National Older Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Lake Junaluska, N.C. — Sept. 7-11, 2009
Sept. 9, 2009
Preacher: Cynthia L. Hale
Text for the sermon: Isaiah 43:15-21, 65:16-25
Calling to mind the challenge at Gilgal, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hall repeated the retelling of holy history that Joshua gave to the people. Reminding all how the people had quailed at the prospect of entering into the Promised Land, she recalled the story of Caleb–over 80 years old and ready to act on the promises of God.
“I can remember as if it were yesterday when I received my AARP card,” said Hale, who is a church planter and founding pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga. “I was officially a senior citizen. I don’t know why I was so reluctant to admit I was aging. I wanted to be young forever, but that’s not reality. From the moment we are born, with every passing day, we grow old.”
She emphasized that we get better with life. “I can’t wait until my hair turns white,” Hale continued. The author of Proverbs compares grey hair to a crown, she reminded the congregation. Emphasizing how much she is enjoying her crown of years, she asked the congregation if they are ready to claim the blessings God has planned for them. “It’s time to let go of the fantasy of being eternally young to embrace the new life with unlimited possibility and blessing,” Hale said.
Speaking with great dynamism and energy, she outlined the significance of the later years. “If you don’t believe me, ask Caleb,” she said, and then spoke of the leadership the aging Caleb gave to a younger generation. Caleb and Joshua had been the two who had never wavered in their faith that God could make all things possible. The previous generation had not listened to Joshua and Caleb. Their hearts had melted with fear.
“You know that fear paralyzes you and robs you of your possibilities,” Hale said. “Fear will keep you from moving on with your life…. All of the people of that generation died in the wilderness. ….So what are you afraid of?” Though she listed many legitimate fears associated with age, she said that many fears are not connected to reality. “When we have Christ in our life we have the courage to live fully until the day we die,” she said. Courage is not the absence of fear, she insisted, but allows us to push on despite our fears.
Though we are tempted to wish things were the way they used to be, Hale said we are to help make it the world the way it ought to be. “Caleb did not magnify the problems,” Hale said. “He magnified God.” And she continued, “At every age we experience physical change. We may not be able to hop out of bed the way we used to, but who wants to hop out of bed anyway? We can stay in bed as long as we want!”
Eighty percent of seniors have no limitations in navigating daily tasks, she said. “Limitations do not stop us unless we allow them to stop us. We can face any and all challenges if we have faith and trust in God. With God nothing is impossible.” She encouraged her listeners to trust in God and prepare for the whole new life God is planning for all.
“Too many become retiring and tire. They ask, ‘I wonder if there’s more?’ Of course there’s more. Didn’t Jesus say I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly?”
Our lives should consist of a series of lives–“a plethora of possibilities… We live our lives in season, and each season is a mosaic that is part of a whole. And every season of our lives has been woven into a tapestry, weaving the old and the new to create a perfect you.”
— Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
The News Team for the 2009 National Older Adult Conference is led by Eddie Edmonds, and includes Alice Edmonds, Frank Ramirez, Perry McCabe, and staff Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, who serves as director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.