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Optage Senior Dining Choices: Delivering meals and hope

Light for the Way seriesWe invite you to take a peek inside our Light for the Way devotional series. Each week we provide staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen ouur focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

By Chaplain Steve Richards, Optage Hospice

"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.'" — 
Luke 1:26-28
This year, Optage Senior Dining Choices served over 1.5 million meals to nearly 13,000 people. (Optage is the home and community services division of Presbyterian Homes & Services.) These are huge numbers and represent a significant need in our communities. However, these numbers are also representative of unique moments: for these are 1.5 million individual meals delivered to 13,000 different people and their families.
Recently, I got the chance to ride along with Salah, an Optage driver who delivers meals to homes throughout the 7-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. Salah spoke of the enjoyment he gets seeing the smiles on people’s faces as he delivers food to them, and that doing this work brings him real joy. I got to witness this joy firsthand, and it is infectious.
Steve and SalahHowever, as I watched him work, I also noticed that he is not just delivering food. Through his weekly visits, he has begun to form unique and personal relationships with people, and this has led him to also have a pastoral presence. For instance, one elder client spoke with him about how her bank card was recently stolen, and that this was a source of stress and worry. Salah listened as she spoke and then gently counseled her with assurances that things would be made right by her bank. As he did, these words of Jesus came to my mind: "I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (John 10:14).

How does all this relate to the season of Advent we are in, and the reading from Luke 1:26-28?
Advent is a time of hope — of bringing light into darkness. It is also a time when we look forward to God’s unique arrival in this world in human form. Yes, God may love all 7.8 billion people in the world, but the story of God’s love for us began in "a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph." 
Whilst thinking about all the needs in the world can quickly become overwhelming, God has called us to continue the work of bringing light into darkness by reaching out to our neighbour (Matthew 22:39). We at PHS are not meant to save the whole world. We begin by being imitators of Christ, and then serve and show love to each other (John 13:34). For when we do this, then God can, through each one of us, transform the lives of thousands in the process.
Check out this video of Steve’s ride-along with Salah:

More selected devotionals in the Light for the Way series:
Committed to reconciliation
Trust in God inspires person-centered care
'I am because we are'
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series

In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website

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