‘We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.’ (Book of Common Prayer)
One of the good things about being a retired teacher is no longer feeling gloom and resentment at the sight of the ‘Back to School’ notices which inevitably appear in shops just as the summer holidays start, and school is the last thing one wants to think about. And yet there is a lot to be said for being prepared for a new start.
For some of us that will take the form of signing up for learning a new skill at Sawston Village College, with its roots in the inspiration of educational pioneer Henry Morris, who believed in the power of schools to transform their local communities by providing learning ‘from cradle to grave’. Or maybe taking up a musical instrument is something you’ve always wanted to do? I was encouraged at Duxford Workshop to see 2 beginner instrumentalists playing a duet, one aged about 9, and the other approaching 90. One elderly lady of my acquaintance (still in paid employment) has this year participated in activities as diverse as visiting underground WW2 bunkers and attending lectures on economics. Others over 90 have taken to iPads to keep in touch with their great grandchildren.
Keeping on renewing one’s mind, and never stopping learning, is one of the markers of staying young. It makes sense on a lot of levels; intellectual and cognitive function keep the brain sharp; social interaction prevents loneliness, and the spiritual sense of purpose, focus and fulfilment enrich the human spirit.
This desire to keep renewing has its roots in our genetic makeup; it is God given.
In Jesus, we have the ultimate in ‘newness’ and creativity. What’s more, this new life doesn’t end when our mortal bodies eventually perish and fail; it goes not just ‘from cradle to grave’, but beyond.
To paraphrase a passage from Romans 8:
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life a penny? There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Dad?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.
So come September, when you have had a well-earned break from your labours, come and learn about the one who says, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Liz Jenkin, Elder
Great Shelford Free Church