Recently I had a conversation with an older couple, one of whom is having some health issues. They have been Sunday-in and Sunday-out attenders of their church for a few decades and now their church has a new senior pastor. They mentioned that the pastor hasn't been in contact with them to ask about his health. So I asked if they had told the pastor about the health issues. Their answer? No. Why, I asked? Well, he should know about it.

Sigh.

I said that from my side of the desk, I would not know if one of my parishioners was sick unless he or she told me. I reminded them that ESP does not come as part of the ordination rites in any Christian tradition. It is up to them to tell the pastor that they would like to have a visit to discuss a pastoral matter, when one of them is in the hospital, or if they need some help from the church. After a bit more conversation, they agreed that they would be in touch with the church to make an appointment to speak to the pastor. And I hope that they will!

Does this sound familiar to you? In any church, large like Christ Church or a small country church, sometimes we like to think that the clergy know what is happening in our lives. I remember feeling that way from time to time when I was not serving a parish and home with the girls. But those clergy did not have ESP any more than I do. When I notice that someone is not at worship on a Sunday, I don't necessarily know when someone is away traveling, just sleeping in, feeling disconnected from the faith community, or too ill to come to church. If one of the last two options seems to fit you, please, give me, Ann, or Pierce a call. And if you have noticed that someone is missing from the pews on Sunday morning, check in with him or her and say that you have missed them at church. Chances are that they will appreciate your concern and care. And you can invite them to let one of us know what is going on as well.

And for a word from the Bible, the Wisdom of Sirach, one of the books in the Apocrapha*, says this about health issues, doctors, and prayer:

Honor physicians for their services,

    for the Lord created them;

for their gift of healing comes from the Most High,

    and they are rewarded by the king.

The skill of physicians makes them distinguished,

    and in the presence of the great they are admired.

The Lord created medicines out of the earth,

    and the sensible will not despise them.

Was not water made sweet with a tree

    in order that its power might be known?

And he gave skill to human beings

    that he might be glorified in his marvelous works.

By them the physician heals and takes away pain;

   the pharmacist makes a mixture from them.

God’s works will never be finished;

    and from him health spreads over all the earth.

 

My child, when you are ill, do not delay,

    but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you.

Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly,

    and cleanse your heart from all sin.

Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of choice flour,

    and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford.

Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him;

    do not let him leave you, for you need him.

There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians,

   for they too pray to the Lord

that he grant them success in diagnosis

    and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.

(Wisdom of Sirach, 38:1-14)

* The Apocrapha a section of the Bible that Episcopalians, along with Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox traditions, consider to be a part of the Bible, although with lesser standing than the Old Testament or New Testament works. It is a collection of books written in Greek but within the late Old Testament period – that is before the birth of Jesus. Because they were not written in Hebrew, they are not considered by Jews to be part of the canon of the Hebrew Bible and inspired in the same way as those books of the Bible.