A 'Resurrection Day' for healed parishioners?
Epitaph on a pastor's tombstone:
Go tell the church that I'm dead,
But they need shed no tears;
For though I'm dead, I'm no more dead
Than they have been for years.
About 50 years ago, at a conference in Philadelphia of the International Order of St. Luke the Physician, an interdenominational healing ministry, an Episcopal priest told me: "I have been dead many times, and healed and resurrected many times in my lifetime, by the mercy of God." A couple decades later, I read a Presbyterian minister say in a book almost precisely the same thing about his deaths and resurrections in this life.
Their comments stuck in my mind because I, too, by the grace of God, have experienced deaths and resurrections in my lifetime ‒ healings from crippling depression, gastrointestinal and other serious ailments and injuries.
Webster's defines "resurrection" as "a rising from the dead, or coming back to life." Christians look forward to the Resurrection of the body after death. But Jesus also makes it clear that there is such a thing as death in life. In Matt. 8:22, Jesus told the man who wanted to go bury his father before following Jesus: "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury the dead."
In the parable of the prodigal son, when the wayward son returns to his father, the father declares: "...let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." (Luke 15:23-24)
In the past 35 years of my editorship of The Joyful Noiseletter, I have heard the same healing resurrection message from many Christians of all faith traditions ‒ Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox ‒ and their gratitude to the Lord knows no bounds.
The Lord uses many different human instruments to facilitate these resurrections: the prayers and counseling of a pastor or a gifted lay man or lay woman, an enlightened medical doctor, a nurse, a hospital or military chaplain, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a nutritionist, a spiritual director in a monastery, a yoga instructor, a Protestant or Catholic charismatic, Alcoholics Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous, musicians who taught people to sing again, humorists, clowns, and cartoonists who taught them to laugh again, poets who taught them to love again, church healing services, church retreat centers, exorcists. (Few found sanity in a pill.)
God also extends his healing mercies to nonbelievers. The Apostle Luke, a Greek physician educated in the Hippocratic school of medicine, describes in Luke 17:12 how Jesus met 10 lepers who begged him to "have mercy on us."
Jesus healed all 10 lepers. But only one leper, a Samaritan (an unbeliever ) turned back, "praising God with a loud voice."
Jesus asked "Were not the ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
And Jesus said to him: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
I believe there are millions of Christians and non-Christians who have had healing experiences that
brought them back to life.
Why don't churches set aside a day ‒ perhaps at Easter time ‒ to celebrate the people's resurrections in this life; a day of praise for a merciful God ? It would give parishioners an opportunity to praise God for their healings and to thank the health professionals and people who helped resurrect them. There could even be opportunities for testimonials.
A resurrection day could even be celebrated on what the early Greek Christians called "Bright Sunday," the Sunday after Easter, or on what many congregations are now celebrating as "Holy Humor
A church should be a place where ailing people can go to resurrect
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