Labels

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Flowering of the Charismatic renewal


Slider Image 1

The Flowering of the Charismatic Renewal - 1960[1]

            By 1960 there were large numbers of mainline Christians in the United States who were “closet Pentecostals.” They received the Baptism of in the Spirit mostly from contact with such para-church groups as the CFO, FGBMFI, the Schools of Pastoral Care, etc. Some came into the fullness of the Spirit through a direct prayer encounter with God, as in the case of Rufus Moseley. Most had learned to be prudent in manifesting the Gifts in their mainline churches lest they be thrown out, or ostracized as “weird.”
            There was no specific name for that type of Spirit-filled believer, one who exercised the gifts but remained within a mainline congregation. Some of those who received the Baptism of the Spirit were ministers or pastors within the mainline churches, and this posed special problem for them. They were often asked to resign their charges or leave their denominations if they persisted in their Pentecostal ways.
            A few ministers were able to keep their positions in spite of their Pentecostalism. One was a Lutheran, Harald Bredesen, who had a long association the CFO. He had offered to resign his position, but his bishop refused to accept it.  Then in 1957 Bredesen accepted the call as pastor of Mount Vernon Dutch Reformed Church in upper New York. That church soon became the focus of local charismatic activity and worship.[2]
Image result for harald bredesen

A handful of other pastors succeeded in openly operating as Spirit filled ministers within their denominations, among these were Fr. Richard Winkler (Episcopal, in Wheaton, Illinois) and the Rev. James Brown (Presbyterian in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania). All of this was low key and unnoticed on a national level. After the renewal became public in 1960, these men came into leadership positions of the general movement. For example, the Rev. Bredesen had a special anointing as a publicist. He seemed to be at the right place and time, and know the important media people. He was quoted and cited many times in the national press and was often on TV.

From Closet Pentecostalism to the mainline:
            The years of “closet Pentecostalism” changed radically when an Episcopal rector of a church in California decided to inform his congregation that he had received the gift of tongues. The subsequent chaos and publicity was providentially molded into what became the start of the “charismatic renewal.”
            The rector, Fr. Dennis Bennett, had begun his church ministry as Congregational minister before becoming an Episcopal priest in 1950. He was well versed in theology and solidly orthodox in belief.[3] He was called to St. Mark’s in Van Nuys, California, where he presided over a growing and affluent congregation.
            In 1959 several members of nearby Episcopal parish received the Baptism of Holy Spirit from Pentecostal friends and were holding “tongues” prayer meetings. The vicar of the church, Fr. Frank Maguire, asked Fr, Bennett to investigate and give his opinion. Fr. Bennett went to see the couple who led the prayer group and was intrigued. After weeks of conversations with them, and of reviewing church doctrine of the Holy Spirit, reviewing the Book of Acts, as well as the Book of Common Prayer, he concluded that the Baptism of in the Spirit and tongues were legitimate. By November of 1959 both he and Fr. Maguire received the Baptism of in the Holy Spirit. The prayer group expanded to include members of St. Mark’s. 


Image result for Fr. Dennis Bennett

            Fr. Bennette attempted to keep everything low-key as the renewal continued to spread in his parish. But rumors and exaggerations also began to spread. To clarify the situation Fr. Bennett felt it was important to go public (Sunday, August 3, 1960).
            I set aside the preaching scheduled for the day, and went into the pulpit at the three morning services and simply shared what had happened to me. I appealed to the people to dismiss the ridiculous rumors.
            The general reaction was open and tender – until the end of the second service. At that point my second assistant snatched off his vestments, threw them on the altar and stalked out of the church, crying, “I can no longer work with this man!”
            That blew the lid off. After the service concluded, outside on the patio, those who had set themselves to get rid of the movement of the Holy Spirit began to harangue the arriving and departing parishioners. One man stood on a chair shouting, “throw out the damn tongue-speakers!”
            …The contrast was amazing. On the one hand was the unreasoning fury of the “opposition,” while the people who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit were quietly moving around telling their story, faces shining with the love of God.[4]

            The treasurer and one of his vestrymen joined the opposition and asked Fr. Bennett to resign.  Fr. Bennett announced his resignation at the third service. He did not have to resign, but felt he needed time to sort out his wonderful but revolutionary experiences of the past months. Immediately, the Bishop of Los Angeles wrote a letter to the parishioners of St. Mark’s forbidding then to speak in tongues in any parish function. Those involved in the charismatic prayers left St. Mark’s but continued in two home prayer cells not under church auspices.

            One of the lay leaders, Mrs. Jean Stone, had excellent social and press connections and managed to get national press coverage of Fr. Bennett’s dramatic Sunday in both Newsweek and Time. The Newsweek article headlined “Rector and a Rumpus” (July, 4 1960). Both articles presented the appearance of Pentecostalism at St. Mark’s in surprisingly positive terms. The Time article began:

            The early Christians were much impressed by the phenomenon known as glossolalia (literally, "speaking with tongues"), which appeared at the first Pentecost: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." To the skeptical, the "other tongues" sounded like gibberish, but the faithful found special meanings in the spontaneous outpouring of sounds.
            Peter saw the "gift of tongues" in a group of Gentiles as evidence that the Holy Ghost was present and they should be baptized forthwith. Paul cited it as a notable Christian gift, and though he had it himself ("I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all"), he warned in his first letter to the Corinthians against letting it get out of hand. The general practice lasted into the 3rd century. Now glossolalia seems to be on its way back in U.S. churches—not only in the uninhibited Pentecostal sects but even among Episcopalians, who have been called "God's frozen people."[5]

Meanwhile, Mrs. Stone organized the Blessed Trinity Society to promote the Pentecostal experience among Episcopalians. The society published various pamphlets on Holy Spirit baptism and Trinity Magazine, and mailed it to extensive list of Episcopalians all over the country.  When Dennis Bennett’s witness of how he received the Baptism of in the Holy Spirit appeared in Voice Magazine (The FGBMFI journal) the society mailed a copy of the magazine to every Episcopal priest in the country. For five years Trinity and Voice magazines were the only non-Pentecostal magazines that advocated practicing of the Gifts of the Spirit. The Blessed Trinity Society organized meetings and conferences on the Holy Spirit which attracted persons from many denominations. It eventually disbanded, but not before it did its providential work of publicizing that one can practice the Gifts of the Spirit and still live within an existing mainline church.
           
St: Luke’s of Seattle:
Image result for St. Luke Episcopal Church, Seattle
After Fr. Bennett resigned from St. Mark’s, the Episcopal bishop of Olympia (Washington State) invited Fr. Bennett to take over a small parish in Seattle that was on the verge of closing, St. Luke’s.  Bennett accepted the charge and in a year increased the membership form seventy-five to over three hundred. More importantly, St. Luke’s became the center of the new Pentecostalism for much of the West Coast. Visitors came to see what tongues were about, or to attend one of the conferences Fr. Bennett organized on the Gifts of the Sprit. Fr. Bennett also received invitations from all over the country, including many FGBMFI chapters or conventions, to share his testimony and experiences as an Episcopalian openly living the Spirit-filled life. At first, these new Pentecostals in the mainline churches, like Bennett, were called “neo-Pentecostals” – an accurate if clumsy name. “Charismatic” was suggested by the Rev. Harold Bredeson in Trinity Magazine and this word soon gained acceptance.


            A major factor for the wide success of the charismatic movement was Fr. Dennis Bennett himself. He was the Episcopal rector out of Hollywood central casting: handsome, dignified, theologically well educated, and a great speaker. He could explain how the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not only good theology, but how it could help every congregation and denomination of the mainline churches.

            Significantly, he also reassured his fellow Episcopalians that there was no conflict between being filled with the Spirit and the great liturgies of the church. In fact, one complimented the other. He related that one Sunday, when his assistant was celebrating the liturgy at St. Luke’s, he sat in the congregation with his family:

“As I listened to the familiar words of the Book of Common Prayer, and the readings of the Scripture lessons, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty and significance of it.  For the first time in my life, to my remembrance, I was moved to tears by a church service!”[6]
            In 1973 Bennett and several others initiated Episcopal Renewal Ministries (ERM),[7] an organization dedicated to spreading the charismatic renewal among Episcopal churches. It did this through conferences, literature and through it journal, Acts 29.  ERM met with a good degree of success, and by the 1980s over 500 Episcopal parishes were renewed, i.e., their clergy and member were predominantly charismatic.

            Unfortunately, the number of renewed parishes was insufficient to turn around a denomination that numbered over 8,000 parishes and was becoming among the most theologically liberal and apostate of the mainline churches.  This was mostly due to the fact that the ERM did not make major headway in altering the various Sadducaic theologies that were rampant in Episcopal seminaries. 

            By the mid 1960’s the example of the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church had helped rally the “closet charismatics” in other denominations to form alliances and organizations within their own denominations. Larry Christenson led the Lutherans, Tommy Tyson the Methodists, Harold Brown the Presbyterians. Even some Baptists, generally the most strongly cessationist of Protestants, began coming into the renewal.[8]

            The Pentecostals were genuinely surprised by the outpouring of the Spirit on the mainline churches. Pentecostal leaders had long written off these churches as hopelessly mired in liberal theology and apostasy. They considered them beyond the reach of God’s redemptive grace and renewal. That the renewal began among Episcopalians was especially surprising, as the Episcopal Church was notorious for its theologians who pioneered the trendy, Sadducaic and utterly faithless “death of God” theology of the times. Further, the Episcopal church, with its vestments, liturgy and strongly sacramental theology, was very close to the Roman Catholic Church – and any Pentecostal preacher would tell you, THAT church was the “hoar of Babylon” and “Church of the anti-Christ.”[9]

            There was another element of surprise, perhaps chagrin, among Pentecostals at the charismatic renewal. This dealt with the fact that the Pentecostal movement had originated and grown mostly among churches that were descended from, and subscribed to, the old Holiness moral and dress codes. Good Pentecostals did not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, go to movies, or do anything “worldly.” Pentecostal women wore no makeup and dressed with great modesty. They assumed their lifestyle was necessary for one to be a sincere Christian and to receive and maintain empowering presence of the Spirit.[10]

            The Holiness code of how a Christian should behave, look like and dress was ignored by these new charismatics, especially the Episcopalians. They still liked their occasional martinis or cup of wine, and, worse, the Holy Spirit did not seem to mind! Their women wore lipstick and makeup, and wore fashionable dresses or pants suits, yet they spoke in tongues and seemed to love the Lord! In other words, the Holiness behavior and dress codes looked more and more like an unnecessary legalism. Pentecostals began to notice, especially their women and teens.[11]

Catholic Pentecostalism:

            For the Pentecostals another and bigger shock was yet to come. The Catholics started to get the Spirit too, and in huge numbers!
Image result for Duquesne catholic charismatic renewal            It began in 1967 among college students and their professors at two Catholic universities, Duquesne and Notre Dame.[12] Two lay Catholic theology instructors at Duquesne University, Ralf Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois, had read David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade[13] and John Sherrill’s They Speak With Other Tongues,[14] two books which were best sellers at the time. Wanting to have the experiences of the Spirit described in these books, the two professors sought out a charismatic home group led by a Presbyterian laywoman and attended by others from a variety of Protestant churches. On the next meeting both received the Baptism of the Spirit. They began sharing their experience with their Catholic friends and students.

               In February of 1967 Keifer and Bourgeois organized a prayer weekend for Catholic students at Duquesne, many of whom had also read The Cross and the Switchblade. They were determined to seek God’s will and meditate on first chapters of the book of Acts. By the time the weekend was over practically all of them had received the Baptism of the Sprit and had spoken in tongues. This group continued to meet, and visitors from Notre Dame came and were also baptized in the Holy Spirit.

            A major breakthrough at Notre Dame happened on March 13th at the home of Ray Ballard. Ballard was the president of the South Bend chapter of the FGBMFI as well as a deacon of a local Assemblies of God church. He also hosted a mid-week pray meeting in the basement of his home. He was used to hosting persons from every Protestant denomination, but the telephone call asking permission for a group of Catholic students and faculty to visit was a bit intimidating. Ballard called several Pentecostal ministers to attend in order to answer any theological questions the Catholic visitors might have.

            The Catholics who came included Kevin Ranaghan, a graduate student in theology, and six other students.[15] After a brief lesson on the Gifts of the Spirit by one of the Pentecostal ministers the Catholics asked for the Baptism of in the Spirit. They were encircled by the others and laid hands on for the Baptism. Within minutes most were speaking in tongues, and all experienced a powerful impartation.

            A retired Pentecostal missionary present asked the Catholics, “Now that you have received the Holy Spirit, when do you plan to leave the Catholic Church?” The astonished students insisted they would not leave their church. The missionary added, “Then you will lose the gift of the Spirit.”[16] The missionary’s expectation was that this group of Catholics, like others he had seen before him, would leave the Catholic Church. Their affirmation to continue within the Catholic Church as Spirit-filled Catholics was the defining moment in launching the Catholic charismatic renewal.

            This could not have happened a decade earlier. The great Catholic council, Vatican II ended in 1965. It began by Pope John XXIII declaring he wished a new breath of freshness to come into the Church. The discussions and documents of Vatican II created an entirely new possibility of ecumenical exchange between Protestants and Catholics. The Catholic Church now called Protestants “separated brethren,” not heretics. Restrictions on Catholics attending Protestant services were eased. The documents of Vatican II, drafted by the Belgium’s Cardinal Suenens (later a major figure in the Catholic charismatic renewal) actually included several paragraphs urging the “charismas” be received by all Catholics. It also encouraged a stronger role of laity in Church life.[17]  Thus, persons like Kevin Ranaghans and instructors Keifer and Bourgeois, who had followed the developments of the Council, understood what was happening to them and their students as within the new Catholic openness to the Holy Spirit.

            During the weekend of April 7-9 of 1967 about one hundred students and faculty from Duquesne and Notre Dame met for a weekend of prayer and reflection on what had happened to them. All of this was reported favorable in two national Catholic journals, The National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor. From then on, the Catholic charismatic Renewal went on the “fast forward.” The Notre Dame campus became the center of yearly conferences of Catholic charismatics.  The second yearly conference in March of 1968 attracted about 150 attendees. The third conference in 1969 brought 450, the forth 1,300, and the fifth in 1971 over 5,000. By then the movement had begun spreading to the Catholic Church in other countries. In 1976 the conference attracted 30,000 participants, and it was decided that this was unwieldy and henceforth the Catholics would attend regional conferences.


Image result for catholic charismatic renewal

            The Catholic charismatic renewal had two unique features. First is the absence of any form of anti-intellectualism or fundamentalism that characterized the original Pentecostal movement. The Catholic renewal was birthed amidst two Catholic universities and from the beginning attracted superb theologians and scholars to its ranks. Early on, for instance, Fr. Kilian McDonnell, who had from the early 1960s studied and dialogued with Protestants and Pentecostals, joined the ranks of the renewal. He served to present the case for an orthodox Catholic Pentecostalism to the American bishops, some of whom had some doubts about the movement.[18] Fr. Francis MacNutt, a Dominican priest who had received the baptism of the Spirit at a CFO, began writing about the gifts of healing. Many others could be cited.

            Another singular factor of the Catholic charismatics was that it was led by lay leadership that sprang out of Christian “covenant communities.” Two covenant communities in were particularly important for the beginning of the Catholic charismatic renewal: The People of Praise community at Notre Dame and Word of God at Ann Arbor Michigan.[19]

            Covenant communities are an attempt to live out the picture given in the book of Acts of the Jewish/Christian community. In general, these communities developed as groups of families, often with attached singles, living in close proximity in order to better share as life of prayer, fellowship, accountability and the education of their children. The covenant communities gave the Catholic renewal a core of “shock troops” to organize, advertise and propagate the renewal with an effectiveness not seen before. 
 
            The advantages given to the lay leaders by these communities were not just spiritual encouragement and support, but practical things such as child care when a leader was called to a conference or ministry. The covenant communities supplied the leadership for the “Catholic Renewal Services,” which prepared conferences, including the huge national conferences at Notre Dame, recorded cassette tapes (the new medium of the times), booklets and position papers on the Charismatic renewal to be used by Catholic charismatics all over the nation – and the world. Out of these communities also came the staff of New Covenant magazine, the charismatic monthly for Catholics, and Servant Books, a major publishing house for books on the renewal.

            Throughout parts of this book, we have been tracing how the Holy Spirit has been influencing individuals and groups to recover the “earthy” Hebraic character of early Christianity. Here in the covenant communities is another, often overlooked, example of this process.  Unlike traditional monastic communities, the covenant communities made no demands for celibacy, nor was private property abolished. Covenant communities centered on enhanced family life and normally have an intense “outreach” and evangelism component of their corporate lives. Thus they have avoided the pitfall of the Hellenistic-monastic model of desert Christianity (see chapter 00).
  
A publishing house for charismatics: Logos International:

            For the first years of the renewal there was no national charismatic magazine other that Voice (FGBMFI) and Trinity (Episcopalism). This was remedied with the appearance of Logos Journal begun in 1971. It was published by a Christian businessman active in the FGBMFI, from Plainfield, New Jersey, Daniel Malachuk. Logos Journal carried articles from and about the whole spectrum of renewalist authors and teachers including the “Word Faith” ministers such as Kenneth Hagin, but including more traditional Pentecostal leaders such as Kathryn Kuhlman.

            Even before that, in 1966, Malachuk began a publishing house, “Logos International,” with the publication a book that was an expose of spiritualism written by and ex-medium, Raphael Gasson, The Challenging Counterfeit.[20]  The book became a best seller. Malachuk’s next major success was the publication of Nicky Cruz’s book, Run, Baby Run, the exciting story of the conversion to the Spirit-led life of a gang leader in New York City.[21] That book sold eight million copies. Malachuck went full time into publishing and followed with a string of successful charismatic and Pentecostal works, including Fr. Dennis Bennett’s classic Nine O’clock in the Morning (1970).[22]  Logos International books printed an incredible 45 million copies from 1966 to 1981.[23] In the mid-1970s it was publishing 50 titles of year from Pentecostal and charismatic authors.

            Probably nothing else demonstrates the shift of spirituality away from other-worldly Hellenistic Christianity, to the new this-worldly and Hebraic spirituality of the charismatic renewal than the books published by Logos International. Many of its authors incorporated and combined the prosperity doctrine of New Thought with Faith Idealism from E.W. Kenyon and Kenneth Hagin. The most salient example of this was the books by Harold Hill. Hill was a businessman and electrical engineer who had ruined his life with alcoholism until he cried out to God in desperation. He found himself led to AA meeting where he gave his life to Christ and began an amazing turnaround. His life became a Holy Spirit adventure of restoration and joy

            In his first and most influential book, How to Live Like a King’s Kid he described one incident after another in which amazing and miraculous outcomes result from calling on Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost.[24] For example, a power company was having trouble debugging new equipment which was indispensable for its business.  The manager called him and explained:
“We thought we could find the trouble. We had the technicians from General Electric and our own technicians working for two weeks, but we’re stumped. What are you going to do about it?’
            Well, praise the Lord, I had a consultant, the best in the business, Jesus himself. …
            I began to pray, and immediately while I was praying, I knew exactly what was wrong. I saw it as clearly as a picture on a TV screen. This was my first experience with diagnosing a serious and complicated electronic problem strictly by the Holy Spirit, and Satan said, “You crazy fool. You’re just imagining that. It’s too ridiculous.” But I was too dumb to doubt the Word of God.
            I walked into the power station, directed entirely by the Holy Spirit. …And so I walked over to the spot that I had seen in the Spirit as being the trouble source and issued instructions to the technicians as to what to do to cure it….
            One of them said, “Yes sir.” Although what I suggested seemed absurd, they had nothing else to try. So they did what I told them, pushed the button, threw the switches, and the thing took off like it was supposed to…”[25]

            In Hill we see the optimism and this-worldliness of New Though, now united not just with orthodox Christian doctrine, but with an unbounded faith that the Holy Spirit will give the believer victorious answers to everyday, “earthy” problems.

            The Logos International books ushered in not only the mix of Christian New Perspective and Faith Idealism mix, but also introduced the charismatic reader into the very this-worldly aspect of life in the body and marriage. Such works as Patricia Banta Kreml’s book, Slim for Him, with its concern for toned and attractive body, H. Page Williams, X-Rated Marriages, would not have been printed by a Christian press any century before the 20th.[26] Though the Puritans develop the first prosperity doctrine (See chapter 00) and had a high view of marriage, they were also reluctant to write about sexuality even within Christian marriage.

            The reality is that the Church as whole lacked a Biblically sound doctrine of sex and marriage – the product of its Hellenistic heritage. Christians claimed that only parental education was the proper venue for this matter – which were almost universally inadequate. All of which means that sexuality was not written about from a Christian perspective until the decades of the mid-20th Century – a horrible gap. Dan Malachuk‘s Logos International played an important role in providing an end to this gap.

            Logos International books covered the whole spectrum of Spirit-filled authors. Logos books included many titles from traditional Pentecostal authors such as Jack Hayford, Jimmy Swaggart and David Wilkerson. It published books by the new charismatic televangelists such Pat Robinson and Jim Bakker, and internationally known charismatics such as Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho of Korea. Logos also published books authored by CFO alumni, such as, Harold Bredesen, Rufus Moseley, and especially Agnes Sanford. We had already mentioned that the Logos edition of The Healing Light (1972) was a key healing text of the early renewal. (see chapter 00) Logos also published most of Mrs. Sanford’s later works as well, such as her autobiography Sealed Orders, Twice Seven Words, and her prophetic classic, Creation Waits.[27]

            Malachuk’s Logos International and his Logos Journal crashed into bankruptcy in 1981 in spite of excellent book sales. The problem stemmed from Malachuck’s unwise attempt to publish a weekly charismatic newspaper, the National Courier, for the Spirit-filled community. It was first class and very expensive, and, like most new ventures, lost money. Malachuk was soon transferring revenues that were rightfully authors’ royalties from Logos International to keep the newspaper going. Bankruptcy came in 1981 with dozens of Logos International writers loosing much of their royalty earnings.[28]

By that time other Christian publishers were doing Pentecostal/charismatic writers regularly. Steve Strang picked up the mantle (and the readership) of Logos Journal with his magazine Charisma, which has remained the banner publication of American charismatics to this day. After bankruptcy, Logos eventually emerged under new management as “Bridge-Logos” and continued to publish charismatic titles, though at a much reduced rate.

As we have shown, the Charismatic Renewal was the product of melding Pentecostalism with Christian New Perspective.  Because Christian New Perspective writers and leaders were from mainline Protestant denominations, they could worship with, fellowship and influence mainline Christians the way Pentecostals could not. Professor Glenn Clark, and the Rev. Frank Laubach are good examples of this. From the 1940s their influence and writings circulated where Pentecostal messages would not have been allowed or even considered.

Later, in the early years of the Charismatic Renewal, with such persons such as Dennis Bennett, Harold Bredesen and Francis MacNutt in leadership positions, it became difficult to consign tongues and the other gifts as delusions of the poor, fanatical and ignorant underclass. In an important sense, the Charismatic Renewal helped make Pentecostalism respectable to mainline Christians.[29]  Partly because the Charismatic Renewal was a “middle class” Pentecostalism, and partly due also to the Charismatic Renewal’s separation from the classic Holiness/Pentecostal legalism, the growth of charismatic churches and influence during the 1970s was astounding.

            Significantly, the doctrine that tongues was a necessary “initial evidence” for the Baptism of in the Spirit was challenged as many Christians began experiencing the Gifts of the Spirit during the Charismatic Renewal without tongues. They could turn to 1 Cor. 12: 7-11 which shows that Paul believed that individual believers experience some, but not all of the gifts of the Spirit.  The focus of the Charismatic Renewal shifted from tongues to healing and worship as the main elements of Spirit-filled life.

Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar, Dr. Jon Ruthven, dis a very positive review on my recent book on Agnes Sanford, which can be accessed HERE


 This work can be bought on Amazon in the paper edition or in an inexpensive Kindle edition. Or you can get the paper copy direct form the publisher at a discount, HERE


My wife has published a funny, inspiring and well written work on our life and ministry together. It can be purchased HERE




[1] There are now fine studies of the Charismatic movement from various perspectives, among the best are: Peter Hocken’s, The Glory and the Shame: Reelections on the 2oth Century outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Gilford: Egal, 1994), and the more recent work by Vinson Synan, An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit, (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2101). Both authors played significant roles in the renewal, with Synanm being perhaps the single most important facilitator/leader of the renewal.
[2] See his autobiography, Harold Bredesen (“With Pat King”), Yes. Lord (Plainfield: Logos International, 1972).
[3]Bennett’s account of the beginnings of the charismatic renewal in his church is a classic of charismatic literature: Nine O’clock in the Morning . (Plainsfield: Bridge-Logos, 1970).  For a recent and excellet overview of the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church see: Dr. William Faupel, “Touched by the Wind: the Charismatic Movement in the Episcipa; Church,” Pneuma Review, posted8/20/2000.
[4] Bennett, Nine O’clock, 75
[5] Time, August 15, 1960.
[6]Bennett, Nine O’clock, 59
[7] Initially called “Episcopal Charismatic Fellowship’ it changed its name to Episcopal Renewal Ministries to avoid complications with the word “charismatic” had in the eyes of many of the more traditional Episcopalians. In 2001 it changed its name again to “Act 29 Ministries” as the Episcopal Church imploded in heresy and apostasy.
[8]For instance, Dr. Howard Ervin , one of the earliest charismatic theologians, was a Northern Baptist pastor.
[9] This opinion is not entirely dissipated even to this day. The influential charismatic televangelist and pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio (19.000 members), John Hagee subscribes to this opinion. He is more widely known for his irregular idea that Jews are still under the Old Testament covenant of God and do not need to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah to be saved.
[10]On the strictness of this Pentecostal-Holiness code of life see the brief description in Synan, Eyewitness, chapter 1, “A child of Azusa.” For a week in the mid-1980 Carolyn and I were on vacation in the North Georgia section of Appalachia, and one Sunday we worshiped at a classical Pentecostal/Holiness church. The woman pastor welcomed us warmly enough, but some of the elder woman made it a point to tell Carolyn that they were very strict and did not were paints suits or makeup. It really was a nice church in spite of the fact that the music was form the 1930s (significantly there were no youths attending). We went back the next week with Carolyn wearing a dress and only a bit of rouge. At this church everyone in the congregation is invited to come to the mica phone and sing “unto the Lord.” In this they were in obedience to 1 Cor. 14:26, although I did not recognize that, and thought it was a peculiar local custom. We were invited to sing, and had a great time belting out one of the new charismatic praise song. 
[11] It is my opinion that the annoying, “overdone” makeup and hairdos of Tammy Faye Bakker and Jan Crouch, the wives and co-hosts of their pioneer Christian TV founders, stems from their Holiness Pentecostal upbringing. Once they observed that being gifted and filled with the Spirit did not depend on long hair bundled on top, and flat heeled shows, they went full tilt into “glamour.” But they lacked having the moderating effects of a mother or elder sister saying “Dearie, that color rouge is too much…”
[12] A good description of the beginnings is found in René Laurentin’s book, Catholic Pentecostalism (Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1977), Chapter 1, “The Birth of Catholic Pentecostalism.”
[13] David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade (New York: Pyramid Books, 1970). This book is about a small town Pentecostal pastor who obeys God’s prompting to go to New York City and minister to the youth gangs. It is one of those books, like Agnes Sanford’s Healing Light that has a special anointing to it. It has made an impact on many persons throughout the world. For its impact on the charismatic movement in Great Britain see: Peter Hocken’s Streams of Renewal, 148-149.
[14] John Sherrill, They Speak With Other Tongues, (Old Tappen: Fleming H. Revell, 1964).
[15] Keven Ranaghan and his wife Dorothy became perhaps the single most influential lay Catholic charismatics of the renewal. They have written numerous books on the renewal, including Kevin’s seminal The Catholic Pentecostals (New York: Pualist Press, 1969).
[16] Edward D. O’Connor, The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1971), 47.
[17] For Cardinal Suenens’ understanding of how the Council prepared for the Catholic charismatic renewal, see: Léon Joseph Suenens, A New Pentecost? (New York: Seabury Press, 1975, translated by Francis Martin), 40-41.
[18] He was the principal author of an important early booklet, Theological and Pastoral Orientations on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (Notre Dame: Word of Life, 1974). Perhaps his masterpiece is a work he coauthored with George Montague, Christian Initiation and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991).
[19] Website for the Word of God community at Ann Arbor is: http://www.thewordofgodcommunity.org/index.html, and for People of Praise: http://www.peopleofpraise.org/  Another important and influential covenant community is the Alleluia community in Augusta, Georgia, http://www.yeslord.com/ 
[20]Raphael Gasson, The Challenging Counterfeit, (Plainfield: Logos International, 1966).
[21] Nicky Cruz, Run, Baby Run, (Plainfield: Logos International, 1968).
[22] Dennis Bennett, Nine O’clock in the Morning, (Plainfield: Logos International, 1970).
[23] To glimpse this huge output, now mostly resident in used book stores, go to “www.abebooks.com” and under advanced search choose “publisher” and type in “Logos International” My recent search brought up over 3000 entries -many of course repeated, but certainly hundreds of titles.
[24] Harold Hill, How to Live Like a King’s Kid (Plainfield: Logos International, 1974), 157-159. This work was a best seller, and Hill proceeded to churn out a whole bevy of books for both Logos International, and from 1980, with Fleming H. Revell, which had began publishing charismatic books. Hill’s Logos works included: How to Live in High Victory (1977), How to Filp Your Flab – Forever (1979) and Instant Answers for King’s Kids in Training (1978). His Revell books included: How to Live the Bible Like a King’s Kid (1980), God’s in Charge Here (1982), Bible Answers for King’s Kids (1984), The Money book for King’s Kids (1984), The Impossible Takes a Little Longer (1985).
[25] Harold Hill, How to Live Like a King’s Kid (Plainfield: Logos International, 1974) 157-159. It should be noted that there is reason to think that some of Mr. Hill’s stories are exaggerations or even inventions. Hill, who at one point was a consultant for NASA, is famous for claiming that computers in NASA did an astronomical regression and authenticated the “long day” when the earth stood still in the Bible (Jos. 10:12-14). He never offered documentation for this incredible story and died in 1986 still vouching for it. NASA spokesmen denied the story.
[26]Patricia Banta Kreml, Slim for Him (Plainsfield: Logos Internatioanl, 1976) H. Page Williams, X-Rated Marriages (Logos International, 1977)   
[27] Agnes Twice Seven Words. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1971.Note also, Sealed Orders. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1972, Route 1. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1975.Creation Waits. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1978.
[28] Jamie Buckingham, “End of an Era, Final Chapter of the Logos Era,” Charisma (Dec. 1981), 48-55.
[29] For example, Ted Olsen, “Why the Oral Roberts Obituaries are Wrong,” Christianity Today, posted 12/16/2009.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Faith Out of the Box: A Play



The following is offered as a "shareware" play. It is great fun. If you produce it as a church event and do not charge for the tickets, it is one me, and may the Lord bless it with a great outpouring of the Spirit. I would like a video of it. If you charge for the tickets, please remit 10%. Contact me on Facebook.


Faith Out of the Box:
A divine comedy of errors

Rev. William L. De Arteaga
© 2012

CHARACTERS
Pastor George Webster, senior pastor at the “Church of Faith.”  In his mid-70’s, but still vigorous.
Youth Group, made of teens. It includes the four youth group members below, plus others depending on the availability of church volunteers, or the size of the theatre company. Youth Group members should be between 13 and 17 years old.
Tracy, assistant youth leader, nineteen years old
Robert, member of youth group
Stephen, member of youth group
Sharon, member of youth group
Fred, member of youth group
Greg, youth pastor, in his late 20s
Nurse
Group signifies the four youths named above plus Tracy
Mr. Johnson, funeral director
“Handsome Joey” Castalino, drug dealer, twenty two years old
Nancy Webster, Pastor George’s wife of fifty years.

SETTING
ACT I, Scene 1 takes place in the sanctuary of “Faith Church,” at the Friday Afternoon youth “Prayer and Praise” event. Scene 2 takes place in the hospital corridor in front of ICU room. Act II, Scene 1 is at Johnson’s funeral home.  Scene 2 takes place at Pastor George’ home, at the dining room. All persons have an ear piece that include a stiff wire projecting forward with a small bulb (a TV lens and projector).  This is a future “External Communications Projector” (ECP) and is like a virtual I-Pad. It allows the person to use a virtual keyboard to his right and just above ear level. The person looks also to the right and sees a screen with TV, web, texting, and telephone capabilities, but this screen is not seen by others. It is summer time, and the youth are dressed noticeably more modestly than common in the present time. Girls have longish shorts or knee length skirts and colorful scarfs. Boys are in jeans or longish shorts, and all have Christian T-shirts.

TIME
The action of the play takes place in the future, two years after the beginning of the “Great
Revival” in America.



ACT I

SSENE 1:
“Church of Faith” sanctuary. The scene opens with a spotlight on Pastor George who is to the side, and dialing his ECP.


GEORGE
(Touching his ECP, to his right, which after a pause connects.)
Hi sweetheart, looks like I’ll be a little late for dinner.
                                                            (Pause)
I know, I’m sorry, but I have to cover for Greg. He’s at the hospital praying for some folks. He saw a really bad accident, which included Mrs. Maria Kelly, and he is over there praying for her.
                                                            (Pause)
I don’t have further details, but Greg texted me that he should make it to the youth “prayer and praise” without too much delay. If Greg is delayed past half hour I plan handing off the meeting to Tracy and come on home.
                                                            (Pause)
I know she has never done that before, but she is ready for it.
                                                            (Pause)
Love you, bye.
(Touches the virtual screen “off” and walks on to the stage and podium. Teens are seated, but intensely involved with their ECP and barely note Pastor George. Tracy sits in the front row, tuning her guitar.)
Hey kids, let’s have your attention here please.

YOUTH GROUP
Hi Pastor George, Oh hi, etc.
                                                (Most continue with their ECPs)

GEORGE
I’m glad you have come to this afternoon’s youth service. As you can see, I’m pinch hitting for Pastor Greg. He witnessed a bad accident and went off to the hospital to be with and pray for the injured.  He was not hurt or in the accident at all. And his last text says he is going to try to make it here soon. But let me tell you, it is such a pleasure to be substitute youth minister for a night.

YOUTH GROUP
You can do it Pastor George! (Chuckles and laughter)

GEORGE
Thanks. Well, we are going to Praise the Lord!

YOUTH GROUP
Clapping. “Praise the Lord!” (PTL) and amens.

GEORGE
Now please shut down your ECPs. We are going to especially thank the Lord for this great revival we are experiencing.

YOUTH GROUP
Amens, PTLs, We thank you Lord!
(A few shut down their ECPs)

GEORGE
Many of us who have many years and little hair
                                                            (Touching his balding head)
have been praying for this revival for decades. And in the past a revival would break out here and there, and we thought, “Here it comes!”  But it petered out, or went wrong somehow.  But we are in the real thing!

YOUTH GROUP
Cheering, clapping, PTLs etc.,
(Several are still manipulating their ECPs.)

GEORGE
It still amazes me what the Lord has done in America in just two short years.
                                                (Grimacing with annoyance)
Now, let’s turn off the ECP’s like you’re supposed to. Time to stop the texting and games and praise the Lord.

YOUTH GROUP
                                                (Most manipulate there EPCs off except ROBERT)
Yes pastor George, OK etc.

GEORGE
Robert.

ROBERT
Ok, I’ll close down in a second.

GEORGE
Good. Do you kids know, I just read it from Pew Research e-letter, that in the past two years abortions are down over seventy percent?

YOUTH GROUP
 Cheers, Amen, etc.

GEORGE
And crime nationwide continues to drop like crazy too. Did you guys see that the Holy Ghost made the cover of Time last week? That CNN piece yesterday on the revival miracles in Minneapolis was great.

YOUTH GROUP
Awesome, PTL!, etc.

GEORGE
Last Monday I was having lunch with Police Chief Wasaluskie and he told me his officers have not had a single call on armed robbery, or assault in over two months. Not a single murder in over two years. That is a flat out record.  It has never happened before. The most excitement they have had this month is a drug bust on the drug dealer “Handsome Joey.”

TRACY
                                                (Raising her hand and standing up)
Oh Pastor, I know him.  I wanted to date him when I was a sophomore sooo bad.  I had a really big, big crush on him, and he asked me for a date twice, but Mama wouldn’t let me. He is sooo handsome.

GEORGE
You’re Mama had good sense. I’ve always told you girls, “Handsome is not enough!”

TRACY
We know. Oh, Pastor we need to pray for him at intercession time. He came from a really nice, family. Very cultured, like going to the opera and symphony,  but they weren’t church going or saved, or anything like that.  He took a wrong turn somewhere.  In school, he started dealing drugs. He needs to be saved, and his whole family.

YOUTH GROUP
They’ll call him Holy Joey. Amen!

TRACY
He is sooo handsome.  I really had a really big crush on him.  I was planning to go out with him anyway, and wear a wig and dark glasses so Mama wouldn’t know.

FRED
                                                            (Shouts from across the corner)
I would have snitched on you!

YOUTH GROUP
Laugher

TRACY
This was before I got really radically saved. But anyway, he got another girlfriend, Mary Rague, and she got a baby from him, but she gave him herpes.

GEORGE
See what good sense your Mama had.

TRACY
I know, I know. And I tried to get over him. Oh, but he is soooo handsome. He needs to be saved, real bad. He has gotten soooo mean now. Last summer when we were doing a prayer station down-town, he comes up with this totally tattooed girl, and they are both high as a hand glider in a hurricane, and mocks us and asks a pray for him, for, “Wild sex and the biggest high of his life.”

ROBERT
What a jerk!

TRACY
He needs to be saved. What a witness he would make for the Lord.

GEORGE
We’ll pray for him and his tattooed girlfriend at our intercession time.  I understand Joey is out on bail again. Tracy, you stand in the gap for him for a divine encounter and deliverance for him when we get to the intercessions.

YOUTH GROUP
Amen, PTL, ETC.

TRACY
(Standing and shouting)
Yes! We agree on that divine encounter, right now. He will be saved!

YOUTH GROUP
Amen. He will be saved and filled by the Holy Ghost! Amen.

GEORGE
Amen to that. Well anyway now, getting back to Chief Wasaluski and our policeman. He is happy about this drop in crime. He has never seen anything like it.  He says the department has had to set aside a cell room in jail just to store stolen property that people are returning. The jail cell wasn’t being used anyway.

YOUTH GROUP
Clapping, cheers, Awesome! etc. The Holy Spirit is a crime buster! Amen!

GEORGE
Yes, amen. But he’s worried too. In the next budget the police force is supposed to be axed in half, and the money transferred to other things. The budget is being considered by the city council next week. He will probably lose eight patrolmen.

ROBERT
Pastor George, how should we pray? I mean, do we pray that the budget not pass and the cops drive around doing nothing and don’t lose their jobs? Or maybe we’ll ask the Lord for a crime wave?

YOUTH GROUP
That’s right, stealing for Jesus! (Laughter)

GEORGE
No, no. We always pray for God’s best for everyone. We’ll ask the Lord to give every one of them better jobs, so that when they do get that nasty pink slip they -
                                                            (Acting out the narrative)
will just smile, wave goodbye, and walk into a really good jobs at better pay.

YOUTH GROUP
Yes, Right on, PTL, etc., The Lord will do it!

GEORGE
But it gets better. Listen, let me tell you about the talk I had with Pastor Strickland of the first Baptist Church at the minister’s prayer breakfast. He tells me that one of their healing and deliverance teams was doing a house call on a man sick with a really bad type of leukemia. Doctors had sent him home to die, nothing more they could do. So they arrive at the house, the wife and teen daughter, and a six year old are all there. All are really upset, naturally. Right then and there the man dies. No breath, no heartbeat. The family starts boo-hooing, naturally. But the prayer team doesn’t even stop to give consolation. They get into action and start rebuking the spirit of death, laying hands on the corpse, and the deacon puts oil on him. Then he does like “Smith Wigglesworth” on the corpse,
                                                            (Acting out elders’ motions)
Grabs him by the collar and ticks his finger to his face and shouts “Live, in Jesus’ name!” Hey, that’s’ just the way you guys would have done.

YOUTH GROUP
That’s right, Amen. PTL.

GEORGE
But these folks are Baptists. And low and behold after a few seconds, the dead man wakes up, as if from a nice nap.
                                                            (Yawns and stretches)

YOUTH GROUP
(Clapping and shouting) PTL, Thank you Jesus! Etc.

TRACY
(Standing and shouting)
Praise the Lord for Bapticostals! They are sooo awesome.

SHARON
(Raising her hand)
GEORGE
Yes Sharon?

SHARON
Who is this Smith Wiggly-swiggly, or whatever?

GEORGE
Good question, I’ll have to tell Pastor Greg to give you folks a slide show on him. Smith Wigglesworth.  He was a great plumber, never charged very much.

ROBERT
An awesome miracle!

YOUTH GROUP
Giggles and chuckles.

GEORGE
That’s right. Besides that he was a great prayer warrior and had a terrific healing ministry in the early Twentieth Century when those things were very rare. He raised several people from the dead at a time when no one did that. On one occasion he heard that his friend had died, so he charged into the funeral parlor and grabs the corpse and slams it against the wall and shouts, “Walk! In the name of Jesus!” And the man comes to life.

AUDENCE
Cheers, Amens, PTLs

GEORGE
Now the interesting thing is that the man had been embalmed, but that didn’t stop the power of God and the name of Jesus from doing a tremendous work.

YOUTH GROUP
Clapping, cheers, shouts of “awesome.”

GEORGE
Now, getting back to what Pastor Strickland told me. When this man with leukemia comes to, he is completely healed. No symptoms of leukemia. The big bed sores he had, gone. No weakness, Zip! Verified the next day by his doctor.  But there’s more.

YOUTH GROUP
More, more. PTL, etc.

GEORGE
The next day. Blood work was done on him and even his “hepatitis C” was gone. Then, the doctor after examining him says, now, get this. He says, “Oh, this is the second resuscitation from the dead I know of this month.”

YOUTH GROUP
Wild clapping and shouting, PTL, etc.  

TRACY
Hi fives for Jesus!
(Passes on hi fives to kids around her, and YOUTH GROUP pass on hi fives)

GEORGE
This is revival. Isn’t this great. The Baptists believing and behaving likeus Pentecostals. That is really awesome! Kids this is happening to the last of the cessationist churches all over America. They are finally becoming Pentecostal. It’s wonderful!

ROBERT
                                                (Holding up his hand)

GEORGE
Yes Robert?

ROBERT
What is cessationist?

GEORGE
                                                (Winking at Tracy)
Oh I am sooo happy I have to explain this to you, and you are soooo innocent of it.

YOUTH GROUP
Chuckles and giggles

GEORGE
Cessationism is a really a big, big heresy, that most churches held for a long time. I bet if you ask your parents or grandparents they’ll tell you about it.  It was a theory that said that healing, casting out demons, and the gifts of the Spirit were stuff that only the Early Church, the Church of the Apostles, did, and after they died off all those powers ceased.

YOUTH GROUP
 (Murmuring) What! Awful, That’s crazy. No way Jose.

ROBERT
                                                            (Standing up, and shouting)
That’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

YOUTH GROUP
Right on, Amen, etc.

TRACY
It really is soooo ridiculous!

GEORGE
Yes, and destructive too.  But let’s not be too hard on the Baptists. Understand it this way.  When you came to Christ you also came into a church, and there you went to Sunday school, and the pastors and elders showed you how to read the Bible, and what doctrines are central, like the Trinity and the atonement by the blood. So what happened was that cessationism snuck in and became established, and so generation after generation of Christians got taught this heresy as true doctrine. The Baptist swallowed it whole.

ROBERT
You mean they didn’t read the Bible and all the times Jesus says to go and heal the sick and cast out demons?

GEORGE
Oh yes they did. But every time they read that they thought, “Oh, that only happened in Bible times.”

TRACY
That is soooo ridiculous!

GEORGE
It was Satan’s biggest triumph over the church. Believing this heresy meant that even the most devout Christians never prayed for the sick or cast out devils, because they didn’t believe they could do it. Remember how often Jesus says, “According to your faith.” Well, this cessationism destroyed their faith in doing healing or miracles of any sort. Their faith was zero, zip, nada.

SHARON
You mean, back then, even a pastor, if he had his child or wife dying of some disease, wouldn’t lay hands on him and cure him?

GEORGE
That’s right. That happened countless times. This heresy completely destroyed the faith to do those things.

FRED
And Christians didn’t figure out it was a demon idea?

GEORGE
It took a long time. It was a stealth heresy. Everybody believed it so no one understood what was going on. But… understand it this way. Remember the deliverance you kids did on Deacon John last month. He was at our Sunday worship service and started coming out with those nasty words.

TRACY
That was sooo nasty.

GEORGE
Now note, he was and is a great Christian man, doing all sorts of good stuff for the Lord in outreach, and a man of prayer. A year ago I was having a bout with arthritis in my knee, and he prayer for me, and, bingo! Gone! But he had this demon of obscenity lurking at the edge of his soul, something that snuck in long before he made a commitment to the Lord. It finally couldn’t take any more worship and stats identifying itself. And then you guys pounced on him and delivered him.

YOUTH GROUP
Yes PTL! Awesome! We said get out and the demon got going, PTL

GEORGE
Well, cessationism was sort of that. It was something that lingered in a corner of the soul of the Church, and no one knew it. It wasn’t understood as an evil, demon inspired, heresy. It was thought standard doctrine.

TRACY
Soooo awful and soooo stupid!

GEORGE
Yes. It took wave after wave of pioneer heroes of the faith to overthrow this heresy. They were called all sorts of nasty things like witches and heretics.

ROBERT
By the cessationist heretics?

GEORGE
Yes, that’s exactly right.  Hey, when you kids have a chance, import the book “Sealed Orders” by a lady called Agnes Sanford into your master reader. It now comes with a nice audio selection of her sermons and talks. And the latest version even has an 8mm. film section from some camp meeting in the 1950s.

ROBERT
What is 8mm film?

GEORGE
It’s like video; except it was film and you had to send it some place to have it developed. Well, anyway, Mrs. Sanford, one of the great saints and pioneers of the healing ministry who helped the Church remember it’s Holy Spirit power, just like Smith Wigglesworth. Well, back in World War II, in 1945, she was a Red Cross volunteer at the Army hospital at Fort Dix, where wounded soldiers were recovering, or…sometimes dying from their wounds. She would lay hands on them and they often hand awesome, miraculous recoveries. But that was against regulations, and a nurse caught her doing that nasty, evil thing, praying for the wounded, and calls her a witch and heretic and throws her out of the hospital.

TRACY
That is sooo disgusting.

GEORGE
Yes. And that nurse was a Christian too! A stealth heretic, like most of the folks in her generation. That you young’uns don’t remember cessationism, and thinks it’s a crazy idea.
                                                (Winking at Tracy)
This is sooo wonderful.  When I was a child…
                                                (Seeing Greg walking in)
Oh, here is Greg.
                                                (To Greg)
Come up here and tell us the news.
                       
GREG
                                    (Enters and arrives at the podium)
This morning I had a ring-side view of a really horrendous accident. Mrs. Maria Kelly was in it, survived, but is in very critical condition.

YOUTH GROUP
Groans, Lord help her! The Lord will be glorified even in this, etc.

GREG
She was coming off the interstate ramp at exit nineteen, and this big, old gasoline powered Chevy pickup comes high speed barreling in the wrong way, cops chasing it. It was a… partial head on to Mrs. Kelly’s Toyota. The driver, Joey Castalino, a drug dealer.
TRACY
                                                            (Loudly)
Handsome Joey! He needs to be healed, and saved too!

GREG
I’m sorry. Too late for him. His truck demolished and tossed aside Mrs. Kelly’s Toyota, and then hits a telephone pole.  He and his pickup burned up in a cloud of gasoline and heroin.

TRACY
Oh no! Lord, that can’t be!

GREG
I’m afraid so. They hauled off his badly burned body after the fire was put out.  

TRACY
                                                            (Places her hands over her face and begins to sob quietly)

GREG
And Mrs. Kelly is at Wellstar in very critical condition.  Not expected to make it. I just came from there, and anointed her, and prayed with her family.  But the doctors don’t think she will make it, and if she does, it will be an awful process of plastic surgeries to repair her smashed pelvis and other bones and wounds.  Everything is just awful from the natural, medical viewpoint. Pray, pray, pray!

YOUTH GROUP
Right on! Amen, PTL, Jesus is an awesome plastic surgeon! etc.

GEORGE
Tracy, are you OK?

TRACY
Oh, I guess I shouldn’t cry. But he really was my first love. I mean it didn’t get serious, and he broke my heart when he started dating this other girl from the cheerleaders.

GREG
(Moves next to Tracy and motions to two youths to come and join him in laying hands on Tracy.)

TRACY
                                                            (Sits up)
This is sooo terrible and sooo disappointing. When I recommitted my life to the Lord and was touched by this revival, well… every night I would pray for his salvation. Once I had a vision which I thought was from the Lord about Joey. I guess it was my imagination, and wanting something and not the Lord.

GEORGE
Can you share that vision with us?

TRACY
It is a bit personal, but I guess it’s alright. I saw JOEY and me at this big church. It was a special healing service for druggies. They were throwing their needles and pipes and packets of dope on the stage, Joey was laying hands on their heads one by one. I was playing a song on my guitar.
                                                            (Pause)
I was sure this was from God… I guess it wasn’t.

YOUTH GROUP
Several are praying in tongues softly.

GEORGE
Tracy, sometimes, no, very often, God gives us visions of His best will for our lives. These are heavenly possibilities, but not set-in-concrete prophecies. It may have been what God intended for you and Joey. I bet, yes I feel this is right, that Joey had several chances of getting out of his lifestyle of drugs and all that other stuff, and becoming born again and Spirit Filled. And like your vision, becoming someone who could minister to druggies… much better than me or Pastor Greg could ever. But he chose not to, and his best for him…slipped away.

TRACY
                                                            (Holding her face in her hands, sobs)

GEORGE
Hey everyone, hold up your hands of benediction towards sister Tracy here.

YOUTH GROUP
All turn in Tracy’s direction, some praying softly in tongues.

GEORGE
Greg, you lead us in prayer for Tracy.

GREG
Sure….Ah…Heavenly Father, we know how hard it is to have a cherished dream come to nothing. Lord, Tracy has so much talent and goodness in her, that now, we ask you to heal her heart, and to quickly come again to that joy that she so generously radiates all over this church.

GEORGE
And the Church says…

YOUTH GROUP
Amen!

TRACY
                                                            (Sits up straight, no longer sobbing)
Thank you all, brothers and sisters.               

GEORGE
OK Greg, you know the situation of Mrs. Kelly, so you go ahead and lead the prayer for her too.

GREG
                        (GREG steps back from Tracy, and lifts his hands in prayer.)

GEORGE
We’ll pray for God’s glory in this, and awesome miracles. Let’s hold hands on this, and be in one accord.

YOUTH GROUP
                                                (All hold hands)

GREG
Those of you who have tongues, this is the time and place.  OK? OK.
                        (Others in YOUTH GROUP pray in tongues quietly.)
Heavenly Father… It has been a joy to see Maria come into the Church…out of her years in atheism.  It seems Lord, that she has just begun her work in the Kingdom.  Her ministry in the nursery is a wonder.  You know Lord, how she had become everybody’s grandmother at Faith Church. So now Lord, we agree for a mighty miracle that she would live and not die.

YOUTH GROUP
Amen, Yes Lord, tongues, etc

GREG
She would be completely healed, and not need a single surgery.

YOUTH GROUP
Not a one, Amen. Jesus is the surgeon!
GREG
Maria is not finished the work you appointed her to do, but just starting. By the stripes of Jesus her body is now healed and restored to its normal state, with no hint of scaring!

TRACY
                                                            (Loudly, and with hands upraised)
We agree that she will be upgraded from critical to serious, and walkout to the total and awesome amazement of the doctors and nurses.

YOUTH GROUP
That’s right on, Amen, etc.

GEORGE
I’ll amen to that.  But you know, Tracy, the doctors there have seen one miracle after the other in the last years. It would be hard to astonish them

TRACY
But the Lord is….
(In tongues for a moment)
preparing us for an unbelievable miracle, something never done before by the power of the Holy Spirit!

YOUTH GROUP
Amens, Slam it on us Lord! PTLs!

ROBERT
Pastor George, the Lord is saying to us that we need to go over to the hospital and add to the prayers that have already said with our laying on of hands, and our faith.

YOUTH GROUP
Amen to that, yes.

ROBERT
And as senior pastor you need to lead us. Maria needs that point of contact of more laying on of hands.

GREG
That’s right.
GEORGE
But Greg, this is your crew.

GREG
I know, but… I sense Robert is right. His discernment is awesome. I’ve prayed for Maria and gave her my best shot.  You need to lead this team.

GEORGE
Well OK. Nancy won’t be happy, but…I guess she is used to this. But we can’t take everyone. Let’s get a car load down there. Look, we need parents’ permission. Kids, go ahead and call, and the ones that get permission first go, and the rest stay here and pray intercessions. Kids, as your parents answer, split and vector to my ECP. I’ll tape it to keep the legalities in order.

YOUTH GROUP
(All the youth begin manipulating their ECP,s and saying :),
Hi Mom, I need to go to hospital with Pastor George for healing prayer., Oh Please answer. Hi Dad!, I need to talk to Mom, etc. Hi sis...

GEORGE
(Walks away from the podium, spotlight on him, dials his ECP and looks to his right)
Hi hon.
                                                            (Pause)
You guessed it, I’m sorry.



SCENE 2
At the corridor of the ICU section, in front of a unit. The door to the unit is closed, and backed by a curtain. GEORGE, TRACY, ROBERT, FRED and SHARON enter the hall. GEORGE is wearing his Wellstar Chaplin’s badge.

GEORGE
                       
Listen gang, you not supposed to go in. I can because I’m clergy. You guys pray out here and I’ll go in and lay hands on Mrs. Kelly and anoint her. Maybe I can get permission from the nurse for you guys to come in one at a time and lay hands on her. But don’t make too much noise out here. Neither the Lord nor Satan is hard of hearing.

GROUP
OK pastor Gorge, yes. OK

                                                (GEORGE enters ICU and closes door behind him.)

GROUP
                                                            (Raising their hands and praying in tongues)

TRACY
Here we are Lord. In your presence. We are in total agreement.

GEORGE
                                                            (From inside)
Oh, OK Lord.

GROUP
Amen. Jesus, in your name we agree. Let your power flow

TRACY
This horrible, gross thing will not stand. We rebuke it and all its consequences.
(Pointing to inside the room)
You are healed and restored!

SHARON
Totally restored in Jesus’s name! Blessed be the name of the Lord! This is life and not death. Spirit of death leave! Be gone!
TRACY
                                                            (Loudly)
The Lord is healing and restoring you, by his stripes…

ROBERT
Shush!
           
TRACY
                                                (Giving Robert a disgusted look, but with voice lowered)
You are healed. Restored from all infirmity and injury.

GROUP
Amen, etc. (Tongues)

NURSE
                        (Comes in walking quickly, looking to her upper right and manipulating her ECP)
And you folks are from?

TRACY
Faith Church.

NURSE
Oh, Pastor George’s. Well, you keep doing your praying. This lady is critical and expected to die soon.

SHARON
No, she will live a long life in service to the Lord.

NURSE
Well, OK.
                        (Enters room, leaves door cracked open, enough to hear the conversation.)
Hello pastor George.

GEORGE
Blessings to you.

NURSE
I saw on the monitor the patient’s vital signs start to improve all of a sudden, and I wondered what was going on. But I see you brought your prayer power house with you.

GEORGE
Yes. They have terrific faith. They never had to un-learn the false theologies we grew up with.

NURSE
She is coming to. I’m going to give her doctor a ring.

GROUP
                                                (Cheers and give hi fis to each other)

TRACY
Thank you Jesus!

NURSE
Dr. Pataswami,
                                                            (Pause)
 I’m calling from the bedside of Mrs. Hernandez.

GROUP
                                                            (Surprised looks all around)

NURSE
No, she has not passed away. On the contrary her vital signs have recovered. Blood pressure is now 120 over 75, breathing is normal
                                                            (Pause)
No I am not mistaken. Tune in with your ECP and check it out.  The code for room 114 is on your EPC. And the tumor at the side of her forehead just shrunk to …practically nothing. Like a deflated balloon. Correction, it has fallen off and looks like a pink prune on the sheet. I am taking a picture of it right now…you should have it.
                                                            (Pause)
Yes I know, no medical reason. A real miracle. She is awake now and you can speak to her when you get here.
                                                            (Pause)
Thank you pastor George, your prayers and anointing oil did it again.

GEORGE
You need to thank our prayer team.
                                                (Coming to the door and opening it full)
Great job, a wonderful miracle!  But it wasn’t Mrs. Kelly.

GROUP
Ah shoot, Oh…

GEORGE
Hey look, I’m sure this is all providential, we were just at the wrong room. But it is providential. Who knows what the Lord will now do with Mrs. Hernandez’s life? Now all we have to do is find Mrs. Kelly’s room and do this all over again.

GROUP
Amen. PTL, Another awesome miracle Lord!

NURSE
                                                            (From inside)
You mean Maria Kelly?

GEORGE
Yes. Could you check the correct room for her?

NURSE
I’m sorry, too late. She died an hour ago. It may be God’s best for her. She was horribly mangled. Her body was taken to the McDuffy’s funeral home, I believe.

GEORGE
Oh shoot!

SHARON

No, this must be providential also.  I know, I feel it in my spirit.  It’s an opportunity to do resuscitation. After all, we can’t let the Baptists have a better score than us.

ROBERT
Let’s go and lay hands on the corps and watch it dance!

GEORGE
Well, I wouldn’t phrase it quite like that. But I believe we have the faith for it.

GROUP
Amen, Yes, PTL, Let’s go to McDuffy’s.

ACT II

SETTING
At Johnson’s Funeral Home. The stage is divided by a wall and door. One side is the viewing salon with large sign, “The Staff at Johnson’s wishes to give you excellence of service at your time of grief.” It is furnished in antique decor, with a small round table covered in white linen, with a picture of elderly gentlemen, and a sofa chair. On the other side is a water cooler and a simple office chair and desk.

Scene 1
GEORGE, TRACY and GROUP enter the salon area.

GEORGE
Well, this wild goods chase is over.

SHARON
As you say, “It must be providential.”

GEORGE
Driving across town and wasting all that electricity? Hardly. God doesn’t like waste. This time it’s just a plain stupid mistake. We should have called and checked.

JOHNSON
(Comes in from the office area and through the door to the salon area.)
GEORGE
Mr. Johnson, good to see you again, and blessings.

J0HNSON
Good see you Reverend. I see you have some friends today. How can I help?

GEORGE
Well, we called and your assistant told us they brought Mrs. Kelly’s body here.

JOHNSON
Yes, that’s right.

GEORGE
These are very special prayer partners. We’re all set to do a miracle for the Lord.

JOHNSON
I’m all for that, this revival has been amazing. You should see what our Baptist healing team did the other week. An honest to God resuscitation from the dead, and a total healing of leukemia. Isn’t that amazing!

GEORGE
Your pastor told me all about it. And that’s why we’re here. We want to pray over the body of Mrs. Kelly. We’re all believing the Lord wants her restored to life to finish her divine assignments, just like that man with leukemia.

GROUP
Yes, PTL!  Another resuscitation! The name of the Lord be praised!

GEORGE
I know this is unusual, but we need to have access to Mrs. Kelly and lay hands and anoint her. It’s called the “point of contact” for a miracle. And we need to and speak the words of faith for her resuscitation. Can we go in to where you have her laid out?

JOHNSON
Her resuscitation would indeed be a miracle of the greatest order.

TRACY
We know she had been dead since the morning, but Smith Wigglesworth, a man of great faith in England long ago brought back a person from the dead who was already embalmed.  Isn’t that awesome!

ROBERT
And Jesus brought back Lazarus who was dead three days. And John 14:12 says, “I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things.”  We’re standing on that promise! We’re ready for a miracle

GROUP
Amen, PTL, etc.

GEORGE
See, these kids have a mighty faith.

JOHNSON
Indeed. It will take a mighty faith to resurrect Mrs. Kelly, indeed.

TRACY
Yes, we have that faith; I can feel it welling up in us right now. To do all the works that Jesus did. Mrs. Kelly has to finish her work with children and who know what good works the Lord had planned for her from the foundations of the earth.

JOHNSON
I guess it’s alright to give it a try.

GEORGE
Thank you Mr. Johnson, can we go in, or help you wheel her out or anything.

JOHNSON
Oh no, that won’t be necessary. Stay here and I’ll bring her out myself.
                                                (Exits through the office door and off stage.)
TRACY
Let’s get into prayer and faith.

GEORGE
Good idea, lets hold hands
                                                (Group moves to form a circle and hold hands)
Tracy you seem to have great faith, in spite of your setback this afternoon. You begin.

TRACY
OK. I guess you are right. I feel OK as a matter of fact, and with this joy that I don’t understand. OK…Father, we give you thanks for what you did in the hospital today for Mrs. Hernandez. Holy Spirit come and help us magnify the name of Jesus, and incidentally show Mr. Johnson that Christians in faith can do all, everything that Jesus did and more.

GROUP
Amen, PTL, How awesome for your name and power Lord!

(Mr. Johnson returns caring a funeral urn and places it on round table. Everyone looks dumbfounded.)

JOHNSON
A great miracle indeed. Mrs. Kelly’s husband requested a cremation as soon as possible, in view of the terrible condition of her body. He mentioned he wanted the memorial service at your church, but I guess he has not communicated with you yet. He was very broken up. He and his son selected an urn and then left immediately.

GEORGE
Oh good grief! I guess the Lord felt her work was done.

JOHNSON
It appears so.  Excuse me. I have to attend to a customer who is looking over a casket in the display area.
GEORGE
Yes of course. Thank you for bringing the remains in.
  (Johnson Exits through the office)
Well I guess we might as well go back to church. And I need to be with Mr. Kelly for a while.

TRACY
Yes, but wait a minute.
(Praying in tongues for a few seconds)
Here’s the situation. We have Mrs. Kelly’s ashes here. We got lost and confused all this time. But I feel all of this was providential. God wants us to do one of the “greater works” that Jesus promised. This is sooo beyond being a rotten corpse for three days like Lazarus.

ROBERT
I’m thinking the same thing

SHARON
I witness to that in my spirit. What difference does it make to the Lord’s awesome power if the corpse is dead five minutes, three days and rotting, or ashes?

FRED
When the angel blows his horn and Jesus comes back, everyone who had become mere dust of over the ages.

TRACY
The same Holy Spirit power and authority, we have

GEORGE
Well…I’m not sure…a resuscitation is not the same as the Second Coming.

TRACY
We’re told to do more than Jesus did!

FRED
That’s right. Let’s do the more!

GEORGE
OK, let’s give it a try, let’s hold hands

TRACY
(Tongues for a few seconds)
Ah… wait.  The Lord has reminded me of a scripture. Oh…Pastor George, we all love you and thank you for the loads of stuff you have taught us. Like, just three years ago I had never even laid hands on anyone for healing. But remember that scripture, when Jesus raised up the twelve year old girl. He put out of the room anyone who doubted.

GEORGE
Yes…oh…you think I don’t belong here?

TRACY
I think the Sprit is telling me this is very special. It needs faith without doubt.

GEORGE
I see. And…To tell the truth, I don’t have faith for this one.  I’ll go to the next room and check in with Nancy while you guys do the more stuff.

ROBERT
Thank you Pastor.
(GEORGE exists to the office side. Group gathers round urn and begins to pray, quietly at first, in tongues but with increasing volume. Lights dim in main salon as GROUP circle around the erne and lay hands on it.

GEORGE
(Spotlight on George dialing his EPD, and looking to the right as he paces.)
Hi Hon,
                                                            (Pause)
Well, so far pretty normal, youth group and I went over to the Hospital and we prayed over a lady with terminal cancer who was instantly healed. I saw the tumor on her face go down like a punctured balloon. Something like the Julie Douglas case we prayed for two weeks ago.                                              (                                   Pause)
Yes, I know. The full story is that Maria died soon after she got to the hospital. A real shame. The Kids are here at Johnson’s funeral home praying for her resuscitation.  I’m not too hopeful.
                                                            (Pause)
Well, because she’s been cremated.  
                                                            (Pause)
Well, I’ve been declared an old foggy without enough faith and put out. I guess I should be happy I have taught them so well.
                                                            (Pause)
No it’s OK, really. I feel fine. I’ll give the kids fifteen minutes before I suggest that it is not possible to do this. Then I have to head back to church with the kids, and then I have to run over for a while to Mr. Kelly.
                                                            (Pause)
Put my dinner in the freezer.  I’ll grab a burrito on the way to see Mr. Kelly.                     
                                                            (Pause)
I know the freezer is full of my dinners. I’m sorry.
                                                            (Pause)
Well maybe you can give some of the freezer burn dinners to the dog.
                                                            (Pause)
No, it wasn’t meant as a comment on your cooking. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow, dinner as Mario’s.
                                                            (Pause)
Love you, by.
                                                            (Signs off)

                                                (Group is now speaking loudly, light turn on full at salon)

ROBERT
Satan, you are Lord of death, but Jesus is Lord of life!

TRACY
(Shouting)
You have no authority here. Jesus is lord, and lord of life!

FRED
I declare in Jesus’ name, all the good works the Lord assigned you to do, you will complete. Satan this death is a lie! The promises of scripture are true!

TRACY
(With both her hands on the urn)
All the works you are to do will be done on earth, as it is in heaven

ROBERT
Amen, and amen!

                                                (A rumble and urns top flies off)

TRACY
                                                (Tracy pulls back her hands)
Ouch! That got hot all of a sudden. But PTL!

GROUP
Look at that, Praise the Lord! More Jesus, more!

TRACY
Saints, let’s keep going
                                                (Pastor GEORGE cracks the door open and peeks in.)
Satan you are a thief and a lire. You will not hold this person in the jaws of death. The name of Jesus is Life!

GROUP
Life in the name of Jesus. Life and restoration, Return to life in Jesus’ name.
           
(A sudden rushing wind sound, a flash and smoke coves the table and the urn cracks open.  As the smoke clears JOEY stands, his face covered in ashes, his cloths filthy, and broken chains fall off his wrists.)

JOEY

Oh thank God! Oh, I was in hell! In hell! I don’t want to go back! Save me! How do I get saved? I want to be saved!

GROUP
(All fall back some while JOEY is talking).
Oh, What a stink. Poop is like perfume to this stuff!

GEORGE
Joey, oh wow! Hell really stinks.
(Fanning is face with his hand)

Gross. Hey, salvation is easy. These kids will lead you in the sinner’s prayer and fill you with the Holy Ghost.

JOEY
Oh please, right now, I don’t want to wait a second, I might have to go back!

TRACY
                                                (Smiling, takes JOEY’s hand)

GEORGE
Don’t sweat it. With this crowd around you, Satan can’t lay a hand on you. Great job kids! Tracy, after he gets saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, and gets cleaned up, bring him over to do a water Baptism on him, maybe tomorrow. He’ll be a sensational witness. The Baptist may beat us to the restaurants on Sunday, but they can’t beat us on this.

                                                (JOEY and TRACY look at each other lovingly)

JOEY
You saved me from hell!
TRACY
No, we prayed and Jesus snatched you out of there.

GROUP
Awesome miracle! Glory to Jesus.

ROBERT
Pastor George, we apologize for putting you out.

GEORGE
Hey, don’t apologize for doing the biblical thing, ever. You young’uns did a great job.

JOHNSON
                                                (Entering and seeing the situation)
Oh great God!
                                                            (Holding his chest, and breathing quickly)

GEORGE
Now don’t have a heart attack, this is just part of the greater works stuff. If you have a heart attack it’s a lot of work for my team to do another resuscitation.

JOEY
                                                (To JOHNSON)
I was in hell, being tortured by the demons!

JOHNSON
That I can believe without trouble…We can all smell the stink.
                                                (Breathing rapidly)

GEORGE
Sit down and enjoy the miracle. That is something you will have to learn in this season of revival.

JOHNSON
(Walks over to the sofa chair next and sits, jaws open, staring at JOEY)

GEORGE
I didn’t think this could be pulled off either. But don’t underestimate the great faith of children not confused with heresy.

JOHNSON
This is the greatest miracle, ever, anywhere.

GEORGE
Well, not really. Remember the stuff about the parting of the Red Sea. Hey, you remember in Sunday school being told that the greatest miracle of all is a sinner converted to Christ.

JOHNSON
Yes, but this thing…

GEORGE
Yes, you know, I always thought that line was a bunch of BS to cover that no one was doing physical miracles. But seriously, have you heard of some of the stuff going on in Africa and the Ukraine? It’s all over the Web. And last week in a church in Cincinnati a dozen Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran amputees were lined up, and all had their natural limbs restored, boing, bam, boom,
                                                            (Snapping his fingers)
like that.

JOHNSON
Someone told me of it. I thought it was an exaggerated rumor of some sort. But now….

GEORGE
Well, what is happening is that after over two thousand years Christians are taking the Bible seriously, and the Spirit has fallen the way it should have all along.

JOHSON
(To JOEY)
Young man, when I saw you last the right side of your face was burned to the skull. I would not believe this had my wife told me.

JOEY
I was in hell sir…

JOHNSON
Yes we can smell the stink.

JOEY
That was the least of it, sir.

GEORGE
(To JOHNSON)
But now, what about Mr. Kelly’s ashes? This has obviously been confusion here.

STEPHEN
Bring the ashes in!  Let’s do a Holy Ghost double header! The Lord can do it through our faith! Bring on her ashes too!

GROUP
Amen, Right on. The Holy Ghost will do it!

JOHNSON
Oh my gosh! Indeed a dreadful confusion.  This is terrible, but with irrevocable consequences. After Joey’s body was brought in, I started the incinerator, and then they brought in Mrs. Kelly’s, and I left the double job to be done by my assistant…but I must take full responsibility for this mix up.

TRACY
(Looking at JOEY, and holding his hand.)
Oh, this is all sooo providential.

JOHNSON
But there is an ugly element to this confusion.  Joey, I hate saying this in front of you, but… you need to know how much anger there is in your family towards you, and do something about it now that you have this extraordinary… second chance. Your uncle came in two hours ago and signed for the ashes. He said the whole family was furious at you, because of your life style and the disgrace you brought to the family name.  As he left with the ashes in their cardboard box, he did not even buy the cheapest urn, he said he was going home and flush the ashes down the toilet where they belonged. He said it with considerable vulgarity that I don’t need to repeat. I felt so bad about the situation. Young man, now that you have had this extraordinary, unprecedented second chance, you need to do some fence mending with your family.

JOEY
Yes sir, I’ve been terrible to them. I’m going to spend a lot of time with them and apologizing for everything.

GEORGE
When the Lord does a miracle, He goes all the way. With prayer it will be a breeze. Your parents are not Believers?

JOEY
Mom was before she died, but wishy-washy.  Pop has always been an atheist, and everyone on his side of the family. He doesn’t believe any of the miracle reports on TV. He says that some Christian billionaires are bribing the media.

GEORGE
Mr. Johnson, did Mr. Castalino see JOEY’s body?

JOHNSON
Yes, he came in, identified it, and walked out without another word. No emotions.

GEORGE
Well, Joey, I believe this will move him to reconsider his conspiracy theory.

TRACY
All this is sooo providential!
(Loudly)
God is good!
GROUP
All the time!

FRED
Move another atheist into the Kingdom of God!

GROUP
Amen, yes, we agree.

GEORGE
It gets better all the time. But, oh, shoot!  We can’t let Mr. Kelly and his family know about Maria’s ashes. We have a memorial service to do. Mr. Johnson, can you give Mr. Kelly some ashes in the urn he bought so that everyone will assume they are Mrs. Kelly’s?  I mean Mrs. Kelly is in heaven now and doesn’t care a hoot about her ashes. She knows she’ll get her glorified body at the second coming with everybody else with no problem. But Mr. Kelly and his kids might be very distressed…

JOHNSON
Yes I understand. We have a dozen of urns filed with ashes that were never collected by families for one reason or another. Some dating a decade or more.

FRED
Is that lying?

GEORGE
No, nobody has to tell even a fib. The urn can be truthfully called “The Kelly urn” – the one he bought, and let everybody assume…

JOHNSON
Yes of course. You know, I always try to lower the family’s distress level during the funeral rite, that why everything has to be planned well. But if this ever gets out…

GEORGE
Hey young’uns, mums the word.  You are never to say a word about this. Now, I’m not going to ask you to swear, but Jesus say let your yes be yes and no, no.  So I’m asking you all to keep this secret so that Mr. Kelly and his children will not be upset unnecessarily.

GROUP
Yes, Pastor George, yes, yes.

GEORGE
Joey?

JOEY
My lips are tight on this.

GEORGE
Well I guess, as you say Tracy, this is all soooo providential. I suppose the Lord wanted Mrs. Kelly in heaven, where she will be happiest.

JOHNSON
I suppose so.

SHARON
Wait a second, I don’t feel right about not praying Mrs. Kelly back. She was only sixty, or about that. I mean, the Lord must have had a good twenty years planned for her among children and who knows what gifts she would have developed.

STEPHEN
Yes. I know for a fact she laid hands on one of the kids in the nursery with a bad rash, and the kid was healed before the parents picked her up at the end of the service.

SHARON
I bet the Lord has big plans for her. Like maybe, “Grandma Kelly, the amazing healing evangelist and harmonica player.”

ROBERT
That sounds right.

SHARON
For Pete’s sake! We have just seen the great, amazing, awesome, power of God here. Not just a rotten body, but ashes brought to life by the name of Jesus. This is like Ezekiel’s valley of bones miracle. But not way back then, but here and now. So why do we worry over ashes in the sewer system? The power of God is awesome!

STEPHEN
I witness to that.

TRACY
But wait a second. We don’t have her ashes to lay hands on. Joey’s ashes were our point of contact for the miracle to work.  We don’t have that point of contact with Mrs. Kelly, and, besides, maybe the Lord really does want her in heaven now.

STEPHEN
After what we have seen! Why doubt? I have the same faith Sharon has about praying for Mrs. Kelly
.
ROBERT
So do I!

JOEY
But wait, look, let me say something. If heaven is as good as hell is bad, and I know hell is really bad, I wouldn’t want anyone messing with me and bringing me back to earth. She must be having a great time.

SHARON
But she still has a lot of stuff to do for the Lord!

GEORGE
Hey, stop. This is becoming an argument. Let’s not. Look, this is what we will do. Tracy, me and Joey will go to the other room, close the door and let you guys pray for Mrs. Kelly’s resuscitation.  We’ll wait for a half hour to see if anything happens. Mr. Johnson, are you going to be with the kids in here or with us in the other room?

JOHNSON
I don’t know what to choose. I would not have believed anything like Joey’s miracle even remotely possible just fifteen minutes ago. My faith is up, but I’m not sure I’m up that high.

SHARON
Then it would be better to stay on the other side.

GEORGE
OK, OK. You guys pray, we’ll wait. In the meantime I have some calls to make. Tracy, you take Joey off there
                                                            (Pointing to the office room)
and lead him in the sinner’s prayer and Holy Ghost baptism while I catch up on some important calls and texting.

JOHNSON
I’m going to check our supply room.  I believe there is a jump suit there that could fix Joey well enough.
(Looking at JOEY as he gets up.)
Young man, there is a shower in the back of the men’s rest room for you to make use of when you finish you spiritual cleansing. I don’t want the stink of hell to linger here.

JOEY
Yes sir.


(JOEY and TRACY move to the far corner of theoffice, he kneels down and she begins to lead the sinner’s prayer. JOHNSON exits. GEORGE closes the door to the salon, and Sharon, Fred and Stephen raise their hands and begin pacing around with uplifted arms and praying out loud in tongues. GEORGE dials his ECP and looks up.)

GEORGE
Hi Greg, What’s going on?
                                                            (Pause)
Oh that is wonderful. So you have been able to minister to Mr. Kelly. What about the son?
                                                            (Pause)
I can be there in an hour or so, I have to distribute the kids.
                                                            (Pause)
Well, OK. I’ll go see the Kellies tomorrow.
                                                            (Pause)
Oh, we had a great miracle here. Please excuse my idiom, but It was one hell of a show. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow morning.
(Pause)
Yes, thanks again, by.
                                                            (Redials)

GROUP
                                                (In the salon the Group’s voices begin to get louder.)
Spirit of death, get off Mary! It is not her time. The works assigned to her from the foundations of the earth have not been accomplished. In Jesus name return! Tongues, etc

GEORGE
Hi Hon.
                                                            (Pause)
Oh this is been amazing. Hey, would you get upset if brought in six hunger young’uns for late dinner?
                                                            (Pause)
Well how about cleaning out the freezer and defrosting the most recent of my missed dinners?
                                                            (Pause)
OK, great, and that Pizza we were saving for Tommy.
                                                            (Pause)
Great. We won’t be there for at least another hour. And some parents may not give permission. So I’ll call later when we are on the way. Love you.
                       
(Spotlight fades on GEORGE, as the voices of GROUP increase in volume.)
GROUP
Release, release from the jaws of death! Let Jesus be glorified…

                                                                        (Lights fade)

SCENE 2

SETTING

At George and Nancy’s dining room, at the dining table. The GROUP members are all seated around the table. Tracy is next to and very close to  JOEY, who is now cleaned and neatly dressed. Tracy is softly strumming the tune “Amazing Grace” on her guitar. GEORGE is seated at the other end, with the chair next to him empty.  Everyone has finished dinner, with dishes and utensils showing the scraps of food.

SHARON
This has been wonderful Pastor George, every dish was terrific. How did she have time to cook so many different and things?

GROUP
Yes, really awesome food.

GEORGE
Oh she really is an extraordinary cook. Almost miraculous you might say.

NANCY
(Enters caring a Coconut cake with a cherry on top. She walks slowly and with a  limp.)

                                                                        GROUP
Wow. Look at that! That looks awesome? That’s so nice of you Mrs. Simmons.

NANCY
Well when I was getting dinner for you folks I realized I didn’t have desert so I drove over to Publix’s.
(Places the cake in the center of the table, and sits next to GEORGE)

GEORGE
                                                            (In a mock pretentious voice)
And notice brothers and sisters, the providential nature of this confectionary masterpiece. The shredded coconut represents the “Lamb of God,” and the cherry is the type for the “blood of the Lamb.”

NANCY
Oh stop that! This is your favorite cake.

GROUP
Yeah, Oh. My favorite too.

GEORGE
Oh my gosh, you ruined my Bible lesson. It would have been awesome!

NANCY
No time for Bible lesson tonight. We have these folks out later than they should. I don’t want to get dirty looks from any parent on Sunday.

GROUP
Hey it’s Friday night, it’s OK. Not a chance. Mom lets me stay up till midnight on Fridays.

GEORGE
                                                            (Begins to chuckle)
NANCY
What’s funny? Can you share?

GEORGE
Well, when I was a little boy, this was in the 1950s, ancient history now. Well, one of my favorite movies was a war movie which starred Eddy Murphy.

SHARON
Eddy Murphy?

GEORGE
Not the Eddy Murphy you know, he wasn’t even born then. This Eddy Murphy was a paleface. He won the congressional medal of honor for action against the Germans, and then starred in a film about it.  It was a great movie. It was called, “To Hell and Back.” Well, anyway it seems we need to get one of the new Christian movie companies to make a new “To Hell and Back.”

JOEY
No, it would have to be called “From Hell to and Angel’s face.”

GROUP
That’s sweet. That’ll work. PTL!

GEORGE
Well Tracy, looks like your vision will turn out, in spite of Ol’Scrach’s best shot.

TRACY
Amen.

SHARON
Pastor George, why weren’t we able to bring Maria back? We had so much faith. That whole half hour there I felt we were before the very face of God.

GEORGE
You probably were.

TRACY
It was the point of contact thing, like I said.

GEORGE
Well maybe, but I think more likely what Pastor Joey said
(With a slight shudder)
- hey that’s a slip of the tongue that was a Holy Ghost prophecy. I’ve had a couple of those in my life. Well, like Pastor Joey said,  it’s very hard to make someone come back from heaven. But of course we really don’t know. We’ll have to settle the issue in heaven. I hate Christian arguments, like pre or post tribulation and all that. So let’s leave it that we don’t know why.

STEPHEN
You know, you have taught us to pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a scripture when we have an issue we don’t understand.

GEORGE
Well OK, we can do that. But sometimes the Lord just wants us to trust Him that it was for the best. Let’s pray.
                                                (As all bow their heads)
Father, there are many things about the Kingdom that we don’t know, but some things you delight in showing us. So if you wish to reveal to us why Mrs. Kelly is still in heaven we would like your word to show us.
GROUP
Amen, yes, tongues
                        (After a few seconds)

ROBERT
I have a scripture, Luke ten, forth-one and two

Tracy

Confirmed

STEPHEN
Yes that’s it.

GEORGE
Let’s see what that is. I think I know what it is. Let me go to “Biblegateway.”
                        (Opening the Bible from his  ECP, and finding the passage.)
Yes, the answer. Thank you Holy Spirit, and Tell Mrs. Kelly we’ll miss her.

JOEY
What is it?

GEORGE
                                                            (Reading)
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
                                                            (Pause)
We wanted her to do the Martha stuff for the Church. –

TRACY
But she’s at the feet of Jesus.
GEORGE
That’s right.
STEPHEN
Awesome. Thank you Jesus! We’ll miss you Granma Kelly.

ROBERT
Oh, Mrs. Webster, Were you limping last Sunday and… just then when you brought the cake in?

NANCY
Listen dearie, at our age things start to wear out and its natural that things go…not their best. I have a cane to help on rainy days.
STEPHEN
Oh, that a lie from the pit! Just like that stupid cessationism thing. Hey let’s put Mrs. Webster in the hot seat and everybody lay hands on her.

GROUP
Yes, Charge! Let’s do it
                        (Everyone comes to lay hands on NANCY)
PTL!, By your stripe Nancy is healed! Satan you are a liar! Come Holy Spirit! Etc.

END
-           

   Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar, Dr. Jon Ruthven, dis a very positive review on my recent book on Agnes Sanford, which can be accessed HERE


 This work can be bought on Amazon in the paper edition or in an inexpensive Kindle edition. Or you can get the paper copy direct form the publisher at a discount, HERE


My wife has published a funny, inspiring and well written work on our life and ministry together. It can be purchased HERE