Getting Older

By on May 31, 2024

My dad used to say his favourite time of day was the 20 minutes when he first woke up.  He’d lay on his pillow, prop his hands behind his head and make a mental list of all the things he was going to do that day.  “In my mind I’m still in my 20’s,” he’d lament, “but when I get out of bed and start moving, I’m reminded that my body is MUCH older.”

I appreciate his words now, more than I ever have.  In John’s gospel, Jesus tells Peter, “Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21.18, NRSV)  This phrase is sandwiched between Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus as Jesus is cooking breakfast on the shore.

One of the biggest parts of my ministry, currently, is walking with families in time of grief.  Recently I was asked if I would walk with a family whose patriarch had just been diagnosed with cancer: a painful, aggressive sort of cancer. He was applying for Medical Assistance In Death (MAID) and hoping for some kind of control at the end of his life.

Human beings are living longer than we ever have before. We are challenged to remain healthy in body, mind and spirit. The end of both of my parent’s lives was not ideal.  My Dad lived to 79.  He died six weeks shy of his 80th birthday in 2012. He had been diagnosed with a terminal AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm), and told he had six months to live, yet he lived 5 ½ years beyond his diagnosis. My Mam died at 82 of COVID in 2022.

I see my parishioners’ frustration when deciding whether to remain in their homes or go into senior living.  When we have conversations about cleaning the church or renting the rectory, the initial reactions are that we can “do it ourselves.” But then reality sets in. Few of my parishioners clean their own homes anymore, why on earth would they volunteer to clean the church?  It’s heavy, physically demanding work, and thus we find ourselves in the place of needing to pay someone else to do what we could once do easily. It’s frustrating.

As an institution, the Church is falling apart.  The structures which once served us well no longer do. The reality is the church we were born into no longer exists. Few parishes can afford full-time priests/ministers, regardless of denomination; especially in smaller, rural centres. And while we could lament the loss of the Church’s youth, it is not all bad news.

Because you see, we are leaning into Pentecost…the birth of the Church. The Holy Spirit, who was with God from the very beginning, makes a return after Jesus ascends. And She remains with us while we await Jesus’ return.  From the Hebrew scriptures of Isaiah “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43.19, NRSV) To the story in Acts of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) we hear of “new things happening.”

Before the Holy Spirit, there was no Creation. With the Holy Spirit she brought Creation to the fore and showed the assembled a new way at Pentecost. Previously unable to understand each other’s languages, the fire of the Spirit caused each to understand all the languages that were spoken!  Imagine!

We are in a time of voracious change. Looking back to the Church of our childhood, not much looks the same.  We use the BAS and other supplementary resources, instead of the BCP.  We have Common Praise ©1998, to replace the OG Common Praise ©1938, and also Sing A New Creation ©2022, a fabulous supplement to Common Praise. Many of us enjoy online worship as well as in person worship.

We are coming to the end of the tenure of our first female Primate in the Anglican Church of Canada.  What is before us is a season of change. What the Church will look like a year from now is uncertain.  A decade?  Spirit we will still be here…maybe not the buildings; maybe not the rituals.  Deep in our hearts and souls there is a stirring.  The Holy Spirit is at work in our places and in each of us.  What she has planned we do not know.  Yet, I believe there is a future for which we, the Church, need to be prepared.


  • Andrea Brennan

    The Rev. Canon Andrea L. Brennan is the Incumbent, Shared Ministry Christ Church Anglican and Knox United Church, Fernie, and Regional Dean, East Kootenays

Skip to content