If you watch our little – not so professional video – and say, “Hey we can do better than they do!” then I will be delighted! There is no better time of year than Christmas, to share the love of Jesus through caroling and sharing time with our friends in long term care. Hey, this year we even had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa along with their granddaughter elf! So, why not take a moment and join us as we follow the shepherds to Bethlehem and find Mary, Joseph and Jesus, just as the angels said?
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:14-16 ESV
This was the warmup for the real Christmas caroling with some of my friends that starts on Sunday. Of course, you can’t see our little group, but we had a nice mix of memory care, long term care and assisted living together for our music. It is nice at Life Care Center that the wards are separate, but the activities are mixed. I hope you enjoy our medley of Away in a Manger next to Jesus Loves Me.
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
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!