A short personal reflection by Gaynor Hammond
Adapted from the Closing Reflection given by Gaynor at our event on 26th April 2022.
When I think about old age, it is still – somewhere over there!!
Till I get my aches and pains, or I hit a brick wall and occasionally the realisation hits that actually I have probably reached it!!
But it can be so hard to accept!
My mind often goes back to the point in my life when I retired from my posts as Regional Tutor for Northern Baptist College and Associate Minister of a large church in Leeds, I was 67 years old.
I decided to join a church near home where I felt I could belong.
I approached the minister of a local church to talk about becoming a member.
The minister was really pleased and said that he knew which House Group would be just right for me. It was in the afternoon because it was for the ‘older ladies.’ It was run by a man we shall call Fred and the group was called ‘Fred’s lovely ladies’ I was assured that they loved it – and I would too! I thought to myself. “Does he know who I am!’ He Did!! Well he didn’t know me very well because he would have known I am not a ‘lovely lady’!!!!
But is that how he now saw me? – an old lady? Well I suppose I was – but!!
Needless to say I didn’t join! But that experience made me wonder if this was the beginning of my decline!
In contrast, at the age of 70, I was ecstatic to be called back into ministry – I felt like Moses!! I was called to be minister of Hope Baptist Church at Hebden Bridge – which I did for nearly 3 years – until a heart condition forced me to lay it down, which literally broke my heart, there was so much left for me to do!!
Where did that leave me? Back in decline? Only God knows.
3 years later and 3 blue light trips to A&E I’m still standing!
I now belong to a little church who don’t ask too much of me but often ask me: ‘Can we just run this past you?… Can you just take a look at this?… Would you just help us with this…?’
So it feels like I am not quite in decline, just on a different stage of the journey. Being offered a different way to serve.
We each have our own story.
What can we say? God hasn’t finished with us yet? And who knows what the future will bring? Maybe part of the wisdom that comes with maturity is the knowledge that we cannot do it all! And actually we never could!
Perhaps aging helps us to get it all in perspective and realise that the work we have done – and the work we still have to do – however small and insignificant it seems, is God’s – what happens to it is in God’s hands not ours.
I would like us to finish by reflecting on some words by Oscar Romero, which I think are so fitting for us today.
It helps now and then to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise.
We lay down foundations that will need further development far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something and do it very well.
It may be incomplete, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
So whatever stage of life we are at, what a privilege to be a part – even a small part – of building God’s kingdom here on earth – because there is still an adventure to be had – and God hasn’t finished with us yet!
Blessing from the Northumbria Community
'May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, Wherever he may send you May he guide you through the wilderness, Protect you through the storm May he bring you home rejoicing At the wonders he has shown you May he bring you home rejoicing Once again into our doors.'
Gaynor Hammond, April 2022