When it comes to the end of the year, I’m always apt to write something about Christmas. This year I thought I would write about something a little less cheery. It is at this point that many of you will want to bail out of reading any further, but allow me to challenge you to hang in there and I will do my best to make it worth your while to read on. As many of you are probably aware we have in the last year had a growing number of folks in the church that are dealing with parents who are in various transitions due to the process of aging. Right now I can count all the folks in the church dealing with these issues on two hands, but if we have any more I may have to take my socks off (just a little joke from a graduate of Texas A&M). I usually don’t put a title on my Pastor’s Pondering, but if I were, I would entitle this one, “Winter Comes.” Let me tell you now, the winter of your life is coming inexorably.
Everyone has to deal with their aging parents and after aging parents die, then it comes your time to be in their place and your family will be faced with helping you through the process. As Christians, I think we should be, of all people, the best at handling aging and the transitions that come with it. Now having said that, we need to take an honest look at how we are doing and ask hard questions. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. So, what are your plans in regards to this issue? Many people don’t think about these things until something happens that forces them to have to think about it. Usually that comes long after we should have put plans in place to make provision for our loved ones. Why are we talking about this now? Well a member of the congregation put a book in my hands that really challenged me to start thinking more seriously about these issues. With my own parents I was fortunate to have sisters living nearby that did an excellent job of caring for my parents and my parents did a pretty good job of planning ahead. However, I’m aware of other situations and some of them are very difficult.

As the Teaching Elder of the church, I think we need to take some time to study this issue. We are going to go about it a little differently than we might otherwise do a book study. I want us as a congregation (any who are interested) to read and discuss the book, Being Mortal, by a man named Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande is not a Christian, but he has written a very compelling book that I think would act as a great catalyst for our discussion and further study of this important topic. Around the first of the year look for opportunities to sign up for the book and when we get them we’ll start a reading period (probably 2 months). At the end of the reading period, we’ll set up a time to come together for discussion. Also be aware that the women will also be doing a study of this book. This is such an important topic it will be good to study it in several different venues. I hope you will avail yourself of this important opportunity.