32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:32-34
Item 2718, Engineering Department Photographic Negatives (Record Series 2613-07), Seattle Municipal Archives.
What are our obligations when it comes to health care for others? There are a number of these summary passages in the gospels where there is not a personal, particular story told. Instead we have a few sentence where Jesus does ministry to groups of people. Most of these passages have healing taking place. Healing was an important part of what Jesus did. So what does that mean for us as followers of Jesus?
One suggestion from this passage is that we bring people to those who can provide healing - "they brought to him all who were sick." I think most of us have interpreted this as bringing people to Jesus through pray. I think this is an important ministry to pray for those who are sick. Pray is an important piece of how we can act. But is speaking to God in prayer enough. While we definitely want to pray and continue praying for those who are ill, we also want to think about with how to concretely heal people.
The church I belong to, the United Church of Christ has a long history of establishing hospital and sending out deaconesses to provide care to people. We believed that we are called to provide healing to people. Here are just a few of the hospitals we helped to founded.
1889—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri; 1889—Tabitha Institute, Lincoln, Nebraska; 1892—Protestant Deaconess Home and Hospital, Evansville, Indiana; 1902—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, Lincoln, Illinois; 1905—Evangelical Emmaus Homes, Marthasville and St. Charles, Missouri; 1908—Evangelical St. Lucas Deaconess Home and Hospital, Faribault, Minnesota; 1910—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 1910—Evangelical Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; 1911—Evangelical Deaconess Home, Louisville, Kentucky; 1912—Evangelical Deaconess Association, Baltimore, Maryland; 1913—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Marshalltown, Iowa; 1915—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, East St. Louis, Illinois; 1917—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Detroit, Michigan; 1919—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio For more information see Deaconess MovementIn my own area of Illinois the Advocate Health Care System is an outgrowth of hospitals founded by the United Church of Christ and Lutheran services. Our history shows us how important part of the ministry of our churches were providing healing. Through our CHISM ministry we have many relationships with health and human service organizations to this day. There are church to this day who have parish nurses. Parish nurses act as educators, counselors, and advocates. They helped to facilitate preventative and restorative care for individuals and families. Sadly this is one of the positions that has been cut as church budgets have decreased.
We are invited in this passage to bring people to Jesus who need healing. In our churches and in our lives how are we living out this call? Do we support parish nursing programs, do we use our church as centers where mobile health care can occur from health fairs to blood drives? Do we have volunteer programs to provide transportation for people to and from doctor visits? Consider how you will embody this role of bring people to be healed.