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.
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!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
When we struggle through hard times, Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the verses that many of us turn to for encouragement. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe God wants us to make some good plans for others as well? Christmas is the biggest opportunity of the year to share the love of Jesus with people in long term care situations. But doing something for Christmas involves planning, participation and preparation (I know it sounds like a sermon already!) Tody we are just focusing on those plans. Three years ago, I was able to get the youth leader from our church to bring some teens along to sing carols at a nearby nursing home. None of them had ever done anything like that before and they were amazed by the tears and the joy on the faces of the residents as they walked the halls and sang the familiar songs of Bethlehem, the star, the shepherds and Jesus. But none of that happened by accident.
But to get to that day, I had to go to the activity director back in October. We sat down in her office and found a n open date between, the Girl Scouts, the Family Christmas dinner at the facility and Bingo night. It might not yet be Halloween, but if you want to do something for Christmas at a facility near you, now is the time to get going! Stay tuned over the next few posts for some ideas on preparation and participation. For now, I’ll just close with just a few photos of programs we have done that may spark a few ideas for you.