Last year, a beloved member of my church spent the last few weeks of his life in Princess Alice Hospice. During that time every member of staff, from the people who cleaned the ward to the the staff who administered his medicines, to the chaplain, treated him and his family with the utmost warmth, humanity, dignity and compassion. True to its roots in an ancient understanding ofhospitality, the team made this last lap of the journey more bearable by every means at their disposal.
One Sunday afternoon last July I gathered with our friend and about twenty others in an upper room in the hospice. He had been a singer and worship leader in the life of the church, and was missing church services terribly. For this reason, with the chaplain’s help, we brought the church to him. As Pastor, I had planned an order of service, which was promptly abandoned in favour of something altogether more wonderful. From his bed, despite his weakness, our friend conducted the singing, urged us to pray, spoke of the sun setting on his time here, and urged the rest of us to make the most of ours. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, and above all we sang – our voices tumbling out of the wide open windows into the lovely summer’s day beyond. This…was worship, and I shall never forget it.I shall carry the sound of it in my head as I pedal, and for years after that too.
Princess Alice Hospice is a place which allows people to be themselves right up until the moment when their last breath is drawn. Twenty six years of ministry have taught me that hospices are about living, not dying. I am pleased to make some small contribution to helping them go on doing just that.
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Thanks so much - it really will make a difference.