The month of May is when we typically focus on aging, and looking to our elders. More than 13% of Faith Lutheran’s members are Seniors; they are a significant part of our congregation. Many of them provide vital contributions to our mission and ministry. Others, depending on their health and mobility, place heavy demands on our pastoral and congregational care. Faith Lutheran has been a congregation devoted to providing care and understanding to all ages, including Seniors. Praise God!
Each year we celebrate our elders with “Bless the Years” Sunday (May 4 this year). Our Seniors Potluck group will provide the radio broadcast, and Seniors will be involved in the worship services. It is a visible demonstration of what they carry in their hearts: their faith in God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. A faith they know God wants all people to share.
Ponder this question: What do you think is our Seniors’ greatest disappointment? Conversely, what is their greatest joy? Would it be health? Money? Fun activities? I can tell you from my visits with Seniors that while they may bemoan their loss of good vision, hearing, mobility or continence, there is one pain that stands out above all. It is that their children or grandchildren have forsaken regular Sunday worship. That simple reality is more heart-wrenching than any other trial they face. Similarly, what gives them joy and good sleep, more than anything else is knowing that their offspring are faithful worshippers and workers in the Kingdom of God through their local congregations. Seniors grew up believing there is nothing more priceless than their faith in the true God; and that their priorities in daily life must be shaped accordingly in order to please and honor God. Worship on Sunday morning and regularly accepting Jesus’ invitation to His communion table trumps absolutely all other alternative activity, including athletic tournaments and other recreation events.
Our theme this year for Bless The Years Sunday on May 4, as well as for the Digging Deeper class (April 27, May 4 & 11) is “Listening To Your Elders.” Listen to your elders, NOT because they are smarter or wiser than you, but because they want to share their faith conviction that “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” is not merely a good idea, but a first priority; because it is a command from God, Who loves you so much He wants you present with Him and fellow believers at a weekly fellowship gathering to renew your faith. He knows that without that renewal in worship we lose sight of Him and His call to let Him be the God He truly is in our lives.
Sometimes elders are fearful to bring up the subject, fearful they are “stepping into your private affairs.” They don’t want to be “bossy.” They’re not sure their children/grandchildren have any interest in “listening to your elders.” So they do nothing. Others have tried to find ways to be an influence through their witness. One grandmother told me, “I hate computers; but I got one so I could email my grandchildren in college; and I always remind them to pray every day and be at worship on Sundays.” She has no idea how God will use that, but she offers it up to Him. She hopes they might “Listen To Their Elders,” hearing the voice of God calling them, and perhaps defy all the contrary cultural voices around them.
I’ve heard a few success stories. Another grandmother told me about a recent visit from one of her granddaughters. That young lady just bubbled over about what an influence her grandmother’s faith and witness was to her own faith. Said grandma, with tears streaming down her cheeks, “Winning a big lottery could not give me any where near the joy I have right now. We just cried together for joy. Then we prayed a prayer of thanks to Jesus.” For years, she had no idea God was using her witness.
“Listening To Your Elders.” As a listener this is about wondering what God can say to me through Seniors. As a Senior, it’s about wondering how God just might use my witness to touch the lives of those about me with His love. Seniors, too, gain much from listening to fellow believers younger than they.
Thank you for listening. God bless us all!