Older Adult Month

Celebrate older adults in your congregation

Each May, the Church of the Brethren observes Older Adult Month, an opportunity to celebrate God’s gift of aging and the contributions of older adults in our congregations. This year, we invite you and your congregation to consider the gifts older adults give to other generations—how they help to raise children in our congregations, mentor younger adults in their faith, and the legacy they are leaving for the future.

Worship resources below are based on Psalm 145:4: "One generation shall laud God’s work to another and shall declare God’s might acts," and a reading from Acts (2:42-47) that speaks about the way in which people of all ages and circumstances came together in the early church, sharing all that they had with each other. Psalm 145:4 is the theme for this year’s national older adult conference, Inspiration 2017

These resources were written collaboratively by people from different generations and encourage those from various generations to participate together in worship. This provides an opportunity to bring together Youth Sunday and Older Adult Month this year celebrating church as an intergenerational community. For additional service ideas, sermon starters, etc. see the 2017 National Youth Sunday page. For more intergenerational activities, see the 2016 Older Adult Month page. Ideas, activities and resources from previous years are also accessible online.

Worship Resources for 2017

Generations Celebrating Faith (Psalm 145:4 & Acts 2:42-47)

Call to Worship

by Rachel & David Witkovsky

  • ONE: Peter called to the people
  • ALL: Inviting them into unity and solidarity in Christ
  • ONE: To break bread together
  • ALL: And to worship together
  • ONE: We too hear the call
  • ALL: To join the many generations before us
  • ONE: Worshiping a God whose love transcends time and age
  • ALL: Telling the stories of God’s mighty acts in our midst
  • ONE: Let us praise God together, all of us,
  • ALL: Young and old, rich and poor, one people united in a celebration of faith.

Scripture Jam

by Rachel & David Witkovsky

(adapted from NRSV translation and MSG paraphrase of Acts 2:42-47 and Psalm 145:4)

  • ONE: Peter spoke,
  • TWO: And they listened.
  • THREE: They actually listened to him.
  • ONE: That day,
  • TWO: That very same day,
  • THREE: about three thousand took him at his word.
  • ONE: They were baptized,
  • TWO: They signed up.
  • THREE: They committed themselves,
  • ONE: devoted themselves,
  • TWO: to the teaching of the apostles,
  • THREE: life together,
  • ONE: Fellowship,
  • TWO: the common meal,
  • THREE & TWO: breaking of bread,
  • THREE, TWO, & ONE: and the prayers.
  • (FOUR, FIVE, and SIX stand apart from the other three)
  • FOUR: Generation after generation
  • FIVE: stands in awe of your work
  • SIX: each one tells stories
  • FOUR, FIVE & SIX: of your mighty acts.
  • ONE: It was awe-some.
  • TWO: Everyone around was in awe
  • THREE: awe came upon everyone.
  • ONE: wonders
  • TWO: and signs
  • THREE: done through the apostles!
  • ONE: The believers lived in a wonderful harmony,
  • TWO: holding everything in common.
  • THREE: They sold everything,
  • ONE: whatever they owned,
  • TWO: everything
  • THREE: and pooled their resources
  • ONE: so that each person’s need was met.
  • FOUR: Generation after generation
  • FIVE: stands in awe of your work
  • SIX: each one tells stories
  • FOUR, FIVE & SIX: of your mighty acts.
  • TWO: Day by day,
  • THREE: as they spent much time together,
  • ONE: They followed a daily discipline,
  • TWO: worship in the Temple
  • THREE: meals at home,
  • ONE: and every meal was a celebration,
  • TWO: filled with glad and generous hearts!
  • THREE: They were exuberant,
  • THREE & ONE: and joyful,
  • THREE, ONE, & TWO: as they praised God!
  • ONE: People liked what they saw.
  • TWO: day by day,
  • THREE: their number grew,
  • ONE: the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
  • FOUR & ONE: Generation after generation
  • FIVE & TWO: stands in awe of your work
  • SIX & THREE: each one tells stories
  • ALL READERS: of your mighty acts.

Children’s Story

by Tyler Roebuck

A Celebration of Faith

This is intended to be read by 3 people: an older adult, a younger adult (with young children), and a child (late elementary or middle school). Could be a grandparent/parent/child group.

  • A: (child’s name), do you know what today’s scripture is about?
  • C: Yes! It’s about celebrating acts of faith!
  • A: That’s right! And did you know the Church of the Brethren has a famous man who acted out of faith, and has saved many lives because of it? His name was Dan West. Dan saw starving people in the world, and felt sad for them. He wanted to help them and give them food to eat.
  • C: That’s really nice of him!
  • OA: Sure was! But instead of just giving them food, he started a program that gave people cows and goats and chicken and all sorts of animals so that they could keep having food to eat for a long time. When the cows the hungry people got gave birth to calves, the family was supposed to give the babies to other families who didn’t have food so that they could eat.
  • C: Wow, he sure did help a lot of people! He must have had strong faith!
  • OA: It was very strong indeed. Can you think of anyone who is living today that acts strongly out of faith?
  • C: Um… Yeah! There was a guy who came to our school to talk about the environment. I think his name was David.
  • A: You’re right! David Radcliff is his name. What do you know about David and what he does?
  • C: He helps with the rainforests by planting trees everywhere! Oh, and he also lives really carefully so that he only uses as many resources as he needs to survive. I think he called it “sustainable living.”
  • A: He also helps with programs in Nepal and all over the world that help women and girls get an education and find a safe place to live. He has a pretty deep faith too, doesn’t he?
  • C: I’d say so. What about you, (older adult’s name)? Do you know anyone who acts out of faith?
  • OA: I once heard of a young person, not too different from you, who did a mighty act of faith even though she’s only 11. Her name is Gretchen, and she’s from Goshen, Indiana. Do you remember the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria?
  • C: I think so. They’re still gone, aren’t they?
  • OA: Yes, and the Church is still sending aid to help our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Well Gretchen was so filled with compassion when she heard of their kidnapping that she started a small store right in her church to raise money for the Nigerian Crisis fund. Through selling her little Knick Knacks for Nigeria, Gretchen has sent more than $500 to help our friends there. So you see, no matter your age, you can do great things out of faith.

Call to Giving

by Dana & Karen Cassell

  • One: How do we know how to be church?
  • All: We know how to be church by learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before us.
  • One: And what did they do?
  • All: The scripture tells us that the people in the very first church
    ...were devoted
    ...were together
    ...gave
    ...met
    ...broke bread
    ...and they praised God!
  • One: May our giving this morning be an expression of our devotion and our praise.

Benediction

by Rachel & David Witkovsky

May the God of ages past, the God of this day, and the God of tomorrow, this One God of eternal love and guidance, bless you and keep you.

May God’s love shine on you here in this place and be a light to your path as you go out into the world.

May God’s people be awestruck by the movement of God in our lives and may we multiply God’s love in our acts and deeds.

May we celebrate a faith that is as ancient as the stones around us and as relevant as the air we breathe.

Go in peace.

Benediction (Psalm 145: 2)

by Dana & Karen Cassell

It's Sunday, a day we set aside for praising God, but let's remember the words of the psalmist and say together, "EVERY day we will praise God!"

Worship Resources for Anytime During the Year

Thanks to Bill Cave.

A Meditation

“For everything there is a season….” These opening words from chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes have captured the imagination of generations of humans throughout history. The author is believed to have been a philosopher and a teacher. Though a seasoned approach to life leaves him baffled, he believes that life, even with its limitations, is nonetheless worth living.

One must face the reality that there is “a time for every matter under heaven”, which means accepting what cannot be changed and enjoying whatever good things God permits until death ends our earthly sojourn.

This philosophical perspective of Ecclesiastes found its way into modern culture. Pete Seger, who was one of the prominent icons of the revival of American folk music in the 20th century, recorded a song that included the words, “for everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn….” The song became a fixture within folk music culture.

The patterns or seasons of life proclaimed by the Ecclesiastes philosopher do not include, however, the season when it becomes necessary to receive rather than to give. Contemporary culture is “dominated by models of economic exchange” whereby any gift given is expected to be reciprocated by the recipient. A spirit of generosity and gratitude is thus “replaced with one of investment and return”.

The danger inherent with this paradigm is that it tends to devalue those who have nothing to exchange, nothing to give in return. It becomes easy to simply exclude or devalue such persons since our rules of engagement require the ability to offer some reasonable return, something that will benefit others.

Our lives do experience various rhythms, including those seasons when, for health reasons, for example, we cannot contribute anything deemed of worth back to others, when we have nothing to exchange. This is the season when our only proper response is to receive the care of others. It is a time when it is actually more blessed to receive than to give.

Our faith community is where we are graced with the permission to receive the care of others, whether it be at the end of life or at any other point along life’s continuum with gratitude and dignity. As Christians, we embrace the truth that all care that attends to our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing is a gift because it is provided in the name of Jesus whom we follow peacefully, simply, and together.

Anointing Service

This rite may be part of a Sunday morning worship service during the month of May as yet another way to recognize the good folk of your congregation who are 50+ years of age.

OPENING SENTENCE

Knowing that God wills wholeness for us so that we may accept our total humanity, including our aging self, let us hear these words of scripture from Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Eternal and loving God, we come before you recognizing that our culture is success oriented. As older adults, it is sometimes difficult to feel that we are valued and appreciated. We confess that it is too easy for us to marginalize older adulthood by not affirming its merits, beauty, and worth. Our attempts, O God, to integrate our older adults fully as members of the church family are often patron-izing and meaningless. Open the way for us, we pray, to embrace aging so that there can be a fuller acceptance of our total humanity. Help us, O God, to celebrate that older adulthood has value because all seasons of our lives have value. May we continually trust in you so that we may live life abundantly even in our elder years. In the name of Jesus our Lord we pray, amen.

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS

As the older adults of this faith community, you are persons worthy of our love, respect, and care. We wish to extend forgiveness for all those times when you may have imposed your views on others; for those times when you failed to serve humbly and in the ways that others desire to be served; for failing at times to do what needs to be done calmly and without feverish haste. Through Jesus our Lord, you are forgiven for not leaving to God the cares of tomorrow and for failing to accept each moment of your life as a gift.

SCRIPTURE READING

Psalm 121

THE ANOINTING

Though we anoint the sick for healing and wholeness according to God’s will, anointing can also be an opportunity to recognize the value of life as a gift from God. And, when administered to older adults as we are about to do, it is a way of affirming that older adulthood has its own merits, beauty, and worth. This time of anointing is a way for us to express the love that this faith community has for its older adults.

Those older adults being anointed could be seated together or be invited to come forward or be brought forward if needed at the appropriate time. As each person is anointed, you include a short prayer thanking God the life of that person.

CLOSING PRAYER

Eternal God, we thank you for our brothers and sisters who have received this service of anointing. Their respective pilgrimages have allowed them to taste the fruit from the tree of long life. We pray that they will be the servants through whom the generations of those coming behind them will be blessed with a new appreciation for all the seasons of life. May these good folk continue to live fully in the present while entrusting the future to our God whose love is unconditional and eternal. Keep their hearts full of that love, we pray, so that they may continue on their journey with joy and anticipation. Amen.

For Ongoing Discussion

This month provides an opportunity to have significant conversations about changes in perspective that occur as we age. Missy Buchanan, who will speak at Inspiration 2017 this September, has authored a wonderful book (published by Upper Room Books) helping adult children and aging parents talk with each other and God about what matters most. Each chapter invites us to consider a scripture text and a topic: from money to doctors to friends to laughter to death to dignity. Sharing a dialogue between those of different generations opens up discussion and gives permission for our own thoughts and feelings to be shared. Each chapter closes with a simple prayer. A recommended resource for adult Christian Education classes, a book study, or an intergenerational retreat.