And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 KJV
Saturday there is a neighborhood Christmas get-together or maybe it will be breakfast with Santa at the church. Then there are the kids coming the following week-end with the grandchildren just before that Christmas caroling at the nursing home. Wow! If you are anything like me your schedule is busy so then why should we even consider packing in nursing home ministry on top of everything else?
Every Wednesday we receive a copy of a local paper that we do pay for, do not like and rarely read. In fact every home in our neighborhood gets a copy tossed into our driveways. The owner of that newspaper is determined that everyone in our community will receive a copy of the news. Our good news about Christmas is for all kinds of people: not just our family, our friends or our church. God’s good news need not be just for people who are waiting for the morning delivery, It is also for those who least expect it.
Because Christmas is about Good News for all people we should always remember those who need good news the most in our community. Statistics tell us that 70% of nursing home residents will not receive a visit from friends or family members even at Christmas. But statistics can not tell you of the tears of joy flowing down faces of people when you bring even the tiniest bit of the love of God during this Christmas season. They will leave a mark like indelible ink on your soul.
Last we need to consider Christmas as the ideal moment because Jesus loves to enter where the doors are open. He wasn’t welcome in the palace of Herod. He wasn’t born in the nicest home in Bethlehem. In fact even the worst hotel in town had no occupancy for our Savior. But in a manger with cattle and sheep he was given a place and there shepherds, wise men and Mary and Joseph worshiped and wondered at the birth of our Lord!
So why should we consider nursing home ministry this Christmas? Maybe the best question of all might be – why not?
Maybe your first memory of your Mom is her sitting you on her lap to tell you a story. Later it meant coming home from school and smelling cookies baking in the oven. As an adult maybe time with her meant a special dinner at her favorite restaurant and photographs of her holding her grandchildren. But for some seeing mom this Christmas means a drive to visit to her in the nursing home.
You might be thinking “Well that is not the situation in our family” or “Yes that’s true, our pastor ought to do something about it!” But the opportunity to visit someone’s mother is available to all of us. The sad fact is that of the 1.4 million* nursing home residents in the United States, less than 30% will receive a single visit from a family member, friend or neighbor in an entire year.
Why not consider organizing a small group to visit your local nursing home facility this year. Some may have a giving tree set up for the purchase of small gifts for the resident. Others will have a special dinner or breakfast set up at which they would be delighted to have volunteers to help. Often we have brought a few of our teens to put on a Christmas play or just sing some real Christmas carols. Each home will have different and specific needs and guidelines. The season will pass so quickly but the smallest service you could offer can be a blessing to someone. Remember that on the cross Jesus asked John to take care of His mother. Maybe He is giving each of us an invitation to take care of someone else’s Mom as well as our own. Will you be visiting Mom for Christmas this year?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40 KJV
*National Center For Health Statistics: Fast Stats 2014
What a lovely and very different idea for Christmas at this nursing home! The young children with the elderly connects the generations for Christmas. The idea of dance focuses everyone’s attention on the theme of Christ and His night. Even those who cannot hear well can enjoy the “Steps of Grace” children. Bravo!!! what a Christmas treat!!
I have always thought that the best songs we sing are not the most impressive but the ones that get everyone to sing along. I love how this special team from Walk in Truth Ministries in the St Louis area get their people involved at the nursing home. Wouldn’t it be great if we did some of this in church?