Stephen Hess (03/11/2020)
Thirty years ago, I noticed a book on the organist’s piano called Aging Gracefully, from a Christian perspective. I admired her for preparing for the unexpected future. This class is an experiment. The younger you are the more you will benefit from it. This class is for those under 50. When I was 28, I sat down with the Church of the Brethren pension board. They asked me what I wanted to do when I retired. In my mind I thought, I’m not going to age much, so I will do exactly what I am doing now, except without the pressure of work. We cannot see into the later years of our lives. Over, my life I have realized that no one really teaches you how to actually do, or live, the seasons of life. It’s like the big secret, people sneer and say, wait until they turn 30, 40, 50, 60, 70. Over 35 years of ministry, I have spent most of my time with senior adults. Do you know the main thing they have told me? “I never thought it would be like this. I never really pictured my latter years. I never thought this (health issue) would happen to me.”
It seems like we all have a denial pattern, concerning our aging. In this class we will look at living graciously, and the Christian perspective on older age. I have made value judgements here. What is Christian aging? Why not aging stoically, resolutely, or victoriously? Have you seen persons age angrily, bitterly, or hopelessly? What does it mean to live graciously? What does it mean to be gracious? Grace is undeserved favor. We all live on the grace of God.
What word would you use to describe ideal aging? Happy, care free, or worry free? I’ve known for years I should do this class. I’ve realized another one, that I am not ready to teach. A class on how to prepare for your death. My death. It begins by getting a medium sized suitcase. You use a label maker and put your name on it. You make a list of things you want to take to heaven. You plan your memorial service. This suitcase will be at the front of the church, at your funeral service. You will make a recorded, good by letter, to you family, friends, and enemies. It will be played at the end of your service. What else should be included at your service?
We teach what we need to learn. I need to learn how to age gracefully. Over the next few lessons I want to look at specific ways we all can age gracefully.