A few years ago I was blessed to sit at a table with people age 3-85. We were gathered for a community meal and the only task we were given was to reflect on the question provided in the center of the table. The card read: What do you do when you are afraid? Slowly persons around the table began to share their answers to this question. Quietly the three year old spoke up stating- sometimes I have nightmares and I cannot sleep… I am afraid of what I see… Responding to this child with care each person gently began to wonder with the child, saying: “I wonder what you see?” As the conversation continued each person around the table began to wonder and share how they find ways to sleep when they are afraid. A teen told the child “when I can’t sleep, I just ask God to go with me into my dreams and to help me sleep without nightmares.” Together the entire table closed the conversation praying together and asking God to protect them when they are awake and when they are asleep. I watched, listened, and participated as I witnessed an intergenerational community ministering to one another- as they shared and listened to one another learning began to occur- wisdom was shared and received, encouragement was offered and accepted, and prayer was spoken as a way to bring healing and peace. As persons of all ages gathered around the table transformation occurred through the act of breaking bread as disciples of Jesus Christ grew closer to one another and to God.
There is power and beauty in gathering around a table. These moments provide holy space for persons to tell their stories, learn from one another, and discern together as they listen to God’s voice in the midst of an intergenerational community.
The call to gather around the table is woven in and through the Biblical tradition. In the Old Testament we see generations gathering to worship, pray, tell stories, learn and practice the faith tradition, celebrate rituals, and support one another. This ancient practice of gathering together is affirmed in the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we respond to Christ's call to gather, break bread, and remember- together.
Christ calls persons of all ages to the table- young and old are invited to come, taste, see, and live in response to God's grace and love. The doctrine of prevenient grace affirms this truth- reminding us that God is actively present in the lives of all people. From birth to death and in life beyond death- God is with us. God creates, calls, and equips all people for work in the Kingdom. Our work is to love God, love Neighbor, and make disciples of all peoples. To be alive is to embrace Christ’s mandate to do this Holy work together- no matter how old we are.
Every person of every age has something to contribute to the conversation. Persons of all ages bring different gifts to the table- wonder, play, discernment, curiosity, discovery, wisdom, life experience, authenticity, faith stories, doubt, hope, and peace are just some of the gifts given by God to people of all ages and stages that offer tools to help persons connect to God and neighbor throughout the faith journey. God is with us in and through every life stage- it is up to the faith community to work together to see, share, and live in response to God’s love and grace- no matter how old we are. We might show up differently based on where we are on our faith journey- but together we learn, grow, and live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is for these reasons that Intergenerational ministry is faithful ministry- it reflects who we are and what we are called to do.
We have holy work to do. So let’s:
- Celebrate where God is at work in our communities
- Be intentional and strategic
- Support and hold one another accountable
- Experiment, Create, and Play
- Share our stories
Together we can gather around the table to break bread, listen, share, worship, learn, pray, and grow.
Together we can love God and Neighbor.
Together we can transform the world.
Resources for the journey: