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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Peter 5:1–11           

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

As a proud member of Generation X, I often feel like an amused bystander to conflict that emerges from the preferences or cultural norms of the generations on either side of my own. Sometimes these conflicts are amusing: mutual critiques regarding use of mobile technology. Sometimes they are critically serious: different generations have divergent preferences regarding how to engage in community and in expressions of faith, and this can leave institutions stuck, not knowing how to proceed.

I know many of you are tired of arguments pitting generations against one another. I am too. But I think it’s important to take a look at the social dynamics highlighted in these discussions because the connections between generations are important—they always have been and always will be. This reading from 1 Peter gives us one perspective on how older and younger generations should be in relationship with one another. It might not seem useful to us, as it doesn’t advise us how to deal with the impact of rapid societal change, but it does make it clear that Christian community expects young and old to be in relationship with one another, even if it’s not easy. And Christian community is never easy. As Henri Nouwen reminds us, “Community is not some sentimental ideal place of time where everybody lives together, loves each other, and always gets along. That’s never going to happen.”

But Nouwen also writes that community, “offers us the context where we try to love one another and receive the love and care of others.” The blessing of our Easter sunrise service is people of all ages coming together to lead worship, welcome new persons, and share fellowship. It is a chaotically joyful experience that I treasure.

How often are you engaged in meaningful intergenerational relationships, even friendships? If we’re living into our Christian call to community, this should be happening in our midst.

God of the generations, we give you thanks for your call to community for all people—oldest to youngest. Help us to live out your love with one another, even with those who are different from us in age. In their face, help us see your face. By our friendship, may we make your face known. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

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