For the second time this Christmas season I went caroling at the nursing home with a group from our church. Our pastor led the way on both occasions. The second time we went he gave us Christmas cards to hand out and encouraged us to minister to the people as we walked the hallways singing. Various people in our congregation had put a handwritten message inside the cards along with a bookmark.
Many of the residents were non-responsive, seemingly trapped in a world that confused and confounded them. Some would nod their heads and smile with a shy acknowledgment of their appreciation. I was so caught off guard when I entered a room where one resident was sitting in a chair singing with great enthusiasm. She was alone and her face was aglow with joy. I just stopped in front of her and looked at wonder at the glory of it. She never missed a beat, but held my gaze and kept singing… then my tears began to flow. She reached out her hand, touched me, and spoke some words of encouragement. She was so frail in body, but so strong in spirit. I think she knew my tears weren’t from pity, but from gratitude. How faithful is the One who is indeed Immanuel, God with us?
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Isaiah 46:3-4
On another hallway I entered a room to give out the Christmas cards. This resident had an iPod to her ear, but she put it aside to let me know that she had a splitting headache and that her request for some aspirin was being ignored. She asked me if I had any aspirin and I told her I didn’t, but I would like to pray with her. She said, “Well, I would rather have an aspirin.” The way she said it was so funny I could barely contain myself. I told her the hospital would frown on visitors dispensing aspirins, but I could pass on her request to an aide. She looked at me with slightly more interest and said, “Well, are you going to pray for me or not?” I laid my hand on her head and gently massaged her scalp while I prayed for the Prince of Peace to give her His peace and for healing of her headache so she could get some rest. Then she didn’t want me to go. I explained that we had other rooms to visit, but I would check back in on her. Several minutes later when we passed by her room I looked in and she was sound asleep.
So far, this is my favorite Christmas experience. I am thankful our pastor led the way in the busy season to remind us as Paul did in Acts:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
I left the nursing home a blessed woman. Let’s remember our Savior’s words.
Lord, thank you for those you have put in our lives who spur us on to love and good works. Help us to lift you up in this season in word and deed. In Jesus name, amen.