disabled man comes up but he doesn't mention his physical pain. He prays for healing of a broken relationship. He regrets the wound he may have caused by what he said. Next, a father has been suddenly laid off. We pray for support and strength to find his way through this crisis. In the background I can hear the congregation saying the post communion prayer. But there are two more people waiting.
A young woman kneels in prayer. She tells me she has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. She is very afraid. Afraid of the terrible struggle she is facing. Afraid of what will become of her family if she dies. Together we ask God to stay by her side with strength and healing. There is one last person. He tells me that today is the anniversary of his wife's death. Together we give thanks for their long and devoted marriage. We pray for peace. We pray for new life. There is no time for more prayers. I hear a processional hymn beginning. I replace the chrism (healing oil) in the prayer desk and return to my seat in the pew. I'm so filled with prayer that I can't sing...surely we are an amazing parish family. Surely this is what communion is -- to pray together for one another, to uphold one another in sorrow and in gladness in the context of the Eucharist. I am grateful to be here at the Parish of the Epiphany.
This reflection is offered in the hope that it will help give our congregation a better sense of what is happening during the communion time in our service. The details of each situation have been changed to protect the privacy of those who ask for prayer. We on the healing team have a covenant of confidentiality. We do not speak to anyone of the prayer that is shared with us. We do not "follow up" to ask how the person is doing. We serve only to speak the prayers of those who ask for them, to accompany each one in a prayer of joy, or a prayer of sorrow, or a prayer of need. Our ministry is confidential prayer. We invite you to visit one of the prayer stations at the front or back of the Church. Jesus has promised, "wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them." He is most certainly there with us when we pray. He is very present in the Parish of the Epiphany every Sunday morning.
Gayle Pershouse Vaughan