For elderly people in our communities, Easter can be a time for celebration and renewal. It’s an opportunity to gather with family and friends and reflect on the joy of the season. During this special time, elderly people often reminisce about how their faith has seen them through difficult times.
But for others, being far away from their loved can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. The pandemic has further exacerbated this, with many elderly people having had no visitors for extended periods of time.
Ben Boland is an Aged Care Chaplain, who writes and speaks about Aged Care Ministry in Australia. He recently joined us on 20Twenty to talk about how we can care for our ageing relatives in the lead up to Easter, and prepare them to enjoy the holiday.
Praying For Our Loved Ones
‘We need to have them in our hearts, minds and prayers,’ says Ben. ‘How can we share the joy of Christ’s resurrection with them? How can we share the message of God’s love, as expressed in Christ’s death on the cross? Easter is the prime time to do that.’
Instead of taking elderly people out during this Easter season, why not bring the church to them? We all have access to smartphones that can easily stream Easter hymns or connect to a nearby church service. Doing so offers a wonderful chance to share some meaningful moments with those we love.
‘I also think there’s a great evangelistic opportunity to encourage those left behind by modern church traditions,’ says Ben. ‘Churches could run a special service at least once a year that is aged care friendly.’
Society tends to focus on certain demographics when it comes to resources and clubs, leaving the elderly with fewer options for social interaction. However, this also presents an opportunity to create resources specifically catered towards seniors ministry, which is likely going to come with its own unique challenges.
‘I’m not aware of any church that invests an equal amount of money in ministry to people who are 0-20 compared with people who are 80-100,’ says Ben. ‘We’ve been contaminated by a society that sees people’s value in terms of productivity, beauty and youth. We as a church have forgotten that value is not what we do. It’s being created in God’s image, and knowing God loved us so much, He died for us.’
Salvation is Relational
Ben says while it’s common that our older relatives may struggle with dementia, it doesn’t mean they can’t come to faith. ‘Salvation is not a cognitive exercise. It’s a relational exercise, and spirit speaks to spirit. I regularly see people who are living with dementia come to faith.’
‘They may not pray the sinner’s prayer in the structured way that we think of as evangelism, but they have come back into a relationship. They know what God has done for them, and they trust is in Jesus.’
‘That’s the message of Easter.’