I had such a lovely, timeless experience yesterday. In the faith-based hospital where I work, we offer prayer at 2:00 pm in the family waiting room of the ICU unit. I walked up to the unit clerk’s desk and told her that I was available for prayer. “Could you please make the overhead announcement for me?”
She looked up and was a little hesitant until she saw the instructions taped to the inside wall of the desk unit. “Let’s see...oh, here we go..” She picked up the telephone, pushed the “page” button and said the following: There will be a brief prayer time led by one of our chaplains at 2pm in the waiting room. Please feel free to drop by. Then she hung up. Thirty or so seconds later, her steady, warm voice hugged the airwaves with this message.
I walked over to the waiting area. There were four people already seated there. Walking up to one couple, I introduced myself and asked them if they would like to join us for prayer. They seemed eager to do so. When asked what faith tradition they practiced, the middle-aged woman shared, “We’re Christians, and we attend a very small country church close to the southern border of Michigan, maybe 150 miles from here called the Missionary Church.”
“The Missionary Church? That’s the denomination I grew up in, where I met my husband!” I said. She then told me that she had been attending other churches but her life experiences had changed, and she had needed to find a new community to worship with. The feelings of kinship began to sprout right then and there, but there was more to come.
Two women, a mother and daughter had been talking in low tones with one another. I approached them. “Would you like to join us in prayer?” The other couple waved them into the circle we had begun to form.
Less than one minute later, two sisters came to join us. We stood together, a small circle of strangers brought together by tragedy,trauma and faith. “As we join hands in prayer, I can begin and then if any of you would like to share in the prayer, please do so. I will close.”
I began to pray, asking God to have mercy on each one of us, giving us hope in a dark place and peace and trust in God’s goodness toward us. One woman took the baton and began to pray, and when she finished another continued. It was all of six or seven minutes, but it was a taste of the unity that Jesus had asked of his Father for those who would be known as his disciples then and now. After I finished the prayer, the hugging began--two African American Baptists, a Caucasian couple from the Missionary Church and a mother and daughter who shared with me their roots in Russian Orthodoxy. The mother was in tears; the daughter softly shared, “You know, it does not matter; we all believe the same.”
We became brothers and sisters that day. That is the beauty of the Kingdom of God. The things that could separate us fade away, and we are left with our unity in Jesus. Thanks be to God!