Daily Encouragement - February 2

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 AKJV Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV Last night, I saw a miracle. At 5:30pm on Sunday evening, 62 youth, parents, grandparents and other members of First UMC Wilson gathered on the front lawn of the hospital for a service of healing to pray for all those suffering from COVID. I know it was 62 because I counted. It was a bit surprising to me that so many would leave the comfort of their warm, dry homes and come to stand out in the cold on such a chilly January evening, but there they were, all bundled up and looking happy to be there. It made me happy to be there, too, for a lot of reasons. Much to my surprise, I met a young woman whom I baptized 20 some years ago. Now she is newly engaged, and about to enter a another season of her life. A couple I had known years ago when I served another church in this area showed up to join the gathering. First Church members I’d never met, many of whom are now worshiping online at home, made a point of introducing themselves to me. Most of all, I was glad to be there to experience the positive spiritual energy radiating from 62 people gathered for the express purpose of praying for healing for others: those who are ill, those who are caring for them, those who have lost loved ones...suffering draws a large circle, doesn’t it? There were readings from the scriptures, prayers, and, finally, candle lighting. It takes a while for that many people to pass light from candle to candle, which gave me the time to look into all the faces. Then we turned toward the front windows of the hospital and prayed the Lord’s Prayer together, raising our candles high at the end. Many of the youth waved their raised candles - it’s a youth thing! It was a happy moment when I realized that some of the patients looking out their windows were waving back at us. The message of our prayers had been received. Though our reason for gathering to pray was not exactly a happy one, there was so much joy on the faces and in the voices of those 62 people that you’d never have known we were in the middle of a pandemic except for the masks. As the 5th chapter of James affirms, prayers offered in faith can do a lot of good, and not just for those who are on the receiving end of them. Prayers for healing also do a lot for those lifting up the prayers. “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I in the midst of them.” On Sunday night, where 62 were gathered together in his name, Jesus showed up again. And wherever Jesus shows up, miracles happen! UMH 265, “O Christ, the Healer,” vs. 1 and 5 O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health, to plead for friends. How can we fail to be restored when reached by love that never ends? Grant that we all, made one in faith, in your community may find the wholeness that, enriching us shall reach the whole of human kind. Pastor Susan Pate Greenwood

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