I went to see the latest Star Wars film with my son Tim a few weeks ago. He got the student rate of £7.00. I was surprised to find that the total cost for our tickets was £14.00. The mathematicians among you will quickly work out that I paid the same price as Tim. But I’m not a student.
When I looked at the ticket I had been given it said ‘SENIOR’. Apparently, you need to be over 60 to get this discount at a regular showing. I’M NOT ANYWHERE NEAR THAT AGE I screamed inside. Not quite truthfully. And not loud enough for the man behind the counter to hear. I’m not opposed to a discount. But at the cost of being an OLD AGE PENSIONER???
I was immediately reminded of the last time I can remember being humiliated about my age with Tim. It was a long time ago and he was a toddler. We were on a ferry crossing to France, and Tim was on my shoulders as we watched a magician doing a kids’ show. When volunteers were asked for, Tim’s hand went straight up (just as it has done ever since in any situation where volunteers are asked for!).
The magician pointed and called him out: “Yes, you on your grandad’s shoulders”. Grandad? GRANDAD??? I may have had grey hair but I wasn’t a day over 40. Well, maybe 43. Okay I was 44.
One much-loved elderly member of our congregation used to say “The best is yet to come.” She meant eternal life. On other occasions, feeling the frustrations of old age, she would say “well, at least it’s better than the alternative.” Obviously, there is a conflict between these sentiments but they are both real, and in different ways they both express optimism and humour. Great qualities in the face of any struggle.
When Mary and Joseph bring the baby Jesus into the Temple in Jerusalem, they meet Simeon and Anna. Two elderly people. Both are faithful, patient and deeply spiritual. They recognise who Jesus is. They honour him, and they have an honourable place in his story.
By the end of 2018, if we are spared, we will all be a year older. We will also have had many opportunities to grow spiritually. Could we grow a year wiser, a year more secure in God’s love? What can help that happen?
We have many examples to learn from in Scripture and in our community today. A good sense of humour and some words of St Paul may help all of us who are feeling our age:
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
With much love,