While editing my upcoming How I Was Razed memoir, I realized that I had neglected to post about a holy day peculiar to charismatic denominations and some house churches. As most people may not be familiar with Pentecost Sunday, occurring fifty days after Good Friday, an excerpt from my manuscript may serve to explain a little of what this day means to some Christians. The origin of this observance is recorded in The New Testament portion of The Bible in The Acts of the Apostles, chapter two. Here’s how I was introduced to it.
The Lutheran and Anglican churches that I had attended as a child celebrated only Christmas and Easter, preceding them with Advent and Lent. In June, Thee Church celebrated a holy day which I hadn’t heard of before. “Pentecost is next Sunday,” Sister R informed me after the worship service. “You’ll want to ask Jesus to heal you then.”
“Because that’s when the power is the greatest. The Holy Spirit is present strongly on that day so people are healed more often then.”
I felt electrified by that news. “Perhaps,” I thought, “this would be the day when my faith would be strong enough to overcome my doubts and I’d be healed.”
The Pentecost Sunday morning sunlight shone like my optimism as I walked to church. Because of my poor vision, and as it made me feel a part of the service, I sat in the first row of chairs. Excitement coursed through me as I waited for the service to begin.
After we sang a few hymns, John, Sister R’s son and pastor of Thee Church, asked, “Is there anyone here who wants to be healed or who wants prayer? Please come forward now.” I immediately stood up and walked to the chair which he placed in front of the congregation.
“Take your glasses off,” Sister R ordered. I removed them and set them on the pulpit.
“Those who wish to can come up and lay hands on Bruce and pray,” John invited. A knot of people formed around me as he lead them in prayer.
“Lord Jesus, we come now to you, believing that you will reward our faith.” Then John asked, “Bruce, do you wish to be healed of your poor sight?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then in Jesus’ name, receive your sight.”
The congregation began babbling in tongues as they laid their hands on my head.
“Can you see any better?” John enquired after the congregants had finished. I looked around and willed my eyes to see clearer.
“I don’t think so. Everything still looks the same.” The congregation redoubled their efforts to transfer the Holy Spirit’s power to me.
“Now, can you see any better?” John asked. Though I stared hard at the furnishings of the room and the people around me, nothing had changed. The same thing happened the third time when the praying and tongue-speaking stopped.
“Keep your glasses off,” Sister R advised. “It might take a while for your sight to come and you don’t want to ruin your miracle by a lack of faith. God may be testing you by not restoring your sight immediately.”
I obediently placed my glasses in my shirt pocket and kept them there throughout the rest of the service as well as during lunch.
Back in my bedroom, my vision hadn’t increased at all. Even though I was familiar with my surroundings, not wearing my glasses made me feel uncomfortable. By the time Linda began preparing supper, the urge to put them on was unbearable. I finally gave in, feeling like the worst of cowards.
“Please forgive me, Jesus,” I begged. “I can’t stand not wearing my glasses. I’m sorry for my weak faith. Please forgive me and heal my eyes anyway.”
During the fifteen and a half years I attended that church, this disappointing scene occurred repeatedly. I left and avoided houses of worship for nine years, blaming God for not healing me. I eventually realized that God is sovereign and his plans are always for our benefit.
I have previously written When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). Both of these paperbacks are available from the www.inscribe.org/BruceAtchison page. Information about my writing activities and blurbs regarding these books are also on the page.