Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster column: Plenty to look forward to after age of 60

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Last week I turned 60 years young.

I suspect that, in keeping with many people who reach this age, I cannot quite comprehend where the years have gone and am in some denial mentally that I am actually that old.

Those who know me would say that I rarely act my age and others tell me that ‘60’ is the new ‘40’.

This is an indication that 60 is no longer considered old whereas in my parents day you were, at 65, what was disparagingly called ‘an old age pensioner’ and many people settled to that mindset which is not the case today.

Reaching 60 has given rise to a period of significant retrospective reflection, some serious, some sombre, but with a joyful and thankful heart.

In addition, it has been an opportunity to look forward, at what is yet to come, which I do in hope and anticipation.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that whatever lies ahead cannot be as good as what has already been and pessimistically to believe that the world will not be a better place for future generations.

I do not accept that is or will be the case.

We cannot, of course, be certain what the future holds.

However, the continuing advances in science, technology and medicine is enabling people to live longer, with a better quality of life and with a wisdom and experience that will grace and contribute to our communities, enrich our lives and would be the envy of previous generations and many in the world today.

However, there will be anxieties about the future such as sustainable energy, environmental disasters, global terrorism and the economy.

Our world is changing, of that there is little doubt, but not all change is bad.

As a Christian, I believe this is God’s world and He is already actively involved in it and Christians join in his activity. God’s purpose for the world is wonderful.

The Christian virtues – of faith, hope and love – the great signs of resurrection, that well up within us, are designed to produce communities in which each individual has their part to play, however old or young, and they do so, not as people removed from the world and its future, but very much part of it.

Christians are called to put themselves out for everyone else, to spot what needs doing and get on and do it.

We do this in partnership with others, those of other faiths and no faith and as long as we do that there is hope that the world will be a better place now and in the future.

Until Christ comes again we are entrusted with his creation and, however pessimistic we feel about that, God in Jesus Christ has shown us that the world will not be overcome, that good is stronger than evil, and that there is hope for everyone.