“Some friends play at friendship; but a true friend sticks closer than one’s kin.”  (Proverbs 18:24)

I have often wondered about how God touches us with healing.  In times of pain or grief, God uses the healing power of friends to help and support us.  Here is an article reprinted from “Finding Hope and Healing” by Kenneth Hauck.  It is written specifically for those who are grieving, but the advice applies equally well to all who are in need of healing in their lives:

The key to talking through your grief is finding people who will let you talk and help you heal.  I call these healing people.  H-E-A-L stands for HERE, EMPATHETIC, ACCEPTING, and LISTENING.  Healing people are:

Here for you when you need them.  They are willing to be with you and make time for you.  They know that their presence is one of the greatest gifts they can give.

Empathetic.  No one else can truly understand what you are feeling.  But people with empathy will do their best to understand and to let some of your pain touch them.

Accepting.  They do not judge you, try to change you, or tell you what you should do or how you should think or feel.

Listening.  They really focus on what you have to say.  They let you share your feelings and let you know how important it is for you to tell your story again and again.

Where else can you find healing people?  They may be among your close friends, though often they are not.  More likely they are people who have also lost a loved one in recent years.  You may find healing people among those who sent meaningful cards or letters after your loved one died.  Grief support groups are usually full of healing people.

Some healing people will seek you out, but most of the time you will have to look for them.  One man told me, “I’d read peoples’ faces.  I’d check their eyes when we made eye contact.  I’d look at their body language.  I’d listen to how they said, ‘How are you?’  I was often able to tell which people really wanted to know how I was.”

You can sometimes help a friend become a healing person.  A woman told me about a friend who wanted to help but kept interrupting her with cheerful clichés.  Finally the woman told her friend, “Here’s what I need from you.  Let me be upset without trying to cheer me up or fix things.  Let me talk – while you mostly remain quiet and listen.  Let me cry.  Give me a hug.  You don’t have to say or do a whole lot.  Mostly just be here and care.”  Her friend got the point and became a healing person from then on.  The grieving woman offered a wonderful gift to her friend – the opportunity to care in a most helpful way, a gift the friend returned many times over.

Healing people connect us to God’s love in a powerful way.  The place we see Jesus face-to-face on earth today is in each other.  When people are here for us, empathetic, accepting, and listening, God works through them to bring us the healing we need.  Not only do we receive the love and acceptance these people have to offer, but we also experience Jesus’ love and acceptance through them.

You need to talk, and you need healing people to talk to.  Keep a close lookout for them.  Seek them out.   Tell your friends how they can care.  When you find healing people, talk and talk – then talk some more.  They will help you to heal and to feel more human.  Through them you will experience the healing power of God’s love.

Pastor Ann Marie Winters


CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES“Celebrate Grand-families” is a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren.  St. Paul is reaching out to support these families with Christian compassion and a place to meet and discuss their needs.  We now have 17 families who participate, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in.  While the grandparents meet, we will have crafts, games, bible stories, snacks, help with homework, tutoring, and a fun social time for children.  Sessions in February will be on Saturdays, February 8 and 22, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.  Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Winters to help.

CELEBRATE RECOVERY:  We launched a new program at St. Paul to support the healing of “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” which meets every Wednesday at 6:30 pm.  We invite you and your family and friends to come if you suffer from abuse, grief, harmful relationships, divorce, co-dependency, depression, guilt, shame, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, eating disorders, and so on.  Celebrate Recovery is a world-wide ministry based on the beatitudes of Jesus that includes a time of worship songs, a testimony or lesson, and small group sharing.  We also will have a fellowship time each week following the small group experience.  Please consider how you may help to support this outreach into our community.  Could you greet people at the door one evening?  Make cookies or set up water and coffee?  It is a simple program with a big impact for those who participate.  Many thanks to our leaders who have been dedicated in preparing for this ministry:  Marty Maurice, Nola Bennett, Deb Illencik, Anna Lacy, and Nick Fee.

LARGE CATECHISMDo you want to brush up on the basics of the Lutheran faith?  A small group is meeting on the 3rd Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.  Come join us in the Parlor on February 17.

LENT BEGINS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – FACING THE CROSS:  Luke 9:51 says that Jesus “set his face towards Jerusalem”.  He did this to encounter the pain of the cross on our behalf, to take away our sins.  In our Lenten series this year, just as Christ faced the cross, we set our faces on the cross of Christ as well.  During these Lenten days, we also face certain aspects of our lives which are not always in line with the cross.  We come to terms with them by “facing the cross”.

On Ash Wednesday, we will gather for a potluck supper in Cassel Hall at 6:00 pm.  At 7:00 pm, the Youth Group participants will lead us in worship with distribution of ashes and Holy Communion.  Their rehearsal to practice their parts will begin at 5:30 pm sharp in the sanctuary.  Our theme for the service is “FACING OUR SINS”.

Our mid-week services will follow on THURSDAY EVENINGS.  Note the change from Wednesdays, due to the Celebrate Recovery program which runs on every Wednesday evening at St. Paul.  On Thursdays, we will have a potluck supper at 6:00 pm and worship at 7:00 pm.

Week One:  Facing Temptations – We acknowledge that we give in to temptations at times, but rest on the power of Christ to resist the devil.

Week Two:  Facing Our Fears – Recognizing what strikes fear in our hearts helps us to grab on more tightly to Christ.

Week Three:  Facing Our Worldliness – Accepting we are all too often dependent on worldly goods, opens the door to seeing the value of everlasting blessings.  (No potluck this evening due to pre-school art show and open house.)

Week Four:  Facing One Another – Confessing that we have not always treated one another in a Christ-like manner helps to build better relationships.

Week Five:  Facing Suffering – Enduring suffering in this world connects us to Christ, and points us to the joy to come.