Sermon – March 1, 2015
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Somerset, KY
“I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” Genesis 17:7
Please be seated.
Good Morning, people of St. Patrick’s. It is so good to see you in person. Prior to this, I had only seen you through a green business check that arrived every month at St. Agnes’ House… a check dutifully given for $75.00, enough to support 1 large room and a small room for 1 night at St. Agnes’ House. Feeling grateful for your consistent donation, I’d smile as I recorded your donation in my donor spreadsheet and print out our thank you note. I wondered about you and who you are. Now I get the chance to find out.
That consistency…that faithfulness is a hallmark of the ministry of St. Agnes’ House. More than 40 years ago, a young couple became distressed when they saw people sleeping in the waiting room of UK hospital. These people often came from Eastern Kentucky and they were getting cancer radiation treatments. They’d need to be at the hospital every week day for about 6 weeks. They had no place and no money to pay for a place to stay. Can you imagine feeling so poorly and then needing to rest in the hospital waiting room?
This young couple told others at St. John’s Versailles, and groups started praying for a solution – some way for people to have a place to stay while receiving treatment. By 1975, St. Agnes’ House was born. The Diocese embraced the ministry, providing administrative and nonprofit tax number support. Parishes offered prayers, money, and in-kind donations. The Sisters from the Society of St. Margaret agreed to come and live at the house and manage it.
The first house was on Woodland Avenue, but by 1977, the University of Kentucky provided a rent-free ($1.00) longterm lease at 635 Maxwelton Court, closer to UK hospital. Money was raised to put an addition onto this house, so rooms could be used for lodging. An additional building with 7 rooms, kitchen, living room, and bathrooms was also built. Currently, there are 9 rooms available for lodging – 5 single rooms and 4 double rooms.
In essence, in 1975, 40 years ago, we as a Diocese… a Diocese now in about 36 ministry sites or locations… made a covenant with people in medical crisis, needing to travel long distances to get the health care they needed, making the difference between life and death…between hope and despair…between a death with dignity and loved ones and a death all alone.
Now covenants are very special. They can be different from contracts, especially if they are unconditional. That’s the kind God makes with us – unconditional covenants. The covenants detail obligations and promises between the parties. And unconditional covenants like the ones God makes with us, say that God will fulfill God’s obligations and promises, regardless of what we do… regardless, God will fulfill the covenant.
What an amazing thing. We can truly trust God’s covenants…God’s promises.
And that’s what over 4,000 families have been able to do because of your help and your support of St. Agnes’ House. They’ve been able to trust in the covenant we made with them back in 1975… that they’d have a place to go during a medical crisis. They’ve had a place to stay while their mother or father or young baby is getting the best health care possible. And families have been able to be close to their loved one if there is nothing more to be done and death comes.
I’m talking about people like Marcy, mid 50s, tall with long dark hair. Marcy’s brother had a heart operation. There were complications and he was brought to UK hospital. Marcy promised her brother, she’d be there with him. We didn’t see Marcy much, because she’d get up so very early in the morning to go be with her brother at the hospital and she’d arrive back at the house late in the evening. She was able to take the UK hospital shuttle back and forth any time she needed it.
Marcy wrote to us months after her stay and here’s what she said:
Where do I begin??
It’s been months now and I can hardly find the words to express how thankful I am that I got to go to St. Agnes’ House.
My brother spent 55 days in ICU after open-heart surgery due to septic shock. I, having had open-heart myself two years before, was getting worn down fast staying in the chairs every night at U.K., but I promised I would be there for him and we would go home together. We thought it would be 2 weeks tops.
I got my room here after that initial two weeks and met the nicest most helpful caring staff, who sincerely care for you and your loved one who is in the hospital. I was then able to shuttle back and forth and wash my clothes; eat real food; sleep when I could; and be there every day for him. Rebecca, Reynold and Mary are wonderful people.
Anyone who can donate to St. Agnes house, please do. It’s really even more than you can imagine.
I did get to bring Michael home and he’s across the field from Mom laid to rest. I have done all he asked me to do. I don’t know if I could have made it without your help.
On a personal note, my 92 year old Mother has Michael’s prayer shawl that was a gift Rebecca offered when she saw my despair and it was on him the last days.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So many years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah that they would be “ancestors of a multitude of nations.” That God would always be with them and with their descendants. God has kept God’s covenant and we are the proof. And as Marcy and so many others can testify, we have followed God’s example by providing and supporting the ministry of St. Agnes’ House.