Healing and Renewal – 15/04/18
On Sunday morning, +Lindsay reminded us of some words from Pope Francis: that priests, and by extension, churches, should smell of the Oil of the Sick (otherwise known as Unction), because one of their primary purposes is to be houses of healing, of body, mind, and spirit.
This led perfectly in to the evening, when Christ Church played host to a service of Healing and Renewal. It was a beautiful service, including “sprinkling” with water from the holy well at Walsingham (a holy place of pilgrimage in Norfolk, England), anointing with the Oil of Unction, laying-on of hands, beautiful music from our hard-working choir, and a stirring homily from Fr Matthew Dowsey.
The background to the healing liturgy, and especially the involvement of the water from Walsingham, stems from the act of pilgrimage. Pilgrims to the shrine at Walsingham often make the journey to experience the healing effects of the water from its well, which has been associated with numerous healing acts over the centuries.
It became a place of pilgrimage in the eleventh century when a woman in the village received a series of visions or dreams in which she was taken to Nazareth and shown the house in which Mary received the visitation of the angel Gabriel asking her to be the Mother of Jesus. Richeldis (as the woman was called) built a simple house that became a great centre of pilgrimage and devotion for Christians from all over Europe. It was second only to Canterbury’s shrine to St Thomas Becket, and was up there with Compostella and Rome during the Middle Ages. Known as Éngland’s Nazareth’, monarchs and their consorts were regular pilgrims alongside the ordinary people of England. Destroyed during the turmoil of the English Reformation it was restored by both Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the first part of the twentieth century, and now attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims each year.
Our very own vicar, Bishop Lindsay, was the Anglican shrine’s administrator for several years, and has a longer association still, its use here in Brunswick makes a lot of sense, and is a beautiful part of the healing ministry offered here.
We had a good number of attendees to the service, and it was wonderful to see so many people coming forward to receive prayer and anointing, but we were also reminded that ministries of healing are not limited to those who attend services such as these, as God offers His boundless mercy and healing power to those who accept Him. As such, we were invited to offer and request prayer for those we know who were not present, reminded of the story of the men who broke through a roof to lower their friend into Jesus’ presence: Jesus, after seeing the faith of his friends, said to the man: “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (St Luke 5:20 NRSVACE).
One important thing to remember is that the ministry of laying on of hands or anointing is always available at Christ Church. If you would like to experience these gifts, contact Bishop Lindsay Urwin at firstname.lastname@example.org
After the service, the wine flowed in the Vicarage almost as freely as had the water earlier in the church, as the congregation decamped there for a social gathering – as always, it was wonderful to see the place so full and effervescent with life and laughter!
If you would like to know more about the Shrine and its history and ministry, please visit www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk, and for yet more information about the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, including the healing ministries offered there and the usage of its water, you might like to see the video below, a slightly-dated documentary from 1984, narrated by David Jacobi. (See if you can spot a young +Lindsay – he’s in it! Also, there’s a bonus “tribute” video showing some of his…memorable…moments from his time at the shrine).