Do our churches really communicate that ageing has a purpose? We live in a society obsessed with youth and productivity, and churches spend time, energy and money on devising ways to attract children and young families - there is an understandable anxiety that unless the gospel is passed on to the next generations the Church will face extinction.
Yet Christians are also called to break the cycle of fear whenever it is encountered, and the fear of ageing is a powerful one in our day and age. Churches need to be helping people at every age and stage of life to become better disciples of Christ: the gospel speaks of growing into the 'full stature of Christ' (Ephesians 4:13).
The Gift of Years offers a counterbalance to prevailing options by celebrating the usefulness of older people, not least as guardians of wisdom and truth. Of course, not everyone becomes a sage dispensing pearls of wisdom as they grow older, but those who retain a sense of humour, and take themselves lightly as they mature, are a welcome gift to those around them.
Churches will be home to many older men and women who become shining examples of a faithful, prayerful life; helpful role models of the sort of self-less people characterised by their continually growing capacity to love.
Creativity is another component of a healthy spiritual life and many older people go on enjoying the rewards of creative leisure activities throughout their lifetime - even when disability or ill health curtail one hobby in favour of another. The Gift of Years features some of the most stimulating and effective ideas that some people are already using, and which you might also like to try. This website will be a growing reference point for all sorts of imaginative ideas coming on stream (see Resources - Ideas/Stories).
We believe in encouraging ways in which older people can find enjoyment whether it is in making things, painting, writing, cooking, collecting or composing, convinced that when we do so we are, at the same time, feeding the spirit, or as some would say, nurturing the soul.
Whether we get older, only to be described as grumpy, miserable, funny or foolish (or some or all of these), we are each different. Through The Gift of Years we want to champion the rights of everyone to be understood and appreciated, irrespective of age.
Whatever one's belief in a spiritual dimension to life, we affirm that all of us, when older, wish to be regarded as someone unique and precious; just as valuable in the more passive times of our life, as we once were in our more active years.