The Gift of Years: A Theology of Life, Abundant and Eternal Narrative Patterns of Life Rise and Fall Treadmill of Youth Becoming/Transforming
Life Narratives • Rising/Falling--Shakespeare • Treadmill of youth—Aleve, Cialis • Transforming/Becoming—Biblical view of life abundant and eternal
Treadmill of Youth • Medical/therapeutic model of aging (20th and 21st Century) • Aging is a disease that can be cured or managed with drugs and medical intervention or a dis-ease that can be managed or cured with drugs and/or therapy • Are we young yet?
The Valuable Life: 21st Century Valuable worthless Dependency Burden (economic) on others; not productive, jettisoning rather than consuming; valuing the spiritual over the material Limited, confined, restricted Non-negotiable, broken, fixed, beyond control • Self-reliant/Independent/Autonomous. • Productive (economically)—world of work, life as work, life as material production and consumption • Mobile, upwardly, physically, in all ways • Malleable, fixable, changeable, manageable
Making Us Valuable Again: A Prophetic Interlude Staying productive! What to do about the aging generation? To be valuable is to contribute to economic growth—to work, to be productive, to be independent and self-directed. The primary work for old people—consume health care in all its forms and consume all things that imply youthfulness
Becoming/Transforming: A Christian Narrative of Aging • Review of Biblical images of aging
Contrasting Models of Salvation Heaven and Hell Model Abundant/Eternal Life Model Purpose of life is to live it fully, abundantly and eternally The full, abundant, eternal life in entered in this life, in this body, through our baptism into the body of Christ—Church, Sacrament, and the Risen Christ Death and dying are linked to transition, transformation and becoming • Purpose of life is to avoid hell and go to heaven • Can’t do this ourselves, only done by substitutional death on the cross—he paid our debt • Through our believe in Christ’s saving power we go to heaven after we die, if we don’t fall back into the sinner’s way • Death and dying are linked on judgment, fear, sin
So? In the words of Larry the Cable Guy • God got’er done! • Or in the words of Jesus, “It is finished.” • Or in the words of Paul, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation, everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new”
The Pattern of Jesus’ Life • Calling/Birth Narrative • Becoming--Temple • Confirming/Temptation • Living/Ministry • Completing/Passion—betrayal, suffering, death • Transforming/Resurrection
The Body and Mind of Christ • Our baptism and our gathering at The Table chart the way that is truth and life. • The “new thing” into which we are baptized is the mind (his light on life) and body of Christ (his death and resurrection). • The Body of Christ, the church on earth warts and all is the way to our becoming, the door to our transformation. • We live there in great dependence on God and one another, supported by all the saints—before us, with us, and after us.
What Have We Learned? There is a long history of telling life’s story as a movement of rising and falling—from the juice of youth,to the decay of age. Lots of stereotypes emerge from this narrative, this story about the stages of life. Many people still live by this pattern and judge others according to it. The contemporary image of aging is fixated on “youth” and is age phobic. We are asked to not age, but to live on a treadmill of youth. Our culture teaches the young to value youth, to be economically productive, to be independent, to be mobile, to preserve youth, and to fear aging and dying. It is a materialistic world and does not have either faith or hope in a life beyond this one. Christianity offers a third narrative, a third story of aging, that describes life at all ages and stages as “becoming,” and as “transformative”—at all ages we are being changed, made new in mind, in body, and in spirit. From a mortal perspective, the greatest transformation of all comes as aging moves us to and through death to resurrection. Through all ages we live in the risen body of Christ on earth, among the whole communion of the saints who were, are and shall be, already tasting the great feast to come as we eat the bread and drink the cup, are filled with life abundant and eternal as gather at the Lord’s Table.