The Joy of Generations

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner

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I wouldn’t change my parents’ careers for anything. My dad worked for John Deere as a maintenance mechanic. He never brought work home, had regular hours, and loved his job. My mom also loved what she did, running an in-home daycare for over 30 years. Her entire life she has adored children. As a girl at family gatherings, the other kids would be playing with peers, and she would be holding a baby. It was her delight to care for children in our home; they became part of our family. We all enjoyed getting into the act of mom’s daycare.

Even as the youngest of four kids, I got plenty of childcare experience in mom’s daycare. I held and bottled babies, fed the older ones snack, supervised kids playing outside, and teased them a fair bit, too. Some new fathers have never held a baby and are totally nervous to care for their newborn. Not me. I had plenty to learn as a parent, and still do, but I wasn’t nervous to jump in. I credit Mom for that.

I’ve always liked little kids. I like their energy and curiosity. I like their often open and contagious affection; you don’t have to guess how they are feeling. They aren’t worried about their appearance. They don’t care to rush things. Their mission in life is to have fun and live with joy. We could all benefit from some kid time and the lessons they teach us. It’s one of my joys to greet newborns in the hospital, share with toddlers come up for the children’s sermon, lead “chapel chat” with preschoolers during the week, and support our children and youth ministry.

On the other end of life’s spectrum, I wouldn’t trade my visits at the nursing home with anyone. On the first Wednesday of the month, I lead chapel at the Heights (9:30am) and Manor (10:30am), then go to the Kelly House at 12:45pm. It started with the Manor, and I added the other two into my monthly routine. I cherish my visits with our homebound members and friends.

Some people might get nervous around the elderly and infirm, but here again, it’s been part of my life. My grandmother lived at Bartel’s Lutheran Home, a skilled nursing center in my hometown, and for years I was accustomed to visiting her and her friends there. Our most elderly have wisdom and grace. They aren’t usually in a hurry and have time to talk and listen. They, too, often feel like they can be who they are and don’t need to put up pretense. Sound familiar?

I’m of the mind that a daycare center in a retirement community is genius. That’s just what Providence Mount St Vincent in Seattle, WA, is doing. (Google their PBS news segment.) It’s bringing joy to the residents and joy to young children. Administrator Charlene Boyd says, “It’s just like this magical formula that happens every day. All of us have common needs to be recognized. All of us have common needs to be loved, and all of us have common needs to share life together. And so these children bring life and vibrancy. It’s a gift.”

Today in America we have six distinct living generations. Where else but the church do these generations all come together? Not school. Not the workplace. Not even the mall. But they do at a family reunion, which is sort of what the church is. With our church I see how my children reap the benefit of knowing people across the generations. My kids have lots of “grandparents,” “aunts,” “uncles,” “cousins,” and even “great-grandparents” at St. John’s. I want that for all of us. Our example is none other than Jesus, who crossed the generations and welcomed children, teens, peers, parents, widows, and all. This is one of the things I love most about my calling and about our church, how we have every generation worshipping and serving together, loving God together.

Don’t be shy to connect with a different generation. It’s tempting to think that someone older or younger doesn’t want to interact with you, but it’s not true. We’re all worried about being rejected when we cross among age groups. Our perspectives may be different, but we can listen just the same. We have so much to learn from each other. Reach out, and embrace the gift that others offer. Come to one of our Cross+Gen (cross-generational) events to unleash the joy in all of us. Open yourself to the gift of God’s people at all ages. Our faith passes from seniors, to children, and right back. God’s power is revealed when generations share love and joy together.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
-Psalm 100:5

  • Brooke Fraser

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