Worship, carrot munching and flu jabs!

Aka a Harvest service for people with dementia

The table is set and all is ready. The team have prayed, received their briefing and now wait in anticipation for the residents to be brought through. 10 mins after the official start time and still no residents. I am finding that my faith is wavering and I don’t think anyone will turn up. A second reminder, this time to a different staff member, reveals that “we didn’t know it was on”.

But here they come at last – one by one, some ‘by’ walking trolley, most by wheelchair. A simple but effective display of corn, bread, flowers, fruit and veg sit among a wooden cross and two battery-operated candles. As further clues, the letters of HARVEST are blue tacked on to the table cloth and hymn music is playing in the background. We decide this time to do a sticky name label for each resident.  Why did I never think of this before?  What a difference it makes in helping each resident to engage.  We use their names throughout and they love it. Did you ever grow carrots, Sid? Can you guess what fruit this is, Freda – its hidden in the bag, feel it, it’s bent and you can slip on its skin.

A simple introduction, a switching on of the candles, and a reminder that ‘The Lord is here and His Spirit is with us’ begins formal proceedings. But you can’t exactly say the proceedings are formal, in fact they’re anything but. We remind ourselves that it is God’s world and we are all in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands………. No music, no written words, just joyful singing and excellent recall of an old familiar hymn from people who have no idea where they live and who sometimes think their grandparents are still alive.

We look at the fruit and veg and as we talk about them the residents can hold them and smell them and reminisce about them. Sid eats his carrot. Woops, I should have washed it beforehand. All these good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above and today we thank the Lord for all His love…………All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above …………..

Just as we reach a quieter part of our worship, Jessie and Dot are collected and removed from the service. Apparently the Nurse has arrived to give them their ‘flu jabs. One of our team continues to lead in a prayer for the hungry. Sid continues to munch on his dirty carrot.

There’s a real sense of God’s presence in our midst. What would you like to thank God for today, Dot? What would you like to thank God for Lily? Their suggestions are written on card then collected in a basket and held up high with a prayer of thanksgiving. Sadly, Sid is removed. It wasn’t the carrot, but he needs a carer beside him and the carer was called away. Shame, he was engaging so well. But as we sing All things bright and beautiful Jessie and Dot are wheeled back in. We don’t mind the interruption.

The service ends with a blessing – first from the front, and then around the room an individual blessing to each person by name. Lily cries as I declare the peace of the Lord over her. Time now for chatting. We are a big team this time and so there are plenty one-to-ones. Each resident is given a prayer card to take away with them.  We say goodbye and we will see them again next month for a Remembrance Day service.

The Lord indeed was there, His Spirit indeed with us.

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1st Nov 2017 Posted in: Linked Blog Posts by Catriona Foster
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