Indeed, more and more believers in the Lord, large numbers of both men and women, were added to the church. As a result, they would even bring the sick out into the main streets and lay them on cots and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow could fall on some of them as he passed by. Even large numbers of persons from towns around Jerusalem would gather, bringing the sick and those harassed by unclean spirits. Everyone was healed. - Acts 5:14-16
The pain and trauma of life seem to be always before us, from the pandemic, to battles with cancers, to news of violence in our own community and around the world. The need for healing was ever present in Jesus’ ministry as we are told that large crowds would come out to see him when he got to town seeking his healing. As the passage above recounts for us the situation was similar for Peter after Pentecost. Over the centuries, on its better days, the Church has sought to be a healing presence in the communities of which it is a part. Hospitals and clinics have been founded the world over by churches and missionaries. Schools have also been founded, in part to train and educate future doctors, nurses, and healers. Many hospitals and healthcare systems still bear the name given at their religious founding, even if they are no longer directly affiliated. The Church to this day is still called to be a healing presence in the world, following the example of Jesus, Peter, and many other saints before us.
So how are we at BPC striving to be a healing presence? We have an ongoing prayer shawl ministry seeking to cover those who are sick or grieving with both warmth and prayer. We offer an annual Service for Healing and Wholeness, where folks can gather in worship and prayer seeking God’s healing and wholeness. We have Bible Studies and other groups that provide community, prayer, and support for those involved. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our weekly worship, which offers a regular time for us to seek the presence of God as a community.
All of these are good and faithful ways to care for one another and be a community of healing, but they all involve people coming to us. The unfortunate part is that so many aren't coming through our doors, or any church’s doors for that matter. We continue to see how church attendance nationwide is in decline, which means fewer people are actively seeking out church. Some people aren’t seeking out church because they or someone they have loved has been harmed by a church or by Christians. Too often do stories of abuse in a church come across our newsfeed. Too often do I hear tales of LGBTQ+ people who have been kicked out of church and home for being who God made them to be. This is not what the Church is called to be.
I’ve stated above several ways in which we at BPC are striving to be a community of healing and not harm. We have an opportunity, even a calling, to continue to be a community of healing in new and renewed ways. I don’t have the answers as to what those ways are, but I am certainly thinking and praying about them. I encourage each of you to pray, think, and talk with one another about ways we can strive to be a healing community, not just inside our building, but out in the community. After all Peter was out and about when people came seeking his healing presence. May we follow the example of Jesus and Peter going out to bring healing to a hurting world.