Second Reformed Church

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: "Rich in Years"

Rich in Years:  Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life by Johann Christoph Arnold is an inspiring and refreshing read.  In a time when we routinely murder our children, disrespect our elders, find no use for the elderly, and despair of our futures, Arnold offers a call to joy and hope in the elder years.

In the forward and introduction, Arnold touches on the enthusiasm – the joyful hope inspired by God – that can be found in persons who have lived long lives and testifies to his own reliance of prayer in his life.

The eleven chapters are portraits of people who have lived long lives.  Each one is shown as being a vital part of the family and community and having a life of hopeful joy in being an elder person.  Arnold does not deny the troubles that can plague the elderly – Arnold is in his seventies, himself – but he shows how they do not need to diminish the peace and purpose one can find in long life.

Arnold is a pastor of the Bruderhof – an intentional Christian community.  This is not a theological tome which takes sides on denominational differences, but looks to the Scripture, the testimony of the great cloud of witnesses, and hymns to show that persons in their elderly years can and should be able to find peace and purpose in God, despite any infirmities.

I recommend this book for study and reflection – it is correctly categorized as inspiration:  young people may read this and learn the value of the elderly and come to seek them out for their wisdom and knowledge and to participate with them in their latter days.  Adults can come to find hope and comfort about their parents and grandparents and see them not as a burden, but seek to find ways to incorporate them as they are able and skilled in the family and community to which they belong, rather than shuffling them off to an institution.  And those who are living long lives, whether infirmed or not, and especially those who feel lost and abandoned, will find purpose in peace as they are inspired by these testimonies and seek to pursue God in His Word.

This work could well be used as an introductory study to a consideration of what the Scripture says about the place of persons of all ages in the family and community and as an inspiration to reach out across generational lines and learn to value each other.

 [This review appears on my blog and at  I received a copy of this book free from Handlebar Publishing for review.]

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