With Age Comes Wisdon…
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a meeting over lunch at the new McAllisters in Glen Carbon with Bishop Bill Lewis (United Methodist) and Bishop Tony Clavier (Episcopalian). For once, I didn’t have much to say. I simply listened to the retired Bishops tell story after story about their experiences of leading churches at the highest level of both traditions.
Between them, Bishops Lewis and Clavier represent 164 years of life. Bishop Lewis studied under Dietrich Boenhoffer’s best friend (Boenhoffer was a German theologian and Pastor who was executed by Hitler in a concentration camp). Bishop Clavier’s father was a soldier who was trapped on the beach at Dunkirk. Tony was ordained as a young man and has been serving the church as a clergyperson for 53 years - that’s 10 years longer than I’ve been alive.
In the book of Joel, the prophet writes, “I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and
your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions”.
I realized listening to the conversation about the churches they had served, the Annual Conferences and Diocese’s they had led, and the dreams they both had for the future of Jesus’ Church, that both of these older men still had ministry to offer the church - birthed, nurtured and still growing - in Jesus’ name.
A closer reading of the text however does not contain itself to affairs of (older) men and women. It talks of sons and daughters prophesying, and young men (and women) having visions.
At the end of the day in order to survive, the church must recognize the ministry and callings of all people. Ministry is not just the domain of the educated and the wise - but it’s also the purpose and calling of the young and the risk-taker.
We - the church - do ourselves a disfavor when we talk about ministry as something that belongs to certain kinds of people and not others. The text speaks of the ministry of all ages - and the church is not the church when it fails to listen to the voices of the young, or the old, simply because they are young or old.
At the end of the day, we are called to be the church together - from the youngest to the oldest. As the song reminds us: “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together (UMH 558)”. Put simply, we are not the church unless we are the church together - young or old, male or female, left handed or right handed.
As a Lenten discipline leading into Easter, I invite you to stop and encourage someone in their calling, gifting and ministry who is very different to you. Different politically, socially, theologically - even differently aged. Remind them that we are not ‘the church’ without them.
Wishing you grace on your journey through the wilderness in these final weeks of Lent.
Grace and peace... Pastor Mike