Today’s entry continues a new FullofYears feature: Short musings about lectionary texts that may soon appear in your line-of-sight. These entries may prove helpful in interpreting a Sunday’s appointed lessons with sensitivity to the realities faced by those who are older.
It seems possible that we can look at a text from the viewpoint of older adults. They were among the original writers and hearers of Scripture. Elderly people were subjects of some biblical narratives. Not every lectionary text connects this way, but there are still surprising moments when these texts speak directly to those of us who are older!
Sunday, October 6, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 27, Cycle C)
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4: We may still worry whether evil will prevail. This quiet agony can grow over our decades of life. God still answers with power.
Psalm 37:1-9: Even after our lifetimes of dealing with evil, it’s good to remember patiently that evil eventually gets defeated.
2 Timothy 1:1-14: This text captures the spirit and the content of how an older person can encourage someone younger. A testimony of a life well-lived for God’s purposes, in spite of circumstances.
Luke 17:5-10: Something many older folks understand: Sometimes you just put your shoulder to the wheel and get done what is supposed to happen. Devotion to duty can be a motivation that outlasts notions of supposed deservedness, privilege or happiness.
Sunday, October 13, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 28, Cycle C)
Psalm 111: Wisdom begins at a source we know from years of experience and learning: That we are not minor gods come to Earth! Self-idolatry just doesn’t work anymore.
2 Timothy 2:8-15: Two reasons to endure, to persist at living faithfully: For the sake of the truth—a gift we encounter along the way—and for the sake of others (the elect).
Sunday, October 20, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 29, Cycle C)
Genesis 32:22-31: Anyone who’s “wrestled with God” knows the cost and the benefits of these times of difficult prayer and discernment. It’s good to remember how those cathartic or life-changing moments of seeking spiritual clarity turned out for us.
Psalm 121: God’s comforting help is as tangible as hills and mountains. Perhaps especially as “forevermore” gets closer and closer.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5: Over the years, being immersed in Scripture yields blessings that might not have been apparent when we were younger. Our persistence in influencing others (towards God’s ways) might be eventually seen in our children’s lives.
Luke 18:1-8: The widow—perhaps an older woman deprived of her inheritance—outlasts an unjust judge by her skillful persistence in shaming him to do the right thing. In our later years, we can advocate for justice. Skillfully, tirelessly, righteously.
Sunday, October 27, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 30, Cycle C)
Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22: A difficult truth: At the end of our days, our sins can still testify against us. Thankfully, there’s forgiveness and grace to counter deserved punishment!
(Sirach 35:12-17): Justice for the poor—especially widows—is part of God’s will. Perhaps it’s even a central part of spiritual life?
Psalm 84:1-7: A comforting song for those who love their churches as homes, nests, places of identity and mission. Older adult church members can readily identify with this psalm, and the reasons for the reassurances.
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18: Deeply moving, this reflection by Paul feels like an end-of-life soliloquy that any of us could be honored to have applied to our own lives! How joining with God’ will has been worth it, no matter how hard.
Luke 18:8-14: It’s hard NOT to be a Pharisee. Throughout our lives we try to do what’s right throughout our lives so it can be difficult to know what to think about sinners around us. Still, we don’t redeem ourselves—at any age—by bragging about our good works.
Reformation Day 2019
Psalm 46: Natural calamities don’t necessarily afflict those who are old or poor. God’s being a “very present help in trouble” is something even more important.
John 8:31-36: It may be harder to find “freedom” in old age—our diminished capabilities may seem like hindrances. Still, we’ve found truth in Jesus’ life and teachings, and that’s helped us find freedom at this time in life, perhaps—per Luther’s definition—by being “servants of all.”
As an older adult now, I find myself listening to Sunday lessons with new insights, new possibilities, new hopes. The Scriptures speak to me still. You, too…?