“Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the Vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the Vine ; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15 v 4-5.
Dear All Saints’
A blast from the past! I’ve been asked to write something for the website……. probably about retirement (now nearly 7 weeks long!!)
Maybe retirement gives a certain perspective, but I feel in itself, it means little. What’s more to the point is what God is doing now/today in our lives retired or not.
Before the beautiful re-fashioning of the Welcome Garden and the porch, you may remember a sign above the door- ‘Jehovah Jira ‘. The sign has moved into retirement, but God’s goodness and provision carries on, and aren’t we worth more than any sign? God’s guidance can be counted on in every circumstance.
As I’m reflecting at this time, two incidents have come to mind. The first was at a New Wine Leaders conference in about 2005, the second occurred on a pressured occasion a little earlier. Both emphasise the importance of maintaining the close relationship with him that Jesus speaks of in John 15, and that our nourishment, strength and protection come from him.
So the first incident…. In the eyes of the young, I’ve been old for a long time! At that time I was around my late 40’s. Following an insightful seminar, we broke up into small groups for discussion. My group was led by a young leader. When my turn came, the leader looked at me and my great age, expecting me to struggle with such a modern, challenging subject, said “Don’t worry even old dogs can learn new tricks…….” So, two woofs and a tail wag later, I recognised that Jesus was challenging me to trust him, not youthful vitality. Hurt pride aside, a lesson was there to be learnt .
The second incident involved one of those ‘saintly’ older believers, whose faith and character outstrip their wrinkles and depleted energy. The church was having to make a case for change (old, old story!). My friend was speaking on behalf of older believers who wished to have more comfortable seats, a warm and welcoming building with flexibility of use. Freda was in her eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s and could hardly be seen from more than 2-3 rows back. With a frail voice, she said that many older people wanted change, (it being expected that older people wouldn’t!).
Seeing the opportunity to go on the attack, her questioner said loudly, “Is that so, then name them!” Calmly and confidently, not missing a beat, Freda said, “ It’s not up to me to use people’s names without permission, but they can perhaps tell you themselves.”
At that, elderly people began to quietly stand in support of Freda and her claim that older people wanted the change as much as the younger members.
God seems to revel in lives of any age that are full of faith that reflect well on his son Jesus. We realise that God let’s things happen to us to teach us something, to show us something or to love us in a new way. In God’s economy nothing is wasted and a mature (not old) believer will find themselves being used by their loving Heavenly Father for larger and larger purposes.
Perhaps churches are like this too, as maturity deepens and love increases, it doesn’t matter if we’re older or the church we belong to has been around since Henry VIII’s time, because God is about moving us towards gratitude, authenticity and even deeper union with him. That’s the natural and organic work of Jesus and the Spirit and the Father who is the gardener.
So here’s a photo of a mature (not old…) couple in their garden, sending you our best love and prayers that God will deepen your faith and increase your capacity to love his creation – Meeting God with family and friends.
Steve and Andrea