Don’t get excited, we’re not moving! This post is only about a visit we made a couple of weeks ago; not to book a place, but to offer some friendly cheer for Father’s Day.
We smiled at all the elderly men and women. Some of our group were young, a few middle-aged, and two of us were old enough to live there ourselves! But we’re too sprightly for that. Besides we have so many other things to do right now!
Years ago, when I was younger, I went with the older church members who visited an Accommodation Home to sing the classic hymns the people loved. These singers were ‘The Forerunners’, a great name! My role was to play the piano. Because I’d been raised in a traditional church, I knew the old-fashioned style of music and slightly archaic words. I’m familiar with these retirement places where people mostly come to finish their life’s journey. They sell their homes, transfer many of their belongings to their family and friends, and try to make the most of the new surroundings. It’s a challenge for some; others face the change with staunch acceptance; and some take advantage of the courage and hope they’ve lived with all their lives.
This Nursing Home we were visiting now, was bright and fresh, with cheery staff. They made us extremely welcome and a couple of the old ladies told me in awed tones, ‘They’re just angels to us, here’, referring to the staff who treat the residents like their own family. As they gathered an audience for us, we filled in the time by playing soft music and chatting with the oldies.
Once everything was arranged, with the keyboard, the guitars and the drum box filling the area in front of the huge television screen, we started to sing. A few residents joined in with ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’. One lady even sang along with our Samoan family as they launched into a verse of ‘Amazing Grace’ in her own language.
As well as singing, one of us had prepared a story to share about the way God had lovingly cared for her in a time of danger; another gave a short talk on how good it is to learn from our father’s example. And seeing Father’s Day was coming up, one of the fathers in our group gave some words of wisdom from his experience. After a brief prayer, we distributed gifts and talked with the residents, and their visitors, who were sitting with their parents. I wonder if they were surprised to see a group from a local church that included a very tall lady from Ghana, a Sri Lankan man, one from China, the Samoan family… and only two Aussies! That’s typical of our church congregation!
Before we left, Maurie was unexpectedly ushered into the room of a lady who was dying. Her family had gathered to watch over her and they told our Chinese man that they needed someone to pray for their mother. He grabbed Maurie, who asked God to give this dear lady the peace that only he can provide. The family was so grateful, they said.
How would we feel if we had no-one to comfort us at such a time? I wonder if that family also felt the Lord’s peace too. Death is an experience that only comes once, and the hand of Jesus is the best one to hold for that final journey.
May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way – 2 Thessalonians 3:16.