Care of Older People

Dear colleagues in ministry,

October began with a wonderful service to mark the United Nations International Day of the Older Person.  Our preacher was Bishop Richard Randerson CNZM and his words were well received.  To illustrate what I mean, below you will find two small extracts of Bishop Randerson’s words.  If you would like a copy of the whole sermon please email me on:

 Bishop Randerson said:

‘So how can we make positive responses [to all the challenges faced by older people today]? First to remember that all of us are made equal in the eyes of God, that every life is important, and that those who for one reason or another are not part of the comfortable mainstream deserve special attention.

Second, to recall that while we may feel OK with our lot, sooner or later age or illness or handicap will affect us or family members and friends. It would be surprising if anyone here today has not had direct personal experience of this.

Third, to watch how we talk to older people. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t chat superficially about the weather. Talk about their life, its high points and its low points, or about current events.’

And then later he added:

‘… we read the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke’s Gospel. Here are two ancient people whose lives were centred on God. It had been revealed to Simeon, a righteous and devout person on whom the Spirit rested, that he would not die before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.

Coming to the Temple that day Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and said in those well known words: ‘Lord now let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation’.

And Anna, 84 years old and a widow most of her life, who worshipped in the temple night and day, likewise recognised the child as the one who was to come.

Here are two people for whom God lay at the centre of their lives. Their hearts were fixed on God and this faith sustained them in every part of their daily walk.

This is not just a hope for the elderly to find meaning and purpose in their latter years. It is also the hope that is necessary to sustain old and young alike in every phase of life, in times of joy as well as adversity. It is a salvation of wholeness, love, justice and well-being for every person, created and loved by God.’

Later in October at the Diocesan Social Services Conference in Stoke, three of our parish based older persons workers spoke at a workshop.  Some of the initial feedback I got showed that people were ‘blown away’ with the extent of the ministries being offered and people were very excited by what they heard.  It’s true: we have a great (the greatest?) team of people ministering in our parishes for the blessing of older persons.  Thank God for them all.

 Finally, please excuse me if I brag!  I was so proud to be with my wife Elaine when she received her Queen’s Service Medal for services to health from the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy on October 20th.  As the citation was read out we heard of Elaine’s vision in establishing the Parish Nurse ministry at the Cathedral in 2003, a ministry which has spread around New Zealand and which was instrumental in establishing parish nursing in England too. 

 May God continue to give us a vision of how best we may serve people of all ages and in our case, how best we can serve older people, our taonga.

 Best wishes,

Charles Tyrrell QSO


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