Faith Formation Across the (?) Lifespan (?)

I heard a true story today of a person entering into The Third Age (over 50). This person lays flat all day and needs assistance to roll over, eat, toilet….actually needs assistance for everything. This person can only communicate with grunts and noises with an occassional expression of the eyes or a small movement of the hand. As I heard the story I also heard how someone who cared, came into this person’s life, offered conversation, offered recognition and then offered prayer. The person who laid there found ways to communicate deep appreciation.

We need to define lifespan; thus the “?” marks. If it is right up until the moment of death, which I believe it is, we need to rethink our approach and our understanding. When I think of the person who lies there or the person in the last moments of life on this earth, it makes me wonder about how we do faith nurture. How does one support and nurture the faith of the one who lays there? The Holy Spirit is present, and, yet, the person cannot respond. How do we help this individual in their faith journey? How do we help this person find comfort in the God who is present? How do we help this person pray and worship? When we talk faith formation across the lifespan, how do we apply that concept in this situation?

My fear is that maybe we don’t do any of these things because we think that this person is done with life….and, yet, the person is breathing and interacting with the environment, even if only with the eyes. I hope that someone in this person’s life reads the Scriptures with them and prays with them and talks with them and sings hymns with them. I hope we don’t give up. I hope and pray that we validate this person’s life and recognize the dignity of creation. I hope and pray that we celebrate the human connection and then allow the Holy Spirit to seal the spiritual connection.

It makes me wonder how congregations serve this person. Wouldn’t it be great if individuals helped out families and someone would read books………read Scripture……..read the newspaper……….pray…….laugh……watch TV….and help this person remain in the mainstream of life? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful ministry. Wouldn’t it be great if someone gave this person a hand massage or a foot massage in the style of Jesus?

What ministries do you see in operation for this person? How do we help recruit and equip people for ministry to this type of person? This person is still a part of the family of God……..I would love to hear how you see that being a lived reality.

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