Good morning, Friends!
Thank you all for coming today. This morning, as part of our 250th Anniversary celebration here at Springfield, we are honoring the older members of our meeting.
The Bible has a lot to say about the elders of the church. So, instead of a single Scripture reading today, I’ve chosen a bunch of readings.
I’ve passed them out, and I’m going to ask people to stand up and read them to us this morning. You don’t have to come down front. You can just stand up in your place, and read from where you are.
Please listen to these readings, and think about them. Some are prayers. Some are blessings. Some are observations about being older. Some are admonitions to young people.
Listen to them all, and remember – these are things the Bible says.
‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”Leviticus 19:32
Remember the days of old;Deuteronomy 32:7
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.Deuteronomy 34:7
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.Exodus 20:12
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”Ecclesiastes 7:10
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Even to your old age and gray hairsIsaiah 46:4
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
In the days to come,Joel 2:28
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Is not wisdom found among the aged?Job 12:12
Does not long life bring understanding?
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.Titus 2:2-4
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,Psalm 23:6
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Teach us to number our days,Psalm 90:12
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.1 Peter 5:1-4
He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.Revelation 5:7-8
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father
and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.Ephesians 6:1-4
I have fought the good fight,2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Children’s children are a crown to the aged,Proverbs 17:6
And parents are the pride of their children.
I am reminded of your sincere faith,2 Timothy 1:5
a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother
and your mother and now, I am sure,
dwells in you as well.
This is a message to the older members of our meeting.
You are the folks who built the meeting as we know it today. You built the education program. You built the building to hold it.
You built our fellowship hall. You built the kitchen to feed us all. You built adult classes which lasted for decades. You built traditions which endure to this day. We owe a lot to you.
You built on the generations which came before you. You teach us their names. You tell us their stories. You remind us, that a church isn’t just a building. It’s people. People who love. People who build. People who laugh a lot, and enjoy each others’ company.
Without the people, the church is just a shell. It’s beautiful. But the heart and soul of a church is in the people.
You, our elders, greeted each new child with joy. You raised and taught us. You kept the faith, and shared the faith. You sang us the songs we sing and remember.
You, our elders, honored and laid to rest the generations before you, along with spouses and friends of so many years. Your grief and love are almost beyond our understanding.
Without you, we wouldn’t be here today.
We honor you, for your experience. You have seen things, and done things. You’ve survived events we can hardly imagine.
You sacrificed for your families, for your church and for your community. You gave your money, your love, and your time.
You had a vision for a peaceful, growing church, a place where everyone who came here was welcome. You worked, and you made it happen.
You cared for children – your own kids, and other people’s kids – in nursery care, classes, picnics, games, pageants and projects. You welcomed them into your homes. You encouraged them in youth and young adulthood.
It’s hard to believe that our children are grown. Even when they have children of their own, you still think of us as “your children.” We’re still the young people to you.
What a joy, to know they’re doing well. What a joy, to know they have good character.
What a joy, to give them your blessing, not just once, but many times. What a joy, to remind us all that love and faith are our birthright.
Thank you for the faith you share. Thank you for your example of trusting God, your example of loving Jesus.
Thank you for reminding us of God’s promises, when we forget or get scared. This is your work, as elders.
Thank you for every one of your prayers – prayers for us, prayers for your friends here, prayers that this church will have a hope and a future.
Thank you for all the good meals we enjoyed here. Thank you for all the countless hours you spent in gardens and kitchens. Thank you for the recipes you shared.
Thank you for every wish you granted. Thank you for every tree you planted.
Thank you for all the flowers you brought, the lessons you taught.
Thank you for all the stories you told us. We don’t mind if you tell them again, over and over, as many times as you have strength to tell them.
Thank you for all the songs you sang. For all the prayers you prayed.
Thank you for your prayers here in worship, for your prayers when people were sick, for bedside prayers and table graces and prayers in the middle of the night. You taught us all to pray.
Sometimes you say you feel old and useless. But you never retire from loving Jesus. You never retire from loving people.
You have showed us more than any book, how to love one another. You have showed us your way to follow Christ.
We thank you. We honor you. We praise you for your faith, hope and love.
Help us not to forget the lessons you taught.
Help us to value what you have handed to us.
Help us to build on the solid rock where you built, the rock of faith.
Help us to know the peace that passes understanding, every day.
Please, as long as you’re here, please don’t stop sharing. Don’t stop listening. Don’t stop caring.
You gave us life. You shared your love. You gave us strength.
Your life is a blessing to everyone here.