(Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

This time of year always gets me thinking about family.  And like many people, my extended family lives far away from me.  My parents and siblings all live halfway across the country, and I find myself getting nostalgic. 

When I miss my family, I am so grateful for my friends and specifically my church community.  A church community really can feel like family sometimes.  There can be arguments and disagreements, but these relationships are also (hopefully) based in love, compassion, and respect.

One of the most beautiful things about church life is that we have an opportunity to spend time with people who are in many different ages and stages in their lives.  Opportunities to engage with people outside our own generation are few and far between in our society.  But being part of a church community opens up so many possibilities for developing loving supportive friendships across multiple generations.

So, how can we
access these amazing relationship possibilities?

If you are you
a grandparent (or of grandparent age) and miss your grandkids or the presence
of young children in your life, think about striking up a conversation with the
parents whose children are wandering around the sanctuary.  Or offer to
hold a baby, or play with one of the pre-schoolers.  You could also
volunteer in the nursery or teach a Religious Education class.  We have an
amazing group of creative, intelligent, amazing, loving children in our
congregation.  Most of them would love it if you got to know them as
individual people.  Your lives will be richer for having these wonderful
people in your life.

If you are a
parent of younger children, especially if your parents don’t live nearby, seek
out conversations with some of the older members at church.  Introduce
them to your children.  Maybe you will develop some “adopted grandparent”
relationships with people who can share their wisdom with you and play with the
kids once in a while. You and your childrens’ lives will be enriched by the
love, experience and wisdom of the elders in our community.

We have a
unique and special chance to increase understanding and to share wisdom through
building relationships with our church family.   Let’s consider
taking advantage of the precious gifts of getting to know one another as we
enter this new year.


Bridget Laflin,