The rite stuff

A recent Sunday worship service moved me to tears. Despite being an analytical sociologist committed to rational descriptions of human behavior, my eyes welled up. Our pastor invited parishioners desiring to be healed to come forward and be anointed with three drops of oil on the forehead. As the congregation sang several verses of a hymn, about two dozen people came forward for the healing oil that was applied by two pastors and two deacons. They came for healing from anxiety before surgery, for forgiveness for broken relationships, for wholeness after divorce, for peace in the face of major decisions. There was no coercion, just a warm invitation and the melodious chords of a congregational hymn, yet they came. As they did, I sat and cried. And as I write these lines my eyes fill with tears again, evoked by the memories of that morning. Why do I cry?

 

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