On Wednesday December 13th our church will send several small teams to visit with widows and widowers, especially those who are homebound and cannot gather regularly with our church. We call the effort “Christmas Chats.” The idea is simple: Bring them a gift and sit in their homes and talk.
Frankly, not as many people will show up to do this ministry as on other Wednesdays. I get it—going to an older person’s home feels strange, particularly if you don’t know them. For those that do come, it will be one of the most rewarding evenings of the year.
Ministering to widows and widowers is not hard because it’s challenging work. Widow ministry is difficult because it takes time. Ironically, many homebound people have hours of availability each day even as they don’t have much time left. It’s a double irony. Those who could minister to them often don’t believe they have the time in the day even though they have years, if not decades, of time in front of them. The widows have lots of hours but few days, while others have lots of days but few hours in the day.
I’m thankful for our deacons, who care for our widows throughout the year. I’m thankful our Life Groups consistently reach out to people who can’t get out much. I’m thankful our preschool moms often take their children to visit with widows, widowers, and the homebound. We can certainly do more, but we have several people in our church who are deliberate to make this time for them. I’m learning from them.
Is there a clearer verse in the Bible than James 1:27? “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Everyone knows this verse, while few actually do this verse. The clearest Scriptural mandates are often the most neglected.
Use this Christmas season to begin something new—be deliberate with your time. Intentionally give it to people who are most in need. Each year gives us 700,000 more widows and 100,000 more widowers. The average time of remaining a widow or widower is almost 15 years. Most of them lose their support base when their spouse passes.
A year ago, during our Christmas Chats outreach, I sat in a home with a widow for an hour. My children played on the floor while we talked about the history of our church, about the past of our community, and about raising children. We laughed at her jokes. She brought joy into my life. My children made a new friend. I gleaned so much.
All I had to do was make the time.