Aging sermon ideas

Aging, the poignant and inevitable process of growing older, is a pilgrimage toward the City of God with opportunity for sanctification along the way. In intergenerational communities, we do ministry with people of all ages. In our worship services, we can pray for those who are aging; in our sermons and liturgies, we can encourage those who are aging and look to the Bible for wisdom about aging. 

What does the Bible say about aging?

The Bible passages below can be used in sermons, prayers, pastoral care, or worship planning focused on aging. 

Sermon ideas about aging

Poignancy of aging

Sermons about aging can acknowledge that Christians, like everybody else, experience the poignancy of aging. Joints ache. Eyesight weakens. Parents and friends die. We know a time is coming when almost nobody on earth will understand who we were or what we wanted. We realize we have more days behind us than ahead of us on earth. And we may be tempted by foolish attempts to cling to our youth. 

How to respond to aging

One response to the poignancy of aging is in Act 5, Scene 5, lines 24-28 of Shakespeare's Macbeth:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.

Rejecting such despair, the people of God acknowledge plainly that "the days of mortals are as the grass of the field" but then we add, just as poignantly, that "the steadfast love of the Lordis from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him" (Psalm 103:17). Life is not "a tale told by an idiot" but a drama of a living body of people — a body with many parts, in a drama with many parts to play. This is a tale told by God and signifying everything of final importance in this life and in the life to come. It's the drama of the tragic fall of human children and of how a resourceful God has come among them to lift people who have fallen and place them on their feet, and to do it for no reason other than his own chesed, his own lovingkindness.

Everlasting love of God

In sermons about aging, we can remind listeners that the only meaning our lives have is a meaning conferred by this everlasting love of God. This is the love that has planted the generations, cultivated and delighted in us, worried over us and worked among us when we were laid low, and which one day comes for us not as a grim reaper to cut us down but as a faithful gardener who wants to transplant his trees to a place where their leaves shall never wither, a place where their leaves can be for "the healing of the nations." These are lives that gain whatever meaning they have in being treasured by God and then in being spent to increase the Divine pleasure. These are lives that actually bless God: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." 

Hope for the future

Sermons about aging can provide hope (Isaiah 46:4). Christians may be unintimidated about their belief in the life to come, when the "new Jerusalem" descends to earth and God's dwelling is with us. This is not "pie in the sky by and by" but a solid hope of a solid new heaven and earth. Aging is a pilgrimage into this hope. With a destination wedding in their future (the city of God is "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband"), Christians may age with poise. They are headed for a future more glorious than they can imagine. 

Virtues of Christ

Meanwhile, the call for aging Christians is to put to death whatever needs to die — impurity, evil desire, greed, idolatry — and to clothe themselves with the virtues of Christ — compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and love. The call to die and rise in this way is the call to preparation for entry into a new heaven and earth where vices are unwelcome and, finally, irrelevant within a setting full of light and full of wonder.

Excerpts about aging

Following are sample excerpts from sermon resources about aging: 

"Luke's first two chapters are a metaphorical retirement home for elders who are 'looking forward to the consolation of Israel.'" Sermon Preparation or Illustration by Thomas G. Long from The Christian Century

Worship ideas about aging

Following are sample excerpts from worship resources about aging: 

"Intentionally including older adults in ministry helps congregations keep the promises made at baptism: To do all in their power to love, support and encourage the person being adopted into God's family—regardless of age." Article about Worship and the Sacraments by Joan Huyser-Honing from Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

"Good aging manifests itself a spirit which rises above external circumstances, praying for the grace not simply to endure what must be endured, but for the grace to move through adversity to a deepening of spirit and the will to reach out to others in need." Article about Theology by Harvey H. Potthoff from Religion Online 

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