It is always a privilege to lead a faith community in an intergenerational worship experience. Last Sunday was one of those mornings. Sunday mornings are always a challenge to fit this into the time slot of 9:30am - 11:00 am. It was a very wet morning, we expected that many would just stay at home. To be honest if it was me, I would be very tempted to do so, especially when the radio and TV was telling everyone to stay home. But the room was full of people of all ages and it was a wonderful time for many who engaged.
One mother I spoke to said she really wanted to sit quietly in church today without her kids but admitted that she really enjoyed the environment that was created which allowed her to spend time with God and her children.
One other mother with 3 under the age of 3 said…"normally my husband is in the creche with one of our children, I am in the “cry room” with the other, but today we were able to REALLY be here, all in together. It was a nice change.
An older man said he …“walked in, saw the tables set up and thought … ‘oh no’ … but afterwards he made the effort to come up to me and say he really engaged in the morning and loved the opportunity. I was truly touched.
I met an older lady who shared how God showed her what intergenerational really looked like when I asked everyone to share their play dough and mould it all together, experiencing how we are transformed by being together into something different than when we started. She moulded it in a different way and it demonstrated that we can be still be “all together but with our personalities intact.” It was a beautiful way to see the body of Christ. She went on to share with me about the recent loss of her mother and the sadness of that. We got to share about the desire she has to share with other woman of all ages and how this would be very healing for her and others.
Another family was making their own things from play dough, but then they started to join it together and made something they couldn't have done apart. It was quite unique and intriguing.
And they were only the stories I got to hear in the short time I was there. So, the morning finished and I was spent ... talking and leading about the importance of lifelong discipleship being much more than a program or a service, but doing life together. For me, I had served for the day and was keen to go home and simply relax. For me it was a big positive, tick, done ... and then someone asked us to lunch with two other families. I have to be honest, my first thought was “do I have to go to lunch?” Then the second thought was … “if we do, we will just go for a little while. I am tired and I really don't want to put the effort into making new friends.” I mean, I can talk about doing life with people in a morning orchestrated experience, but really, do I have to have lunch with them?
God never misses a moment to teach us and remind us about what Life Together is really about. As I had said that morning, “we only need to have eyes to see and be willing to open the eyes of our heart that we might see Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:18 )
So 3pm comes along and we are still deep in conversation, sharing life, passions, struggles and shared frustrations. Two wonderful families with young children sharing about the juggle of life, ministry and parenthood. My teenager was a part of the conversation and loved the heart connection with the young mums, kids playing in the rain in their undies, the men sharing the challenges of work and life, good food and wonderful conversations all around the lunch table together. So, it begs the questions … where did true community happen for me today? I want to say it was everywhere, both in the morning celebration and at lunch, because God was in them all and He never misses a moment. But for me, deep down where it matters most, it happened around the lunch table, as we shared, listened and truly made friendships that I believe God put together that day for so much more than the moment. I am looking forward to what He is doing and will do through that time and thank God that I had the eyes to see and the open heart (even if I did go kicking and screaming on the inside) to see the God connections and to be willing to do life with others.
Many people ask me, in this busy life of today, how we could possibly do life together. It is just so counter-cultural. Family life is hectic. They can’t even come to Church once a week, let alone ask them to interact together across the ages. Many ask, “What does life together really look like?”
I wonder if we are simply asking the wrong questions. For I don’t ask “why” or “how”, or “what.” I simply ask “why not?”
By Tammy Tolman