We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story comes from Rev. Matthew Van Maastricht and Calvary Reformed Church in New Berlin, WI. We hope these stories inspire and encourage others in our region. If you’d like to share what God is doing in your church (or classis), please email Chad.
What impact could a tiny church composed mostly of folks in their golden years have on its community? This is a question that the Calvary Reformed Church of New Berlin has been wrestling with for some time. Between the large Roman Catholic churches and the Evangelical megachurches, what impact can this small, aging, Protestant church have on its community? To most, perhaps, the answer would be “nothing.” But this is an answer from a false narrative and one that we would not accept.
One of our members spent some time in a local assisted living facility, though he has since moved to a different facility. In addition to that, one of our elders volunteers with a local hospice organization and has had patients in that facility. It is a relatively small facility, run on a shoestring budget, and while it is nice, it is fairly spartan. We can’t save the world, we thought, but perhaps we can make a small difference by focusing our outreach efforts to one end, starting small, but striving to do it well.
Our hospice volunteer elder had an idea of making centerpieces for the tables where the residents eat their meals. The places where they sit three times a day are quite bare, having only their name plaques. What if we could create centerpieces, and regularly make new ones to go with the changing of the seasons? We reached out to the staff there and offered this idea, who were very receptive to it.
This past Advent, we gathered at church on a Saturday morning and made Christmas-themed centerpieces, one for each table, and we scheduled a noon hour where we could go, deliver them, and spend some time visiting with the residents. It went incredibly well, the residents loved it, the staff loved it, and we loved it. And so, we have continued — every couple of months, we gather on a Saturday morning and make new seasonal centerpieces for the residents there.
Small things, which are actually big things. Because it’s not really about centerpieces for the tables. These are really only the vehicle. It’s about time to connect with people who often find themselves warehoused. Many of the residents have lost spouses, have family who are scattered, and who only infrequently receive visitors. Many of these folks can’t make it out to church (or anywhere else) to fellowship with others. And this provides an opportunity for us to visit with people, share of ourselves with them, and serve as conduits for the grace which God has lavished upon us.
This is a small thing, but it has re-energized us with a sense of mission, it has offered us a fresh wind of life in a time when that can be so rare. And, we hope, that it is bringing even a bit of the light of Christ to the hearts of the residents with whom we share of ourselves.