Eighty and Over Sunday” emerged in the life of a small, rural congregation I was serving. It struck me that we had a significant number of elderly in our midst—people who for years had lived their faith and shaped the life of the community. We were wanting to hold some special services to be an evangelical outreach to those affiliated with or known to the congregation but who did not regularly attend. A service and reception honoring the elderly among us seemed a good way for families and friends to reconnect in a positive, life-giving way.
Acquired disability is the norm as we age. An acquired disability occurs after birth, typically from accident, illness, or increasing age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71 percent of Americans aged eighty and older have a disability. Statistics Canada has found that 43 percent of Canadians over seventy-five live with a disability.
As we did in the last issue of Reformed Worship, we have presented a question to a few of our subscribers so that we may learn from each other. This time we chose to ask individuals living outside of North America about the role and importance of older adults in worship. We are grateful to be able to learn from individuals from Australia, Hong Kong, and Ireland.
How are older adults shown honor and appreciation in your worship services? How much importance is given to their presence, needs, and even preferences?
Like the author of Psalm 71, many—perhaps all elderly members of your congregation—have worshiped God from their youth. And when they become old, their desire to worship God in the assembly might be stronger than ever.
Christian churches of all denominations live in a world of constant media banter about generational differences. The progression goes from the Silent Generation to baby boomers to Generation Xers, to millennials (or Generation Y) and now to Generation Z.