Beeswax candles spilling over bronze holders shadow the sanctuary of this stone church set on a hill. Worshipers huddle in pews, fidgeting, still harassed by the chill of freezing rains lodged in their coats and mufflers. In the transept writhes the bronzed Crucified, his mouth contorted in agony.

In our midst sits the afflicted one, scheduled for jaw reconstruction surgery tomorrow morning. Her four year-old, wearing a white jacket with Medical Helper stitched in red on the back, snuggles against her with soulful eyes. From his right fist dangles the pink plastic stethoscope.

We wait for the healing service to begin.

Strains of Healer of Our Every Ill swell our hearts as the white-robed Pastor enters the sanctuary in deep recollection, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship in his great hands. After the final refrain, “…Light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.” the Pastor’s resonant voice leads us in prayer, followed by a reading from the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and empowers her to continue serving others. The brief homily underscores God’s desire to heal, however experienced, followed by more prayer.

Finally, it is time for the anointing and laying on of hands. By this time, the flour-year old clings to her mom’s neck as she approaches the Pastor to receive the fragrant oil traced upon her forehead in the form of a cross. Her oval face is serene as she returns to her pew and again settles her son upon her lap. Then, in prayer, everyone encircles her and lays hands upon her shoulders. Within this small community, healing occurs. We are all moved as we go out in February’s chill, remembering ….

Her name is Mary.

Her fourteen-hour surgery was successful.