Monday, August 06, 2012

Old People

While on vacation last week, I went to a church where I heard a sermon that was a great encouragement to me. It was an encouragement because the Word was one which I myself have been led to many times, yet sometimes feel alone in it. I have sometimes been rebuked or challenged when having preached on this topic and made to feel childish, unrighteously brazen, and even marginalized. Time and again though, I feel as though the Lord has led me back there anyway.

Leaving the specific topic and preacher aside because they are besides my point in this post, it made me reflect more on the voice of those more experienced than I. I greatly value voices that have been seasoned by age. It's not just about authority (though it is in part), but it's because I appreciate hearing and am emboldened by a voice of solidarity that is older than my own. It reminds me that I'm not simply a child and though I have a lot to learn, I haven't learned nothing. It's unfortunate that when paired with a person, the adjective "old" is generally felt with a negative connotation in our society. I reject that.

What I'm saying is:
Sometimes I need to hear from old people.

Now age doesn't necessarily imply correctness nor impart sageness either. Usually the old voices that inspire me are ones that are able to note that they too - at their age - are still learning. (Hence the solidarity!) I've had some old people who've spoken with me in terms of pure rebuke and little else. I generally leave those conversations and individuals unchanged and uninspired. But the wise, old voices that imply, "Maybe you can see it this way..." help me to better see Jesus.

These old people are the kind that I want to be if I end up living many more decades. I want to be Jesus-gentle-like. There are a lot of younger people who inspire me too, and I long for the dual-vision of Joel that Peter reminds us of in Acts 2:16-17, but there's just something about age for me.

Here are some of the old people who are still alive with white or no hair and aged voices who have spoken to me, inspired me, or encouraged me (I purposefully chose to leave off people that I actually know personally because it would likely show too much of my prejudice concerning the word "old").

I'm thankful for them:

Walter Brueggemann
Stanley Hauerwas
Brennan Manning
Eugene Peterson
Barbara Brown Taylor
Phyllis Tickle
Jean Vanier
N.T. Wright*

Anyone else out there? Any old people that inspire you?

*I know he's not that old. But he fits the bill/image in my heart. 

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