Many seniors living in faith-based assisted living communities are well-versed in Scripture and the stories of the Gospels. But many others are just learning some of these stories for the first time or have forgotten some of the stories over the years. No matter what your familiarity with the Bible is, Easter provides an amazing story that you can learn and relearn every year with new wonder. Here are a few things that seniors in assisted living communities can take from the Easter story and the stories surrounding Holy Week this year.
The Easter story is a nonstop roller coaster ride for Jesus, who isn't surprised by the ups and downs. He knows what's coming, and he remains true throughout it all.
When the people are cheering him as he rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, he stays the course. Anyone else would have likely climbed off the colt and taken up the faux crown the world was trying to offer. But Jesus knew that the true crown came from God, not from adoring fans and crowds.
Later, when the way became tough and the outlook bleak to everyone else, Jesus remained true. He wasn't swayed by crowds, and he wasn't swayed by the darkness of the world. He knew that God's plan was being enacted and he was obedient to it.
Certainly no person is Jesus, but we can strive to be like him in this way: We can stay the course and keep our eyes on the things of God. No matter how many (or few) friends are cheering us on in this hour, or what struggles we might face, we know that God has a plan for us.
Aside from Jesus, everyone else in the Easter story falls short. Judas betrays Christ. The disciples closest to Jesus fall asleep on prayer watch. Peter denies him. The disciples flee and scatter in fear. The Bible doesn't pull punches when it describes all these failures, but the point isn't to depress us.
The point is to impress on us the fact that everyone falls short. To remind us that we can't stay the course with God's plan for us alone. That's why he sent Jesus in the first place.
No matter someone's age, wisdom or background — whether they're a child or a learned senior in an assisted living community — they will fall short of the glory of God. But the Easter story reminds us that we're not called to be perfect. We're called to follow Jesus.
Jesus prays numerous times in the stories surrounding Holy Week. One of those times is in the Garden of Gethsemane. At that time, he prayed that God might remove this burden from him if it was God's will to do so. But he submitted to God within that prayer, saying that if it was God's will, then it would be done. The response to this prayer was that God sent an angel to minister to and strengthen Jesus.
What can seniors of faith learn from Jesus's prayers throughout this time? First, that the first response to anything — especially struggle — is prayer. Second, that God listens and responds to prayers, even though he doesn't always take the burden of what we pray about from us.
But while Jesus was praying, a lot of other people were getting caught up in the moments of this world. Jesus kept his eye on heaven, but even the disciples had moments where they were very much stuck in this world and concentrating on the things related to it. The obvious example is Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But then there's Peter, who was ready to draw a sword and shed blood in a fight that wasn't part of God's plan.
It's easy to get caught up in whatever is going on with the world, especially in a time when we have instant access to news on television and via the internet. But the Easter story reminds us that we should remember that we're not part of this world forever and prioritize appropriately.
Finally, the thing seniors of faith celebrate during Easter every year — and the message that loses no power whatsoever no matter how many times you have celebrated it — is that Jesus is alive. He beat death and sin and rose again, and he did all that for you. So that you can have eternal life. But he also wants you to have abundant life now, wherever you are.
Live a life in your assisted living community that celebrates daily the fact that Jesus died for you, whether that means showing love to others, joining in on Christian fellowship or keeping your eyes on the things of heaven.