Am I really getting that old!
The other day I had an epiphany. I am getting old! Not that this is a bad thing really, it may mean I might be getting a bit wiser, or more patient or reflective, but also because acceptance helps me to map out “where to now”! Either way it is a revelation that I am the older generation and that there are one or in fact two generations behind me, following me.
I went to our church, as I always do, and to a service not run by myself or Nev (co- author of this blog page), my mentor, who at 86 years of age, has more energy of a man half his age. No, the service was taken by someone in their 20s, in fact I think she is actually just 20. The service was a gift, given to all those present. We focussed on the God we find in all of creation, in all of life, and in all our brothers and sisters travelling with us. And our responsibilities to love those that God loves. God does not pick sides, neither is the spirit contained in just one group, one race, one religion or one country. Putting up barriers locks people out and locks God out. When we are called to love God and love our neighbour, as this young woman quite rightly pointed out, they are one and the same. We cannot love God and then do nothing for our neighbours who are also children of God.
The service was full of beautiful symbols, an Eagles song (see below) and other readings to touch our hearts for that hour and to remind us of this message. That we are called to embrace all people, those around us, and particularly the refugees who seek our welcome. To remove the barriers that divide. If we want to survive as the human species we have to get rid of these barriers, and see that we stand on holy ground everywhere.
As I watched this service unfold, it took me back to a time when I was just a little bit older, maybe 25 and taking my first service, and preaching my first sermon. In this same church. A Church community which is active and alive, which takes seriously the call of Jesus and moving of the spirit, to love and seek justice A Church community that welcomes people who question, who want to explore what faith means today, and who participate in changing things for those without support or a voice.
I have been in this Church, worshipping with these same people for over 30 years. In that time I have been allowed to grow, and mature, to share with many in the congregation their ideas, their dreams, their inner most convictions and their faith journeys. Who have encouraged me to explore other ideas and ways of being Christian in the world, who have debated theology until we have run out of things to say (actually that’s not true, we never run out of things to say!) and have introduced me to writers, theologian, mystics and poets, who all shed a little bit more on how to be a person of faith and a scientist in the 21st century.
I have, since that first sermon, given many services and sermons, talks, forums, and written many things about being a Christian in this world or more aptly a follower of Jesus, and have even become a leader and a paid employee! Yet I never fully realised how much we may also be influencing those around us, those younger than us and older us, in profound ways. I don’t’ know why, perhaps I have always been searching myself. What Nev and others started at our church, what the community is committed to and how it lives and operates in the world can ignite something that will continue long after we have gone. It happened to me and it is happening to those coming after me. Our service leader comes out of this community, and reveals in her young life the same energy and passion that has always been present here. And still is!
Perhaps this is why after 2,000 years, the story of Jesus, not the personal salvation, other worldly part, but the grander more profound here and now part, is alive and kicking. The part about loving God and our neighbour as ourselves, the part about seeking justice and compassion and peace for all. That part still resonates in the world, in “old” people like you and I (assuming you are older than 50!), and in many younger people. And in all those who love and work for their neighbour, whether they be religious or not, whether they attend a church or not, or whether they don’t believe in anything at all other than the goodness and beauty of all people. This is what will continue long after we have gone, because it is the part that is universal and enduring. It shows me that even when things look dim, the spirit will move when and where we least expect.
So I will continue to work hard to present the message of Jesus, a message that is reflected in and through us, that calls us to see the sacred in all things and all people, in what I write and how I act. And I will support those coming after me, for they will carry the light onwards.
No matter what you think the light will never go out!
ps This is the Eagles song used in the service. It’s called “The last resort”.