Even more than usual we are celebrating the big and the strong in the world. Wow is Peyton Manning good with the press. Did you hear Boeing is flying one of their huge planes on a route in the shape of a twelve over the state of Washington? Will Marshawn Lynch finally put more than four words together? Are you sick of the Super Bowl hype and just ready for them to play the biggest game in the world already?!!
This week, though, what I want to celebrate is who in the eyes of the world are not the big and the strong. I want to celebrate the faithful elderly in our midst, those who many consider weak but who are in fact some of the strongest people I have had the privilege of knowing.
One of the great pleasures of my job is visiting shut-ins. I am allowed into homes to pray with people, to share communion with them, and to talk about life and faith and health and family. Sometimes I am at a hospital, often I am at a nursing home, always I feel that I am walking on holy ground.
If you think about it, there are not a lot of places where people of very diverse ages come in contact with each other besides church. I love that my kids come on Sundays and get a kiss or a hug from Bob. I love that lots of “grandmas” ask them about how they are doing in school. I love that they say the Lord’s Prayer beside people who might be ten [or more] times as old as they are.
I love it because these people have the true strength that comes from a lifetime lived within the community of faith. I know it hasn’t been easy. Many of them mourn the fact that their kids aren’t in church. Many of them have had times when they struggled. But they have stuck with it. They have believed in the midst of a culture of unbelief that Jesus loves them, forgives them, and wants them to know him and walk with him and his followers day in and day out.
And this walking with Jesus makes for holy ground. And I get the privilege of walking on that holy ground when I am with a husband and wife who still hold hands even though one has not spoken in over a decade. I walk on holy ground when I sit with adult children who are caring for a parent who is suffering and longing to go home to the Lord. I walk on holy ground when I am with someone who gets devastating news, and yet still can hold my hand and pray the Lord’s Prayer.
This is true strength, because it comes of out the weak and the low times. It is resurrection faith that comes out of facing death. It is hope in what cannot be seen. It is trust that Jesus will see them through this too, and that one day soon Jesus will welcome them home.
Maybe I feel I am on such holy ground because these “weak” ones are a bit closer to heaven. And the strength that emanates from them reminds me to stick with it. To not get too caught up in Seahawks mania, because that is not where true strength resides. True strength resides in having faith in the one who stands with the weak and lowly, because that One once became weak and lowly. And that Weak and Lowly One meets us in our weakest places and gives us strength and new life and hope.
So that is who I am celebrating on this “pre-super” week. The weak who show me that true strength is found in a life lived with Jesus and his band of followers.