Part and Parcel
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” – Luke 9:1-2
The walls of Angelus Temple were adorned with stories. When I first entered this historic California church I knew immediately that it was unlike any other sanctuary. Constructed in 1923, Angelus Temple is often considered the first megachurch. Its 125-foot dome was the largest in North America. But this is not what made it unique. The church was renowned for its Wednesday afternoon healing services. One eyewitness recounts, “Ambulances brought the hopeless cases from area hospitals, and you could see the ambulances lining the streets, their occupants camped inside the Temple, believing for a miracle.” Many of those who claimed to be healed left their crutches, casts, and walkers behind as they left the church. Those remnants of their injuries and illnesses were mounted along the walls of the church. They became enduring testimonies of healing.
Looking at the artifacts of faith, I was dumbfounded. The skeptic in me spoke persuasively of then Pastor Aimee Semple McPherson’s love of theatrics. Could all of this have been staged? Perhaps some of the infirmities were psychosomatic in nature and people were healed simply by a warm, powerful word and the acceptance of the church? Maybe some of those healed had never been ill and just wanted attention?
But the skeptic wasn’t the only voice my heart heard.
Throughout the gospels Jesus calls on his followers to heal the sick. It is an exhortation often directly tied to, and coequal with, the command to proclaim the gospel.
Surely, that command wouldn’t be given without the ability to actually follow through.
The letters to, and testimony of, the early church demonstrate the practice of healing was alive and well.
This week we will explore Christ’s call to heal and how it is at work within Christ’s church.
Restoring God, that which has been torn, you mend. That which has fallen apart, you hold together. Chaos and entropy are not your enemies, they are consumed by your creative process. I trust your healing Holy Spirit to move in and through my life. Amen.