On our way out of town that Sunday morning, we decided to stop at the nursing home to say goodbye to my mom before we headed back. When we got there, she was in the activity room folding bibs and towels. “Wow, Mom, ” I said. “You’re dressed up.” She was wearing a summer dress, flowing and colorful, in sharp contrast to her fl esh-colored support hose and sensible white tennis shoes.
She smiled. “Church starts soon. Right here.” She pointed at the large television on the south wall. We visited a bit, but Mom was distracted. She watched the clock carefully, and right at 8:55 grabbed her walker and headed to her room. “I’m going to get ready for church. I will be right back.” When she came back, a bit of my childhood slipped back into place. A practical farm wife, Mom seldom wore makeup, but Sunday morning was the time for rouge. She still calls it that; blush is what happens when one is embarrassed. She had applied a bit of rouge and red lipstick. In her hand, she clutched a beaded purse, not her usual black leather one. Her well-worn Bible, fi lled with clippings and notes, sat precariously on her walker. She set her walker aside and took hold of a dining chair. She pushed it right in front of the television and sat down. Lowering her voice, she said, “Shirley will be here soon with the DVD. She brings me the video of last week’s services. I watch both the morning and the evening service. She takes my off ering.” She reached for her Bible and sat expectantly.
We didn’t stay, but the picture of Mom sitting by herself in the activity room waiting for church has remained with me. Church, no matter how it is done, has always been a priority for her. Worship was worth a bit of color, a dress, an off ering, a sending us on our way so she could do what mattered most. I thought of the times I welcomed a bit of snow so I could miss church without guilt or relished “church of the great outdoors” when vacationing. My habits were quickly dissolved. Mom still loved worship. The form did not matter to her. She wanted to be ready, and it was worth the extra work and extra preparation. She has often told me openly, “I am ready. I know where I am going.”
But for Mom, Christ has not come, and until he comes and takes her home, she is going to take 1 Timothy 4:13 seriously: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” At 94, it is her unbreakable habit. I am humbled by her and wonder if my daughters will notice any habits of mine one day that show my love for God and worship.