Text of the Week: Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:27,26
Welcome to today’s services and a special welcome to any who are worshipping with us for the first time. We aim to be a Dementia Friendly Church. Today’s services take us on the next steps of the way towards reaching that goal. MHA (Methodist Homes for the Aged) suggest that a Dementia Friendly church would 1) accept and value people regardless of cognitive abilities, (2) ensure that the person who has dementia, and those who support them, are cared for through all the stages of the illness. (3) make sure that the person who has dementia, and their friends or family members, are both spiritually and pastorally supported and nurtured in order for them to enjoy being a part of a worshipping community in every sense. (4) be open to what people with dementia have to offer, look for strengths and abilities, then support and encourage the use of these gifts so that that they may participate in the community that is the body of Christ. The Alzheimer’s Society want as many people as possible to become a Dementia Friend. And today is an opportunity for everyone to sign up. A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. We’re going to watch two videos, share some reflections and then invite everyone to sign up as a Dementia Friend. It’s as simple as that! We very much hope you will!
You can see a recording of this morning's service by following this link. The service begins 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the video clip.
Welcome and Call to Worship
212 Morning has broken
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
The Tale of a Turnip
Reading: Luke 9:46-48
A Hy-Spirit Song
Activities for All over 3
Paul was writing of the Church when he wrote to the Corinthians about the body of Christ – every part of the body needs every other part of the body – and the seemingly unimportant parts of the body turn out to be the most important.
You can apply that to the Church today in all sorts of ways. Each one of us matters as we belong to church; each of us has a part to play, however, small we imagine our part is. Our Ministry Leaders and our Deacons have begun to reflect on what happens next after Felicity and I move on – and they are going to share some of those thoughts at the Church Meeting a week on Thursday. We are going to begin the New Year by inviting all our church mmbers to renew the commitment they made when they became a Church member – we would love all those who come to church to be a church member and so we will be welcoming people into church membmership at those first services of the year. The invitation is there for all who feel at home in the church family and share our very simple faith in God and in Jesus Christa s Lord and Saviour.
But those words of Paul challenge us in all sorts of ways in being a church family. They challenge us to value everyone and to recognize that everyone is just as important in the eyes of God as everyone else – from the youngest to the oldest and no matter who we are.
That conviction has prompted us to take steps towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Church. And that’s what we aim to do today.
I want to be very personal for a moment. My first encounter with dementia was when I was five or six – it’s one of those early fragments of childhood memory. My Grandma had come to stay and gone missing. My Dad found her at the top of the road. She was fine and had just been walking to the Clarence to catch a bus. All perfectly reasonable, except that we were living in Leicester and the Clarence was where she would catch the bus to get home from shopping in Pontypool in South Wales. At the time no one understood what dementia was or what caused it.
My next encounter was at college when our tutor shifted from being an eccentric Don to omitting to do all the things he should to ensure our course was delivered. He had dementia … but at the time no one understood what dementia was or what caused it and so no on could take appropriate action in response.
My next encounter was in the 1980’s in Pontesbury – the husband of one of our members had been a stalwart at the Parish church until he began to do strange things which had resulted in him being stripped of his office and then being asked not to come. At the time no one understood dementia or what caused it and so responded inappropriately to it. After his death I well remember his widow’s excitement when she showed me an article in a Sunday Paper about Alzheimer’s Disease – that’s him, she said to me. That’s what was wrong. That explains it!
Understanding made such a difference to her, albeit looking back.
As Felicity and I moved here Highbury was very involved indeed – and I was personally touched again. First an aunt and then a cousin of my father’s had dementia very badly and I was the only relative having to sort everything out. At that time the newly formed Alzheimer’s Society was made up of lots of local self-help groups. The Cheltenham branch met here at HIghbury. Each year for twelve years or so we hosted a service for World Alzheimer’s Day and had speakers who were leaders in the field of seeking understanding of Dementia. We had a memorial book and observed minutes silence for those who had died with dementia.
As the Alzheimer’s Society changed, there was no longer space for that kind of self-help group, other issues arose and the Alzheimer’s Society severed their links with us.
But in the last ten years we have continued to seek to support those with dementia in our church family and around – and to do that one of the key things we have done is to seek an understanding of the condition. Twice a year we have a Pastoral Care meeting and at a number of those sessions we have focused on Dementia to increase our awareness.
But now we want to go one step further. We want to become a Dementia Friendly Church. The Methodist Homes for the Aged, who run care homes rooted in a Christian ethos around the country – here in Brockworth one specializing in dementia care and in Long Eaton one general home where our own Eric Burton is.
They suggest a Dementia Friendly church would
- accept and value people regardless of cognitive abilities
- ensure that the person who has dementia, and those who support them, are cared for through all the stages of the illness.
- make sure that the person who has dementia, and their friends or family members, are both spiritually and pastorally supported and nurtured in order for them to enjoy being a part of a worshipping community in every sense.
- be open to what people with dementia have to offer, look for strengths and abilities, then support and encourage the use of these gifts so that that they may participate in the community that is the body of Christ.
It’s that fourth objective that takes us back to Paul and what he had to say to the church in Corinth. As you listen to these words, listen to them in the context of our seeking to become a Dementia Friendly Church.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink.
For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. If the foot were to say, “Because I am not a hand, I don't belong to the body,” that would not keep it from being a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, “Because I am not an eye, I don't belong to the body,” that would not keep it from being a part of the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how could it hear? And if it were only an ear, how could it smell? As it is, however, God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be. There would not be a body if it were all only one part! As it is, there are many parts but one body.
So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don't need you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “Well, I don't need you!” On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker; and those parts that we think aren't worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don't look very nice are treated with special modesty, which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honour to those parts that need it. And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness.
All of you are Christ's body, and each one is a part of it.
All of us are Christ’s body, and each one is part of it.
The Alzheimer’s Society want communities, shops, churches to become Dementia Friendly. To make that happen the Alzheimer’s Society want as many people as possible to become a Dementia Friend. And today is an opportunity for all of us here to sign up … and indeed for any of us sharing at home.
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. So we’re going to watch two videos, share some reflections and then invite everyone to sign up as a Dementia Friend. It’s as simple as that! We very much hope you will!
Understanding Dementia – a video
[To share the videos we are watching today with your church go to https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/ sign up as a Dementia Friend, register as an organization and you will be able to choose two videos to share with your church. This was the first, Understanding Dementia]
181 For the beauty of the earth
To me this hymn speaks of a love that encircles us all and a love that treasures each and every person for the person they are.
For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Christ our God, to you we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.
For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light:
For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and brain's delight,
for the mystic harmony
linking sense to sound and sight:
For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild:
For each perfect gift and sign
of your love so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917)
So, what is involved in becoming a Dementia Friend?
Becoming a Dementia Friend - a video
[The second video we showed was the last in the selection described above.]
It’s a simple idea.
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. Now we are going to invite everyone to sign up as a Dementia Friend. It’s as simple as that! We very much hope you will!
And there’s an invitation – on Wednesday 29th November at 2-30 we are having a short half hour service followed by tea and cakes and have invited friends from three or four care homes to come and join us – do join us if you can.
If church is about being the body of Christ where every single part of the body counts and is just as much treasured as every other part. Church is also about being friends together and friends with the greatest friend of all.
547 What a friend we have in Jesus
1 What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
what a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!
2 Have we trials and temptations,
is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
3 Are we weak and heavy-laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Jesus is our only refuge:
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
in his arms he'll take and shield you,
you will find a solace there.
Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1819-1886)
Prayers of Concern
153 Great is thy faithfulness
Words of Blessing
Music: Richard Sharpe and Hy-Spirit