Living well at the end of life PDF Print E-mail

Generations Fotolia 39593370 M prtNotes from a sermon by Dirk Lesnett, Elfinwild Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), June 14, 2015, Glenshaw, PA

Text: Leviticus 19:32 "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD."

"White haired persons are to be respected and honored."

That's what the Leviticus text means says Dirk Lesnett, Pastor of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, Glenshaw, PA. He referenced a phrase coined by Tom Brokaw during NBC's coverage of a D-Day memorial, "The Greatest Generation." Brokaw's book by that title describes a generation united by a common goal and common values of duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and responsibility for self.

"Growing older is not for sissies," Lesnett said during worship prior to a luncheon honoring 70 members of the Elfinwild congregation who are over 80 years old. He pointed to Paul's message in I Thessalonians 4-5 as a model for how to live in the later years of one's life. The passage provides a model of living that includes "love for each other, a quiet life, work with one's hands, and a daily life that gains the respect of outsiders." 

Lesnett believes the picture Paul paints in Thessalonians 5:12-15 is one of faithful individuals who are "not idle, who strive to serve, and who are patient with each other." That kind of servant living by those who are "rich in years" among us leads to finding peace and purpose in a long life. Along with the Thessalonians passage, Lesnett drew from Rich in Years - Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life, by Johann Christoph Arnold.

Speaking directly to those over 80 in the congregation, Lesnett challenged, "Don't ask how to enjoy the rest of life and make it exciting. Ask instead 'How can God use my last days for His purpose?' " "In this congregation we have individuals from 9 days to 99 years who put up with music they don't like out of love for someone else," Lesnett stated.
One of the most difficult things individuals face in their later years is the loss of their friends. To prevent being overwhelmed by a sense of loss, Lesnett advises, "Make friends of various generations. Make friends and be a friend. Nurture friends in other generations." Take I Thessalonians 5:16 to heart, "Rejoice always, pray continually (humbling yourself before God), and give thanks."



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