It’s been quite a while since I released anything new on Nursing Home Ministry. This book New Beginnings in Care Ministry gives a wider view of Long Term Care ministry than what I have written in the past. If your life has been touched by long term care, through a family member, your job or as a volunteer I pray that this short collection of stories and insights will be a blessing. This is available in both softcover and E-book formats through Amazon.
This is national Nursing Home Week and I wanted to take this day to remember the many staff members who have sacrificially helped out and have given so much to make our outreach possible. If you are one of these people I want to say a big heart felt THANK YOU and God Bless!!!
Thank you for bringing residents to our meetings every week, year after year.
Thank you for taking time to bring us to the rooms of people needing an extra prayer
Thank you for encouraging the residents to sing and by singing along
Thank you for special cards and gifts that made us feel appreciated and loved
Thank you for your gentle and sometimes funny way of dealing with unlovely situations
Thank you for (almost) never complaining
Thank you for the flexibility of allowing us to meet out in the garden when the dining room was being remodeled!
Thank you for reminding us of the residents’ birthdays so we can make them feel special
Thank you most of all for being co-laborers with us in the work of taking care of even the least of these in the world’s eyes because every one of them matters to Jesus Christ!
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?
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?