This week my church inaugurates our Love Your Neighbor ministry with our first outreach to the elderly folks in the surrounding neighborhood of Park Street Church. Thanks to one of our dynamic lay leaders, Angie, we will be providing companionship to local nursing home residents during Saturday morning Bingo. Their activities director is delighted to have guests in to offer much needed community.
I witnessed first hand what a lonely experience institutionalized care can be. Six months before my mom died, she was shuffled between rehab centers, hospitals, and nursing homes. As I struggled to find her quality nursing and physical therapy, she emphatically stated her number one priority. “I want to be close enough to my friends so they will come and visit me.”
Even though I was able to facilitate this proximity to her girlfriends, her days away from the home she loved broke her heart. Mom’s needs that fell on my shoulders were stressful and difficult to manage.
In retrospect, I am grateful that I had the time, resources, and good health to be available to my Mom. I value the time we spent, even in the most unpleasant circumstances.
On his way to a business trip today, my husband is stopping at his Mom’s house for dinner and conversation. Jim will mow the lawn and check out what other household issues might need attention. I know his Mom is forever thankful. Jim serves his Mom out of love and the call to serve.
I am acutely aware that these three scenarios I described above are what Jesus values: serving others.
Pastor Nate brought this point to life in Sunday’s sermon on the parable of the servant in Luke 17:7-10. Rhetorical questions are asked by the master regarding his servant. Why does a servant serve?
Is it for reward, for a thank you note, for what we can get?
Of course not! The master proclaims.
Nate preached straight up what the parable taught. We serve because that’s our duty, as scripture says. It’s our job. As servants of the Lord, this is our act of obedience.
No strings attached.
You might have noticed a secondary theme emerging from my thoughts on serving: availability. Our church community is making themselves available on a Saturday morning to play Bingo with the elderly. I was available to my Mom in her struggle to heal. Jim is available to his Mom on weekends when she is sitting home alone.
In times of self-absorption, I have neglected the simple act of being present. My unavailability brings sincere regret. But his mercies are made new every morning and availability is a choice I can make today.
Sunday’s sermon delivered many take aways and challenges for us to put into practice. One directive from Pastor Nate particularly speaks to me about choosing a life of serving.
“Put Christ’s command above our own.”
That says it all for me.
My particular act of service this weekend was to provide food for Jim and his Mom. I sent homemade soup from my freezer and a freshly baked applesauce bread. I hope they like it! I’ve included the recipe for Applesauce Bread and link to the soup recipe, Tex Mex Veggie Soup. I also sent an Italian Cabbage Soup, but haven’t written out that recipe yet. I make up recipes as I go, so I probably will forget it soon!
A little note about this recipe~ I’m trying to pare down my food items before we move to our new home. Using what I have in my pantry, I decided to mix two different flours with some spices that go well applesauce. I had one carrot left and one tablespoon of flax seed in the fridge, so those got thrown in. This quick bread turned out moist and quite tasty! I got the idea for adding in milk and coconut oil from another recipe. I just guessed on the amount of spices with a nod to what I like.
1 1/4 cups homemade freezer applesauce (or fresh if on hand)
1/2 cup solid coconut oil
1 cup sucanant (or organic evaporated can juice crystals of your choice)
3 tbsps. milk
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 tbsp. ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups einkorn flour
1/2 cup organic white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
Of course I needed to have a slice before this bread left my house!
- Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, place coconut oil and frozen applesauce. Defrost on the auto defrost setting of your microwave until coconut oil is liquified and applesauce is smooth.
- Add in sucanant, eggs, milk, carrot, and flax seed. Mix well.
- Sift in both flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.
- Stir just until smooth. Pour into loaf pan.
- Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Warm, spicy applesauce bread all wrapped up and ready to go!