Old Is Good: Toward A Theology Of Age

Old is good.

My grandfather was a great man. I would sit on his porch with him, at the end of his life, swinging on the swing that had been there forever. He would sit there, with his oxygen tank and cup of ice chips, while I asked questions about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – and girls.

He was old.

On my shelves are dozens of worn, used hymnals. I collect them from used book stores, family and friends. I love the poetic words, archaic as many seem, and the times and places they represent. In my early days of faith, I would take the words from very old texts, and make up melodies and songs around them.

They are old.

I love to walk through antique stores with my mother. She and I have always seemed to have an affinity for finding obscure and aged items both interesting and inviting. Where I used to live, we would have a Mother/Son date in a large antique barn in our area. I love to find treasures from years gone by.

They are old.

I love stories about beginnings – Genesis, creation myths, ancient near-eastern narratives, old stories of the ways of times and places too distant for us to hear or see. To me, where we come from has everything to do with who we are, and instead of running from the past, I sometimes find myself running to it.

The past is old.

For many that I have met in contemporary and emerging Church contexts, old feels bad. Old is the antagonist in their story. Old is lame, gone, passe and even a formidable foe.

For me, old feels rich, mineable, important, primal, educational, in need of reform and even applicable.

For me, old is good.

To look back with desire for days gone by is nostalgia. It can bring a richness of memory, but a chain of unwillingness to move forward.

To look back with respect, nuance and admiration for the struggle of life that other’s faced, this is healthy memory. It can feed us on food that other’s have found substantial across the fields of time, present to us our tendencies to codify in glaring form, and yet do so in a way that propels us into our present and future with renewed confidence in God.

As for me, old is good.