June 14, 2015 – The Rev. Francis Geddes

A New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:6-17 – “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

For me, an example and vibrant part of that new creation is the awareness that the person who is sitting in front of you, the one sitting behind you, and on either side of you, are potential healers. You are a potential healer, but you and they do not know that to be a fact. To become a fact it needs to be measured. Well then, can projecting love to another person for his or her highest good, be measured? This question was posed to a research group studying distant healing at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, several years ago. The Institute studies human consciousness and was founded by the astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who many years ago walked on the moon. They designed an experiment that came to be known as “The Love Study” where they tested the physiological effects of one person’s positive intention upon another person at a distance, after both persons had taken intense meditation training. For the test they recruited thirty-six couples deeply in love, one of whom was healthy, and the other was undergoing treatment for cancer. The healthy partner was assigned the role of sender and the cancer patient, the role of receiver. The sender was asked to direct selfless love toward his or her partner with the intention to relieve their suffering and enhance their well being. When the couple would arrive at the lab, electrodes were placed on each person to monitor skin conductance, heart rate, and respiration. The receiver was asked to relax in a reclining chair inside the lab’s steel-walled, electromagnetically shielded chamber. The receiver’s chamber was many feet from the chamber used by the sender. The receiver was informed that the sender would be viewing his or her live video image at random times from a distant location. During these times the sender would make a special intentional effort to lovingly connect with his or her partner for that person’s highest good. In the church we would call that a prayer for healing, but the researchers did not want to use religious language. At other times the video image of the partner would be switched off, and the sender would just relax and stop sending intention. No one involved in the experiment knew exactly when these periods would occur, as they were timed by a computer, and the receiver did not know how long these intentional periods would last. The actual times for the sender were ten seconds for the intentional periods and five to forty seconds between these periods.

Analysis of the sender’s skin conductance levels as well as the receiver’s skin conductance levels showed a substantial increase for both persons at the exact same moment after the ill person’s images appeared on the video screen and love was being projected by the sender even though they were separated in different buildings. Skin conductance levels are measured by the amount of perspiration extruded on the skin.

Now, in our Christian tradition healing prayer for another is the focused direction of the selfless love of God or Christ to a person who is ill. This experiment shows scientifically that sending focused love actually impacts the physiology of the ill person as well as the physiology of the one praying, at the very same moment, though the two persons are in shielded rooms many feet apart. The Institute scientists conducting the study observed that the odds of that happening by chance are 1. in 11,000. Three dozen double blind, randomized studies by such institutions as the University of Washington and the University of Edinburg have reported similar results, using this model.

Sacred healing is a subject that I have been studying, teaching, and thinking about for more than forty years. In the mid 1980s I conducted a healing training workshop in Berkeley for about a dozen people. One of the participants was a theological student in her early 20s, who had been suffering daily pain from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis since she was 14. I will call her Marilyn.

As part of the training, every participant receives a healing from the group. When it came time for Marilyn’s healing, she told the group about the history of her pain. The group then offered the imagery healing prayer that they had learned, and then laid hands on her in Christ’s name. Afterwards, everyone shares their experience around the room at the conclusion of the healing. When it came time for Marilyn to share, she had difficulty speaking. She told the group that all of the pain that she had suffered for years was gone. We were all shaken. I know that I was. Later her lab tests verified the healing as fact. Since that day in Berkeley, she has had no pain for the past thirty years. What is happening here?

I have become more convinced that the healing light of God is shining down on us in every moment, like the sun shining down on a field of dry grass. If you hold a magnifying glass over a spot on that field, the grass will catch fire. Our prayers for Marilyn were like a magnifying glass focusing the healing light of God’s love on her illness. I did not heal, the group did not heal, but our prayers were a focusing lens that facilitated and focused God’s healing light, and invited Christ’s presence. That is why you and I can be instruments of God’s healing, because we can pray.

I have been teaching healing for the past forty some years and have written a book, Contemplative Healing, on the subject. In my experience Marilyn’s instantaneous healing is very rare. However, it reinforces my conviction that Christ is still present and working in the church, and that God knows what she is doing.

If you are interested in learning how to heal, in a three-Saturday workshop based on concentrative spiritual practices, that I lead with my daughter Ann, then please see me after the service.

If your want to receive healing on regular basis, then come here to the Wednesday Healing Service held weekly at 12:10 PM, in the sanctuary. Please remember that healing prayer works at a distance and can be measured.

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away: see, everything has become new!”