Spiritual gifts in later life

Published on: 1 January 2017

"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."

I never thought that I would be sitting reflecting on the value of my spirituality in later life. As we focus in this edition on the particular demographic of Christian ‘baby boomers’, I found myself realising that there can be no denying that I am now part of that cohort.

One only has to look around our churches and communities to find that it is those in their sixties and seventies who are running so many activities provided for others. Many are combining that with the continuation of their full-time jobs, not hanging their boots up at 60 or 65, but working on as part of the new freedom given to us to retire when we want to.

Many of us have been Christians for a very long time and understand the importance that our faith plays in our lives, but we also have so much to be thankful for. We’re thankful to God for the care that he has given over the decades. We also understand that we still have a need to love and serve others. I am often reminded that love is about the only thing that you can give away in as greater quantity as you would like and still have heaps left to give to others.

There is a Hindu prayer which says “yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is only a vision, yet today well lived makes every yesterday a happy memory and every tomorrow a vision of hope”.

As part of our Christian life we hope to give others, and ourselves, happy memories and we live in hope of a better world to come. We in the Church of England need to ensure that we have person-centred care for all within our Family.

Spirituality is, I am told, a concept which today is viewed as broader, more inclusive than religion. 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. Being one of those noted above running many of the various activities at our local organisations whilst still working; not yet caring for grandchildren but still very much caring for my two children, and juggling my busy life with a life based on the teachings of Christ.

All the above reminds me how important God is in my life and how fortunate I am that he has provided me with the ability to think and struggle to understand. Indeed, God affords us all the opportunity to support each other and to celebrate what we can offer to the younger generations; our time, our resources, our wisdom, our care and our love.

All this in later life comes to us as God’s gift – a joyous way for us to express our spirituality for the generations that follow us, always remembering Galatians 5:22-23 “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”.

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Articles in this issue...

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)


God’s grace perseveres through our ages and stages

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.


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.


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