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Anointing of the Sick

 St. John’s has an extensive Ministry to the Sick at home, in hospitals and in Homes for Special Care. The Rector visits regularly and is pleased to come whenever he is invited to attend a person or family in need. He is available for Home Communion, Confession and the Anointing of the Sick. A team of parishioners visits fellow parishioners on a regular basis. They are more than pleased to extend the outreach ministry to the parish. Please contact the parish office for more information.

The Church’s ministry to the sick is based on Jesus’ constant concern and care for the sick. It is reinforced by the Epistle of James’ admonition to the sick to call for the elders of the Church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. James expects this rite to have three effects: the prayer of faith will save the sick, the Lord will raise them up, and their sins will be forgiven. James’ suggestion that the sick should call for the leaders and rulers of the Christian assembly ties the Church’s ministry to the sick to its Sunday worship from a very early date. If the sick could not get to church, then the Church, through the leaders of its worship, would come to them. Justin Martyr spoke of the early Christian practice of taking communion to those absent from the Christian community.

We may draw two conclusions from our knowledge of early Christian ministry to the sick: Christians were not to rely on the multitude of faith-healers and wonder-workers who abounded in their society but were to send for senior members of their own community. Second, the ministry those leaders offered was an extension of the Church’s basic act of worship, i.e., the gathering around the word and the bread and wine each Sunday.

The priest represents not only the congregation but also its holy activity to the sick person. The priest brings the Church, the community of wholeness, to the sick person.

The rite itself is based in shape and pattern on the Church’s Sunday liturgy and consists of reading and proclaiming of the word; intercessory prayer, culminating in prayer for the sick person with actions of touching and anointing; and the sharing of holy communion. The service normally consists of four parts:

1. The Ministry of the Word and intercession

2. Confession and Absolution—Anglican Prayer Books have traditionally provided for the sick to have opportunity to confess their sins if their “conscience feel troubled with any weighty matter.” A number of forms of confession are available, including those found in the forms of prayer for morning and evening (p. 45), in the Penitential Order (p. 217), and in the office for the Reconciliation of a Penitent (p. 168).

3. The Laying on of Hands and Anointing—The laying on of hands and anointing provide the moment when the prayer of the Church for the healing power of God is made specific and particular in relation to this sick person. It is also a sign of forgiveness and consequently of reconciliation in and with the Christian community. In accordance with ancient practice the oil used by the priest will have been blessed by the bishop.

4. Holy Communion - The service may conclude with holy communion. Provision is also made in this rite for the celebration of the Eucharist with the sick and their family. This would be appropriate during an extended illness when the sick person has been unable to join with the Eucharistic assembly for a long time.