Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Gift of All Ages

(this is an addendum to my post, "The Gift of Gray Hairs", of a couple of weeks ago).

Before becoming the associate pastor at my current congregation, I was fortunate to serve three small congregations in rural South Dakota.  I was there for about four years, and I never felt that I did anything big or spectacular there (but that's a subject for another post).  But I did some small things, and I learned a lot.

One of the small things that I did while I was there was think of a few "intergenerational events" that we could do as a parish.  I wanted to find activities that got the three churches together; I also wanted to get us out of our age-specific silos sometimes.  So one time the whole parish did a service project together,   youth and seniors and little kids -- we all served a meatball dinner at a place called "The Banquet" in Watertown.  We also once had a fellowship event, an "I Hate Winter" party one Sunday night at the pool in the nearest larger city.  (The "I Hate Winter" party had to be postponed once on account of a blizzard.)

I remember when the group was together at the pool on Sunday night, the lifeguard pulled me aside and said, "What kind of a group is this, anyway?"

"We're a church," I answered.

"I just don't see adults and children playing together very often," she said.

I thought about that for awhile.  In school, and in any number of enrichment events, and even in churches that have large and glitzy children's programs, children are segregated into into age specific groups.  There's a lot of wisdom in this.  Sometimes.  I mean, I know that children of different ages learn in different ways.  But I also have to ask:  if we are talking about faith formation, and if faith formation is important to us, how does that happen?

Certainly, faith formation happens in those age-specific groups where children are all bonding with others in their age group.  But I suspect that there is also a lot of faith formation that only happens when we form bonds with one another beyond our own generation.

Gray hairs are a gift -- that's the truth.  But in truth, in the body of Christ, every age is a gift, and we are meant to sing and pray and serve and play together.

And perhaps, when we do this, once in awhile, someone will even turn to us and say, "What kind of a group are you, anyway?"

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