Summary: Gives some guidelines for aging gracefully from the examples of Simeon and Anna.
DATE: July 15, 2001
TEXT: Luke 2:21-38
THEME: "How to Age With Grace"
“There is something happening to every one of you this very moment as you sit here in church. Imperceptibly, but relentlessly. You are getting older - aging. The causes are uncertain, probably because our body’s cells only have a limited capacity to duplicate—perhaps 50 times and then they stop, but the result is inevitable.”
The Encarta Encyclopedia defines aging as the “irreversible biological changes that occur in all living things with the passage of time, eventually resulting in death.”
In developed nations, life expectancy has increased more in the 20th century than it has in all of recorded history. A person born in the United States in 1995 can expect to live more than 35 years longer than a person born in 1900. Today more than 34 million Americans are 65 or older, accounting for about 13 percent of the population. By the year 2030, their numbers will more than double: One in every five Americans will be over age 65. A person who lives 100 years or more—a centenarian—was once a rarity, but today about 60,000 Americans are 100 years or older. By the year 2060, there may be as many as 2.5 million centenarians in the United States. The number of supercentenarians—people 105 years of age and older—will probably be as commonplace in the next century as centenarians are fast becoming now.
In some parts of the world, 16 to 18 percent of the population is already age 65 or older. By the year 2025, Japan is expected to have twice as many old people as children. Also by that time, there will be more than one billion older people worldwide. This increase in life expectancy is the result of better public health measures, improvements in living conditions, and advances in medical care. A marked reduction in infant mortality rates has also contributed to increased life expectancy statistics.
Since we are all aging, the question I want to ask is “How can we age with grace?”
Hear what one person writes:
Everyone I know is thirty-five.
Donna in my writing class is thirty-five,
Melissa, the artist, is thirty-five.
Last night when I lay sleeping
Someone slipped in and
Scribbled lines all over my face,
Stuck bags under my eyes,
Packed cellulite on my thighs.
This morning my mother’s hand
Reached to get my toothbrush;
An unfamiliar face
Stared back at me from the vanity;
Someone else’s stomach
Protruded from beneath my belt.
The kudzu of middle age has overtaken me.
Cholesterol clogs my arteries
Like milfoil on the Tennessee River.
Yesterday I was thirty-five.
Today I am forty-five.
I had intended to age elegantly --
Grow lean like Louis Nevelson,
Craggy like O’Keeffe,
Not squat like Gertrude Stein.
Tomorrow I am going to buy a new mirror,
Have my hair dyed,
Phone for a face lift.
Meanwhile I am going to claim
that my children belong to my husband
from a former marriage.
And I am going to lie --
about my age;
I am going to say,
"I am only thirty-five."
Penne J. Laubenthal, Ph.D.
How then do we grow old with grace? The passage we read gives us some insight from the lives of the two aged saints – Simeon and Anna. Here are seven (7) suggestions.
I. HAVE A SENSE OF GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE (v. 26)
Acts 13:36 "For when David had served God’s purpose in his
own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his
Acts 17:24-26 ""The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
II. HOLD ON TO GOD’S PROMISES (vv. 26, 29)
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?
Joshua 23:14 "Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
III. MAINTAIN A LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 25)
Numbers 23:10 Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!"