Thumbs up for grandparents and the elderly! Sunday 25th July was the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly – especially instituted by Pope Francis to recognise their value and to honour them. It will take place every 4th Sunday in July. He said that the voice of the elderly is precious “because it sings the praises of God and safeguards the roots of peoples. They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young.”
Whatever our ‘brand’ of faith, the Scriptures are clear about the value that God places on the elderly. A ripe old age is regarded by Him as one of the greatest blessings (Psalm 91:6) – a blessing from God for the individual and for all of us. And we all know the verse from Psalm 92: ‘Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in Him!’
Ageing is part of our humanity and God intended, from the beginning, that the qualities of older people would make life better for all. For the wisdom and long view of the old to bless the younger with insight and encouragement, to bring a balanced culture into society. This is described more fully in What’s Age Got to Do with It.
When it comes to faith, grandparents often have a lasting effect on their grandchildren. Writing to his disciple, Timothy, the apostle Paul said, ‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also (2 Timothy 1:5).
Lois could have had no idea that her grandson Timothy would become one of the early Christian evangelists, and the first Bishop of the church in Ephesus. Like Lois, many a grandparent instils and strengthens faith in younger family members. When talking to a younger person about Jesus, they will often say, ‘my grandmother used to say things like that!’
Proverbs 32: 13 says, ‘Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren …’ Patrick Henry, one of America’s founding fathers, once said, “This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
The main aim of establishing the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, is to make the link between the elderly and the young more explicit, with both recognizing their need for the other and the value such relationships offer. That link between the generations is essential now more than ever as we re-emerge into a post-pandemic world.
Although we seemed to have little notice about the World Day this year, hopefully in coming years we will celebrate it by affirming how we value and love those in our own individual worlds. And not just on this one day, but on all the days in between.
Meantime, if you are a grandparent or an older person, know that God has plans for you (Ephesians 2:10), and values you (Psalm 92) and so wants your value to be seen by others that He has put His imprimatur on an instruction that they should stand up in your presence! Read Leviticus 19:32.