Annointing service intended to bring restoration of wholeness and health

Last week, my cousin, Doug, mentioned that his family had had an announting service for his older brother, who is struggling with some health issues. He suggested that I might find this comforting. Our church periodically has had annointing (healing) services for members who are ill, but also for those who are entering into some leadership position. However, those are usually done during or after a church service, with an entire congregation taking part.

I’m a little leery of feeling so “exposed” in front of a large group of people, so knew that wouldn’t work for me. So I talked with our associate pastor, Louise Wideman, about having a private annointing service with just family members, and in one of my favorite places — at the edge of a local quarry, which is no longer a working quarry, but has for years been filled with water. There is a path that leads to the water’s edge, where the village placed large square rocks, perfect for sitting on. It’s the place I go often during a walk or run, to sit and think about whatever I’m facing.

The timing was perfect, because two of my brothers and one sister-in-law were in town, so they were able to attend, along with my mom, my aunt, my husband, Louise and me. Oh. Right. And about a million cicadas. All voicing their opinions throughout the entire service. In fact, my husband taped it on the Flip, but the cicadas drowned out most of the human conversation. I figure that was just nature taking part.

In the days leading up to the service, Louise and I had a few conversations, during which she explained the history of announting services. This may help others understand.

*Biblically, anointing was used in the Old Testament for several reasons – leaders were anointed for their special roles; a person was anointed for comfort (Psalm 23:5); anointing oil was used in the cleansing ritual for lepers; and objects in the tabernacle were anointed for use in worship.   In the New Testament, Jesus had a ministry of healing people and James 5 includes instructions for anointing the sick with oil.

“In our Mennonite history, anointing services in the past have been very private and often with persons who are extremely ill.  Today however, several congregations offer anointing at the end or during a worship service in the context of the congregation for any variety of reasons – physical or emotional health and well being, commissioning for leadership and spiritual renewal.

 “We know there is a connection between the mind, body, and spirit – so that when a person is anointed, we are considering the whole person.   Anointing with oil for healing is a means of God’s grace and blessing intended to bring restoration of wholeness and health.”

Prior to the service, Louise asked me to reflect on my illness, my ongoing anxieties and fears relating to it, as well as my hopes for the upcoming weeks. This kind of thing is very hard for me to do openly. Somehow I managed to put down a few thoughts — mostly, I think, because I’d spent the week with some pretty indepth conversations with my brothers and of course, my husband. One thing I mentioned is that I recently asked my aunt for some advice on prayer. I’ve always been so awed by her very thoughtful prayers. They remind me of my grandfather’s — he was a pastor. Her very simple response eased my own thoughts about praying for personal things.

We began the service at 7 p.m., just as a fishing boat crossed the water. I think they sensed something private because they immediately moved to the far side of the lake. We began with my brother and SIL singing “Amazing Grace”, followed by Louise’s explanation of the annointing service, some scriptures, prayer, a song by Louise, my own statement. There was a brief “laying on of hands” and the others were invited to say something.

It was a brief, but meaningful service. For me — a very private person when it comes to faith — this was a new experience. All day today I’ve thought about it. I don’t feel greatly changed, but I do feel comforted. My anxiety is slowly easing, and I hope that over the next few weeks as I reflect on this, I’ll continue to relax and better focus on recovering with a more positive attitude.

10 responses to “Annointing service intended to bring restoration of wholeness and health

  1. Annointing, being surrounded by loving family and the beauty of nature, Louise’s clear voice combined with the sounds of nature, prayer, the recognition that we are not in control of our future … what a wonderful recipe for healing.

    May each day give you renewed strength.

  2. Janet Schroeder

    I agree with Carolyn who said it so well. God can so wonderfully use “bad” things to bring us beauty we would otherwise miss.

  3. Gayle Trollinger

    Thank you for sharing this sacred experience, Mary. Thank you.

  4. Barb Stettler

    Being able to say out loud your worries, fears, and hopes is an excellent first step in removing the veil of keeping burdens silently inside and bearing them alone. You have done a beautiful thing uniting yourself with your family and your faith in an open way. Thank you for including all of us in your sharing of this very personal experience. Blessings for continued healing.

  5. Christine Habegger Purves

    Mary, you still write very well and your sharing is uplifting to your readers.
    Once several years ago I had a friend, not one of our church members, who requested an anointing. Louise came to her home and the anointing took place. It was a nurturing experience, and I felt so happy that our church had a pastor up to the task.
    I have long felt close to your family, parents and siblings, and feel confident they, plus Fred, of course, and your children, all are surrounding you with the love that comes from God right into our hearts.
    Thanks again for sharing. Love, Christine Purves

  6. Mary, everything has been said so well by those writers above. Know that you are an inspiration to me in the grace and spirit you have maintained throughout this experience. Love, Beth

  7. Marilyn Bishop

    What a wonderful suggestion Doug gave you and special service you had. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your experience with us.
    As hard as it may be to express our thoughts, fears, and feelings, it is often needed along with God’s help to free our soul and give us peace. Give God your fears, ask for His help, relax with that knowledge and move with peace toward healing. As you know, fear does affect healing.
    That’s how I made it through 20 years ago. Move along one day at a time. You have time now to view life around you and appreciate the small things of God’s creation. Smelling fresh air, feeling a breeze and watching the clouds, when I was strong enough to take a walk, became magical for me.
    May you experience a bit of your own magic today!

  8. Like you, I also hide my emotions and feelings (often from myself), and so I become rather wound-up and anxious without taking the time to deal…let alone do it in front of anyone else. I’m glad you did this, if only to relieve yourself of some anxiety and realize that often much of the “bad” energy in life is simply because we aren’t letting it go. Love – Lindsay

  9. Emily Semenik

    Hi Mary! Your entry was so beautiful that I could close my eyes and see myself sharing the time with you and your family! Thank you for sharing and know that God loves us even when we pray for personal reasons…we are human! Love you!

  10. Very cool. Our church does a healing service once a month but I like the idea of annointing as well. I especially liked the image of a fishing boat going by at the exact time. Remember Jesus and the disciples in the boat? Makes me think it was a little “wink” from God reminding you of his presence. By all means pour out your personal needs to God. The Bible tells us that our prayers are like incense to Him. No need for perfect words. Some of God’s most profound moments in my life have come after merely pouring out my soul with whatever words came out.

    I wish I lived closer, my friend!

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