“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
- 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!
- 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?
- Can the children (or youth) at your church be invited to participate?
- Think about small gifts for the residents. Have you asked the staff what gifts to give?
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
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
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.
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.
Day 17 – 31 Days of Hope
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5 ESV
In the quiet of early morning before one word has been spoken to anyone God gives hope. His hope is not usually in the form of an immediate answer to our problems or the rush of adrenaline that comes when a new door of opportunity opens. God’s hope comes like the gentleness of a stream still flowing in the long hot days of August. God’s hope is like the soundless ripening of fruit in the apple orchard.
God’s hope is sure, unchanging invincible. Even when the battle seems to have turned against us or the tide is running out on our lives He remains true to His promises. He alone is enough and these long and heavy miles we are walking lead us only more directly to His throne. When our resources have failed He is our supply. When our plans have ended short of the goal, He is the way When our friends have forgotten. He remains closer than a brother. He has allowed us times of lonely silence so we can hear His voice, and His alone. In those moments near the cross we understand more deeply the words from the hymn. “No not One”
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No not one. No not one! Johnson Oatman 1895