She recalled the countless hours of faithful service spanning eight decades—remembering numerous and varied activities she had engaged in for her church and community.
I sensed her sadness, her seeming loss of independence, but also the vanishing of that portion of her life which she loved and found fulfilling.
She blurted her question, “I am only a shut-in, what can I do for the church?”
“Shut-ins can do a great deal,” was my resounding response.
Shut-ins can stay in touch with God
The humorous retort, “If you do not feel close to God, ask yourself, ‘Who moved?’” speaks volumes about our relationship with God.
Like other relationships, it must be nurtured to grow. Being a shut-in does not preclude opportunities to become more intimate with God.
You can deepen this relationship by spending time with God throughout the day, by reliving life’s experiences or just enjoying being with the Lord.
The internet provides opportunities for reading, reflecting and exchanging opinions and feelings.
Reading the Bible, supplemented by other writings, can also open up or renew avenues bringing us closer to God.
Shut-ins can stay in touch with others
Various levels of the church provide many possibilities for people to keep in touch with one another.
Newsletters, bulletins and websites all play a vital role in keeping people informed and connected.
Telephones, email and other social media create hubs of communication for individuals unable to venture beyond their own residence.
Shut-ins can be the eyes and ears of others, and the conduit through which updates and requests are communicated to the pastoral teams for their response and action.
Shut-ins can be stewards of their time, talent and treasure
Many people who travel frequently or who are unable to attend worship regularly make other arrangements to ensure their stewardship obligations are fulfilled. They do this knowing that the church continues her mission even when they are absent and they want to participate constantly. Shut-ins can do the same.
Contributing our time, talent and treasure enables the parish, diocese and worldwide church to fulfill their commission to spread Jesus’ Gospel.
Time can be employed in many ways as described above.
Our talents can be utilized even when we are confined geographically.
One Monday morning, a woman delivered flowers to a shut-in at a seniors’ complex. She asked what was new at the church. The visitor told her about the needlepoint project to have the word “peace” stitched in 40 different languages on the kneelers in the Peace Chapel. “I do needlepoint!” she exclaimed, “I could do some.” Over the ensuing months she completed three kneelers, and friends brought her to the special worship when the dedication of the kneelers and the chapel took place.
Treasures come in many forms to help the church in its mission to all God’s people. Financial contributions can be given directly, through special appeals or as preauthorized payments. You can also ensure your church mission continues by leaving a legacy in your will.
Your treasured possessions can also be earmarked or given to enable the church to continue the ministry and mission God has given us to accomplish. For example, a man bequeathed a valuable painting, a woman donated her beloved sports car and a family provided a houseful of furniture to help refugees begin a new life in Canada.
Indeed, shut-ins can do more for the church than they can imagine.
Editor Hollis Hiscock encourages shut-ins to write about what they do and share their stories through the Niagara Anglican.