From generation to generation

Friday, 18 December, 2009

Graham Cray's monthly e-xpressions column.

Fresh expressions of church are for all generations, from pre-school children and their families to the 'Jagger generation' (Old Mick is a pensioner now!) and every possible local combination. But it is particularly good to see older generations blessing God's work among younger ones.

The Methodist chapel on Polzeath beach had just four members left – the longest serving being 90 and 85 years old – when the suggestion was made that the chapel be developed as a fresh expression for the surfer community who flocked to that beach most of the year. It took them a whole thirty seconds to agree to the idea, and then to actively bless the work as it took shape as Tubestation.

A group of senior members of a Women's Institute, many in their eighties, once told me that they were worried that none of their grandchildren ever came to church. 'Do you think they would ever come to a church like ours?' they asked. When I replied that I did not think they would, they asked what could be done? There is now a monthly, all age fresh expression of church in the barn where we were meeting.

In Luke, chapter one, there is a lovely example of this cross-generational blessing when Elizabeth, 'in her old age', greeted her relative Mary, who was probably about fifteen, with wonderful Holy Spirit inspired word of praise and encouragement. 'Blessed are you'. Elizabeth thanks God for something which, she could not yet see, which would take place through some one else, and which still awaited God's fulfilment: namely the kingdom which would come through the child Mary was carrying. Then she encouraged her young relative to continue in faith – believing that the Lord would fulfil his promises.

One of the evidences of God's Spirit at work is when we can rejoice when God does something in the next generation, which we have not seen in our own, and encourage young disciples to trust God's word.

Mary's response, which we call the Magnificat, reminds us all that God's mercy  is for those who fear him 'from generation to generation.'



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