Are there any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13-14)
I looked down at the familiar face of a young woman dying of AIDS. Her breathing was ragged, her eyes closed. Ramona was a leader of her struggling inner-city church, with an infectious and earthy love of her Lord. She had become a friend in the Diakonia lay training program and at some point we had switched roles: she became the teacher and I the student.
Stephen Paul Bouman is executive director of Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and author of Grace All Around Us: Embracing God's Promise in Tragedy and Loss.