Christmas Plans – Part 3

Now that you have your dates and your volunteers lined up, it is time to consider your presentation. Yes, it is nice to sign up to sing carols and of course those who you sing for will appreciate your efforts, no matter how professionally done. But now it is time to ask yourself what goals you have. If those are just to check off the box marked, “Did a good deed” or if it arises from mere pity for those in nursing care, then it will not matter much how you present your program. However, if you hope to bring the message, that God sent Jesus to be born in Bethlehem as the Savior of the world, then presentation matters a great deal. Let’s take a look at the wise men again as we lay out our plans before God and consider how they went about their famous journey.

1)	Pick Your Treasure – Just as the wise men didn’t stop at the nearest shopping mall as they were about to enter Jerusalem, we need to carefully pick our songs. I make up song books so that everyone will have the words in front of them, even for the most familiar of songs

2)	Plan Your Journey – The wise men may not have known that Bethlehem would be their final destination, but they did know approximately how far they needed to go. This part includes not only how many songs, but also a short, interesting and Bible centered Christmas message. This may seem obvious, but stop and ask yourself, - when was the last time you saw a Hallmark Christmas movie that had anything to do with Jesus? There is almost nothing in our current culture that tells anyone that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Even less mentioned is the fact that God’s Son was named Jesus because as the angel told Joseph, “He came to save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
3)	Present Your Worship – At the end of their journey the Bible tells us that the wise men bowed and worshiped. This moment at the end of your program may be the most important 60 seconds of some one’s life. Here as we finish is our opportunity to ask people to give their hearts to Jesus, just as the wise men gave their gifts. This is what Christmas is all about. If we leave our people with nice Christmas cards, boxes of candy and warm hugs, but fail to give them the message of Jesus we will have failed. Let’s ask God to help us to share His message in such a way as to touch hearts and leave them with the love of Jesus this Christmas.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all the people, Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 NIV

Christmas Plans – Part Two

 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10 ESV

If you walk around our neighborhood any time after Halloween, you are sure to spot half a dozen homes already putting out their Christmas displays. Sadly, the couple who put out the best displays of all, could no longer continue, due to advancing age and medical conditions. But in past years, Bill and Rose would already begin setting up an enormous train set and scale model town inside their garage by the first week of October. There were churches and firehouses, bridges and tunnels to put together. It all took a lot of preparation. Putting together a Christmas presentation for our local nursing homes deserves the best preparation we can give it. This is the one time out of the entire year when we are not only able but welcomed to share the “good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Here in part two, we’re going to look at some practical steps in having a program ready.

!) Get on the Calendar (we covered this last week) if you still haven’t gotten this done, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. The holiday schedule at a facility fills up fast and early.

2) Get song books ready -I use the most colorful 3 ring binders I can find at the dollar store. Then I select 10-12 familiar Christmas Carols, decide on an order and place each song in a plastic sheet protector. My own book includes a couple of songs which I sing as specials as well as a few extra songs for those times when people plead, “Come on sing some more!”

3) Get Volunteers! – Everyone thinks it’s a great idea to sing carols. The rubber meets the road, when you send out the exact dates and times which you have scheduled with your facilities. It is vital to know who you can count on because that is a time of year that people travel, get invited to parties or have family come in to stay with them. I have gone in with kids from Sunday school, teens from the youth group as well as Seniors from our Bible study. There is no “right group”. What matters is who is available in your circle of influence.

If all this planning seems like a lot, remember that the message of eternal salvation, forgiveness and peace on earth is worth our best efforts. Don’t over organize your program into a stage performance, but do pour your very best efforts into presenting the love of Jesus to as many as you can at the wonderful time of the year!

Memories and Yarn

As I have grown older, I notice there are times I go to the cabinet and open the door, then wonder what I was looking for. Or I intend to write down a wonderful idea for a story, but when I sit in my den later on in the day, I have to pray for God to remind me of what that was. I have begun to compensate for these little senior moments by making lists (and checking twice!) or grabbing a note pad, napkin or any scrap of paper handy to write down ideas. It makes me wonder if that unravellings will grow like those of a few of our senior friends or if there are simply too many facts knocking around in my head to keep track of them all. If you sometimes wrestle with remembering, I hope this little verse will give you some encouragement as it did for me when I wrote them this morning.

My memories are like balls of yarn
Which from my basket spill
And I watch as all those threads of life
Go tumbling down the hill!

So lately I’ve been wondering when
Just when those balls will slow
So they can be knit back again 
Into neat tighter rows

But then my Lord reminds me
In whose hands our lives are held
And how through every thread of life
He will His story tell

I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:14 NKJV

Memories and Yarn by Peter Caligiuri © 2022
All rights reserved

Photo by Avni Jain on Pexels.com

Angels Unaware

 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2 ESV

Years ago, I came across the wonderful book titled – Angels Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers. She wrote of the life lessons she had learned from their daughter Robin who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Being one of those “Old guys” I am fairly sure that the younger generation has never heard of this book or maybe don’t even know who Dale Evans is! That story of the lessons that Dale learned while Robin was here on earth, remind me of the lessons I am learning each week as I visit with Don and Lorna. For those on the outside of nursing home ministry, it may seem a sacrifice or a good deed to visit with those in long term care. But God actually has quite the opposite in mind.

While Lorna was off in her physical rehab yesterday, Don and I sat together and visited in the cafeteria. Don quietly mentioned. “This morning when the aide came in our room, I thought she seemed very cold and all business. But as she helped Lorna get ready for the day, she began to tell us about her life. She was going to have a baby and was facing having to bring it into the world without the father. She was also the only one on duty for our entire wing and was doing the best that she could that day. That made me see just how kind she was being to us.”

When was the last time, we stopped to talk to the people who wait on us at the restaurant, mow our grass or ring up our groceries? Are we more concerned that they missed a corner of the lawn, or forgot to refill our coffee cup than in how their day is going? Precious saints like Don and Lorna carry the accumulated blessings and wisdom of their years of walking with Jesus. What a blessing we miss when we just stay home. But if we go to sit with them and just listen, we might come away amazed at what these angels unaware can teach us!

I love this song by Steffany Gretzinger and it tells a bit of the story of the kindest and most caring friend of all. May you each be blessed and remember to entertain angels of all kinds today!