There is one particular line in this week’s psalm that ought to stick out to the modern day church, “They will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain lush and fresh.” Let’s face it, through out much of the mainline church, we have the blessing of many wise and experienced adults in our midst (I hope I am walking that fine age line to your liking!) Unfortunately, this reality is often bemoaned as a sign of an unhealthy modern church. I think we really do miss an opportunity when that is the only way we envision what it means that our churches have an abundance of gray.
At the risk of sounding like the young whipper snapper who doesn’t know what he is talking about, “old and gray” also really does mean wisdom. However, far too often our culture devalues that kind of wisdom in favor of “information.” In our day and age, it is fairly simple to google something and come up with an answer, but simply having facts is nothing compared to the benefits of real wisdom. Wisdom can’t be googled, it can only come from experience and life. Wisdom also needs to be shared!
One of the problems has been the devaluing of such wisdom, but another of the problems is devaluing wise people. I can’t tell you how often I have heard something along the lines of, “I served my time in church leadership when I was younger, now it is someone else’s turn.” Perhaps…but if we are to take the wisdom of this psalm seriously, there is something to be said about the kind of fruit that only the wisdom that comes with old and gray can bring.
Covenant is certainly blessed in that next year it will have 5 people in their 20’s and 30’s serving on session (Including your pastor). That reality is almost unheard of in this day and age! But, let us never forget the many gifts and blessings that come from our “old and gray” members (those are the psalmist’s words, not mine!).
You see, the real blessing of a church is when we are all bringing our fruit to bear—whatever our age! We deeply need the gifts of all of our various generations. I fear sometimes that since we are blessed with youthful leaders, we sometimes neglect the celebration of our “old and gray,” leaders as well. Hopefully, last week gave you some time to think about some of those leaders that came before, but don’t limit that celebration to those who have gone on to the church triumphant—make sure to thank some of our wisest leaders who are with us now!
I hope that our younger church family members will take the time to appreciate our older members. I also hope that our older members will take the time to appreciate just how many gifts they have to give. Let us not forget the psalmist’s words: “They will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain lush and fresh in order to proclaim: ‘The LORD is righteous. He’s my rock. There’s nothing unrighteous in him.’”