I’m always interested to see the stories in Seeds of the Kingdom from young mothers who are bringing up babies and young children, but here’s a perspective which looks at life from a more advanced stage.
Our church put an invitation in the notices to anyone who wanted to go and sing Christmas carols in a residential home for the elderly and in a nursing home. I decided to go to these two events, as I wondered what it was like in those places for the people who live there. Nobody really chooses to spend their last days in such places, but it’s sometimes the only thing possible in their situation.
In both places our church organist set up her portable keyboard and we helped hand out the words of carols and well known Christmas songs for the dozen or so residents gathered in the lounge area, together with one or two visiting relatives and members of staff. Having turned off the TV we started our programme and tried to engage the people sitting there. At first they seemed passive and even a bit startled to be challenged in any way, but as we got going I saw mouths moving as they remembered familiar words from long ago.
In the residential home one lady and I sang to each other with great gusto doing lots of actions and we both ended up laughing a lot. As we left she wanted to hang on to my hand and tell me all about how she used to sing all these songs to her children.
In the nursing home there were some people who had strange behaviour patterns, but even they were singing with us. What a surprise when one lady made a beautiful little speech thanking us for coming and cheering them all up! She then told us that the best time of her life had been her visit to the ‘Holy Land’ and as we were singing about all the places she had been to there it brought back happy memories. We also went to see a lady who was unable to leave her bed and come to the lounge, and sang a few carols to her in her room.
When I was going home I thought about how Jesus had said ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just’ (Luke 14:12-14). Well we weren’t giving a feast of food, but maybe a spiritual feast, for those who couldn’t choose of their own free will to go to a carol service or Christmas concert. They weren’t able to pay us, or give us anything. But I didn’t want them to anyway.
I also pondered on something Nicky Gumbel had written on Twitter; ‘Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you’, and a seed of the Kingdom on the topic ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you’ (Luke 6:31). If the day comes when I have to live in a home for the elderly I would certainly like someone to come in and sing to me, and I hope that I will be able to laugh and sing the words along with them too.
Prayer: Dear Father I thank You that Jesus taught us it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Help me to remember this and put it into practice more than I do at the moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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