It is the day before the anniversary of the tragic Roe vs. Wade Decision, and we had the brand new Crisis Pregnancy Center with us yesterday, and I preached on Matthew 5:9, encouraging our congregation to make peace (by means of the gospel) in a world filled with violence and men at war with God.
That being said, I believe that the trend among young seminarians and new pastors is to emphasize half of James 1:27, and forget (perhaps unintentionally) the other half. We have to remember that James admonishes us to care not just for orphans, but widows as well.
Why is it that orphan care has taken off, but widow care is…well, forgotten? First, orphan care and adoption are way sexier as far as ministry goes. Who wouldn’t want to fly around the world, rescuing cute children from horrible circumstances and neglect? Who doesn’t like adoption t-shirts? Who doesn’t love the gospel picture it presents to the rest of the world? I certainly love adoption and orphan care for all of these things–and I hope the Lord blesses us with the ability to adopt children.
Unfortunately, caring for elderly widows, just doesn’t have the same instant appeal that adoption does. It just doesn’t seem as “cause”-worthy to sit in the nursing home or a small apartment and listen to an 80 something talk to you about her life. And yet, this is exactly what James is calling us to do as Christians and pastors.
I think part of the problem also is that there aren’t many or any elderly widows in the churches we as seminary graduates and young pastors seek out. I love the church planting movement that is taking place across America. However, for every pastor who chooses to church plant, there is one less pastor to care for the widows in our older congregations. Unfortunately, an 80 something elderly woman will probably not be attending your hip church with loud git-fiddles (that’s what they call guitars here) and crazy signage.
In our small church there are probably more than a dozen widowed ladies (many of them have lost more than one husband) who are sweet as can be, and who need the care of young families and other church members in their old age. When they became Christians, we as the Church made a commitment to them “til death do us part”. We must care for our members both “in sickness and in health”.
We have to realize that when we talk about “letting churches die” that we are leaving dear Christian widows uncared for in their time of need. My prayer is that more young pastors and seminary graduates will be convicted to care for our aging brothers and sisters who need a humble pastor who will simply love, cherish, and visit them in their last years. So what, the church sign is 50 years old? So what, the bulletins don’t have a sweet logo? So what, they have an 80 year old playing the piano for service. So what, they don’t have community groups? So what? Is that what James (or Jesus) called us to?
Brothers, may we not seek sexy ministry, but humility. Let us care for both widows and orphans. The sanctity of life should be championed both at its beginning and at its end.