Column: Intergenerational commitments in community

BY ANDY EVENSON
GUEST COLUMNIST

Last Sunday, nine of our youth confirmed their faith through the rite of Confirmation, or now often called Affirmation of Baptism. They promised the following: “to live among God’s faithful people; to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper; to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; to serve all people, following the example of Jesus; and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 236.

Our confirmands have participated in a three-year program focusing on scripture, Lutheran theology and the Catechism, everyday life and special topics. Small group leaders, along with our Director of Youth and Family Ministry and I, teach weekly on Wednesday evenings during the school year. In addition, our confirmands have engaged in conversations with mentors during the seasons of Lent each year. We have taken them on local field trips to a mosque and a funeral home and other interesting places. Many of them have participated in mission trips to Colorado, North Carolina and Jamaica. They are active in both attending and helping to lead worship.

They are amazing children of God to behold, and it is a gift to teach them. I’m excited for the day their generation holds public office and governs with open minds and hearts, while also holding one another accountable. For those who are nervous about the future or hear nothing but negatives about our next generations, fear not!

But don’t take my word for it. If you’re currently a part of a faith community, engage in conversation with the children and youth. Sit with them in the social hall and joke with them in the pews before worship. Learn their names and greet them. If you’re not currently part of a faith community this is a great reason to become a part of one. Intergenerational relationships are a core component of healthy communities, and you can be part of helping the St. Croix Valley become an even more vibrant place.

As human beings, we have a need to know that our future is in good hands. We need to have conversations with younger generations and ask difficult questions, raising the bar of expectations and hearing their challenges and joys. We’ll learn much in these conversations. Our youth also need to learn from us, how we got through our most challenging times in our lives, how change and fresh-starts are possible, and so much more.

If you’re already doing this great work, thank you. Pat yourself on the back. Share your joy and enthusiasm by inviting others to join with you in growing intergenerational relationships in our community.

Think of this way: If you ever went through the Rite of confirmation, you also likely promised “to live among God’s faithful people.” I’ve found our younger generations to be as faithful as any generation. As you remember your own confirmation and seek to renew your promises, explore a commitment to intergenerational relationships. You’ll meet the risen Jesus in your midst, your faith will become stronger, and the world will be a better place because of it.

Rev. Andy Evenson is the Senior Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Lake Elmo