Today we have a celebration of our elders. In biblical times, old age was prized and considered to be a gift granted by God to only a few as a reward for their faithfulness. Being old was a sign that a person walked very closely with God. The gift of growing old was not only a gift given to the recipient but a gift for the whole community. The presence of someone old in the community was a blessing of wisdom, experience, and spiritual presence given by God.
Today, many senior adults have lived long lives of faithfulness and are a gift to our church. They have served the church in the past and will continue to serve the church into the future by nurturing and mentoring the faith of those who follow in their footsteps.
I have been blessed by those gifts throughout my life.
My first year of college everyone was talking about going home for Christmas break and what they were going to do. There were many plans for family gatherings. I did not have those plans. I was going home to my family, and I was excited about that…..but we did not have any relatives close to us — at this time in my life all my grandparents have passed away.
But I clearly remember coming back from break that year, sharing stories with my friends.
They were recalling all the things that their families talked about, the hundreds of questions their grandparents asked them…..this was the same experience I had at my church.
Larry in the choir talked with me about the singing lessons that I was taking at college.
Linda, one of my Sunday School teachers wanted to make sure that I was doing okay with my studies.
Rod and millie asked about the friends that I was making in school. They were all concerned for my wellbeing and they asked out of love, as a part of my family.
There are three passages that I would like to share with you today.
The first is from psalm 71. This is a prayer for life long protection. The psalmist writes. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come.”
One of the things we are called to do as Christians is to proclaim God to the world. This psalm asks for guidance in doing that.
In Acts 2:17 the Bible says “‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.’”
The dreams of what the church is, and can become is so important for our future.
I love this verse from Act because it not only lifts up the importance of dreams but it also connects everyone together for this purpose. It establishes a future together in God’s glory. Your young will see visions and your old will dream dreams.
Each of us has an important role to play in the mission and ministry of the church.
I have led many vision planning sessions over the years. When I encourage people to come to these sessions many of the older people say that they don’t want to come, that they don’t have anything to offer anymore — I remind them of the importance that their wisdom and experience is an important asset to the church.
And when we work together as the one body of Christ the church comes alive.
We all need moments when we feel connected with one another, when we feel alive and fully present with one another and with God.
One of the reasons is because we no longer have Jesus present with us in the world but we are here together doing the ministry that God is calling us to do and we need reminders of this.
We need reminders that that resurrection is not just a one-time event, or is the only thing that secures our future, but it is a way of life.
I think that’s exactly what Jesus is trying to say in this final prayer from our Gospel today. It is something that the disciples got to overhear. It’s what they need to hear. It’s what we need to hear.
These have been times when I have seen our church come alive. When we are gathering together as the One Body of Christ — like today as we worship with one another, which is important…..
But just as important, maybe even more important is when we take our worship experience and the move that experience from the pews into the fellowship Hall – From the fellowship hall into the world.
We have an amazing church community that is willing to try new things, that is willing to connect with one another young and old. and a community that take seriously what it means like to be alive in Christ.
That it’s in these moments that we come as close as we can to resurrection life here and now. When we have these experiences we not only proclaim the risen Christ with our lips, but also with our lives.
The prayer that Jesus gives in the Gospel today is important because it reminds us that being alive is not only a blessing but it is a gift. That the resurrection is not only Jesus appearing in a garden, or in a locked room, or on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
But it is Jesus’ presence in our lives, in the here and now because Jesus wants us to live a life that is alive with resurrection.
Jesus wants us to connect with one another in and out of worship, in and out of our fellowship experience because as we do we further the kingdom of God and we know what is like to live a resurrection life.
So thank you, thank you to our Elders, thank you for being there for the church over the years. Thank you for being a part of something special, for supporting this ministry like you have done. Thank you for the prayers you have offered to every generation. Please accept the prayers that we offer YOU this day, as we celebrate your commitment to the ministry of this Church and your commitment to the faith in which Jesus calls you too.