Tuesday is chapel day at the Divinity School that I attend. It is one of my favorite times of the week. It is nice to sit in worship with a community that takes the task of worship seriously, but not so seriously that we are incapable of having fun. The message is often brought by a third year student and the rest of the service incorporates the amazing talent that we have in the Div School. It is a time of the week when we can take a break from the grind of head-religion that we often have in the classroom and engage in a little heart-religion that is all-too-often lacking in our academic setting. However, as renewing as it is, it is still often predictable and comfortable, at least for me.
Last week, however, I was presented with an experience that has taken me the better part of a week to process and digest. I am a member of a group on campus called Mosaic. We are a group that is dedicated to exploring the cross-roads of the arts and worship. For the chapel service last week, we were asked to present the scripture reading in some “creative” way. We were basicly given free reign. The passage was Acts 3:1-11, which is the story of Peter and John’s encounter with the Crippled Beggar at the Beautiful Gate. We decided to act out the text. While Ellen read the text and acted as Narrator, Robert and Zac carried Chris out, just as the Beggar’s friends did. Shannon and I then came from the back of the chapel in the roles of John and Peter. All of this is normal, standard fare. Yet when we came to verse 6, and I spoke the words of Peter, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk,” and reached down to grab Chris’s right hand (the text is oddly specific that it was the Beggar’s right hand), I actually felt the words in a way that I have never felt them before.
For those of you who know me, you know that I am not one for the supernatural. I am for inclined to think that a faith healer is a con-man intent on taking advantage of people and separating them from their hard-earned money. That is to say, that I am skeptical of “spiritual” experiences (I jokingly refer to myself as religious but not spiritual). Yet when I knelt down next to Chris and uttered those words that Peter spoke two thousand years ago, I believed them! I felt the power of them, as if I could actually call upon the name of Christ to heal someone. As I mentioned, it has taken me a week to process this and come to terms with it. I am uncomfortable with what I am saying here, but I can not deny the fact that at that moment I was uniquely in the presence of the divine in a way that has been unknown to be before this.
But the truth is, we can call upon the name of Christ to bring healing and wholeness to those that are lost and hurt in our world. Physical healing may be beyond us, but emotional and psychological healing isn’t. I am just now beginning to come to terms with the immeasurable nature of God’s grace that brought the Incarnation into the world to commune with us. The healing power of that Grace is beyond my ability to understand, certainly at this point, and probably ever. But what I can know is that when I am confronted by the beggar’s and crippled and outcasts among us now, I should reach a hand out to them, and in the name of Christ invite them to wholeness.
And the scary part is, it might just work.