Monday, May 29, 2006

What are Sunday afternoons for?

This is what I've spent most of my Sunday afternoons doing for the last 9 months. Services in old peoples homes. Its not glamourous, and its not usually very exciting, but it as taught me a lot about God and the desperateness of life withouth Him. Walking into the homes each week you get struck by the overwhelming heat and stench which is a gross mix of wee and maybe whatevers being cooked for tea. I always get the same kick in my stomach, a combination of feelings of 'here we go again' and 'what are we going to find this time, I hope no-ones died....' Homes are such depressing places, where people who've had hard lives (who hasn't..?) go to die. And so many people in there are just a shadow of the people they used to be. Tessa, the women on the left of the photo, tears up our 'hymn book' and tries to eat it, whilst in her louder moments, shouting and sometimes hitting, pulling and crushing your hand. But, on more placid occasions, she can be lovely, and I've seen joy on her face when she sees her daughters come to visit her. What was she like before? Yesterday, I spent quite some time talking to Daphne, whose 97 and whose daughter is in the home with her, in a a far worse off state than she is. How heartbreaking that must be for her. Homes are places that are full of pain. What can we offer, how can we identify? Well, the only thing we can offer is the gospel. Jesus Christ, God become human, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Jesus is the one who can identify with these people. He knows what loneliness is in a far greater sense than anyone else - abandoned by his earthly friends, and, far worse, abandoned by his Father. And because he was abandoned, we can have eternal hope. Finding Christian old people in homes is so refreshing, they have hope, they know where they're going. But heartbreakingly, they are in the minority. So many people have to deal with the day to day depressing reality of Homes, without knowing their Creator and Friend, without knowing eternal sercurity. So we go on, preaching, and loving, and praying, and although we've seen little outward fruit so far, who knows whats going on insdie people who can't communicate, who knows what changes of eternal signifcance may be taking place.


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