Though there were no institutions like nursing homes in the days of Jesus, there definitely were the same kinds of people who lived in them. That society had no social security, government health insurance or orphanages. The poor and helpless either were cared for by family or were thrown out to beg on the street. In the Bible we read a story of one woman we will call Rosemary, who teetered on the edge of destitution. Rosemary was a widow being supported by her only son. Then the worst happened. That son was struck down by some disease or accident. The morning as she followed his coffin on the way out of the city she wept not only for the loss of her child, but also because her future seemed dark and foreboding. Then Jesus came!
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…Luke 7:11-12 ESV
It is interesting that village of Nain was only about 12 miles from Nazareth; but this is the only time we know of that Jesus visits there. In the same way that Nain was close to Jesus’ home, nursing homes are close by every one of us. We drive by them every day without realizing that inside those walls are people who are just like Rosemary. While some receive regular visits from loved ones, most are simply forgotten.
Easter is now past and many of us are planning where we will go or what we will do on our summer vacations. Why couldn’t we also plan to make a shorter trip and begin to visit people like Rosemary who live near us and bring them the message that God has not forgotten?
As special as the Christmas season is for most of us, who cannot truthfully say that now it has passed you breathed a sigh of relief? The same held true in our nursing home service this week. We looked back thankfully to the blessings we shared but
we all agreed to put the carols on vacation and together look forward to a New Year.It felt good to sing the Hymns and to pray God’s help and protection for whatever lies ahead. As we launched into “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” we remembered that in the year ahead some of our people who are wheel chair bound can still walk by faith. To the chorus of “How Great Thou Art” is added the voice from the heart of Judy who cannot get out a single note because of the breathing tune attached to her. In the gentle words of “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound” we realized that even ears which can no longer hear still listen to His voice. God is good all the time and all through every one of our years. He is good when we are young and He is good as He carries us to old age. He is a friend that still sticks closer than a brother in special ways when we can walk only by faith, sing only with our spirit and hear only His still small voice!
He took him in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Luke 2:28-30
And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem Luke 2:38
“Why am I still here” is one of the most asked questions by our precious people at the nursing home. Their neighbor sleeps just eight feet away. Some cannot see. Legs that once hiked miles up woodland trails and arms that once held sick children all through the night are now too weak to hold or walk. Every day blends into the next. I am reminded of the dedication day of Jesus in the temple. There waited Anna and Simeon. They had served in the temple for decades just as many of our dear saints in the wheelchairs at Allied Nursing Home. They have sung in the choirs, helped with the missions programs and cared for children of the church. Now few remember them and fewer still come to visit. But the secret of the faith of these two elderly saints was that they knew that one day Jesus would come for them! So whether you are going this Christmas to bring comfort and joy to the nursing homes or if you are seated in a wheel chair, remember that we all have the same hope. Our hope was cradled in the manger of Bethlehem and He still comes for those who wait for Him!
“They also serve who only stand and wait” John Milton
We were driving through Brooklyn looking for the way over to Manhattan. My step father hated asking for directions so with my mother’s help he headed towards the Empire state building which we could see clearly above the small buildings around us. The only problem was that we finally ran out of roads at the East river because he had not counted on having to cross the bridge! We shouldn’t laugh too much at him though because in the same way we are all trying to get to heaven but forget that there is a bridge to carry us over and only one: our Lord Jesus Christ!
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all Isaiah 53:6 ESV