Highlights from “Aging Like a Christian” by Vicki Hollon

Highlights from “Aging Like a Christian” by Vicki Hollon

On April 2nd a good number of Trinity members attended the 2019 C. W. Brister Lecture sponsored by Logsdon Seminary in our sanctuary. While celebrating Logsdon’s success we learned from the guest lecturer, Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry. Willimon has significantly shaped pastors and seminarians around the world through his teaching, his 70 books and in his pastoral positions in the United Methodist church, and it was our privilege to share in this experience with Logsdon.

Willimon is currently working on a book with the working title, Aging Like a Christian; still in a draft format. As a pastor with older adults, I was honored when he chose to share his draft with me, and with his permission I would like to give you just an appetizer; several of the important insights Willimon has highlighted for all of us:

• “Somewhere between bungee jumping and despondent loneliness lies the truth of old age.” (Referring to how countless pharmaceutical advertisements have penetrated our cultural thoughts about aging.)

• “Christians are those who gather weekly in order to bend our lives toward an ancient text, a collection of writings that we believe to be strong evidence that God has graciously condescended toward us.”

• “While long years are a blessing (Prov. 16:31; 20:29), a long life is not an inherent right nor can it be the supreme goal of life.”

• “…some of the change and development that’s required in our last years is instigated by a living God who keeps calling us to witness, to testify, and to continue to walk the narrow way of discipleship.” Therefore, “A key question for each Christian is, ‘What is God doing in my life now?’ ”

• “Most want to live longer; few want to grow old.”

• “If your major needs are control, independence, and power over your circumstances…retirement and aging can be tough.”

• “We can see aging and retirement as ‘mere oblivion,’ …or we can view this stage of life as a call for self-reflection, for life-course correction, and for the embrace of new direction in relating to others and to our world…aging can be a call for increased attentiveness to and engagement with God.”

• “…blessings of retirement: freedom, being helpful to children and grandchildren, time to reconnect with friends and family, release from the burden of having to hold things together in a job, time to communicate with letters and email, extrication from some of the annoying hassles of working life, being able to sleep whenever desired, the freedom to read and learn new things, liberty to say yes and no to offers, freedom to travel.” (To name a few.)

• “Retirement doesn’t so much take away our self as it gives us a different sort of self.”

• “Judging from research into people’s reports of happiness, it’s more dicult to be forty than seventy…

• “For Christians the major goal to ‘successful aging’ is active discipleship, fulfillment of our vocation, service and Sabbath-like connection with God.”

No matter the amount of time you and I have left on earth, I pray we will finish well and I am grateful we are in this faith family together.