This year, our church and I (gulp) will be fifty years young?

If fifty is still young… why do I feel so old? Yes, I've heard the talk about old age being a "state of mind." Oh Yeah? Try eating a fifty year old piece of bread or using a fifty year old computer. Well? Face the music; I have incontrovertible proof that my "state of mind" at fifty is old… very, very old.

Speaking of music. I went to the local record store (records?) and couldn't find my favorite rock group. The little boy at the counter looked puzzled and said, "he never heard of the group" and went for help. (When did department stores begin hiring elementary school students?) The manager returned smiled condescendingly and said… "You will find that particular group in 'easy listening."

"Easy listening? Easy listening! Isn't that the section reserved for old fogey music?" Oh? That's me!

Wait a minute! I can still play sports? Not! My last trip out to the softball field, led to a broken hand and that was during the warm-ups. What about basketball? Sure, basketball is the right sport: I can run up and down the court with the best of them… for maybe two minutes then, "pass the oxygen please!"

Okay, I get it. Fifty means, there are a few limitations to face but does older age necessarily mean my usefulness is near over?

Not for a single minute. Do you want proof? Read the Bible: "Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green." (Psalm 92:14) Would you like an example? How about Moses? He had everything but blew it all at forty and hid out in the desert until God called him for the greatest mission of all, to be a leader for God's people at the ripe age of eighty. Not bad!

Could age be a state of mind? Sure! Of course, there are physical limitations and handicaps but I have many more possibilities and choices. While not a great athlete, I can still enjoy the excitement of participating. Hey, my music may be old but each generation has their unique taste and preference.

Fifty years ago, there was a gathering to plan for what would later be known as Timberlake United Methodist Church. This coming together was the culmination of a carefully conducted survey by a young ministerial student who would later become our first pastor. One week later, 31 people met at the old Timberlake Tavern. Yes, our church began in an abandoned barroom. Wow!

Isn't it interesting that my church and I share the same year of birth? Neither of us can claim the last fifty years were easy. At times we wasted valuable time trying to find ourselves. There were moments of great success and many episodes of tragedy. There were divisive arguments, and bitter disappointments. Yet through it all, the church and I kept our faith and persevered… better than that. We learned our hard lessons and even managed to thrive in the midst of our adversities.

During the last fifty years we have weathered wars around the world from Korea to Iraq. We've seen ten U.S. Presidents inaugurated, one assassinated in office, one resign in disgrace, one impeached, and more scandals than you can count. There have been catastrophes of every kind, economic boom times and financial busts. We've witnessed men on the moon as well as space tragedies. We've experienced the joy of watching many births, weddings and graduations but also shared the sorrow of just as many deaths, divorces and major illnesses. All in all, the last fifty years have been a wild ride.

So, where does a fifty-year-old church and pastor go from here?

  • We keep strengthening our relationship with God confident of the final outcome.
  • We continue to learn from the past while looking ahead to the future.
  • We recognize the limitations of age but refuse to be defeated.
  • We have the maturity to be serious when necessary but laugh wherever possible.

Old age is a fact. We can't manipulate the numbers. Attitude, however, is a choice. What choices are you making? Chuck Swindoll wrote: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"


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