Abide: new worship service for elders with Alzheimer’s

I promised I’d let you know whenever I post a new worship service, so here’s the latest one. This week I chose the theme of Abiding.

I’m not sure why I decided on this theme. Maybe it’s because the old hymn “Abide With Me” has been running through my head:

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me

Abiding isn’t a word we use much in modern language, so I looked it up: It comes from the Old English words for “onward” and “wait.” What a powerful combination! God’s presence is continual, onward, and God waits with us, stays with us, perseveres with us. The word evokes a deep reminder of God’s steadfast presence, a light and guide, especially for those who struggle on the dark seas of dementia.

When I led this service last weekend, the residents responded beautifully to the sense of abiding with God and God abiding with them. As we talked about abiding, they used words like:

  • being with me
  • being together
  • permanence
  • assurance
  • love
  • comforting
  • feeling safe
  • closeness
  • sharing

They especially perked up with Jesus’ example of the vine and branches (John 15). “What’s a branch going to do when it’s on the ground, separated from the vine?” I asked. “What’s it good for?”

“Nothing,” one man wisely answered. “Just kindling.”

“And how about when a branch is attached to the vine, or to a tree?”

“It stays alive!” several people responded. “And it’ll have fruit — if it’s a fruit tree,” one woman added knowingly.

Enjoy this “Abiding” service with your elders and let me know how it goes.

Peace be with you,


Photo by Janus Y

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