Today was bitterly cold outside. So cold in fact that they cancelled school. And I cancelled church activities. You just didn’t want to go outside unless you had to. I’m not being a wuss – I’m talking record setting all time lows here – you would get frostbite in 7 minutes in this weather.
I have never been in weather that was quite this cold before. And I didn’t really feel all that prepared for it. At least not footware wise.
The one trip I did make out of doors was to the nursing home for my monthly worship service there. And of course, I wore my cute little ankle boots with the pointed toe and heel…. but with fuzzy warm hot pink socks on underneath. I need a pair of uggs, or at least really warm boots, or something.
I really enjoy worshipping at the nursing home. I almost always share communion with them, and found that I am the only one who brings communion to their community worship. The Catholics have a separate mass, and the other denominations are more exclusive about who is welcome at the table. So, it is a joy to be able to walk around the room and share the bread of heave and the cup of salvation with these dear old folk.
Today, however, I largely used the service from the previous Sunday in church, and so we remembered our baptisms. I had a basin of water and invited them to dip their fingers in and remember that God loves them and has called them each by name. As I came to one woman, she said with joy, “I was baptized in the Iowa River!” Of course, there was the other woman who had fallen asleep and was gently nudged by her neighbor when I showed up with the bowl, but that is pretty typical with this group.
This congregation is largely women – in fact, I think there was only one man in worship today. His name is Bill and he is a beloved old member of my congregation. He was a farmer and milked cows by hand for 60+ years, which has caused his fingers to literally freeze up all curled together from the arthritis. I think about my dad and what he will be like at the age of 97 if he lives that long, and I see much the same type of body. A hard worker whose body has long ago worn out.
There was one woman in particular that I sat with after worship today. Her name is grace and all throughout the service, she asked who was going to take her home. At the end I had a chance to chat and she really wanted to know why she had gone outside in this weather and who was going to come and get her and take her home. I told her gently that this is her home now, this is where she belongs and there are wonderful people who are here to take care of her.
Partly it was her dementia, but partly, don’t we all want someone to take us home? To take us back to that place of comfort and rest and belonging that we know so dear? And aren’t there all of those songs that tell us we are just waiting to be rescued and taken to our eternal home?
We sing a lot of those songs in worship at the nursing home. “I’ll Fly Away.” “In the Garden.” And I think what is hard for even us to understand is that THIS is our home. This is where we are meant to be right now. And we too, have to get used to this place, to find our place here, and figure out how we can be at home among one another.