What does the “Baby Boomer Generation” mean to your community? Is it a bulge that leads to indigestions? Or a bulge that becomes an opportunity? Until recently, seniors in small communities have been quietly there – some requiring the services of Home Care, others gathering for coffee and to recount the business of the past twenty-four hours. Now the demographics have expanded to include those 60+ who are recently retired, moving to a place where they can live more cheaply, and are trying to cope with the whole new venture in life of how to face the next twenty to thirty years. If there are too many, they can overwhelm the more settled routine of a rural community. If they appear willing, locals try to rope them into becoming volunteers (without warning them they have many local expectations). It is important to recognize the unique circumstances these newly minted pensioners face. They’ve stepped over a threshold into a whole new way of being. If they have savings, they have a whole new freedom to travel or indulge in their dreams. Health restrictions may start to be relevant. The imminence of facing mortality may become more real. They have to attend the funerals of more friends, and help coach grief-stricken spouses. Where do they turn for support and help? The church is expected to be an important source of spiritual nurture, but have our churches kept up with these new demands? Are not-yet-retired clergy and church leaders ready to find ways to be supportive to this big element in our society? Are we prepared to listen, to show compassion, to foster a nurturing society? The words of one hymn are very instructive. “Even in sorrow and hours of grief, laughter with tears brings most healing relief. God, give us laughter, and God, give us peace, joys of your presence among us increase.”
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