Yesterday I preached and served communion at a local convalescent home. This particular facility is a Behavioral Unit in a larger Rehabilitation / Nursing Complex. The people in this facility are of varying ages and alertness levels. Over the years I've watched several of the residents deteriorate rather rapidly. I don't know if it is medication or their medical condition, but some have gone from being verbal and interactive to completely unresponsive in a relatively short period of time. Many of those who "attend" the service are wheeled from their rooms by aides and show little awareness of their surroundings.
I have to admit that I find these visits extremely depressing. I just don't like going. In fact, I dread it. What can I do for these people? How can I offer them hope ~ how I can I bring them the good news ~ when so much of what surrounds them is hopelessness and bad news.
Neither does the facility itself offer much hope. The building is run down and smells like cigarette smoke. The room where the service is held is also a main thoroughfare for those delivering meals and doing laundry. Mid-way through the Scripture, the Lord's Prayer, or the Great Thanksgiving it is not uncommon for someone from housekeeping to push a cart full of dirty laundry through the middle of our gathering. Where is Christ is this place?
Yet, in the spirit of the season, I had an epiphany yesterday as I was looking around the room inviting them to receive the body and blood of Christ. "The body of Christ, broken for you." "The blood of Christ, shed for you." It seemed to me that those words were the Good News breaking into the world. For in that place, at that moment, we were, we are ~ with our limitations and pain ~ the body of Christ, and that is all that matters.