(This post first appeared on Parenting With a Smile in July, 2016.)
Rollin and I went to church on a Thursday afternoon in Minnesota with his 93-year-old dad at his assisted living home. Folding chairs lined the activity room and about fifteen gray-headed people congregated there. Walkers parked along the perimeter of the meeting place.
The kind-hearted preacher spoke with conviction about the peace and joy Jesus gives. His voice rose above the confused murmuring of some of the attendees.
“Sweet hour of prayer,” one woman said loudly, over and over. Occasionally, she’d throw in a “Jesus loves me this I know.” Another lady had trouble finding just the right place to sit. Rollin helped her to a seat, front and center. She seemed to be pleased with it. At first it was annoying, trying to hear the man up front over the interruptions, but God was there, waiting to interrupt my own annoyance with His grace.
Soon, communion emblems were offered. The pastor tenderly served each one individually at their seats. Some couldn’t take their own piece of bread, dropping it on the floor. The pastor decided maybe he should hand each one their piece. He did the same with the cup. As he went around, he suggested we sing the children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me.” Old, wobbly voices joined in song and my eyes filled with tears. To be in the company of such saints moved me. It didn’t matter that they were confused, unable to make sense of what to do with the bread and tiny cups they’d been handed.
“Sweet hour of prayer,” she said again, louder than was appropriate. But from the overflow of her heart, it came. Worship in its truest, purest form.
Then the pastor went around to collect the empty cups. “Would you like to drink that?” he gently asked the first woman. No, she shook her head. But then she drank it, and placed the plastic cup on the tray he offered. The same happened with the old man in a wheelchair.
Now my own heart overflowed. To be in the presence of these saints was an honor I’ll not soon forget. I hope when my mind is foggy, the thing that rises to the top is worship and praise to the One who has loved and sustained me my whole life.
The old folks’ memories are gone, but God sees their hearts, past the place of confusion, past the inappropriateness of their behavior, to who they are because of Jesus. Jesus loves them, this they know. Loves them, died for them, will come for them. Even so, Lord Jesus, come.