When a skeptical preacher asked a pretentious
question: “What could be better in life than seeking a great
faith?” the elderly lady in the front pew gave the obvious answer,
“Why, finding it, of course!”
I preached my first sermon
almost twenty years ago as a lay person. That sermon was not
preached in the pulpit of a church, it was delivered in the dining
room at Harlee Manor in Springfield.
I naively had volunteered to lead worship at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon.
Preaching in a nursing home is not easy. Barbara Brown Taylor
is one of the most highly respected preachers and teachers in the
Episcopal Church today, and she confessed that it is one of her least
favorite tasks. I remember how the pastor of my own church told
me that if you can preach in a nursing home, you can preach
anywhere. I’m not sure he fully appreciated how true those
My experience was awfully
similar to that of Rev. Taylor. She talks about how most of the
residents in her local nursing home were strapped into their
wheelchairs staring unresponsively at the television…half of them
asleep through the entire 20 minute service. When she tried to
serve communion, some looked at her as if she were a mugger.
One particular day, a woman sang, “Row, row, row your boat” out loud
while Taylor was reciting the liturgy. Taylor with her arms
raised over the bread and cup, said she felt as if she might as well
be flying a kite.
One day, in an attempt to
get their attention, she stopped, clapped her hands, and shouted,
“What shall I read from the Bible today? What would you like to
hear?” The commotion settled down just long enough for one
frail voice to be heard through the noise: “Tell us a resurrection
story.” Suddenly the fitful congregation became silent.
Another voice repeated the request, “Yes, tell us a resurrection
story.” Read more...