Key Word:- OBEY
Title:- Eden & Evangelism
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins…..
I have a ministered in a few homes for the elderly, visiting the sick and aged and conducting church services. Christian or otherwise and despite the care and attention of staff, these ‘homes’ have often been difficult and unpleasant smelling institutions. Helplessness, hopelessness, boredom and loneliness seemed to be the norm but NO MORE! The 'Eden Alternative'™ is an organisation that seems to be remaking the experience of ageing, dementia and disability. It seeks to improve people's quality of life by forming coalitions committed to creating better social, physical and enlivened environments that minister to the whole person.
I visited an Episcopalian ‘Memory Care Centre’ for those with differing levels of Alzheimer’s and dementia, which was applying these ‘Eden Alternative’ principles. The magnificent and spacious buildings, the kind caring and positive staff, beauty salon, gift and flower shop, spa’s, indoor aviaries, cats, dogs, visiting children, ice cream soda fountain shop, self service kitchens, restaurant areas, themed areas, pictures, front porches, gardens, and a whole lot more besides, made this secure unit a most welcoming little town! For that is what it was. The unit itself is divided into neighbourhoods where the residents at different stages of dementia live and grow and are cared for. The quality of care and life is substantial. The smell was gone! I was told of one lady, who as her dementia progressed, did not like to bathe as she needed help and found it embarrassing. They enticed her into cleanliness by laying out alongside the beautiful bath, candles, crackers cheese and wine; all her favourite foods. It worked!
Proclamation is not dead, neither is it an old tool to be laid aside but rather, it remains God’s means of declaring good news! However, proclamation must recover the full power of its all encompassing voice and speak to the body the soul and the spirit, to communities, to social justice, to poverty, to environment, to care, to art and even to the animal kingdom. Proclamation must learn how to be enticing wine, cheese and crackers, laid out alongside a sparkling bath, to a desperate lost and lonely, unclean, smelly, old insane and demented world.
Friends, let us the church, learn to embrace those created in God’s image in winsomely deep, new and innovative, touching ways, gently speaking to people with consistent care and felt tenderness. So shall we begin to be the body of Christ in this poor world. So shall we begin to truly proclaim the gospel and in all our social proclamation, may it become the means for verbal proclamation that people might be saved. Amen.
Listen:- She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor….. Proverbs 31:14-20a
Pray: - Full voices Lord, full and strong. Grant to Your church full and strong voices today, amen and amen.