“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well–watered garden, and they will sorrow no more” (Jer. 31: 12, NIV).
This program demonstrates creative opportunities for service to residents in nursing homes or those shut in at home
People in facilities and those who are shut in are usually eager to have people visit and do activities with them. Through The Salvation Army’s Community Care Ministries, we have a beautiful opportunity to visit those who can no longer leave their facility. We can provide a church service, bring gifts, crafts, music and show God’s love to them. This can be done by involving others at the corps such as musical groups, Adventure Corps, Sunbeams, women ministries, men ministries, and Sunday School classes.
These could include a watering can, gardening tools and small green plants such as ivy, elephant ears, or cactus.
Outdoors—If the residence the group is going to visit has a garden, ask for some of the women to volunteer to tend it. This could be a one–time event, or an on–going project where the group will visit on a regular basis to take care of the garden. For more residence involvement, purchase flowerpots, gravel, soil, mulch, green plants and flowers. Dig a series of small holes where you can fit the flowerpots in rows parallel from each other. Each pot should contain a layer of gravel, soil and mulch with a garden plant at its center. Give each resident their own flowerpot, which they would be responsible to water. Invite them to paint or decorate wooden signs with their name on it to identify their pot. It may be necessary to periodically replace the plants depending on the seasons.
Indoor—If the residence does not have a garden, purchase flowerpots/planters, soil and low maintenance plants that can be shared with the residents. Fill the planters with a mix of mulch, soil and pebbles and then add green plants. Instruct the residents on how to take care of their plant. The residents could also be invited to decorate the planters with stickers, paint and their names to represent everyone in the residence. An additional benefit is that plants are a good source of oxygen and it will help decorate the common area.
Rejoice in the Lord
I like to prepare my back deck for the spring, summer and fall seasons. As soon as it is warm enough, I move out the patio furniture, add colorful pillows and decorations such as a bird bath or garden flags and take my house plants outside. I like to drink my coffee every morning on the deck and just enjoy God’s creation by listening to the sounds of the birds singing and smell the moist air. This places me in a position of giving thanks to the Lord for bestowing all His wonderful blessings upon me.
A garden is the kind of place that can be used to express joy, peace and satisfaction. This is what we find in Jeremiah 31:12 (NIV): “They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well–watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.” The prophet is expressing how the people of Israel will feel when they come back to the land that was promised to them. They are looking forward to the restoration of God’s kingdom. Now, with their liberation they should have plenty and be joyful to honor God and serve Him. They compare their soul to a watered garden, meaning they will flourish and be fruitful.
How can we flourish and be fruitful? As we read God’s word, we can compare our prayer lives with Him to the roots of a plant or tree. The more we commune with Him, the deeper our roots will go into His love. When we care and share with those around us, we will be fruitful.
These words are for us today as well. In the presence of the Lord we have hope for the future. Our lives should be like a beautiful garden filled with a pleasant aroma that through God’s love we can share with others. When we are in God’s presence there is a sense of peace and joy that fills us and overflows into others’ lives. Today, let each one of us exult in the Lord. We read in God’s word, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!