“Sometimes preachers like to talk to a specific group of people and invite the rest of you to listen in. I am going to preach to the golden girls and guys today,” said the Rev. Cynthia Hale at the morning worship service Wednesday.
Hale departed from her announced title and scripture to preach on “Living My Life Like It’s Golden.” Her text was Joshua 14: 6-14.
“I got my first AARP card on the my 45th birthday. Was it time? They wanted me and wanted me bad because on each birthday I got another solicitation,” Halle said. “At 50 I succumbed; I was officially a senior citizen.”
People want to remain young forever, and youth has its blessings and its place, she said, but getting older is good.
“I have always had salt and pepper hair and people tell me I look like a silver fox. The Bible says that gray hair is a crown of splendor, attained by a righteous life,” she said.
“My mother retired from teaching at age 70, and for a while she went back [as a substitute]. She finally told them that she wasn’t coming back anymore; her life was just too busy,” Hale continued. “She is 86 now and when I go home I ask when I can see her and she says, ‘Make an appointment.’ Aging is the sweet liberation of possibility. We are free from our youthful insecurities. I am so happy because the best is yet to come.”
Aging is the swelling of fresh life, Hale said.
“Joan Chittister said that age is not a thing to be pitied, it is a gift of God and has to be received with joy,” she said. “Our older years should be ones where we are active, alert, curious, socially important and spiritually mature.”
In the text, Caleb had served as one of the 12 spies who went into the land of Canaan to find out what the land was like. Ten of the spies decided it would be too difficult to conquer, but Joshua and Caleb knew the Israelites could conquer it because God had already given the land to them.
“Fear paralyzed the people and kept them from going to the next level of living, loving and being,” Hale said.
She asked the congregation: “What are you afraid of? Aging, falling, living alone, not enough money, insignificance? Fear is false evidence appearing to be reality. Our fears are usually nowhere near reality. Courage is the ability to press on in spite of fears.”
Caleb and Joshua did not minimize the the problems of conquering Canaan but they did not go along with the naysayers. They looked for solutions and not problems. Forty-five years after helping Israel conquer Canaan, Caleb speaks up for the promise of land Moses gave him because he remained faithful.
“There are challenges with aging,” Hale said. “Our eyes don’t see as well and our ears don’t hear as well. We are not as limber as we used to be and hopping out of bed is harder. Actually, hopping out of bed is overrated. Now is the time to slow down, take as much time as you want. Young people, eat your heart out.
“We have to work around challenges and not allow them to rob of us our life,” she continued. “Boundaries don’t stop you unless you allow them to stop you. Caleb, at age 85, was full of vigor; he is fearless and ready to claim his inheritance. He asked for the hill country; he was up to the challenge.”
Caleb was up to the challenge because he had faith in the promise that God would be with him. He knew he was kept alive for a purpose and he was going to the high places to do something he had never done before.
“Some people come to the end of a career and think that’s it. Just when we think we have reached the top, God raises the bar,” Hale said. “Joan Chittister said that there is no such thing as one life. We have a series of lives with their own tasks, sins and plethora of possibilities. We live our lives in seasons, as a mosaic as part of a whole. Each season has its own distinct purpose.”
Hale asked the congregation: “Why is God keeping you alive? What’s next? Some of you may not be aware yet of why you are alive and others are moving and shaking in it. What about the dreams that set your soul on fire with energy that can’t be controlled? We have the ability to dream great dreams; what has become of your dreams?
“Are you listening to the naysayers? We all need a little imagination and a big dream. If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you won’t try. When Caleb took the hill country, his son came right behind him and took his inheritance. Who are the people watching you to see a way to handle aging? You are not sitting around — you are gonna make things happen.”
The Rev. Ed McCarthy presided. Bob Douds, host at the United Methodist House, read the Scripture. The Motet Choir sang “Jesu, The Very Thought of Thee,” music by Richard Proulx and words by Bernard of Clairvaux. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the choir. The Daney-Holden Chaplaincy and the Jackson-Carnahan Memorial Chaplaincy support this week’s services.