Jesus the Healer was the theme for worship last Sunday. The text was Mark 1:40-45 where Jesus healed the leper who approached him saying "If you will, you can make me clean." I talked about how leprosy was the AIDS of Jesus' day, no cure, no hope, total ostracism from life. We spent time looking at hopelessness, when we feel there is no more option, no next step. Then I asked "How far gone are you? How long have you had you disease? your issue? your situation? If you feel hopeless, you have a friend in this leper."
As the service ended I gave the congregation an invitation to come forward to a kneeler or off to the side to a prayer room where our Associate Pastor was stationed. There we would annoint their heads with oil and lay hands on the heads or shoulders and pray for their healing.
The response after the first service was small, but significant. While the worship team played, 4 or 6 people came forward for prayer. But after the second service, it was a flood. People kept coming and coming, both to the front of the sanctuary and to the prayer room off to the side. The worship team played and played and played as a small group of people just waited for their turn to come forward. And when they did, I leaned forward and asked "How can I pray for you?" And that's when I was overwhelmed with the needs, the hurts, the wounds, the unconfessed sins. I prayed brief simple prayers after annointing their heads and pronounced a triune benediction. Then came the next one, and the next and the next. When it was over, I could not speak. When I returned my wireless mike to the guy in the sound booth, watching the whole thing, he shook his head and hugged me. It was that overwhelming. I could not go out on the patio and visit. I had to go straight home and gratefully drive off right away for 2 days in San Francisco with my wife.
It's during times like these that I am clearly aware that I'm not leading this congregation. I'm not in charge. God is doing something deep within us, among us. Whew!!