It may begin with Mom, or sometimes with Dad. “It” is the realization that more needs to be done for the seniors in our life, due to stroke, dementia, or another age-related trial.
Growing numbers of families are facing such decisions. What is to be the response of Christians individually, and the church as a whole? The physical needs of our aged members may be covered well, but what about their easy-to-overlook spiritual needs?
Family members will come to visit. The pastor or a trained layman may appear once or twice a month with Word, sacrament, and a few minutes of friendly conversation. But all those hours between can seem endless, and depression over loss of normality is common. WELS members are not immune.
Are there some spiritual options for Christian individuals, families, and the church? What about utilizing a great gospel resource that technology puts at our fingertips now? Time of Grace programming is widely available on TV, online, and in other ways. These messages are adaptable for gospel ministry to our own folks, as well as for outreach to other residents of senior care facilities.
When making personal visits to family members, why not share a familiar section of the Good News along with the usual family news? Or read a devotion. For the more technically inclined, a laptop can provide shorter “Your Time of Grace” messages, either recorded or online. Family members could do much more of this spiritual nurture, which would be more welcome than one might know.
What about the church’s responsibility for its senior members? Family members can get worn down seeking to meet a loved one’s needs, while active seniors often look to offer their time and talents in service to others.
Consider approaching the activities coordinator at your nearby care facility. They may be open to including free, non-proselytizing Christian video programs with their other weekly activities. On Sundays, or any day, a TV monitor could play Time of Grace messages for all interested residents. This usually works better where a trusting relationship has been established with the staff. But what an outreach opportunity, and what a blessing to many elderly, lonely residents. Staff members benefit too! This is currently being done at four facilities in the southwest Twin Cities area.
The ministry website is timeofgrace.org. For instructions on how to access, download, and play resources, see the brochures at tog.mywels.com.
We owe it to our seniors to serve them spiritually. Time of Grace can help our lay members play a crucial role in filling that need. Try it!
Arnold Lemke is a retired pastor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area who stays active in both senior ministry and youth ministry.
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