Getting ready for Christmas

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943 as a tribute to soldiers overseas during World War II, and has become a holiday classic. Nursing home residents are a bit like soldiers, but most of them will never be home for Christmas.  The statistics say that 60% of nursing home residents in the U.S. do not receive a single visit from a family member in an entire year. There is no more important time to plan a special program than at the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day each are opportunities to show God’s love through visiting people who are alone. Small gifts are wonderful, but the greatest gift we have to offer is our presence.

For those unfamiliar with nursing home ministry early October may seem a bit early to begin planing a Christmas program. But after having worked for 20 years of Christmas  I have learned that the earlier we start the better. Usually we have a group of from 6-10 volunteers (mostly young people) who start out eager to help. What happens along the way  is a combination of teen issues (boyfriend /girlfriend) or school and family changes that impact our ability to prepare. All in all I sometimes feel like we are just duct taping a few kings crowns together and turning up microphones for shy voices that the residents can barely hear. Thank God that Jesus takes our 5 loaves and 2 fish of talent and desire and multiplies it in a way that touches hearts and lives each year. Over the next week I will be posting a few practical ideas and guidelines that may assist you in your own community to get ready for Christmas once again.

In this computer age no one uses pencil and paper but I encourage you to at least try both. Physically writing things down helps to slow our thoughts down enough to consider in detail the people and the plan that will help make your program effective.

Make a List

  1. Meet with the recreation/activities director of your chosen local nursing home and find an open date on their calendar that works for you. Typically these calendars fill up more than a month in advance. We are written in for December 6 because the 13th was already taken!
  2. Ask for volunteers from your circle at church and friends and find out how many people you can expect to help. Will this work for the program you have in mind?
  3. Can the children (or youth) at your church be invited to participate?
  4. Think about small gifts for the residents. Have you asked the staff what gifts to give?

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Pray for God’s creative ideas. Pray together with your team. Get started and trust that the Christmas message is full of hope for people who have been forgotten. Christmas began in the heart of God!

 

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  Luke 1:37

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Free Devotional

Ministering weekly for the last 23 years in Allied Skilled Nursing I have often wished there were more resources available for the residents. The reality of being partially disconnected from the local community and even their local church I see first hand the struggles and needs of people who have become my friends and extended family. Today I am making available a 31 day devotional called 31 Days of Hope for free this week in ebook form. If you are a family member a resident or a nurse this I pray thia month of readings will be a lifeline of hope that will draw you closer to God who is the truly Good Shepherd who has given us eternal hope in every dark place of life!https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075RRB5ZR

All Hope

Day 31    –  31 Days of Hope

As we have come to the end of this series that God has led me on I have traveled with you. Whether you are battling cancer as my wife is, are seated in a nursing home or face life shaking situations of kinds i can not imagine I pray God will minister to you His miraculous hope that will last through it all. Be blessed and remind yourself that not knowing all the answers is okay. God’s hope does not depend on our abilities or wisdom but on His own!

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned  Acts 27:20

 

Paul was being carried as a prisoner in chains in a ship in a storm. He had no control of his destination or the means of his travel. Does this verse sound in a little like what you are experiencing in your life? When the landmarks of sun and stars disappear behind storm clouds it is easy to forget that others are going through storms right by our side. With wind and waves beating at the sides of your boat you want to hang on to something while time crawls by so slowly that we lose sight of others right next to you.

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But in that night when everyone else lost hope, Paul received a message from God. God promised deliverance and not only to him, but also for the soldiers holding him prisoner, the sailors in charge of the boat and even his fellow prisoners. So today in your very real situation remember that God is not only with you in your biggest storm but that He is offering you all hope and hope for all who traveling by your side.

Hope at the Table

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Luke 22:19

As Christians some of us share communion once a month, some every week and others each time they meet. But whenever we pause to share in the bread and the cup we are carrying on a retelling of the hour on the cross when Jesus freely gave His life to pay for our sins.

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Often I reflect on my own sins and ask Him to forgive me before I receive. Sometimes as I serve I look at each person as they come and think of how in a deep and holy way we are remembering that we all belong to Christ. Nothing has been preserved of the songs the first believers sang. We have no pictures of what they looked like. There isn’t even a single plate from which they ate. We can only guess where that first supper was eaten. But the common thread that our Lord Jesus has kept alive throughout more than 20 centuries is the Hope we have every time we come to His table.

 

We have hope that our sins are forgiven. We have renewed hope that we can learn to love one another. We are given a living demonstration of His love as the bread is broken and the cup is shared. We have new hope at the table that one day He will return for you and for me!