And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:3-5
Who, in your life, are you certain would do this for you? What relationships have you nurtured and developed to the point you can now count on them to be there for you when you most need someone to carry you? And you will, at some point, need someone to carry you…we all do.
In his book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg refers to it as “the fellowship of the mat”: that hard reality that, at some point, every one of us will need to be carried…will need to be loved by a few people who will go above and beyond the call of normal friendship duty and will carry us extraordinary lengths in order to get us through whatever dark season awaits us. We will all be called upon to do it for someone else at times and we will all need someone to do it for us.
But having those kinds of relationships in our lives does not happen accidentally. Whether it is family or just close friends, the truth is, those relationships are hard work, and not all of us are necessarily up to the task. This reality does not sit well with our current culture. Much of the cultural pressure today is toward a kind of love or acceptance or affirmation that is devoid of any hard conversations or difficult truths (or any truth at …
When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”
“I will do as you say,” he said. Genesis 47:29-30
I believe it was Will Rogers who came up with these four stages of life: First we are our parents’ child, then we are our child’s parent, then we are our parents’ parent, then we are our child’s child. Right in the middle of those stages, there is a life stage, a generation (if you will), referred to as the “sandwich generation”. It is that life stage where you find yourself not only still parenting your children, but also being a caregiver to aging parents. That is where Joseph found himself in Genesis 47-50. He was a father to two sons born to him in Egypt, while at the same time being called upon to honor his dying father’s heritage. I am grateful to God that I have two healthy parents and have not quite arrived at that sandwich stage (and I’m not sure either of my parents would ever permit me to), but I can only imagine it is wrought with difficulties and tensions.
It seems that having our focus divided between raising a new generation into adulthood and, at the same, honoring an older generation is a real challenge. Then again, as a church leader you already know that. The sandwich illustration, you see, is a perpetual life stage for every local church…always raising up new leaders and …
This is the second in a series of posts on my impressions from Cultivate ’09, a church communications conference at Chicago’s Park Community Church.
The gathering place for registrants of Cultivate ’09 was the coffee bar in Park Community Church. It was where we all relaxed while we waited for the doors to the auditorium to open. It was a spacious room with several couches and tables and nice chairs, and a full service coffee bar. It was a fitting room for this crowd of communications professionals, most of whom were of the gen-x variety (when I walked into the room, the median age went up a good 10 years). I felt like one of the few who was not carrying a Macbook in a shoulder bag or backpack and wearing thick-rimmed narrow glasses and shirt-tail out over jeans…all marks of a generation younger than I.
This type of atmosphere is where an entire generation of Christians gather to tell their stories. And they do tell their stories differently than my generation does. I suppose my generation (and the one before mine) enjoy telling their stories by standing and talking, such as in a pulpit or on a platform. Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Rick Warren, Erwin McManus, etc. are all masters of telling stories in this way. I suppose when my generation gets really creative, it tells a great story through a feature-length movie (insert the name of your favorite movie producer here–chances are he/she is a Boomer or older).
But as you transition from Boomers into Gen-x’ers (now in their 30’s) and then into the millennials (now in their 20’s), the story-telling changes dramatically. Their are now two young adult generations who present and receive “story” completely differently from the rest of us and even from one another. Their …