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?
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18
Since the birth of Laura in our church family 6 months ago I have been getting a crash course in awareness of downs syndrome children and families. These moms who collaborated to make the video 50 Mums and 50 Kids, come together for this interview to give us all a sneak peek behind the scenes and help us to get in touch with the reality of both the blessings as well as the challenges presented by having a child with downs syndrome in their families.
What we experience with these mothers is a no strings attached love that reflects God’s love for all of us. He values us in a way that is not related to what others think of us or what he can get out of us. These mothers share that the greatest challenge is to simply communicate that we don’t need to be afraid. Together we can tear down the walls that built on fear and the lack of personal experience.
As a long time chaplain at both nursing homes and an assisted living home that includes some residents with downs as well as various, emotional and physical disabilities one thing that I share with these Mums is the frustration in how little people outside our community seem to understand about us. These heart warming videos help to break down barriers as we see the real beauty of these kids and their mothers together. Pray for us that God would open new doors in long term care ministry as well. Have a blessed week!
For anyone who is struggling with the frustrating sense of uselessness let me tell you about my good friend Ann. Ann* (not her real name) passed away just before Valentine’s day. For the last three years she came almost every week to our church service in the respiratory unit at the nursing home. Because of her trach it was hard to understand much of what Ann said. But Ann has changed the world. Her consistent faithful presence was noticed by her daughter who also began coming many Wednesday afternoons.
Continue reading “The Power to Change the World”
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope Psalm 130:5 KJV
When we were young many of us used to song: “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes! that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God, The B-I-B-L-E!” Today as we are older, whether we are looking out the window at a nursing home or looking out the window at work or school we all sometimes wonder how we will make it. Where will we get the strength just to keep putting one foot in front of the other?
It is easier facing outward conflicts because at least we can see the enemy we are fighting. But when things seem dark and confusing on the inside then there are moments when we feel as if things are hopeless. God’s word gives us this promise from King David who found that his greatest enemies were bigger than the giant Goliath whom he had faced on the battlefield. David’s battle with sin, failure, and shame left him wondering how he could face his family, his friends and his responsibility as a leader and example for others.
At his darkest moment David remembers that the same God who had given him hope when he fought the giant with a sling had also promised him forgiveness and restoration when he had sinned. God’s word isn’t weakened by our failures, doubts or needs. There is no limit to how much God can restore and His promises are not a limited time offer. You haven’t missed your chance to ask God for His help. Today is the perfect day in all eternity to put your hope in His word!