For the last few years Mike, a member of our church, has been living in a nursing home. I have written about him and his wife Jo before. It seems like every time I spend time with either of them, God shows up in some very noticeable way.
My last visit was no exception.
Mike’s roommate is Mr. Molina. It is not clear what his age is. I have never seen him with a visitor. Jo told me that he used to be some kind of federal agent. He has advanced dementia. He cannot speak and has to be fed and changed like a baby.
Normally when I visit Mike, Mr. Molina turns over in bed so that his back faces us. When I pray with Mike and Jo, we also include him in our prayers. I have no idea what he hears and recognizes.
Before I leave I always try to say a few words to him and offer a blessing of some sort. He has never given me any sign that he sees me or hears me—not at least until this last visit.
I brought bread and wine to serve communion to Mike and Jo, as they both missed the last service. As I walked into the room, Jo and Mike greeted me with their normal smiles and greetings.
I looked across the room and there was Mr. Molina looking at me for the first time. His eyes seemed to be greeting me though he could speak no words. He looked like he knew me.
I asked Mike how he was doing. He was fine and glad to see me. I looked across the room and Mr. Molina was still looking at me. His eyes were locked on me.
I read the scripture for the week, Mark 9:33-37. The last two verses are “Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’”
I gave the invitation to the meal. “It is the Lord’s Supper and he is the one who invites us.” I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and asked for grace. We said “Amen”. Mr. Molina was still looking and seemed very much like he wanted to join us.
I broke the bread, a bit of pita, and poured a small amount of wine in the little, holy shot glasses. Mike always says the same thing with a slight smile, “That’s real wine.” It is the only wine he ever gets to have any more.
I served Mike and Jo and then asked Mr. Molina if he would receive the sacrament. I knew that he could not eat and drink with us or even answer me, so I got close to him and held it out to him and pronounced “This is the body of Christ broken for us.” I ate the bread for him. “This is the blood of Christ shed for us.” I drank the wine for him.
He opened his mouth and made a sound like he was clearing his throat. He almost looked like he would weep.
Jo, Mike and I said the Lord’s Prayer together with Mr. Molina looking our way all the time.
Jo looked over at her husband, swaddled in his bed, and looked backed at me with tears and said, “I know what that scripture means.” She backed up in her chair a little so that Mike could not see her and she pointed him.
I looked over to Mr. Molina, still looking intently at me. I knew what it meant as well.
It is good to be welcome.