Again I have been caught out by the Gazette. Chris left church yesterday morning and I heard him say to someone else, “I need to get the Gazette done this week.” My immediate response was “I haven’t even thought of the Gazette letter.” We then commiserated with each other that it seems to come round so much quicker these days. We all know that that is absolute nonsense, but for various reasons our lives get so busy. Time takes on a different perspective as we get older. Someone once explained it to me like this. At 2 years old one year equals 50% of your life, but at 50 years of age 1 year equals 2% of your life. It is a perspective gained through years.
Our attitude to age came up in my devotional reading around the same time. Leviticus 19 is a series of statements about proper relationships, where v.32 states “You shall stand up before the gray head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Sadly this is a principle and practice greatly neglected in our day. I am old enough to remember a time when one would never sit and allow an older person to stand; similarly a (gentle)man would never sit and expect a lady to stand. Equality – gender, age, racial has got rid of all of that. In reality so called equality has robbed us of the respect that was built into our society. It is a sad fact that few people these days are respected. As Christians we should rightly rebel against this God given respect for fellow human beings and particularly older people.
Lev 19 has a repeated refrain – “I am the LORD”. The exhortations are set in the context of God calling His people to a recognised way of living. The implication of this verse then is that we are to respect the older person, for no other reason than that God requires it of us.
This letter could stop at that point, but Scripture gives other reasons for respecting older people. They are old and have gained more experience in life. Young people often seem to forget that no one was born at 50/60/70 years of age. They grew through childhood. They tried and tested the barriers in the teenage years. They struggled with the demands of a young family, broken nights, bleary-eyed days at work, because the mortgage/rent had to be paid and yet the new baby also needed ‘entertainment’ from 1.00 am to 6.00 am.
The church is a family and is to function as a family, with children, parents, grandparents and … It is right that young people take responsibility for the ‘heavy lifting’, but it is also right that they listen when an older person passes on a few ‘tricks of the trade’ gained through knowledge of the Bible and experience in life. God is being good to us as a church. We need to thank Him for the ‘retired’ folk who run the coffee morning, so that people of all ages might have time to talk and sit together. I am grateful again for the ‘retired’ folk who give time and effort to maintaining our church buildings. I am equally grateful for the young and not so young ‘teccies’, who keep our church in the public arena of websites, facebook, twitter and other social media. I am grateful for all who provide ‘a cup of cold water’ or rather a mug of tea or coffee in the name of our Lord. I am grateful for the ‘grandparents’ in our church who meet with young couples or new Christians to teach them the things of God in the informality of their own homes.
I recently had a lengthy conversation with our son, at the end of which he said words to the effect of, “You’re a wise old bird!” Some might think that rather disrespectful, but I know how it was understood. We had talked about how Linda and I had learnt to trust God in many and varied ways in over 40 years of Christian living.
I do believe it is right to retire as Christians, so that we can freely live without the demands of paid employment in the family of the church and to prepare the following generations. It is a sad world that rejects the resources that God has taken 50, 60, 70 even 80 years to prepare. Let us thank God for every grey head that he has placed within our church family to teach by word and life those who are new to the faith or as yet to come to faith.
A very grateful fellow worker,
Bernard Lewis May 2013