Encountering God who anoints us

This past week I was in Iowa for a Mennonite Camping Convention. Meeting with Camp Folk who are passionate about nature, campers, and their faith is always a highlight, and this year was no exception. A highlight was officiating at communion, inviting all ages to the table and offering those who were not yet baptized a blessing and a cracker so they could taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 32:8). The blessing was a type of anointing. There was no oil, but it was an honour to touch their foreheads and convey God’s blessing of them through the touch of my hand and the sound of my voice quoting a scriptural blessing.

After a 17 hour van ride back home with ten of these exceptionally fine camp folk, it was great to be back home, even if it meant returning to a land of slowly melting snow.

On the weekend my husband preached on the theme of anointing. He opened the sermon by remembering special touches of affirmation he had received in his life as a Christian and as a Mennonite administrator. Some of them included oil being applied to the forehead in the shape of a cross. All of them included affirmation and blessing. We were challenged to think about the times in our lives when we had either given or received such blessings, some as simple as an affirming touch on the shoulder. it reminded me of this happy moment.

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His sermon, my experience of officiating at communion, and this week’s theme all made me think about the importance of touch. Touch can heal as well as harm, and as one who  organizes events for children in the church, I have been well trained to minimize the risks of harmful touch. As one who has had sprained muscles and broken bones, I also know that healing touch can be painful.

The real difference in healing, anointing, or harmful touch lies in its intent. Healing touch and anointing is one in which life-giving love is transmitted for the benefit of the recipient. In the case of anointing, the added element is the awareness of divine love and empowerment for Christian service. Anointing is not common among us, but I think it could be a powerful antidote to the fear of being touched that can so easily develop as we seek safety from harmful touch.

I hope this week will include the receiving and giving of healing, life giving, empowering touch for you. And I hope that in those touches you will sense the presence of our healing, life-giving, empowering God.

 

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About Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel

As a young senior whose life could easily have ended in a nasty car crash in 2012 I live with an extra dose of gratitude to God, humanity, and the wonders of our human bodies. I am a passionate advocate for ministry WITH children and seniors in the life and ministry of the church. I started working in Faith Formation with Mennonite Church Canada in 2002. Thinking and writing about faith helps me see God at work in all kinds of surprising places. I'd like to be remembered as one who encourages others to live into God's good dream for our world. My book, Please Pass the Faith: The Spiritual Art of Grandparenting, is one big way I'm trying to share that encouragement with my peers. This blog is another way I'd like to engage people who care about growing in faith across the generations.
This entry was posted in Child Faith, Church season, Congregational life, Intergenerational worship, Lent, Vocation and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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