I just got back from visiting my parents in Texas.  My uncle died recently and my brothers and I came home to help Mom and Dad clean out his house.  It was a really special time of togetherness, reminiscing and productivity.  I was struck, afresh, by the “ties that bind” from generation to generation, and felt deeply the love each has handed down to the next.  Our family has been richly blessed.  

My family has always been very cognizant and respectful of the  elderly.  My dad’s family was surrounded by older folks because my grandfather was 60 when my dad was born…the kids were raised to revere their elders and it was passed down to us.  So, it was no surprise to me when my parents became involved with a nursing home ministry, although I didn’t realize they’d been at it for 11 years.  In all that time, I had never gone with them to share in what they do each week; but this visit, I did.  
Every Sunday afternoon, my mother gathers their “flock”, stroking thinning heads of hair, gently putting her ear up to their mouths so she can understand what they are saying, holding their hands or buttoning their robes for their dignity’s sake. She wheels them down to the nursing home chapel, where my dad delivers a message of hope and another man leads them all in song.  It was extraordinary.  
You know, I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not a lover of nursing homes.  Oftentimes, they smell. It’s not just a mixture of “eau de hospital” or “cologne de human waste”…it’s really a smell of fear and loss.  I think most of us don’t like to be there because it’s a stark reminder of our own mortality.  We’re afraid that we might be put in there someday, locked away and forgotten. Certainly, some of these sweet people have families that visit and love them.  But, for many, it’s a lonely, uncertain way to spend their last years. 
In spite of this, what I saw during that little service, was a lovely group of human beings that were relishing the experience of being remembered. They were bound together by the Tie that binds the hearts of all who believe. Through the songs of praise that were offered with cracking voices or only moving lips, they formed a family and felt the Love that has been handed down from generation to generation.  It was a beautiful lesson for me; one that spurs me on to step outside my comfort zone, like my parents, and remember “the least of these”.  After all, it’s a promise that, if I do, I’ll also be blessing the One who never forgets.
Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.  Matthew 25:40