Respect your elders. We've all heard this at one time or another. I've recently had cause to reflect on the meaning of the word elder. Most of us might understand the word to describe an older and influential member of a family or tribe.
I've come to understand it differently. An elder can be any member of a community that can offer wisdom or influence. An older person and even a child can be an elder of a community.
I spend much time listening to congregants who have been leaders in congregations for decades. Their experience and wisdom is so valuable. On the other hand I am constantly amazed by what our children and youth teach me. Just when I think I'm the elder, the teacher, the wise one our children and youth do or say something that is humbling and causes me to pause, listen, and learn.
We all have potential to be elders in our Congregation. Some of our wisdom is from years of life experience and some is from having grown in a post 9/11 world and understanding and experiencing life very differently. Both matter. Both are necessary for a healthy and balanced community. Respect your elders indeed.
We all have wisdom and influence. Let us create the space and opportunity to grow and learn together.
Blessings, Rev. CJ