For those following the Narrative Lectionary’s suggested summer readings, we are now moving from the Psalms to Ephesians, with Ephesians 1:1-14 on July 16th and Ephesians 2:11-22 on July 23rd.
The Ephesians 1 reading introduces us to Paul’s letter, addressed “To the saints who are in Ephesus” (1:1). This letter is not just for the leaders of the church, but all of the faithful who are gathered together in Ephesus, young and old, male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile. This is the whole church of God, united in faith by the work of God in Jesus.
Apparently, there were some conflicts between the Jewish and Gentile believers in Ephesus (as we see in the rest of Scripture), because in our reading in Ephesians 2, Paul goes to great lengths to emphasize the unity the faithful have in Jesus. This unity, most famously described in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Galatians 3:28), is one in which the various categories we use to create divisions between people, separating “us” and “them,” are made null and void. Our differences should not divide us, for in Jesus we have peace and communion. This doesn’t mean that differences no longer exist or matter, for they most definitely exist and most certainly matter. We cannot pretend that there are not differences between cultures, genders, or generations. We cannot ignore the very real problems we have created from our differences. But, we can know that we are joined together in Christ as his body, and our differences can make the body beautiful.
At the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend a conference on intergenerational ministry, called InterGenerate, held at Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN). One of the significant points of this conference is to bring together both academics and practitioners, theory and practice. So, we heard from professors and researchers, as well as various faith formation leaders. One focus was on generational theory, the idea that the different generations (e.g. Baby Boomers and Millennials) have different characteristics and ways of looking at the world. Of course, such generational characteristics are generalizations, and therefore not true for every individual. But, the argument goes, it is important for those of us in multigenerational congregations (where more than one generation is present) to understand the differences between generations.
However, while acknowledging our differences and appreciating the gifts that each generation brings is essential, we need to make sure that we break down the dividing walls between generations and focus on our unity in Jesus Christ. It is in honoring our differences and celebrating our unity that an intergenerational (where multiple generations care for and support each other) community is formed, where we “are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” (Ephesians 2:22). That is where faith is formed.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
This week’s FREE resource is an intergenerational “Bible Nuts & Bolts” activity from our Living the Word: Cross+Generational Education product called “Letters.” This activity can be adapted for use with kids and adults, or (even better) all the generations together in a classroom or even in the worship service! The Living the Word: Cross+Generational Education curriculum provides weekly lessons following the Narrative Lectionary that encourages the different generations to teach and learn from each other in a classroom or other flexible educational setting.