One of the special joys of ministry in this place is that having coffee with nonagenarians is part of my job. There are two ladies I visit regularly–one 93, the other 98–who never fail to make my day. We visit, we drink the hottest coffee it is possible to drink, we laugh, we cry, we pray, we share communion.
It might not sound like much. But it means a lot to these ladies, and it means a lot to me.
I spend a surprising amount of time at the end of each visit trying to convince them of this last thing–that, yes, really, I am happy to visit them. I am happy to drink their coffee, listen to their stories, and share God’s word and God’s body and blood with them.
I love having communion on Sunday mornings with a big group (or a small group) of people. That’s how we’re supposed to have it, of course–communion, community, gathered together to receive Christ’s body so we can be Christ’s body in the world. But sometimes, when bodies are too broken to be part of that assembly–when they’re in the hospital with pneumonia, or recovering from surgery, or just too old or too sick to be out and about–the bread and wine and pastor come to them.
And guess what? Jesus comes, too. In those wafers, in that wine, in those familiar prayers, Jesus is there. He is there, loving these women, and they know it.
Before I left for my Journey of Renewal retreat, I made a quick hospital visit to one of these women. We chatted for a while and then we shared communion. At the end, I lifted my hands and gave the Aaronic Blessing. And I don’t know exactly how to describe it, so I will reach for the italics and just say that this woman received it. She sat there in her hospital gown, holding the packet of hot cocoa she was saving for the morning, looked right at me, and smiled a peaceful, confident smile.
That blessing was for her, and she knew it.