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On aging, choice and freedom

Light for the Way seriesWe continue in our new Light for the Way series. Our goal is to deepen our focus on scripture. Each week we’ll provide an examination of a biblical reading, with attention to our shared service to older adults. Thank you for engaging with this series as we draw closer to our Christian Ministry value, and our pledge to seek wisdom through prayer and reflection.

On Sunday, October 11, Pastor Chris Wheatley, Senior Director of Pastoral Care Programming, concluded Active Aging Week by sharing a devotion on Spiritual Wellness with PHS residents. Today we draw portions from his full audio devotion.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” — Romans 6:15-18

Pastor Chris reflected, “And so we reach the end of Active Aging Week. Over the past six days, you have been invited to consider this stage of your life in a new way, as the stage with potentially your highest possible well-being. As truly ‘golden years’ to be embraced.

“As part of that, you have been invited to actively engage in all aspects of your life. You’ve been called upon to examine your social relationships. To consider your gifts and talents, and maybe even volunteer with them. To engage in brain exercise through crafts and activities. To engage in physical activities such as walking and stretching. Even to give significant time and energy to holistic life review. 
“But let’s be clear about something. The choice that is being presented to you in all of this is whether to age actively, with clear goals, a vision of wholeness, and the science of wellness at the ready, or to age passively, with the same strategies you used for earlier stages of life. ‘Not aging’ is not one of your options. Every day, we each get older.”

He continues, “We were created to live forever, but we don’t,” and explains, “Sin is, simply put, all the ways that our world is not the perfect world that it should be.” Except, he says, there’s “an alternative to sin” that “is a way of being, in big things and small, that can be just as transformative, just as powerful, and in the end, just as habit-forming as sin itself.”

What is this way? He says, “The freedom of a Christian is not pure freedom to do as we want, but the freedom to follow God’s commands to love. We are free to choose a better form of servanthood, one that makes us more than we are, one that brings us joy and fulfillment, and one that begins to heal the world.

“You can choose to actively embrace this change,” he says, and lists a variety of examples before speaking about eternity. To all who feel afraid, have grievances or questions, he concludes: “Take the active aging route, and take care of that unfinished business. Go to a book club that talks about the dying process. Ask a social worker to help you with that unfinished business, whether writing a letter to an estranged family member or paying a 50-year-old library fine. And get to know God right now, while you’re still plenty alive. Your heavenly Father loves you and has been with you your entire life.  God wants what is best for you, and still has plans for you, now and in eternity. And if you need more information on that, please ask your campus pastor to make a visit; this is what they live for. Or read the rest of Romans 6 that we didn’t get to today, in which we are told that all of those who join Jesus Christ in his death will join him in his resurrection, and that while the wages of sin are death, the gift of God is eternal life.”

Listen to Pastor Chris's full audio devotion here on Spiritual Wellness and Active Aging.

More Resources:
In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music, and other resources on the Pastoral Care website. We suggest saving the link or bookmarking the page, so you can check back often.

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