Monday, January 11, 2016

Blessing the Generations

At our church, we are spending two months exploring Blessing the Generations. Here is an article I wrote about the six generations in our church relating to each other. I read this to the congregation on Sunday morning, January 10, 2016.

How do all of these generations relate to each other in healthy ways?
I’ve written this parody to just demonstrate how diverse generations can be – but also just how much we actually all have in common. We’ll see how many images, phrases and cultural jargon you recognize – and how often you are in the dark because of the limitations of your generation.

So – back to our question. How do all of these generations relate to each other in healthy ways?

That is a great question! How do we do it? In some ways, it is the $64,000 question.

There are no easy answers. Generations are just . . . well, different. Whether it is music, literature, movies, cultural iconography, tastes, preferences, clothes, hairstyles or heroes. We can just be so different.

But—generations don’t have to irritate each other all the time. We can learn from each other. We can truly relate to each other. We can live together in healthy relationships and get the best out of those relationships. Even when we don’t all recognize what is being said or why something is being done. We can give each other the benefit of the doubt. We can learn from healthy examples.

By definition, families are intergenerational. Families can create healthy dynamics where everyone benefits. I can think of numerous families that have demonstrated healthy intergenerational relationships. For example, Morticia and Gomez loved each other deeply and were able to care for Grandmama and still had time for their children, Wednesday and Pugsley. Plus, Uncle Fester and Cousin Itt were both welcomed and allowed to live in this multi-generational home.

Now, they were creepy and they’re kookey, mysterious and spookey, they’re altogether ookey --- the Addam’s family.

Ahh – why not?

Their house is a museum, when people come to see’em, they really are a scre-am --- the Addam’s family!

So, it can work. And not just on television. We can make it work.

But – we all know inter-generational intersections can be challenging. Different ideas can collide instead of merge when radically different perspectives are brought together. When people from such different backgrounds with such different worldviews are forced to interact with each other – it can be a recipe for disaster.

In fact, the differences experienced in multi/inter-generational relationships are innumerable. Sometimes when we try to sort them all out in real time in real relationships or real churches or real families, it is challenging to say the least. Emotions can run rampant, things are said and stuff can just cascade down unintentionally. It is almost like opening Fibber McGee’s closet!

There can be so many natural barriers between the generations. That doesn’t help. Differences in communication styles, language, cultural backgrounds and worldviews can result in the building of walls instead of bridges. So, when generations are trying to communicate with each other, it can be much like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” skit.

And it can be frustrating when you are trying to share the irritation you are experiencing and there just isn’t the right Emoji that captures your feelings. 

#Idon’twanttoblessthegenerations #oldpeople #whycan’teveryonebelikeme #i’msooverit


So, yeah, intergenerational relating is fraught with difficulty and misunderstanding. But it is worth the effort to make it successful. Intergenerational relationships will enrich your life and make you a deeper, more well-rounded person.

It’s not easy. It never has been. There have always been tensions between generations.

“Every generation wants to be the last. Every generation hates the next trend in music they can't understand. We hate to give up those reins of our culture. To find our own music playing in elevators. The ballad for our revolution, turned into background music for a television commercial. To find our generation's clothes and hair suddenly retro.” 
            -Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

But it is worth the effort. Learning to relate to other generations will take time and energy. In order to make it work it is important To Tell the Truth. Because actually, Truth or Consequences emerge in intergenerational relating. Sometimes telling the truth requires Survivor – like skills. In fact, sometimes you hear The Voice ringing in your heart to do or say the right thing. It requires finesse and dexterity – it can be like Dancing with the Stars.

All of us are going to develop and mature through our own generation. If you can survive The Dating Game, get past being The Bachelor you can make to The Newlyweds. Sometimes your journey may be in Jeopardy. It will require Concentration. And – if you can learn the art of compromise, and if you can survive the Family Feud you will often say to each other, Let’s Make a Deal. Who knows? You may take a spin on The Wheel of Fortune and climb the $25,000 Pyramid and you might even ask the question one day, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

As you mature and develop, hopefully your desire to be a blessing to other generations will develop as well. I hope you will see the value of reaching across the divide and building bridges to others who see the world very differently than you. What you will discover is that we actually all have a lot in common.

We want to live meaningful lives. We want to love and be loved. We want to know the deeper things of life. We want to have fun. We want to make a difference in the world. We want to recover from hurt and failure. We want to live! We want to navigate the human experience successfully. Certainly, if we are believers, we want to Follow The Jesus Way!

The writer of Ecclesiastes is right:

Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever . . .
       What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under           the sun.

Every generation has heroes and villains. Love songs and poetry. Tag lines, memorable events, leaders and followers. Sometimes we say the very same thing in different ways. But – there is a core connection across all generations!

The Crawley family didn’t invent the desire to live in an Abbey in Downtown.

Petula Clark was singing about that in the 1960’s.

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go . . . downtown. When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurries seems to help I know . . . downtown.

Or Bruno Mars puts it this way for today’s generation--- 
Uptown: Saturday night and we in the spot. Don’t believe me, just watch – Uptown.

Wait a minute – it’s not Downtown Abbey – it’s Downton Abbey.

Oh well, you get my point, right? Here are a few other insights:

Adele wasn’t the first one to call and say “Hello from the other side.”

Jim Croce did it years earlier with a little help from the operator:

Operator, could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded.
She’s living in LA with my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated.

#Adeleisawsome #Ican’tbelieveheknowsuptownfunkanddowntonabbey

And – famous love stories? Every generation has them!

Beyonce and Jay Z
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
Brad and Angelina
Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd
Elizabeth Taylor and Conrad Hilton
Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner

We also have our own memorable phrases:

Where’s the beef?
Show me the money!
Have it your way!
It’s the real thing!
A little dab’ll do you!
Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz – Oh what a relief it is!
You’re in good hands.
What’s in your wallet?
Don’t leave home without it.
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Can you hear me now?
Finger-lickin’ good!
It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.
15 minutes can save you 15% on your car insurance.
Watch me whip, Watch me Nae Nae

And generations have their defining opening lines or scenes:

That feather landing on Forrest Gump’s shoe.

You’re about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. Next Stop – the Twilight Zone!

The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

So, there it is. We are very different – and very much alike. Some of us come from generations where only spiders built websites and the only thing online was a fish. Others of us can’t imagine a life without downloads, a digital footprint or an Instagram account.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with what is current or appreciate what used to be. When Barney Rubble and Fred Flinstone told us to have “a gay old time” – that meant one thing then, something completely different now.

To my generation, the moonwalk was made famous by Neil Armstrong. To another generation, it belongs to Michael Jackson. I remember when Matt Dillon didn’t know anything about Mary – he knew about Kitty and he was a Marshall in Dodge City with a deputy named Festus.

#whatisafestus? SMH WCA

I remember when the Colts were in Baltimore and the Jazz was in New Orleans. I remember the first microwave I ever saw and the first time I learned that a telephone could work without a cord attached to the wall. I remember the first personal computer I ever owned (thank you, Kaypro) and the first car I ever had with an 8-track player built in. I remember a bar in Boston where everybody knows your name; helicopters landing delivering the wounded to Hawkeye and Trapper John. I remember when a lovely lady met a man named Brady; when Mr. Kotter was welcomed back; when the SS Minnow was lost at sea; when the Jefferson’s moved on up; when space was known as the final frontier and the Starship Enterprise could boldly go where no man has gone before.

I remember when they built a bridge over troubled waters, when a stairway was built to heaven and the night they drove ol’ Dixie down. I know that country roads can take you home, that you can’t save time in a bottle, that Monday, Monday can be all I hope it will be and that the answer is not really blowing in the wind.

In fact, hey – I’m a believer and I have learned that without Jesus, I can’t get no satisfaction.

I am happy to be alive at this point in time. I am still learning and growing. I want to learn from all of you – and I hope we all join in the blessing: