My life is definitely enriched by this community. I have even got to the point where I don’t really like just bland white anymore. I prefer the mix, the energy, the creativity. But maybe I could use the benefits of a cross-generational church as an example of how life can be enriched.
I celebrated my 50th birthday this year. Now, I am not known for big parties but it was great to mark that moment and what I found as I hit that fine age is that I am looking at people who are 5, 10, 15 years ahead of me, looking at the model they set and the example they give and I’m asking, ‘How are they dealing with the seasonal adjustments of life? Like their involvement with elderly parents... like their kids getting married... like becoming grandparents. How are they handling the challenges of health that come with age? How are they following Christ through the ebb and flow of life?’
Now, you can go to a church that is just full of people your age if you want, because in our pick-and-mix society you can find one of those! Are you white, in your twenties? Then you can find a white twenties church and so find a place that will meet your primary social need. And if you lead that sort of church you would speak on issues of identity all the time – that’s where 20s are!
It’s more complex in a diverse community, but I love it because we have people here who have run the race! So if you are here and you are raising kids and you are wondering – ‘Do I ever sleep again?’ – for about 5 years you don’t – and then after that they become teenagers and you have to stay up late because they are out... in fact you don’t get sleep at all until you’re in your 50s and then you are old and sleepy anyway – and then you rally! In a church like ours you get this ebb and flow of the generations blending together - and some want the music louder – and some want it quieter. Every Sunday, someone in church is unhappy! That’s a fact and has to be recognised with grace!
But I love the fact that we are a cross-generational church – it enriches my life. Hopefully Deb and I are a model for some that are asking, ‘How do you build a marriage? How do you raise kids?’ But there are others ahead of us who have followed God through many years, some even through wartime and have lived through bombing, showing that you can follow Jesus through all situations. I want to honour our elderly folk – to say, ’Well done! You are phenomenal - and this church is richer for having you here.’