Winter 2012 CONCORDIA JOURNAL sneak peek
We live in an aging church, in an aging society. That is the basic premise for the Winter 2012 Concordia Journal. And it is also the reason we partnered with Concordia Lutheran Ministries, the Lutheran senior service ministry based in Cabot, PA, to produce this issue on older adults and what it means to do ministry by, with, and for them.
Part of this premise is keenly aware that the church is only just beginning to grapple with the aging demographics of church and world, at least in a North American context. Thus, the hope with this issue of Concordia Journal is to provide a resource that will further dialogue and deepen older adult ministry. The theological tone of this issue is delightfully pragmatic and geared to both pastors and church leaders who are “on the ground” attending to the myriad of issues that older adults face, the challenges and the blessings.
To think theologically, and to do ministry, in these contexts requires, as much as anything, a skill for listening. Hence, we reprint here an eloquent editorial “letter” written by an older adult, which serves as a kind of invitation into how we think about older adult ministry. We do well to listen to her wisdom.
A Letter to Our Pastors
Let me speak from experience at the age of eighty-four. The needs of the elderly are seemingly simple, yet turn out to be more than a little complex. Everyone over the age of 70 has a physical problem of some sort. If we’re lucky, we can bear it without it even showing. Don’t be deceived; it is still there and will become more apparent the longer you converse with us.
We need three things which I call the three Cs, and these should be given in order. They are Concern, Compassion and Comfort. To be able to relate to my neighbors, I have to understand what their problems are and make it apparent that it really concerns me. Then I must try to put myself in their place in order to express compassion for the troubles they are having. Finally, if and when the hardest blow of all is given them, I can offer prayer, sympathy, a gentle hug, a special gift of flowers, a meaningful book or pamphlet, a favorite food, and best of all, a willing ear to hear all the feelings they have to express after recent hard days caring for a loved one or going through their own bad experience with sickness.
Loneliness is in and of itself a sickness; so many feel this illness so strongly. It can be overcome by a friend who listens and sympathizes. We elderly folk are no different from you. We need someone to tell us that life here is not the end. You are trained to do that, and we are primed to hear it at this stage of our lives.
May God bless your endeavors,
Norma W. Laughner
The Winter 2012 Concordia Journal will be in the mail by Friday, February 10, 2012. The homiletical helps from the issue are already available online here.
To order individual issues or to subscribe to Concordia Journal, contact the editorial office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-505-7117. Annual subscription rates are $15.00 USA, $20.00 Canada, $25.00 overseas. Concordia Journal is published quarterly by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.