This Christmas will be unlike any we have seen for generations. Many older people may be unable to spend time with family or friends due to the coronavirus pandemic, others will be mourning the loss of a loved one, and there will be people everywhere feeling lonely, fearful, forgotten, and frustrated by the need to shield or self isolate. This is a difficult season and we cannot underestimate the pressure on the emotional, mental, and physical health of all of us, especially our elderly population. Sadly, even before this pandemic, however, over 5 million older people said that the television or their pet was their main form of company. (Age UK report)

And yet there is always hope. As we read in John 1:5, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. While many people will remain on their own over Christmas, particularly those in later life, we know that they are never alone as God is with them. For our older church members, we can help them stay connected; and for those older people in our wider communities, we can reach out, with Christmas still being a time when many are receptive to the Christmas message of hope and goodwill’. People are experiencing very real suffering and isolation, and while we may not be able to fix that immediately, we can still show them they aren’t forgotten, either by us, or by their loving creator. 

There are many little things we can do to demonstrate that no one is forgotten, overlooked or unloved by Jesus. Below are a few suggestions:

  1. Organise a telephone rota for people in your church to call your older members, perhaps asking them for their help on that rota too. Many older people would not only appreciate a phone call, but would love to help ring around others who may be struggling, to lend a listening ear and offer to pray with them.
  2. Send postcards to your church members, or even to older people on your street. If you don’t have leaflets inviting people to carol services this year, you could send a postcard that reminds older people that they are not forgotten, that God sees them and that He cares. Faith in Later Life have sets of postcards for just this purpose, which you can find on our website.
  3. Pray for the older people in our community, especially over Christmas. Perhaps you could ask the older members of your church, who are often fervent and faithful praying people, to pray for others in the church and wider community. Psalm 92 reminds us that older believers will flourish and still bear fruit in old age.
  4. Share the free 24/7 Daily Hope telephone line on 0800 804 8044 which provides hymns, reflections and services for older people who are housebound and alone.

At Faith in Later Life we have many free to download resources and blogs to help us all think through how to engage with each other, whether scattered or gathered. Do visit our resource hub and check out our campaign to ensure older people are #NotForgotten this Christmas.

As we navigate through this difficult season, it’s wonderful to know that God is with us, and that as we celebrate Christmas, we can still do so with joy and hope because the Lord Jesus remains the light of our world.