Sunday, September 21, 2008

Senior Adult Ministry

I enjoyed the opportunity of preaching this morning at both of our services—probably a total crowd of 650-700 people I suspect. Our senior pastor has been doing a series on “Listening to James” and asked me to continue that by preaching from the text of James 2:1-13. I entitled the message “The Perils of Partiality.” I shared as an introduction the account of Rev. Derek Rigby, a Methodist minister in Northern Wales, who decided to conduct an experiment with his congregation to teach them about acceptance of others. The story about his disguising himself as an indigent person and the results of that experiment are told here. The photos of Rev. Rigby as an indigent person and in his normal clerical garb also appear.

We looked at James’ teaching about the need to not show partiality or favoritism in judging others, especially based on their appearance, wealth, etc. I mentioned that God isn’t one who plays favorites, citing the lesson that Peter learned in his encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10, especially his statements in vv. 34-35.

The other thing that I shared that really impacted me as I was preparing the message was a story that appeared in World magazine by Tony Woodlief, entitled “Missing Christ.” It’s a powerful piece and very convicting. It’s definitely worth reading. Here’s the link to the article.

As much as I enjoyed preaching in both morning services today, I was equally thrilled or perhaps even more so this afternoon when I went to one of the local nursing homes that I visit regularly and where I lead services on the third Sunday of each month. The crowd was obviously much smaller—about 20 or 25 I suspect, including one lady who will turn 102 next month if the Lord allows her to live until then. We always sing their favorite hymns from a large-print edition collection of hymns and then I share a brief message—usually not more than 15 minutes as at 3:00 in the afternoon, they tend to drift off to sleep if I speak longer than that. Some do so anyway, but that’s okay. I really love these folks and have become something of a pastor to many of them, including dropping by to visit them in the rooms and have prayer together at other times as well. Senior adult ministry is certainly a rewarding ministry for me—not just the 200 or so who regularly attend our services, but the homebound and those in nursing homes like the one I shared at today. Their kind words, encouragement, and appreciation for the visits and Bible studies means a lot.

2 comments:

John Notestein said...

I just wanted you to know that I was blessed by your sermon yesterday. While it was certainly not the first time I had heard that teaching, it is always good to hear it again. Our church in Myrtle Beach in the mid '80s did something similar to your illustration and had a man dressed up very dirty and smelly who came into our evening service. While the deacons met with him and tried to help, I can remember thinking how our of place he seemed in a sanctuary where all the other men were wearing coats and ties and the whole congregation was singing praises to God.

The more I've grown, however, the farther it seems I have to go. I've read that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in our country, not only in race but in socio-econonmic status and in just about any other cateories you might want to add. We become so accustomed to seeing it every week that we sometimes would feel strange asking someone to come with us unless they 'fit the mold'.

Even though it's hard, my desire is to love the Lord with all my heart. It can be quite a task to love my neighbor as myself. It is even harder to love and pray for my enemies. We need to be reminded that God loves those who are not like us or even liked by us. I feel like a such spoiled kid sometimes! Thankfully God's grace is greater than all our sin, and he is not finished with me yet!

Anyway thanks for reminding us.

Gary Snowden said...

John,

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. I appreciate your kind words. I have to confess that the message was a difficult one to preach because I found myself convicted by it at many points. Ministry to "the least of these" is never easy and always challenging.