Matthew 4: 23-25; Rev. Emilia Halstead
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and
every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria,
and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various
diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured
them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis,
Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
James 5: 13-16 Rev. Susan Brecht
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They
should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for
the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them
with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and
the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be
forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one
another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful
The Message “Connecting to Love” Rev. Susan Brecht
We have many more options for healing today than in the time of Jesus,
but sometimes options run out. Weʼve all heard stories of miraculous
healings. Those of us who pray have experienced times when our prayers
are answered, our fears are dispelled, and our lives are filled with peace
and love and joy again. God is good and we give thanks.
But what happens when we donʼt get what weʼre praying for? How do we
respond? What questions come up then: Is God listening? Doesnʼt God
care? Is God a loving God? Am I unworthy? - being punished? What did I
do to deserve this? How could God let this happen? Is there even a God?
John Welshons has spent the last 35 years doing inner spiritual exploration
and helping others deal with traumatic life changes and loss. In his book
When Prayers Arenʼt Answered, he relates many of those stories, along
with ones of his own. He grappled with these thoughts while drowning in
despair and confusion during a time when his marriage was failing and his
business collapsing. He shouted at God: “I really could have used some
help here!” And God answered back, “I am helping you.”
This really irritated him. “Helping me do what?! I see precious little
evidence of any help!” He tried to shut God out. He wasnʼt getting the
answers he wanted from his prayers.
“But the voice returned with a reassuring compassionate certainty and
conviction, and these words: “I am helping you to find the treasure which -
once found - is never lost.”
He has spent years reflecting on the meaning of that simple phrase: “The
treasure which - once found - is never lost.”
Welshons has worked with hundreds of people facing profound loss and
devastating changes in their lives - helping them to hear Godʼs voice when
it appears their prayers for help are falling on deaf ears. His insights are
profound and helpful when struggling with those difficult questions. I want
to briefly share just a few of them and how they might relate to our prayer
time today. Maybe youʼll be inspired to read his book.
He poses this question: ʻWhat if our unanswered prayer is showing us that
it is our understanding of God that is imperfect?” What if God is listening - if
God is there - always - but God is not a cosmic vending machine where we
put in a prayer request and immediately get what we want.
What if instead, we thought of God as pure love, light - a unifying source
that connects us all? I learned long ago that we donʼt find God with our
minds. We find God in our own hearts. As Jesus said, “The kingdom of
Heaven is within you.” Godʼs love is within us, accessible to us at all times.
When we feel love, we are feeling God.
Welshons tells us that “God protects us, not by prohibiting anything bad
from happening in our lives, but by giving each and everyone of us - as a
standard equipment when we are born - everything we need to handle
anything that happens to us.... No matter what happens in our lives, we can
never lose our ability to connect with love, peace and joy. Those qualities
are the essence of our beings. They are the essence of God.”
Our lives are constantly changing, sometimes in ways we do not welcome,
and often that change causes fear. Think of us as having two states of
being: love and fear. Fear separates us from God. Welshons says,“When
we are fearful, angry and disconnected, we have drifted away from God.
”Every time we think or speak or act in a manner that expresses
disconnection, we experience a subtle cry of agony in our soul....
Disconnection is the fundamental cause of all human suffering.”
He came to understand that the phrase that remained with him all these
years and became a basis of his lifeʼs work, “that treasure - once found -
that is never lost”, that treasure is a deeper connection to God, to that love
we can always tap into. The world can change around us, but that
connection never goes away, unless we disconnect. The more we love the
closer we are to God.
So often it is when we are confused, frightened or in physical or emotional
pain that we embark on a spiritual quest to deepen our understanding of
and relationship to God. Iʼve seen it happen in so many lives, including my
own. So when our prayers arenʼt being answered the way we hope, we are
being given an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with God,
leading to a deeper sense of inner peace. From the depths of his despair,
Welshons listened and deepened his own spiritual journey.
Jesus once told us “Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, there
I am.” Welshons puts it another way, “Wherever two or more are gathered
in the name of love, we are experiencing God.”
He relates the story of a woman who lost her 12 year old son after a long
battle with Hodgkin's disease. From the moment of the diagnosis she
prayed for his healing. After his death she was in emotional agony, angry at
God. She couldnʼt set foot in the synagogue. Her rabbi and therapist
couldnʼt understand the depth of her despair.
She said, “The greatest help came from my two dear friends, Mary and
Shirley. They are neighbors of mine. Iʼve known them for years. Our
children grew up together. For months after Teddy died, Mary and Shirley
would come over to my house every afternoon and cry with me. That was
helpful.” Connection - compassion - love - thatʼs what helped her go on.
Welshons adds, “The things that are truly helpful and truly healing are love
and community - the feeling that we are not alone... that we have friends
whose hearts are big enough to hold our pain without judgement or
So we are here this morning, gathered in love, to open our hearts and
reach out to others who need our love right now. We are here as conduits
to connect our own and otherʼs needs to the love of God, and to each other.
And through that process to learn that, no matter the outcome, we are
deepening our relationship to our creator, and finding that treasure, that
once found, is never lost.
Healing Circles Rev. Susan Brecht, Rev. Emilia Halstead,
Rev. Liz Aguilar, Rev. John Woodward,
Rev. Corey OʼBrien
Join the circle that is closest to you. Once your circle has completed their
healing prayers, please be seated in silence to continue to pray.
SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD,
PRESENT WITH US NOW
ENTER YOU, BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT,
AND HEAL YOU OF ALL THAT HARMS YOU.
IN JESUS NAME. AMEN
Prayer of St. Augustine Rev.Susan Brecht
Watch now, dear Lord,
with those who wake
or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones,
soothe your suffering ones,
shield your joyous ones,
all for your loveʼs sake.
Now may the God of hope fill us
with all joy and peace in believing,
that we may abound in hope
in the power of the Holy Spirit.