Hospitality and Hospital

Our once-a-year opportunity to take the Gospel of Jesus to the patients and staff of the District General Hospital, Eastbourne, came around on Sunday 12th July this year. In his welcome, Chaplain Geoffrey Cook reminded us that as well as those present in the Chapel, others would be listening on the hospital radio.

Hospital Service“Come Holy Spirit and meet the needs of each one listening tonight,”
prayed Pastor Jim Beveridge before the broadcast began, then we launched into

Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here…the glory of the Lord is shining all around…the power of the Lord is moving in this place, followed, very appropriately for many in that place by, “Father, I place into Your hands the things I cannot do…the things that I’ve been through…the things that trouble me…”with its repetition, “For I know I always can trust You” Amazing Grace followed, the third verse especially poignant:

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

At that point Pastor Jim suggested a pause for each of us to wait on the Lord, before Jim McDonnell read Psalm 121, which begins:
I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
“I lift my eyes to the hills, commented Pastor Jim. “What better place on such a lovely Summer day as this to find the Creator, the One who touched us in our mother’s womb to make each one of us unique, as our distinctive fingerprints testify.”

We sang Come to my heart, O Thou wonderful love, Come and abide,
and How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear, it soothes his sorrow,heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.

Hospital ServiceThen the Message, the Hospitality of the Risen Jesus, set out in the Gospel of John chapter 21, beginning at verse 7. Not knowing what to do after the death of Jesus, the disciples have gone back to doing what they did best – fishing, but had caught nothing. A mystery figure on the shore calls “Friends, have you caught anything ? Throw the net on the right side and you will find some.” They make a large catch.

Peter recognises that this is the Risen Jesus and jumps into the water – impatient to be with Him. Jesus is already preparing a meal of fish and bread on the beach for the disciples. For us this might be the equivalent of fish and chips or even a barbecue. A shared meal produces a warm, human reaction; we feel valued and welcomed.

Jesus then moves to Hospital mode – Peter needs healing after his three denials of Christ; three loads of guilt; three bad memories. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me ?” and each time he replies “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus affirms each reply with the command, “Feed My lambs,” or “Feed My Sheep.” Three denials needed three hospital visits.

“For those in hospital today, be hospitable towards those who are tending you,” recommended Pastor Jim. “Then your hospitable actions will affirm them in their vocations, and energise their efforts for you. What better than to be hospitable in hospital; this is what Jesus did – who needs a better example ?”

Ralph played the piano as Pastor Jim led us in a prayer, calling down a blessing on doctors, nurses, dispensers, administrators, cleaners, workers in the laboratory and finance, finishing with “and all you patients.” We took up the music and sang “Jesus, Jesus, Your Name is like honey on my lips, Your Spirit like water to my soul, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet; Jesus, I love You, I love You.”

By now our half-hour must have finished, but we sang on: There is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son, and “ What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! Then it was time to push the wheelchairs back to the wards. Let us remember to support our local hospitals in prayer regularly, and not wait for another year to pass