Monday, April 14, 2008

from St. Casserole: Older Members of the Congregation

I really do have a post of my own coming up soon, but I had to link to this post from St. Casserole about older members of the congregation.

With her usual mix of humor and eloquence, she writes:
"A colleague north of here says he is hurt by the older people in his congregation who get in his way, criticise him and overall, make his work difficult.

I suggested that he think through his feelings, identify his goals for his congregation, then move in closer to those who get on his nerves.

Not easy to do, of course. You get your feelings hurt by people who dismiss you and let you know they think you aren't capable of the work you feel called to do.

Now, read that sentence as how the older people feel about how they are treated.

We preach the importance of being involved with the Church. We want people to do the work of the church, attend often and give of themselves to the Body.

What happens when people feel that they are no longer welcome to participate?

For many older people, the Church is the last place they feel their gifts, developed over a lifetime, are valued. Everywhere else they see signs offering them sausage biscuits discounted for senior citizens.

How to make peace in this situation? Move in closer to your "offending" people. Find a place to meet them where they are comfortable to talk about their lives and interests.

Nothing is sadder to me than to discover that that old guy in the over sized blazer who toddled into the sanctuary for years, was, according to his obituary, the author of three books on normative digestive patterns of the American Wolf. Now I find this out? I missed out on discussing this with him! How did he do his research? Where did he live? What was it like doing this work?

Put your feelings aside, please. Allow the older people the dignity of their last years. Do not coddle them. Do not talk down to them. Do not put them in the box marked "UNINTERESTING"."

Check out the rest of the post.
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