Today I took a ride to a nursing home about twenty-five minutes from the church to visit and bring communion to one of our members there. I arrived about half-way through lunch, so I pulled up a chair to the table where Janey and three others were enjoying a meal of country-fried chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, roll and some cake.
I’m not sure if these folks were having any kind of conversation before I arrived, but they sure were eager to talk once I joined them! After I introduced myself as Janey’s pastor, the man to my right, Clint, let me know that he had been a long time member of the Scottish Reformed church and also a big fan of R. C. Sproul. He explained that he was rehabbing from a stroke. He must have made great progress. I couldn’t detect any lingering symptoms. He was from Orange City, but was really from south of Denver, CO. The flight path from the airport went right over his family’s 280 acre ranch. How he loved watching the planes take off and land, just like I did when my dad would park the car at the end of the runway at the Philadelphia airport. We both were sad that you couldn’t do that these days. You can’t get near a runway anymore.
On the other side of Janey, a quiet man named John slowly and deliberately worked his way through his lunch. He ate every crumb. When no one was watching, he then took Janey’s drink and her piece of cake. She was pretty surprised to find only a bite left when she was ready for dessert! She she confronted him, he just smiled. I said, “That must be pretty good cake!” He smiled even more. Janey asked for and got another piece as well as a glass of ice water. Everyone was happy. John asked me where I was from. He was from Daytona Beach, but knew folks in Holly Hill and Ormond Beach, too.
A third diner didn’t say anything during the meal. But I did get a “Goodbye” from her when I left.
The room was pretty busy as nurses gave out medication and other caregivers gave out meals and collected dishes. I couldn’t take Janey back to her room since her roommate was getting some xrays. So we had communion right there at the table when she was done her lunch. I know the others were listening as I read the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers and marveled that so many didn[t return to give thanks. After communion I prayed with her and I know I heard a few other voices when we said the Lord’s Prayer.
I imagine every pastor has ministry moments like this. A little worship service around a table in a nursing home or assisted living facility with some you know very well and others who just happen to be there. They may not remember that moment. They may not remember I was there. But the Lord hasn’t forgotten them and I know He treasures those moments. As the song says, “His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over them.”
On my way home from these visits, I often think, “I hope someone comes to see me one day.” That sentiment reminds me of how valuable those moments are.