Sunday, January 29, 2017

Deepening our perspective

Joyce Sasse, Spritual Gleanings - Once people named to the position of “Elder” held important responsibility in our church’s tradition, for they worked closely with the minister to care for the well-being of the congregation. But the terminology fell out of favour as younger people volunteered to serve on Church Councils and committees. 

As we by-passed the terminology, we also by-passed some of the depth of meaning for the work done. “Eldership” isn’t something that is donned like one might put a cloak on, or assume a title. It is more like a quality that one attains over a period of time – acquiring wisdom, gaining the respect of others, finding deeper meaning for life … It is almost like developing an aura of grace and dignity.

Native colleagues, while helping me understand their cultural traditions, coached me by saying “you could become an elder too”. But I didn’t understand fully what they meant until I watched the film “Elder in the Making”, in which a younger Blackfoot man introduces his Chinese-Canadian friend to the historical story of the Pikanii and Kainai people.

By witnessing the pride of culture, the pain of suffering, the feeling of tribal-belonging shown here, we see how people who are part of that culture can “ripen” as they gain depth of understanding, work through the tough spots and recognize their responsibility within the community.

Whichever community we belong to, be it family, tribe, church, neighbourhood, we can work toward becoming one of the “elders” – and that mantel can be worn with both pride and humility.

“Elder in the Making” can be watched as a 6-part series on YouTube. The simplicity with which the stories are told invites all of us to consider how our story might help any of us become elders in the making.

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