O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens.
Who is the oldest person you know? Who is the youngest person you know? When is the last time you talked to them? What about? Our lives are full of people representing generations and differing life stages. What would happen if you took an inventory of the people that fill your life? What would you find about who affects you, changes you, teaches you, and supports you? What would you find about who you are in relationship to them? What would you find about how God has brought you together and continues to hold you together?
When I consider my life, I realize I have always loved having relationships with people of all ages. Growing into adulthood, I have the privilege of working alongside people of many ages. I learn something new every time I am with them. My life has been richly blessed by the people I have known. The blessing has only grown as I have aged alongside them. In reflection, each of these relationships have taught me something more about who I am, who we are as God’s creation, and how God is at work in the world. I know that this perspective is unique. I’ve overheard enough conversations to realize not everyone is as comfortable being around people younger or older than the person talking. Honestly, it breaks my heart. We are missing out on so much when we sum up another’s worth just because they happened to be born on a particular year.
The above reading from Psalm 71 prompted this reflection on intergenerational relationships because it reminds me that no matter what our age, we are in relationship with God. This relationship grows within us, not just so we feel confident in our faith, but so that we might proclaim God’s wondrous deeds to everyone – “all the generations to come.” We are not meant to keep who God is to ourselves, or to those who are the same age as us. In fact, in reflection of this Psalm, it seems we are called to be even more mindful of all generations as we grow older. The more God has done for us should lead us to connect and build even more relationships with all ages, so that all may know.
Our confirmation co-op has been utilizing our day-retreats as an opportunity to build connection between the generations through conversations with congregational mentors. In these conversations, the confirmation students share their stories and experiences as connected with the theme alongside the stories and experiences of their mentors. They can ask each other questions, find commonalities, and inspire each other to live out the faith practice that they are discussing. It has turned into one of the most fruitful aspects of our confirmation retreats. But how do we engage in relationships and conversations like this when we don’t have a retreat to make us? It starts with an honest inventory of the relationships in our lives. It starts with our own commitment and understanding that our response to God’s goodness in our lives is meant to be for all ages.
So, consider again, who makes up your life? Where is one place you can go to meet someone of a different age? What is one new relationship you can cultivate? Start with one relationship and see what God does there. How is God showing up in your midst when you are with them? How does this encounter affect the rest of the people you meet throughout the rest of the day? May the ways you live into each relationship embody all that God has done in your life.
Let us pray...
God, you are found in every age and ageless, open our hearts to know you in every relationship. Open our minds to recognize how you might be calling us to know people of different ages more fully. Thank you for all that have done for us. Embolden us to proclaim your goodness all the days of our life, for all the generations to come. Amen.
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Thank you, Casey, for this reminder & challenge to build beautiful relationships with people of all ages. We have much to give each other.