A television commercial says it all: “I’m going to fight aging every step of the way.”
Unfortunately, among the “casualties” of that fight is our increasing over-65 population—a population on the rise (currently 11 percent of all Americans, with projections as high as 22 percent by 2010), yet one often ignored in our society’s struggle against age spots. Gray hair and wrinkles are, after all, a symbol of Everyman’s mortality.
But they are also a symbol of our future. Or they should be, according to CT senior writer Tim Stafford. “If the church neglects the elderly,” Tim writes in his third CT cover story for 1987, “overlooking their needs and their potential because we are so used to focusing on young families, we will miss a key opportunity.”
Meeting such a challenge won’t be easy, as Tim learned in researching a book on aging scheduled for release next year. As originally planned, the book was to have focused almost exclusively on caring options for the elderly, with special attention given to adult children struggling with questions of what to do with aging parents. But halfway through the project, Tim became convinced that a more foundational question concerned what aging means in the context of faith. Why do we age? And how would God have us deal with this reality, to the betterment of his kingdom?
In the end, says Tim, “We need to articulate a spiritual life where loss is not a total loss, but part of God’s pattern of lovingkindness.” With this as his base, Tim presents a picture of how the church can serve the aged—and the aged the church—in his article beginning on page 17.
HAROLD B. SMITH, Managing Editor1
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