We seek to enrich the retirement experience of residents within the context of Christian community. There is a growing appreciation in modern health care circles that human beings mature not only physically, but spiritually as part of a lifelong process. Retirement enrichment that is centred on a Christian understanding of maturity may contribute to the wellbeing not only of the individual, but to the wider society, and to the Church as the Body of Christ:
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
‘There is no being without communion. Nothing exists as an “individual,” conceivable in itself. Communion is an ontological category.’ (John Zizioulas Being as Communion 1985) We are a community or ‘communion’ – residents, staff, and visitors together. Fellowship is a valued principle of who we are, and we enrich, and are enriched by being together as we seek to be with God. The varied experiences, insights, and wisdom we bring are invaluable in contributing to the rich tapestry of the college and its life as a maturing religious community.
In Spanish speaking countries the word ‘Jubilación’ is used to describe retirement. This is both a Latin and a Biblical word. It implies restoration, re-creation, getting the balance right, and a new beginning. For English speaking Christians, a similar word is ‘rejoicing’. Again this has more resonance than simply to be happy – it is how we often choose to define Easter – acknowledging that despite pain, sorrow, and death, there is hope and new life in Christ.
For Christians of whatever age, Christ is the focus of all that we seek to mature towards being. We each have much to give and receive from one another, whatever our age. Christ is central to our life because he is, and has been, a central part of the college and of our founder, Canon William Henry Cooper. Whether Maturing, Together, or Rejoicing – all is encompassed in Christ.
Rev Derek Chandler – Chaplain