As we older folks sit around our usual table at St. Arbucks this morning, it seems a bit ironic that our discussion centered on Psalm 79:13: “Then we your people….will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” Great scripture, but where are the younger people around us? Is our society becoming more and more clusters of same-aged people who sit around talking about why we can’t understand the younger or the older? Erik Erickson’s quote of long ago echoes in my mind – “In a family where the old do not fear death, the young do not fear life.” So how are we going to share our faith and life and gifts and knowledge with those younger and older than us, if we don’t spend quality time “rubbing shoulders” with difference age groups?
The October issue of “Tabletalk”, from Ligonier Ministries, calls this crisis in the church and society the “Divorce of Generations”. Dr. Parsons makes the argument that younger generations have divorced themselves from older generations and older generations have all but given up on the younger generations. I personally feel that this is a bit “overstated”, but it is a point well taken, and it could become more of an issue if churches and families and schools dis-regard and fail to realize the significance of assuring that the younger and older continue to rub ministry shoulders together as a routine, daily way of life.
Check it out in your own life? How often do we olders have one-on-one conversations with the youngers? How often are families and congregations playing and worshiping and studying together, not in segregated age groups, but as the people of God, the Church, together, regardless of our ages.
Check it out in your own experiences: How much are your worship services comprised of a significant mix of people of ALL ages – with crying babies and noisy tots and older folks with hearing aids and teenagers? Is every part of the worship service focused on the Lord ? Sure hope so! The Lord does speak well to all age groups, we know!
Recently I attended a worship service that was focused on “We are the Children of God”. There happened to be a children’s choir singing that day which fit in well with the theme. However, as soon as the kids were finished singing, it was announced that they were excused to go downstairs for crafts and goodies while the adults would prepare to hear the sermon, entitled, “We all are the children of God!” There is something drastically wrong with this picture!
What can we do about this “divorce” happening in church and community? First and foremost, let’s talk about it, honestly and openly with family and friends. Let’s be intentional at discussing this issue and then decide to personally meet with a few folks younger and older than ourselves. So what if we have to buy the coffee or ice cream cone? Gather a few church members of different ages and have a session together to talk honestly and openly about this “divorce” taking place within our own congregation, community, and home. Talk to your pastor and other staff to involve, encourage, and equip them for these generational connections. We don’t need to start a new “program”, although a “task force” might be helpful to get the discussions going. We just have to get back to what the Church is all about in the first place!
One more quote, from one of our St. Arbuck’s sippers, “Healthy aging is changing the way we think about aging by bringing both the younger and the older together for mutual sharing, proclaiming, learning, and celebrating. Hey, I’ll drink to that! And while you’re at it, be sure to get to know the young baristas at your favorite St. Arbucks. They have great stories to share as well!