Prayer in the clinic

As many of you know, I serve as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Allison Hill in Harrisburg, PA. I also serve as the executive director of the health ministries of Christ Lutheran Church. We host three free clinics that serve the people of Allison Hill with a variety of health care needs.

When I am out and about people often ask what it’s like being Christ Lutheran. It’s a blessing and a challenge all at once. Maybe both lead into each other. Today I want to share just one small aspect of what ministry is like in this setting.

A few of weeks ago I started spending an hour a week in the waiting room of the clinic wearing my pastor’s collar and having a “free prayer” sign next to me. Off the bat I knew it would take some time for anyone to come over, sit down with me, and ask for prayers. It takes consistent showing up for people to trust that you’ll be there, that you can be trusted, and that you don’t have some kind of alternative motive. I’m really just there to listen to people and offer prayer based on the conversation. It’s kind of like offering a free spiritual clinic to people in a health clinic. Health is more than just physical. To me, this is about something that I’ve been focused on for a while – seeing the humanity of those around me. I’m not there to judge. I’m there to listen and pray with people.

Last week was the first time someone came over to ask for prayers. It was a wonderful moment where the person shared their concerns for themself and for their friends. And we prayed. Other conversations happened while I was in the clinic as well.

And there is time where I just sit quietly. During that time, I find myself offering prayers – for the clinic staff, the nurses, family, co-workers, colleagues, people in the congregation, friends. And as I sit and pray and meditate, the list expands. I pray for situations that are troublesome. I find myself praying for people I frankly dislike or have trouble dealing with. As I dive deeper into prayer, I find myself praying difficult prayers for enemies. That’s not easy or fun or enjoyable. Sometimes the prayers feel forced, but I do them anyway. And I pray that God would change me – maybe this is the only “reasonable” prayer there is since I really have no power over anyone else and what they say or do or what they should be like. That’s not in my hands after all. I pray a portion of St. Francis’ prayer – make me an instrument of your peace Lord.

I’ll continue to make this a regular part of my weekly routine. It’s a service to people who may not feel welcome in a sanctuary, or even understand anything about religion at all. That doesn’t matter. As I’ve described Christ Lutheran Church, I often say that Christ Lutheran Church is a special place and community of healing. And offering prayer in the clinic is a way that we live into that mission.

If you’d like to support the mission of Christ Lutheran Church and the healing that happens here, I invite you to do a few things:

1. Pray for this congregation, the clinics that are hosted here and the staff who run them, and the people who utilize the services, and the Allison Hill community. Since 2018, over 92,000 people have come through Christ Lutheran Church and the health ministries. That’s a lot of people who have been impacted. That’s a lot of healing that is going on.

2. Check out our website (www.christharrisburg.org). You can see more about the health ministries and the congregation. And you can financially support either or both by clicking on the donate page (/www.christharrisburg.org/donate). This congregation and the health ministries survive on financial support from people like you – individual donors, mission partners, and other sources of support. We receive no government funding. We are often looking for other supplies as well for the clinics – the items change often, so please contact us if you want to help this way.

Thank you in advance. Your prayers and your financial support help make healing happen for so many.

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