Written by: Ben Frederiksen (Young Adults & Care Pastor)
Throughout this past year of the pandemic, our seniors have shown an incredible spirit of perseverance, trust in God, and creativity in finding safe ways to gather and encourage each other. In church, in the parking lot, and even on the street, I would like to highlight just a few of the things God is doing in and through our seniors at NLCC.
Beatitudes Bible Study and Hymn Sing
When restrictions on indoor gatherings were temporarily lifted in the fall, the Worship Centre was full (well, full up to the 50 person limit!) for our Beatitudes Bible Study and Hymn Sing. Pastor Joy organized a wonderful team of volunteers to bake delicious treats. Elsie Ens on the accordion joined Pastor Cory and others in leading us in some classic hymns– even partly muffled by masks, the sound of singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” brought tears to many eyes, including mine. Different pastors took turns leading the Bible study on one of Jesus’ beatitudes from Matthew 5. Unfortunately, we only made it through the third beatitude, “Blessed are the meek,” before new restrictions were imposed. Still, the hunger for fellowship, singing, and studying God’s Word was evident in those few meetings. We look forward to relaunching a Bible Study and Hymn Sing with our seniors when we can!
The Old Guys Coffee Gang
What do you get when you throw together a group of retired guys and coffee? Well, you get some pretty great jokes, for starters! (Ask Rudy Wiebe about the squirrel infestation…) An informal group of men, united by their love of coffee, walking, and fellowship, have been gathering regularly for some time. When McDonald’s could no longer host them, they found their way to the NLCC parking lot, where they have been faithfully meeting (safely) outdoors at least once a month, rain or shine. They catch up, banter, tell jokes, discuss the latest pandemic restrictions, eat donuts, celebrate birthdays, and pray for each other. One of their ringleaders, Alex Warneke, described the benefit of the group this way: “We know that we’re there for each other. We care for each other.” Another participant, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, said: “You guys are like brothers to me.” Out of this group has come a regular visitation ministry to one of the men in the group whose health is suffering. And they always have an extra donut to share with any “young buck” pastors looking for an afternoon treat and a joke…
The Street Ladies
Life groups are an integral part of growing as an apprentice of Jesus. When indoor gatherings were shut down, many of our groups moved online to Zoom. But some of the women from Betty Fast’s life group found a creative way to still connect in person: they continued to meet outdoors on a quiet, dead-end neighborhood street. These self-described “street ladies” have been meeting weekly since early spring, no matter the temperature. They gather to share what’s going in their families and to pray for each other. As Betty said, “The main thing is, we want to keep encouraging each other. We are so blessed to have meaningful relationships with each other.” These personal touchpoints are such a vital connection for the women in the midst of a pandemic that has caused so much social isolation and mental stress. For the street ladies, when 4pm rolls around the conversation shifts to food and dinner preparation, but their hearts have already been fed by gathering in Christian fellowship. These are just a few snapshots of some of the ways our seniors are gathering both safely and creatively in this strange year. Many more of our seniors are quietly going about being the body of Christ: they are checking in on neighbours and providing meals, calling people to encourage them and pray with them, and watching the online service with people in their “bubble.” God is at work in and through our seniors, and I am so encouraged and inspired by them!