Saturday Sermon: Repetition is a good thing
For a little more than eight years now, I have taught a weekly Bible study at Southbrooke Nursing Home in Edna. I'll be honest. Teaching a Bible class at a nursing home isn't always easy. The smell takes a little getting used to. Some of the residents suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia. It's hard to keep some of them awake for the entire class (though I have that problem at church as well).
One of the fun things, however, about going to the nursing home is that my jokes never get old. The same joke that makes my wife roll her eyes because she has heard it a thousand times, makes them laugh every time.
But jokes aren't the only things I repeat over and over again at the nursing home. I also find myself repeating the same Bible truths and stories. I talk about our sins - the mistakes and regrets of our lives, our anger and drinking, our lies and laziness. I talk about our savior - how he suffered the punishment of our sins on the cross, how he won for us the gift of heaven. I talk about heaven a lot - how beautiful it will be, how good we will feel, how happy we will be. They hear the same truths: sin, savior, heaven.
One of the complaints I often hear as a pastor is that we are always repeating the same things - how we are sinners and how Jesus saved us. The young people and children of our congregation complain about how we make them memorize Bible verses and hymns, saying and singing them over and over again. It honestly gets a little repetitive.
But repetition is a good thing. There is an old Latin proverb that says, "Repetitio mater studiorum est." Literally, "Repetition is the mother of learning." We need to hear the basic truths of the Bible because we so easily forget. We need to hear the basic truths of the Bible because they are so important.
A little more than eight years ago, a wonderful woman named Hazel went to my first Bible study at the nursing home. For eight years, she rarely missed a class. She heard me repeat the same jokes. She heard me repeat the same Bible truths.
Toward the end, Hazel became extremely confused and disoriented. She could no longer remember names or faces. But I could still read to her Psalm 23 or John 3:16, or sing "Amazing Grace" or "Jesus Loves Me," and she would be right there with me. She never forgot those Bible verses and songs because she had heard them repeated so often during her life.
A few months ago, I went to see Hazel in her room. She could no longer talk. Her mind was mostly gone. She barely opened her eyes. But then I sang to her "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus, Loves Me" - those songs she had heard repeatedly since she was a child. Her eyes grew moist. She smiled. Hazel entered heaven four days later.
Repetition is a good thing. Oh, did I already say that?
Andrew Schroer is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Edna.