John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I was just about to sink into the relaxed quiet at the end of a busy day when the telephone rang. It was a nurse calling from the local nursing home. She explained that one of the residents was near death and that her family was asking for a minister to come and pray with them. Off I went.
The woman lay on a bed in the semi-darkness of her room. Eyes closed, her frail chest rose and fell with each dry, raspy breath. In the encircling shadows, an upholstered chair, a wooden table, a small television, an assortment of photographs and cards, served as silent reminders of 82 years on this planet.
On one side of the bed stood the daughter, lovingly holding her mother's hand. On the other side stood the son, periodically stroking his mother's white, wispy hair. For a few minutes we chatted about their mother's life and of her approaching death. Then, forming a ring of held hands, I offered a quiet prayer.
Immediately, spontaneously, both son and daughter literally breathed a sigh of relief and could not tell me enough how they felt a calming peace in the room and in their hearts. I was actually taken aback by the extravagance of the gratitude. I assured them that whatever peace they felt was the spirit of Christ at work in them.
Within a few hours the old woman died – peacefully. Two days later I conducted a memorial service attended by six family members and one close friend.
Though having confessed that they had drifted from the church, this family reached out to God in a moment of fear and sorrow. And they were blessed with peace.
Prayer: God of peace, our days are often afflicted by fear, uncertainty, anxiety and stress. Help us to reach out to you in prayer. Help us to be open to the loving support of those you place in our lives. Touch us with promised peace that is beyond human comprehension. In the name of our saviour we pray. Amen.