Pastor’s letter – July
One of the new buzzwords in American society goes by the acronym “DEI.” DEI stands for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Being a Caucasian male, one would think I am not included in diversity and in need of no special effort for my equity or inclusion.
But, I am a Senior Citizen. As a Senior Citizen, I receive benefits that other diversity groups in the hunt for equity can only envy: social security benefits, medicare, senior housing, senior discounts, and the like. I’m not going to lie. I enjoy the pampering. It’s nice to have others care for you just because of who you are.
And yet, I know many of us seniors harbor an anxiety within. The clock is ticking down and the question of how will we meet our death is not resolved? In casual social conversation, I have heard some seniors joke about stepping in front of a train -taking matters into their own hands. This is not a trifling concern. Legislation exists in some states (8) that allows seniors to end their lives if they so wish.
Often, feelings of purposelessness and uselessness lead to the desire to die. And yet, it is precisely the elderly, in all their seeming purposeless and uselessness, that make life worth living for others. Think of all the volunteer and paid effort of family, friends, and workers to care for the well-being of elders. But, it’s not like the elders don’t give back. Elders give back from the wealth of their experience. They have a treasure trove of life experience that younger people do not have, but need to learn from for their upcoming journey into old age. Research has shown that the elderly, when they have come to terms with the finiteness of their experience, have an ability to relax and take in the sentient aspects of life far better than younger people.
As I think about how to attract younger people to what they see as an anachronistic institution (the Church), I keep coming up with the value of elders. Whatever we do, as a society, it seems we will best serve the future of humanity if we are inclusive of our elders. This means that worship must be intentionally intergenerational. We must include the music and forms of music that elders are familiar with. In my experience, the elders are actually more flexible, for reasons indicated in the preceding paragraph, than the young. The visual memory of the “five old ladies” clapping away in the front pew as the younger folk kept their arms rigidly locked to their sides is a testament to the flexibility of the elders.
I think a lot about what the future of the Church and St. Olaf will look like, and as I do, I am reassured by warm memories of the intergenerational worship of St. Olaf. Let’s keep it that way. Peace…. Pastor Dale