Thursday, November 3, 2011

Love your widow/ers, the world keeps turning

A number of years ago I picked up a second hand copy of the PTC course "New Testament 1". The copy previously belonged to an older man from the early morning congregation.

At the beginning of unit 10, about the betrayal and death of Jesus, the course had an introductory question
"What is the worst loneliness that you can imagine?"
Below, in an older man's small cursive script, he had written
"To be married for 50 years to your best friend and to suddenly lose her"
I knew he wasn't imagining.
There is a bit of a mood in our churches to resent the elderly for their demands on our time and energy. Yet these are the people on the front line with the reality of a broken world.
Death comes early to all the elderly, and possibly worse for those who live longest.
As one man in my church said "My world died decades ago, now there is a different world I don't know and doesn't know me".

Why do they need our prayers and time help and encouragement? I think Tom Waits puts it best
"They always say he marks the sparrows fall, how can anyone believe it all.
Well the band has stopped playing but we keep dancing,
the world keeps turning, the world keeps turning"

In a world of death, love becomes a poison and our good memories betray us.
The good of the world turns sour, however good it is.
We need a resurrection.


alison said...

This post raises so many issues, I don't even know where to start thinking. All I can work out at the moment is that this is very important.
Thanks for the post!

Matthew Moffitt said...

I remember that PTC book. I think I bought it at a church book sale.

One of the delights of occasionally waking up early and going to 8am church was listening to old folk. Just sit and listen. I should have done more of it.

Mike W said...

Yep, I think I got it off you Matt.
Alison, I feel the same way, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

For me there is this underlying question for church. Not 'What are we doing?' but 'How are we living?'
Visiting the elderly isn't very strategic and doesn't 'achieve' a great deal for the church. But who are we if we dont?

Also, the post has opened up to me that death is not simply an individual reality, but a social one.
We build each other up. We construct each other. I am given my 'self' by those around me, and so when they go, part of me dies with them. And so for the elderly, as their friends and even their enemies die, they may be breathing, but a large portion of their 'self' is already in the grave.

Matthew Moffitt said...

Visiting the elderly isn't very effective is it? Thank God the church is not a business...