God’s grace perseveres through our ages and stages

Author: Sister Sheila

Published on: 1 January 2017

When I was asked to contribute this comment, it was a shock to realise that I had been numbered as one of the Elect of the Third Age - but of course, that’s what I am, with a fair number of All Hallows’ Community.

When I was asked to contribute this comment, it was a shock to realise that I had been numbered as one of the Elect of the Third Age – but of course, that’s what I am, with a fair number of All Hallows’ Community. As I pondered, I remembered being told years ago as a music student: “You can’t put music into watertight compartments!” – i.e. there are no rigid boundaries between different musical forms, styles and periods; and it is foolish to try to classify in such a way. The same goes for human nature, across and within age groups.

In our All Hallows fellowship we know the importance of interacting with, and appreciating the giftedness of each and every one; it is part of our DNA. But deeper and more telling than that is the pooling of vocational wisdom and insight, the appreciation of each other as God’s creation, the ability to laugh or grieve together (even if there is a little grumble too, sometimes). This cuts right across the age divide, and is a precious, often unsung part of our community life.

It has to be worked at and maintained in prayer for each other – but whatever the shape of the future All Hallows. I hope it will continue to be a source of strength and nourishment for us and those around us.

Pious observations like this need earthing in reality. What real lessons of this type have I learned over the past 46-ish years?

Firstly – to be thankful for any blessings and especially the unremarkable ones, and those through whom they come. (Sister Dorothea could say, in her mid-80’s: “I’ve never been a miserable person – but I’ve never been as happy as I am now!”) And to appreciate fresh ones – breadmaking, spiritual direction and mastering IT (but not driving…God help other road users).

Secondly – an ever-deepening sense of the reality of God in your life. The less spectacular, the surer it is and the more sustaining. This was borne in on me at a recent funeral for a well-loved ex-staff member. Hearing “I AM the Resurrection and I AM Life”; knowing that one really is part of that truth and all it carries for this life and the next; basing one’s own life on that conviction.

Thirdly – a growing knowledge that prayer, at its heart and at its most effective, really IS as simple as saying to God “Here – am – I”, allowing his echoing “I – am – here!” to envelop you; and letting him use that being there as he will. It takes care of all the other prayers, the liturgy, all we are, pray and do for others in his Name.

God is good and ever-merciful, and a dab hand at making best use of the least promising material. We thank him that with his help, we can do our bit to feed that grace into wherever it is needed.

“Grant us the grace of final perseverance, that the work you have begun in us may be performed till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, AMEN.”

The author...

Sister Sheila

This article is from...

Articles in this issue...

Spiritual gifts in later life

"I believe that spirituality is very much part of my religion, my faith, my meaning, my understanding, and spirituality lifts me and aids me in my everyday work."


Monday Mardle at Saxlingham Nethergate

Corinne Douglas and Celia Blyth are archetypal "third agers": in their early 70's, active, committed members of their parish church. Twelve years ago they saw a need in their community and decided to do something about it.


Volunteering is good for everyone!

Giving just a little of your time can make a big difference, not only to those you’re helping but to yourself too. A May 2012 study by the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly the WRVS) found that volunteering in later life decreased depression and social isolation. It was also found to boost quality of life and life satisfaction. For us as Christians, it’s also encouraged in the Bible: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)


700 and still counting

What a beautiful place! … this is a ‘must see’ when in Norwich. Very welcoming, from the moment we stepped through the door … were greeted by a guide with information and a very welcome leaflet (I love a leaflet!). Trip Advisor October 2016


From beginning to end with Open the Book

The bible is full of stories of people who entered into ministry later in life. With more people now aged over 60 than under 18 in the UK, what role do older people have to play in relating to the younger generation? Irene Nickerson talks about her role as Open the Book Coordinator for Norfolk.


Building an intergenerational culture in your church

For many it seems society is becoming ever more divided and more insular and we are losing the ability to communicate – especially across intergenerational boundaries. Toddlers, Teenagers, Generation X, 3rd Generation – all these terms divide up our communities, putting them in boxes that mean we plan activities by age – young people in schools, older people in retirement homes.


The Gift of Years

As more churches seek to respond to the challenges of a rapidly ageing population, The Bible Reading Fellowship’s The Gift of Years ministry signposts ways in which our later years can be more spiritually fertile, and infinitely more fulfilling.


Face to Faith – Val Dodsworth

Val has been involved in the rehabilitation of offenders for most of her life. After 20 years in the Probation Service and five in the chaplaincy in Norwich Prison, in December 2000 she started the House of Genesis (A place for a new start) by welcoming homeless men into her own home.


From generation to generation – learning life lessons

Biddy Collyer had been living alone in a two bedroomed house in Norwich city centre for 15 years and during that time had a number of lodgers, all male. Last year she knew that a young friend from church, Suze Rose, wanted to move from Dereham where she had been working and living with her parents since leaving University. Biddy invited her to move in while she completed her training as a Beauty Therapist. Twelve months on, the reflect on an experience of house-sharing across generations.


Talkin’ ’bout my generation

Contrary to what many rock starts expected, they did not die before they got old, and our churches nowadays contain many from the rock generation. Some of them are in leadership positions. Time Lenton explores the concept of the "boomer" Christians.


Keep up to date

Subscribe to our eNews for a snapshot of news, events and resources, usually emailed once a fortnight

Signup to newsletter