Monday, June 27, 2016

Taking Worship to Those Who Cannot Come to Us: The Convalescent Home

Yesterday, a group of people from my church went to a convalescent home in Aventura, about 10 miles away from our church.  This convalescent home had gone for 6 months without anyone coming to lead worship services.  So yesterday at 1:30, 6 people went over to pitch in.

I was not among them, but I got to hear about it during our Sunday night fellowship.  The group had to consider many things I might not have thought about.  For example, I was fairly sure that the worship should be ecumenical, but I hadn't thought about some of the logistics of offering Communion--and I'm not talking about possible theological differences.  Some of the patients had problems swallowing, so communion would have been difficult.

Many of the patients had suffered strokes, so even having them participate in the prayers might have been problematic--could they speak?  could they make themselves understood?  did that matter?

From what our team could tell, singing was the activity that was best for the patients.  Our musicians who went along are not like my mom, who can play anything in any key without music.  Our musicians needed music, and so they played what they had brought. 

We are likely to go back, so we strategized about how to best care for these patients:  take song requests in advance?  have a worker in the home write down prayers?

And the larger issue:  who will provide these services when we can't?  Right now, we are going once a month, and they invited us to come twice.  During the summer, when many of our members have time off from their public school jobs, we might be able to do that, but once the school year starts, that will begin to feel like too much, unless we rotate teams.

But the larger issue:  why were we the only church who said yes?  Our pastor told us that the convalescent home had tried a scattershot approach to finding someone/a group to lead worship:  calling every church listed in the yellow pages.  Our church was the only one to call back and say yes.  And we're Trinity Lutheran, not All Saints Lutheran--we're at the end of the list.

In my grandmother's smallish South Carolina town, they'd have never had this problem.  Churches would have fought for the opportunity to go to lead worship.  I suspect, however, that as in many issues, South Florida is an early outlier here too.

One of the things we talked about was how to include other area Lutheran churches in this ministry.  Hopefully, as in the past, when one of us leads, some others will follow.

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