I burst into tears.
Not true! Sorry Jean, I don’t burst into tears (at least can’t remember the last time), but I get moist at the corners of my eyes quite often! For example, just yesterday…
It was during our monthly Friendship Service for the frail-aged. (Actually that moisture thing is happening again, as I start to type this story.) Every month, women and men in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, care for other Christians in their 80s, 90s, and yes, 100s, who come for church more suited to their needs. With their aches and frailties, they cannot easily get out at the earlier times on Sunday, in the bustle of larger numbers, let alone for longer-lasting services. At the Friendship Service, we keep thing concise. But not dumbed down!
And the helpers push the wheel chairs. They lend arms to lean on. Some of them organise morning tea for afterwards. (I never make my lunch on Friendship Service Wednesdays!) Others sit next to those who cannot turn the pages of the prayer book or Bible for themselves during the service.
Oh, and there’s several terrific younger mums, who pick some of these frail ladies (mainly) up from a Nursing Home and transport them and their wheelchairs or walking frames to the Cathedral. That’s before going to their own weekly Bible study group, and then transporting them home again afterwards.
That’s beautiful enough, as we seek to encourage each other with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, through his Word, and in prayers and hymns, and often in sacrament too.
Yesterday something really beautiful happened. One of the elderly ladies threw up! And her false teeth fell out, and she went all shaky. It must have been so upsetting for her, especially since it was her first time back at church for a while. We paused the service, of course.
Here’s the beautiful thing. And Christians know what I am going to say, because several people immediately rushed to help. They comforted her. One retrieved the teeth and cleaned them. Another went to ring an ambulance, which seemed wise. I and another person helped lift her up and walked her down the back, where she could listen to the rest of the service until the ambulance came. And in the mean time, someone sponged her dress down to clean up the sick.
Apparently her blood pressure went very low, but the ‘ambos’ made sure she was OK and took her for a check up.
And we finished our Friendship Service.
And though I don’t think anyone noticed, I teared up during the final prayer and hymn, as I reflected on the beautiful work of God I had seen.
Mind you, I was not looking forward to cleaning up the carpet and seat cushions afterwards, where she’d sat.
But before I’d finished shaking hands with my parishioners at the door, Faye had got the warm soapy water and got down on her hands and knees and did that final unpleasant but beautiful job.
For some reason, it reminded me of an episode 17 years ago, when the crazy charismatic Toronto Blessing came to our neck of the woods and caused some problems with the youth group at the church I was serving then. (The Briefing devoted a whole edition to it back in March 1995 – #152)
One keen young man told me he’d keep going to the Toronto-style meetings, until “something happened to him”, because “they had the fast track to spirituality, and we only had the mundane work of the Spirit.”
I took him aside, and pointed him to a couple of young people washing up a big pile of dirty dishes following refreshments after church. I said, “How dare you dismiss this as mundane. That’s the profound work of the Spirit! They are not out talking with their friends and having fun, like everyone else; they’re getting their hands dirty, serving us.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law ~ Galatians 5:22-23.
Give me the mundane work of the Spirit any day!