Recently I was helping out in the cafe at church before Adult Bible Fellowship classes and Sunday morning services. Just like back in my waitressing days, it was quite predictable what crowd of people would show up at what time. We needed to know how to make specialty coffees nice and early for the first morning wave of folks – the teenagers. I never did quite master that skill.
They show up early with their friends, get their specialty coffees, most of them a full day’s worth of calories, and go hang out for a little while at the small tables that are scattered throughout the gathering space and line the hallways at church. It’s very obvious that they love spending time together, and invest that extra half hour or so to catch up with one another prior to going to their ABF classes.
I think they might be on to something.
And then there’s 8-1/2-year-old Calvin who comes to volunteer in the cafe for a short time, gets a little assistance with putting his apron on, and is more than happy to give his recommendations on which pastries and donuts are the most delicious. He knows how to properly hold a cup while pouring coffee, and how to put the lid on without touching the part from where the customer will drink. Truth be told, it was Calvin who partly trained me. Thanks, Calvin! Someone with more than 8-1/2 years of history behind them is surely modeling what serving looks like, and he’s so excited to do it – sometimes, even so excited that he will recommend the very last donut of his favorite flavor, having to settle for what’s left for himself. Way to go, Calvin – you’ve been such a reminder to me of Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Years ago I remember one Sunday sitting towards the back of the church, and realizing there were a lot of wheelchairs and walkers parked just behind the last pew. About halfway through worship, one of the men in the back row who was unable to stand up, took his cane in his hand and threw both of his arms up in worship – cane and all, and I could tell it took an incredible amount of effort, because he didn’t seem to have much strength. Something in that hymn must have struck him, because tears were rolling down both sides of his face. I thought to myself, “Now THAT guy knows some STUFF!”
It wasn’t long after that when I had the privilege of sitting at the kitchen table of Roy and Jane Scites, both in their 90’s, and they talked with me about how to pray for our children. They both cried. Their son was very sick.
One Saturday afternoon Bernie Howard tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to teach me how to play cribbage. The truth was, I was really not very interested in learning how to play cribbage; I just needed a couple of hours with Bernie that day, and she knew just what I needed to hear, and she gave me her famous Bernie Howard quote we all know so well.
“Get over yourself.” Bernie Howard
I was raised in a family that loved spending time together – everyone – “from 1 to 99,” as my friend Kitty used to say, so socializing with anyone of any age has never been difficult for me. But if you’re anything like me, and I’ll bet you are – can’t we all find ourselves likely without even realizing it, almost deliberately choosing those we think we have the most in common with to surround ourselves with – usually those in our own generation? Not that there’s anything wrong with that at ALL, but perhaps by limiting ourselves to our own generation, we’re really missing out on some good stuff – the wisdom stuff.
Eight-year-old Calvin is made in as much of God’s image as you, and me, and as much as Roy and Jane Scites, or Bernie Howard were. And we all struggle with that same common sin nature condition that all of us are stuck with until we get home. But we all also have the same Father, and…
Well, I’m just thinking that maybe we ought to glean a little wisdom from those early morning teenagers, and arrive at church a little early – say, 30 minutes or so? Get something to drink (specialty coffee optional), and find some friend to get to know, someone with more history than you (or less!). Find a table, ask some questions, share some prayer requests or struggles. In return, you might just hear all about the “glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that He has done,” as Psalm 78:4 says, or maybe you’ll find the opportunity to be just the encouragement someone didn’t even realize they needed.
God willing, if we commit to investing time in intergenerational friendships within our church family, we’ll blend so well together that if it weren’t for a cane and some white hair, one may not see a gap between the Gen Z’ers and the Baby Boomers. And then we’ll look a little more like heaven – not just every tribe and nation represented, but every generation as well!
Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Ladies, we need each other, and can be such a treasure to one another, in all of our different generations, and in all of our circumstances of life – the ones that bring us sorrow and the ones that bring us joy. So let’s share them with each other, and fill up every single one of those tables on Sunday mornings doing what Psalm 145:4 tells us to do.
I’m in – how about you?
(And if you do happen to grab a donut – be sure and leave one chocolate frosting covered donut for Calvin. That’s his favorite.)