In Leviticus 19:32, Moses connects having respect for the elderly with revering the LORD. The Christian community should be one that shows reverence for the aged.
So much of the Christianity I see flashed across social media sites seem to reflect the culture’s obsession with youth. Young, hip pastors speak from well decorated stages while exuberant 30 somethings are shown singing energetically in the audience. The band leader looks like he is ready for a magazine shoot, hair perfectly quaffed and styled, while young ladies in their 20s sing harmony behind him.
Very rarely in promo videos for anything do you see an older couple using walkers making their way to their seats. Now, I’m not a marketing guy and I’m sure slow moving seniors don’t make for an exciting quick cut video that puts butts in the seats of your conference/weekend/service/whatever.
But shouldn’t we still stand in honor before the aged?
I recently visited one of our senior members in the nursing home. It was one of the sweetest hours I’ve spent in a long time. Before I left her, I asked how I could pray for her specifically. Her answer, without hesitation, was, “Pray that I would live the kind of life in here that God would approve.” My heart melted. I don’t know if I have ever felt more love and honor for a member of our church than I did at that moment. There she was, at 91, in a place she felt uncomfortable and lonely, and her greatest request was to continue to live in a way that pleased her Father.
Oh, the honor that this woman deserves!
There are saints in our churches that have walked with the Lord faithfully for decade after decade and they deserve our honor. So how can we do that?
Sit Beside Them
When you’re looking for a place to sit in worship service, don’t look for the place that provides an easy exit, don’t look for the place that has enough buffer space between you and the others sitting around you. Look for widows. Look for an elderly couple sitting by themselves. And park there!
I remember when Eddie, a young single man in his 30s, began attending our church. The seat he chose? With three widowed, elderly ladies. For years, those elderly women had sat in a row by themselves and now all the sudden there is a big, burly, bearded man to add to the mix. It was glorious. It was honor shown to the aged.
There are a lot of things that elderly folks are no longer able to do on their own. And some of them are simple tasks.
A great honor that we can show to the elderly is to call them on the phone (do churches still do directories these days?) and simply ask them if there is anything we could do or get for them that day. Fifteen minutes or an hour of our time could provide a great service to them and show them the honor they deserve.
A great difficulty of those in nursing homes is that they are lonesome. It is one thing to meet with other residents at the home but another thing when people who know and love them stop by to visit from the outside. It gives them something to look forward to and creates a highlight in an otherwise mundane, routine day. We can cultivate the discipline of just listening or the ministry of presence. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to say. Just being there shows the honor that you have for them.
When we honor the aged in our community, we honor the years and decades of service they have given to the LORD and to our church family. May we rise before them and show them, in simple, practical ways, the reverence we have for them.