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Older adults are honored as ‘the saints among us’ during a hybrid worship service

September 26, 2022

“La finca,” part of the Comunidad Presbiteriana La Trinidad new worshiping community near Annapolis, Maryland, is seen as a place of refuge and community for those who worship there. (Photo courtesy of the Presbytery of Baltimore)

The Presbyterian Older Adults Ministries Network took the opportunity recently to honor “the saints among us” with a hybrid worship service originating from Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church in Baltimore and witnessed by people in nearly 20 states.

Three pastors delivered homilies during the service: the Rev. Deborah McEachran of Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Keith Paige of Cherry Hill Community Presbyterian Church in Baltimore and Pastor Jose H. Lopez-Chapa of Comunidad Presbiteriana La Trinidad (CPT), a new worshiping community near Annapolis, Maryland.

“You deserve some recognition, my brothers and sisters,” McEachran said, focusing a homily not on endings, but on beginnings.

At the intercultural congregation McEachran serves, members from Cameroon describe an impending birth as a mother “about ready to pop.”

“It seems an apt description,” McEachran said. “The womb pops open and empties itself, brusquely popping that child into a world of light and air and welcoming arms and excited voices.”

Imagine God giving birth to mountain ranges, as the Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney does for one of the Scripture passages for that Sunday’s worship, Psalm 90:1–6. Gafney translates God as “Mother of the Mountains” here, McEachran said.

“It is this God, the Mother of the Mountains, who offers a place of refuge for every generation, young and old and all those in between,” McEachran said. “This Mother continues to give birth to new ideas, new forms of ministry to people we know and people we don’t know. Look at the ways God has popped during these last two years, when we have been learning to connect in different ways. … We have learned to record worship, meetings and educational offerings, extending our reach over miles and over time. This birthing God is always active within each of us and each of our communities.”

Families from Central America and Mexico cultivate crops and their faith at “la finca,” or “the farm.” (Photo courtesy of Comunidad Presbiteriana La Trinidad)

“Keep your eyes open,” McEachran suggested. “You are going to be called upon to assist in birth, like a midwife. How might you be needed to help the next generation see God as the Mother of the Mountains, the Mother of us all, the one who gives birth to new challenges, new ministries and new hopes?”

Lopez-Chapa described CPT as “a small farming project we have on a beautiful farm near Annapolis. The world opens up for me every time I go there. … It gives me the chance to look around and see meticulous gardens and a picturesque red paneled barn.” It’s referred to as “la finca,” or “the farm,” a central gathering place.

The 10 parcels are each rented to a family from Central America or Mexico. “During the growing season, you can come over after work or on the weekend and find a number of families tending to their parcels,” he said. “The kids run around and play in the dirt while mom and dad tend to the crops. People here care for one another, and they watch out for one another.”

La finca is “a place of rest and a place of freedom, a place of holiness, renewal and hope,” Lopez-Chapa said. “It’s a place where we know where God is” and how, as the psalmist said, “God existed even before the mountains” were made. “Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain, hiked a remote trail or gazed upon a waterfall must have shared a similar thought,” Lopez-Chapa said. “No matter what happens, God is always there with us. This, dear friends, is our faith. The Lord is our refuge, our dwelling place, our home. Thanks be to God.”

“Church, we are looking for a place to dwell,” Paige said. “We feel disconnected sometimes. We may be living in a house, but we might not feel at home. Lord, where is our dwelling place? Our spouse may be gone or in a nursing home, or perhaps we are the caregiver. We don’t want to be a burden. Where is our dwelling place?”

“We need a dwelling place for our own bodies,” Paige said. “We run from one doctor to the next. Our travel is limited, our friends are disappearing and our children have lives of their own. Where is our dwelling place? God has an answer: ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place.’”

Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Older Adults Ministries Network

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lemuel Garcia-Arroyo, Mission Engagement Advisor, Mission Engagement & Support, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Debbie Gardiner, Executive Assistant, Executive Director’s Office, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray

Loving God, we know you through your Son, Jesus Christ, and we serve you as led by the Holy Spirit. May we respond to your call as servants even as we seek to be leaders in your church. Amen.