About a week before Easter, I got a call from a woman at church, letting me know she had put together an extra individual communion kit. Could I make sure it got on the altar on Sunday? There were two women from the church who said they would like to take communion to a third woman, a friend of theirs who had become shut in recently, and was experiencing memory loss.
We have lay communion ministers, who go out to shuts once a month. They are sent out usually on the second Sunday of the month with their kits and the prayers of the congregation. They have been trained for this ministry. There is always a sheet of paper in their kit, so they know the order of service. They also bring a bulletin from church. But they also bring themselves. It is their presence that is so important; it is not just the pastor that remembers them.
Myself, I love visiting shut-ins. But we have 50 or 60 shut ins are our church. We can't do this ministry ourselves. And I do believe that the ministry of the whole community is important. We have just a handful of communion ministers, but they are good at what they do. I have heard some of the stories of what happens when they visit. They bring many kinds of bread.
So I put the communion kit on the table for the two women to take to their friend. One of the women used to be one of our communion ministers, but she recently had decided that she couldn't do it any more. She doesn't see well enough to drive any more. It was too hard for her, although she enjoyed it. The second woman said she could drive. The third woman is their friend.
Later at church, one of the women told me that the arrangement works in so many ways. "I get to minister to my friend. I receive ministry from the driver. Each one of us gives and receives ministry."
The church was full on Easter Sunday. It was amazing. Two services, lots of people, loud voices. It is the same every Easter, but it still amazes me, somehow.
Then, a few days later, I ran into a woman from my congregation. She was out shopping, and she stopped me to gush about the Easter crowds.
"Just think about what the church could do if the church was that full every Sunday!"
I know this woman pretty well, and I don't think she was talking in a theocratic way, about the church lording it over people. Instead, she may have thinking about all of the wounds we could bind up, all of the hungry we could feed, all of the homeless we could house, all of the vulnerable for whom we could speak up, all of the weak we could empower.
And each of us gives and receives ministry. Because each one of us is strong, and needs to be lifted up, each one of us has bread, and is hungry, each one of us has gifts, and is wounded.