I am posting this video again this year as I am struck by the reality of how difficult it is to for people to realize the vital need of nursing home ministry especially at the holiday times. Visiting and encouraging the residents is not just something extra or a nice gesture of the church. Even less is a holiday visit primarily about going home with a warm feeling. The absence of loved ones and of the care of a church family is so stark at Christmas and Thanksgiving that it cold be compared to the air some people receive through their breathing assistance. Without that correct ,ix of oxygen they receive through the device they will suffer terribly. The need for love, companionship, prayer and fellowship is constant and especially so at this time of year. If we allow Him, God will give us a portion of His great love to share. There is no better time to begin thinking of Nursing Home outreach than at Christmas. For more information on getting started in nursing home ministry you can check out our extensive list of video teaching on our Youtube channel. Be blessed and be a blessing!
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me Matthew 25:43
program at Allied Skilled Nursing I am reminded that we are in a battle. At a recent holiday banquet to which many of us volunteers were invited we listened to a local choir sing almost 20 songs without a single mention of Jesus Christ.
While I am not militantly opposed to singing Jingle bells or White Christmas I see that we are in a struggle to keep the focus of the Christ of Bethlehem. People will have more than enough opportunity to hear about snowmen, the Grinch and Santa from everyone else. We have this one time of the year to point to the light of the world, who was born in Bethlehem.
We are given the greatest privilege to honor Jesus in telling again the story of His birth. So yes organizing a program is never easy. Chasing people around and competing for their time at the holidays is a challenge. But all our efforts are worth it because we have the privilege one more time to present the story of God”s great love for the world. We have one more chance to get in the battle for Christmas and to celebrate the Savior of the world.
Matthew 2:2 …“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943 as a tribute to soldiers overseas during World War II, and has become a holiday classic. Nursing home residents are a bit like soldiers, but most of them will never be home for Christmas. The statistics say that 60% of nursing home residents in the U.S. do not receive a single visit from a family member in an entire year. There is no more important time to plan a special program than at the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day each are opportunities to show God’s love through visiting people who are alone. Small gifts are wonderful, but the greatest gift we have to offer is our presence.
For those unfamiliar with nursing home ministry early October may seem a bit early to begin planing a Christmas program. But after having worked for 20 years of Christmas I have learned that the earlier we start the better. Usually we have a group of from 6-10 volunteers (mostly young people) who start out eager to help. What happens along the way is a combination of teen issues (boyfriend /girlfriend) or school and family changes that impact our ability to prepare. All in all I sometimes feel like we are just duct taping a few kings crowns together and turning up microphones for shy voices that the residents can barely hear. Thank God that Jesus takes our 5 loaves and 2 fish of talent and desire and multiplies it in a way that touches hearts and lives each year. Over the next week I will be posting a few practical ideas and guidelines that may assist you in your own community to get ready for Christmas once again.
In this computer age no one uses pencil and paper but I encourage you to at least try both. Physically writing things down helps to slow our thoughts down enough to consider in detail the people and the plan that will help make your program effective.
Make a List
Meet with the recreation/activities director of your chosen local nursing home and find an open date on their calendar that works for you. Typically these calendars fill up more than a month in advance. We are written in for December 6 because the 13th was already taken!
Ask for volunteers from your circle at church and friends and find out how many people you can expect to help. Will this work for the program you have in mind?
Can the children (or youth) at your church be invited to participate?
Think about small gifts for the residents. Have you asked the staff what gifts to give?
Pray for God’s creative ideas. Pray together with your team. Get started and trust that the Christmas message is full of hope for people who have been forgotten. Christmas began in the heart of God!
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. Luke 1:37
This past Christmas our youth got together to not just prepare a Christmas program for the nursing home but to also raise funds to purchase devotionals from Joni and Friends ministry for gifts. One of the highlights of our practice was spending an hour wrapping each book. Some came out better than others! Did you ever stop to wonder where we came up with the idea of gift wrapping? Isn’t the gift itself what people really want? I think it all comes down to presentation and that is something even God chose to do when he sent Jesus to that manger in Bethlehem!
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:7-8
In a strange sort of way Jesus was God, gift wrapped! Before you think we are straying into some strange teaching pause to think of some reasons we have for gift wrapping. First we wrap up a gift to keep it a surprise. In that same way Jesus came to that humble stable of Bethlehem as a baby. From the outside no one could see who He was. It took angels telling the shepherds to get an audience for His birth! God came gift wrapped in humanity. The Father chose this way so that only those whose hearts were humble could know what the gift was.
Another reason for wrapping is to say. “Here I prepared this just for you!” In that same way Jesus was sent, not only for the whole world, but also for each one of us individually. Just as he sat by the well for one woman and went to the pool of Bethesda for one man, so also He gives Himself to each of us one by one.
Some of us open presents on Christmas Eve and others Christmas morning but for all of us the gifts are wrapped and sitting under the tree because it makes us wait till the right time to open them.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law Galatians 4:4
You might remember that God also came down on Mount Sinai during the Exodus story. But it was not the right time for the gift to be opened. People were terrified. No one could approach the mountain and Moses was only allowed to glimpse God after He had passed by and was going away. But at just the right time Jesus came, the gift was presented and we by faith could begin to unwrap the fullness of the love God in Jesus Christ.