For the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to spend more time in a nursing home setting. This atmosphere makes some people uncomfortable, but I guess I am lucky that in my previous career with the state, I went into nursing homes all the time to do investigate complaints (doesn't THAT sound like a fun job?). Nobody was happy with us. The staff hated to us coming. And, if we were unable to substantiate the complaint, the families did not much like us either.
But, the residents were a different story. Part of my job was simply to talk with them. They liked us! I still remember some of those personalities...the lady in Pfafftown who knew my grandmother, the man in Chapel Hill who was a veteran, and the young man in Fayetteville with a brain injury who just wanted to go home.
I got very used to walking into nursing homes, pulling up a chair, and listening and talking.
That's ministry, you know - pulling up a chair and listening and talking. It doesn't get put on the church calendar. It doesn't result in recruitment of church members. It does not result in a new building. It does not result in a bigger budget. That kind of ministry doesn't do anything for what often gets referred to as the three B's of church: 1) building; 2) budget and 3) butts in pews.
But, the more I think about the kind of ministry that Jesus did, the more convinced I am that it is in the little bits of compassion where he springs to life today. That's where people feel cared for. That's where people believe they matter, too. That's where people know that they are not only not forgotten, they are REMEMBERED. When two people sit together - talking, holding hands, or even just in silence, it is sacred. It is worship. When we remember others, we remember Jesus, and there's nothing grander that we ever do. I needed to be reminded of that today.