How much would you pay to live a longer, healthier life? There is an increasing amount of research into how healthy, older people manage to put off illness and disability. Lots of factors come into play. If you don’t think that this applies to you in any way, you are perhaps either a smoker or a motorcyclist and expect to die young anyway. For anyone else this is, or will be, relevant, believe me!
- People who eat in company live longer, happier lives than those who eat alone; this is well-demonstrated but we are not sure how it works.
- People who keep on learning new things live longer with less chance of brain degeneration, it is evidently all about teaching your brain to make new connections.
- People who keep supple are less likely to suffer fractures in old age that prevent them walking and make them dependent on others; less likely to fall, more likely to bounce.
- Music also seems to be important, making music, not just listening to it! Especially making music in company.
- People who walk a lot suffer less end-of-life pain and illness.
- Those with more friends, or people who care about them, live longer
- Likewise, those who have a bigger circle of people about whom they care live happier lives in old age
- People who laugh a lot suffer less from depression.
- Children keep us young, maybe because we stay supple, continue to learn with them, make music with them, eat with them and are concerned about them; or maybe simply because they give us a connection into the future.
What, you may ask, has any of this to do with Christianity? Well, the life of Jesus is relevant here. You may remember that he managed to attract many disciples from different walks of life who, left to themselves, might have been in competition, or who might have hated each other. Jesus seemed to know the value of people coming together in a community. Jesus demanded that hisy disciples pushed the boundaries and challenged themselves to lifestyles that they might have chosen to ignore; read his instructions to the 72 whom he sent out to preach (Luke 10:1-23). Jesus is often recorded as eating with other people, on one occasion creating a huge quantity of wine to make a party go with a swing. There is no record of his jokes, or of his musical practices.
But what has it to do with the Church? Take Baildonmethodists, for instance. Here you can eat in company every day; here you can keep supple through table tennis, pilates, karate, or just walking on Wednesdays; here you can volunteer to work with children in uniformed organisations, See&Know or Bumps&Babes; here you can make music in a band or one of our choirs; here you can learn to care for others, our flower rota, our prayer group, our pastoral visitors, all give opportunity; and you won’t be here long before you are offered the opportunity to take on a job for which you don’t feel quite qualified – a learning opportunity. This church provides it all.
So, to return to the original question, how much is it worth to you? We, of course, don’t charge children for the use of our premises, nor prayer groups, cell groups, or working parties. We don’t charge for worship meetings. But running these premises, managing them and the activities within, takes time and money. Compared to other activities how much is it worth?
Membership of a gym might be £50 per month; that is good for you.
The cost of keeping a dog is estimated between £500 and £1000 per year; that is good for you too.
…and have you bought tickets for a show at the Alhambra recently?
How much is it worth to belong to a caring community which strives to emulate the life and values of Jesus and which, incidentally, provides opportunities for all those activities shown to give you a longer, healthier life?