Not sure what your opinion is of Mars Hill (Grand Rapids, MI) pastor Rob Bell, but today we listened to a most unusual sermon from a pastor for whom “unusual” is de rigeur.
Actually, as Bell’s preaching goes, this one was somewhat conservative. The message had as its aim the affirmation of aging. He claims that the motivation for this was that it was the day before his 40th birthday; hardly senior status by any measure.
(NIV) II Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
He began with stories of people whose major life accomplishments began at what some would call the later stages of life. The stories highlighted people who were, with each example, progressively older. (Sadly, the slides that go with this sermon weren’t posted online.)
The message functions well on a number of levels. Besides affirming respect for the wisdom and experience of age, it’s also an encouragement to those who are older to reconsider retirement. But most important, it’s a challenge to all of us to rethink the concept that “new is best.”
Bell ends the message with a question that was asked of him — Bell being a guy who knows what it’s like to be the new hot trend — as to how a person can avoid “peaking” after sudden popularity.
(NIV) Psalm 92:12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green…
You can find the 50+ minute sermon here. Click on the message for 8/22 — appropriately titled: The Village Elder. I’m considering creating some slides myself and then touring the audio message around to some senior’s groups. I think they’d enjoy what the young guy has to say.
Postscript: The message ends with a story about a guy who was dismissed from his church for attending a Rob Bell conference on his own time with his own money. Not sure how it directly connects, but it shows that the Michigan pastor still has detractors. Not sure what they would find wrong in this message though.