Elder vs. Older

by Christine Sine

“Shelter” by Karen Tamminga-Paton

by Karen Wilk

As I consider this month’s theme of discernment, I wonder if learning to discern is very much a part of the call of God’s people to be ‘elders’ in our communities.  We first come across the word “ecclesia” which we usually translate ‘church’ in Scripture when Jesus says, ‘upon this rock I will build my ‘ecclesia.’  The “ecclesia” originally denoted, “a gathering of wise community leaders, brought together by their common vision for the ‘Shalom’ of the wider community. In essence, the ecclesia was a community within a community whose function was to add value to the place in which they lived. (Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch, ReJesus, 32) 

Paul tells Titus (1:5) and us, “To appoint elders in every town.” 

But where are these elders for us to appoint?  And what does it look like to not just get older but to get elder? 

Could the church really be the wise attentive, Shalom seeking and embodying leaders/elders among, with and for their neighbourhoods?  I wonder and I invite you to ponder with me:

Elder versus Older

We’re all getting older
There’s no changing that
We can try to cover-up, make-up
…..Hide where we’re at
…..…..Each day, month, year passes
…..…..…..…..…..…..…..…..…..…..is a fact.

The question is
Are we getting elder?

Wiser, more present and aware
Not just of ourselves but of others to care
Responsible, risking sharing
…..Willing to listen, our opinions sparing
…..…..in integrity and humility growing
…..…..…..In our postures, respect and kindness showing
Ready for welcoming, each and all accepting
God at work, Creator’s image-bearing.

Not all that get old, get elder.
Some get selfish, grumpy, bitter.

Are we wrinkled just with time
…..Or with the sage’s mindful lines?
Are we aching just with stiffness pain
…..Or with heartache for havoc holding the rein?
Though tired from interrupted restless sleep
…..Do our eyes with the suffering and grieving weep?
Can we,
…..will we,
…..…..pay attention, stay awake
…..Will we speak up, question, do what it takes?

Will we not just get older but be an elder
…..living love and grace, a helper, a shelter.


It’s time to sign up for our upcoming retreat Spiritual Discernment: Finding Direction in a Confusing World. Christine  Sine will facilitate an exploration of practices that enable us to become “all ears” and listen in all circumstances to the voice of God. This session will be full of helpful input, discussion and creativity. Come join us and learn to listen more deeply to the voice of God.

Sign up for all three upcoming retreats at a considerable discount.

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