Amazing GraceThere is an Alzheimer’s/memory care facility in our community.  My husband and I were invited to offer a brief, weekly service.  Nothing fancy – just a short devotion and lead the residents in some of the old, familiar hymns.  I must admit, when we began this ministry, we were nervous.   We questioned whether they would understand the devotion being offered, or even care.  Would they sing?  Could they sing?  Would they even show up?  Shame on us for doubting!

It is during these little “services” that we see God’s grace really kick into action. At the mention of Jesus’ name many faces light up — because they know who Jesus is.  I hear an occasional “amen” in response to the devotion my husband shares.  Residents who usually have nothing to say sing “Amazing Grace” at the top of their lungs – and they know all the words!  Others follow the words in the songbooks we provide for them, or tap their hands or feet to the time; others just lift their heads and smile, or sway to the rhythm of the music.  One resident even sings harmony!  After the service, as we are collecting the songbooks, some who looked like they weren’t paying attention or seemed not to be involved at all will tell us how much they enjoyed those old songs.    I’ve read articles about the stimulating effect music has on patients with varying kinds of mental disabilities such as Alzheimer’s and autism.  Actually seeing it is truly amazing and a tremendous blessing.  But my greatest affirmation came as I walked down the hallway one day and a resident reminded me, “Jesus is with us.”

I’ve grown quite fond of these children of God.  They all have a story to tell, but the one consistent story they tell is of the amazing grace of Jesus.  This horrible disease may take away what and who they know, but it can’t take away who and whose they are.  They still know they belong to Jesus.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matt. 5:3,8 NIV)