Christian Love Knows No Generation Gap
By Rusty Benson
Associate Editor, AFA Journal
The final hymn had been sung, the benediction given, the postlude played, and the last huddles of people were a slow stream moving toward the sanctuary exit.
I had just completed my final duty of the morning – closing the lid on the Kawaii grand piano and covering it with the heavy black fabric cover. That usually requires a couple of adjustments to get it right – kind of like putting a fitted sheet on a bed.
As I threw my man-bag over my shoulder and started toward the back of the room, one of the young ladies of our church, a graduating high school senior, walked toward me.
“Hey, Mr. Benson,” she called out.
“Hey, Mycah. What’s up?” I asked.
“I babysat for the Harpers last night so they could go out and eat with friends,” she said. “They told me they saw you playing at a local restaurant and how much they enjoyed your music.”
I thanked her, then half-way brushed off the compliment with some remark like, “Well, I’ve been at it a very long time.” Of course, the truth is that there are few things you can tell a musician that they want to hear more. I suppose the proof of that is that I’m writing about it now.
Then she asked me when I started playing. I offered my standard answer: “The day after The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Now, for you musical neophytes, that was February 9, 1964. Of course, to Mycah that must have sounded like a date before recorded human history, so I made no attempt to explain The Beatles or Ed Sullivan.
But I did tell her about growing up playing in bands and how I pretty much paid my way through college gigging around the region. Then, I caught myself and cut it short.
She means well, I thought, but now she’s got the old guy blabbering, and if I don’t stop with the long-winded tales, she’s going to regret saying anything to me.”
But to my surprise, she asked another question…and another. We probably chatted for 10 minutes…about me!
A small thing? I don’t think so. If you are over 40, let me ask you when is the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a high school student that felt more like friends who cared about one another than throwing the old guy a bone?
I’ve thought about that brief encounter several times since because it says as much about Mycah’s family as it does the blessings of Christian fellowship in a local congregation.
I later asked Mycah’s mom how she and her husband nurtured in their seven daughters such a rare interest in others, especially older people.
First, she was quick to say that, though far from perfect, their best parenting efforts flowed from God’s grace in the gospel. Thus, their goal was to express their appreciation for God’s love for them through serving others. For example, they frequently visited area senior care homes with all the sisters en masse.
Specifically, she mentioned godly counsel in their early parenting years from Tedd Tripp (Shepherding a Child’s Heart), a commitment to living life as a family rather than as nine individuals, and a family life that orbited around a church fellowship where age differences are less than important.
Old folks, would you value a real friendship with a young Christian in your church? You should. We have much to give one another.
To that end, here are a few ideas to consider. Nothing cast in stone here, just some personal thoughts. I’m sure you can come up with some of your own.
1. Find a church where fellowship in Christ supersedes worship styles, personal music preferences, and such superficial stuff. Hint: the early “contemporary” service and the late “traditional” service doesn’t help. Sorry if that seems harsh. I’m just thinking that in Christian community, age differences should bring us together as we mutually defer to one another.
2. If the kids in your church play sports, music, or some other activity, go watch them perform. Although I knew her parents well, my friendship with Mycah grew out of cheering for her at cross-country meets.
3. Write notes. One of the pillars of our church, now in his 80s, has made it a habit for over the decades to write short notes of encouragement to the children of our church. He knows each child’s interest and what’s going on in their lives, so it’s not unusual to see him talking to the fourth grader or the college student. They love him, and he loves them.
And isn’t that what real fellowship is about? Loving one another in a way that encourages Christ in us, regardless of the number of years we have lived. After all, soon we will spend endless ages together with Him.