Living Saints Forgotten

January 20, 2015

Stephen Ammons | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Darrouzett, TX

I would like to introduce someone to you all. Her name is Palma. Ms. Palma is a charter member of our church here in the Texas panhandle. She is a great 94 years young. She, along with several other ladies, decided that when the church built the new sanctuary, they would make the stained glass. These ladies hand made all the stained glass and did a masterful job. Their legacy is forever etched into the building of our church. When I started as Pastor here I went to visit Ms. Palma. She is a wonderful lady who loves to laugh. She lives in an assisted living facility in Perryton, TX, a good 30 minute drive from Darrouzett.

I introduce her to you all to show you that this wonderful lady, though advanced in her years, is an important part of our church. There are many elderly people from our churches all over this country that have left a wonderful legacy of faith, only they cannot attend as often because of failing health or some other reason. The only reason Ms. Palma is in assisted living is due to her eyesight failing. As we all know these are wonderful people. I enjoy, and I know many of you all do as well, my weekly visits to Ms. Palma and our other ladies living in such places. However one day I realized we have done them all a disservice. We have neglected them in a great way.

In our church, every quarter, we partake of the Lord’s Supper (communion). This is a great time of worship and remembrance. To me this time is a time of reflection, remembrance, and worship. We remember the physical death of Christ on the cross, we reflect on the salvation we received because of our belief and faith in Christ who died on that cross, and we worship the King who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to make that great sacrifice. As a Church we spend much time in prayer before and during the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. We prepare our hearts for this worship of our God. We make sure that we are all following the guidelines for partaking of this Supper. We ask that all who partake are believers in Christ Jesus. We ask that they have made a public profession of faith through baptism. We check our hearts to be sure there is no unconfessed sin and that we have no contention with another. Then we partake. This is a great form of worship to God and to Jesus Christ. We are called to remember this as often as we partake, until they day the Lord returns (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Yet these sweet people who have had to be taken from our fellowship and placed in assisted living, they do not get to partake in this worship. For some reason Baptists have neglected these and have not allowed them to partake. I do not believe we have purposefully set out to do this. I think that as Pastors, we have just not thought about it. The first time that I led our church in the Lord’s Supper, I realized this. I spent some time praying about it and consulting Scripture. I found nowhere in the Word of God that says they could not partake. If they are aware of what they are doing, if they have the ability to understand and search their own heart, there is no reason why they cannot partake. I do realize there are some who have declined in health so much that this would not be possible. I have made it my policy for those in these facilities that I would only offer the Lord’s Supper to church members who are able to understand what is going on and what they are doing. If they do not understand this, it could cause them to inadvertently take the Lord’s Supper while in sin.

These wonderful ladies that I offer the Lord’s Supper to have been so happy that I have brought it to them. They say that it makes them feel as if they are still apart of the church. They feel that they are still important and still wanted. So often those taken to assisted living or nursing facilities are forgotten by both their family and their church. Pastors if you do not visit your members that are in these facilities I urge you to start. It warms their hearts and mine. It makes them feel that they are still a part of the kingdom of God and His Kingdom work. If you do visit them regularly, then when you offer the Lord’s Supper to your church, take it to those who are unable to participate because of health. I purchased a Lord’s Supper kit from LifeWay for only $20. They are not expensive. This will mean so much to these saints. They have lived a long life and have served God well. The only thing keeping them from worshiping God through remembrance in partaking of the Lord’s Supper…is you.

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doug sayers

A hearty Bible thumping “amen” to this one Stephen. The head count at the finish line is far more meaningful than the number who appear at the starting line.

When we marginalize the Lord’s Supper we marginalize the cross. It has been said that we have God’s word in all places and in the Lord’s Supper we have His kiss.

Thanks for this one.

    Stephen ammons

    Thank you sir.

Rick Patrick

Well done, Stephen. By the way, I spent some time in Perryton, Texas, when I served the First Baptist Church in nearby Spearman, Texas, in the late 1990’s. (In fact, I survived Y2K there.) Wide open spaces, plenty of sunshine and great, down to earth people. I remember it fondly. Blessings to you as you serve in Darrouzett.

    Stephen ammons

    Thank you sir. We love it up here. Love the open spaces the lack of trees…BTW I too survived Y2K, but I was in high school. (Sorry about that just couldn’t resist)

Max

Brother Ammons, thank you for reminding us all not to forget our Senior Saints. While several churches in my area send preachers and teachers to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, I’m not aware of any that offer communion. You have flagged a great need and posed an appropriate challenge to SBC pastors in this regard.

On a lighter note … as someone who, himself, is a seasoned veteran of life … I have appreciated the wit and wisdom offered by our senior members. On one occasion, a nursing home resident welcomed me by saying “We are all here, because we are not all there!” His greeting broke the ice and opened up a good conversation. On another occasion, I asked an elderly lady to tell me what her church experience was like and what changes she had observed over her lifetime. She shared “Young man, things started going South in church when we surrendered the pulpit to pretty boy seminary graduates in three-piece suits!” And one of my favorite lines from the lips of a dear old Saint … after a contentious business meeting with much weeping and gnashing of teeth, he departed the church saying “That’s why you don’t give the devil the microphone!” Yep, Senior Saints still have a lot to offer. Our churches need the energy of youth coupled with the wisdom of age … young folks to speed things up and old folks to slow things down. Those who are home-bound or in nursing facilities should never be forgotten. Jesus knows their names – we should, too.

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