Emerald Crest Worship

May 14, 2018

Chaplain Arlen SolemI am new at Emerald Crest, having been serving as chaplain and campus pastor since early April. A primary function of my work is to lead worship services weekly at every house. These worship services are such a wonderful time of celebration and connection with God and one another.

I’ve noticed two differently profound things during these worship services. 

One of those is the joy that so many feel in this familiar connection. The well known songs and hymns that are sung are a piece of this. People who know these hymns so well who once they hear the first line join in with gusto. Some even harmonize. Some cannot get the words out, hum along to the familiar tune.

One of the songs we typically sing is He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. A song that many have known since they were kids. Being new I am still learning names of residents. I started to sing names into the verses going around the room until I have included everyone’s names. For instance, “He has Mary and Ruth in His hands. He has Mary and Ruth in His hands.” I’ve done this as much to help myself learn names as anything.

But I have noticed so many people light up when it is their own name.  I often see people who seem to not be engaged at all or who even have their eyes closed but when they hear their name sung they come alive. Eyes open. Faces smile. Their name in song with the words that God has them in His hands is a time of joy and even laughter.

The other profundity I have noticed in worship is during Holy Communion. As we prepare for Communion, the Words of Institution are said, “On the night in which he was betrayed our Lord Jesus took bread….”  We then either fold or join hands with one another to say the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father who art in heaven…”

After this prayer, there is such an incredible sense of solemnity and thoughtful peace.  The laughter and friendly interaction that is often a part of worship calms. People who are prone to speaking to their neighbor or calling out begin reverential silence. It is a deep connection to God through this Sacrament that people have experienced throughout their lives and continue to experience weekly.

We then sing How Great Thou Art. The sense of Grace and Thanksgiving continues to permeate the room as the beautiful hymn in sung by beautiful voices.

I have been touched by these moments. Moments when people know they are in the right place with the familiar surrounding them. Connecting with God again. 

Joy and Peace coming together in worship just as it should be.

Chaplain Arlen Solem

More about Chaplain Arlen Solem here (PDF)

For questions about our spiritual care program, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Chaplain Arlen Solem at 612-554-6379 or apsolem@augustanacare.org.

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I felt my mother was in the best possible environment she could be in with a dementia diagnosis.  Staff are very knowledgeable.  My mother appeared happy and intent.

— Gretchen, daughter of resident

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