Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Preacher’s Corner
Grandparents often play a wonderful role
Grandparents have a special ministry in church. I am reminded of this frequently, for there is seldom a Sunday when there are not grandparents and grandchildren together in our congregation. Ours is an “intergenerational” church family. Children are not segregated from their families at the worship hour, and I even encourage our older youth to visit the adult class which I lead.
Last Sunday there was a granddaughter with her grandmother in the adult class. To me that is as good and right as it can be.
My Cleveland, Miss., grandmother, was with me at church every Sunday of my growing up. I simply cannot think of “church” without thinking of my grandmother, too. When I was small, she took care of me; when she grew older, I watched out for her.
That was my basic lesson in the reversal of roles that is so much a part of life. When we are young, we think we can do everything by ourselves and we want to try. Naturally, therefore, younger people are less inclined to think about God (although they do think about God, but not necessarily by attending church). When we grow older, we realize we can’t do everything by ourselves, and we turn to the Lord as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Thinking about the reversal of roles that gradually took place with my grandmother in our old church in Cleveland helps me to understand how that happens with our lives in God. Therefore, it is quite reasonable that older folks derive great comfort from participation in church, and fortunately, small fry often like to be there with them.
Going to church with my Memphis grandparents was always a great treat for me and, of course, when Sunday came, we went to Sunday school and worship. That was never a matter of debate. It was just what we did. Grandmother and Granddaddy would give me the choice of attending the children’s class, or I could accompany them to theirs. I always chose to go with them, which I hope pleased them.
But the real motivation as far as I was concerned was that there were wonderful doughnuts and Coca-Colas at the adult class. Mmmm. They were good!
My Memphis grandparents worshiped in another denomination than the one I was reared in down in the Delta. While we never talked much about it, I did notice there were many things that were done differently in their church as compared to ours.
I am sure the experience of worshiping in their church helped me see that people can worship differently yet serve the same God. That is an important lesson, and I trace it to my grandparents. So I simply cannot think of “church” without thinking of my Memphis grandparents, too.
So on Sunday mornings when I see Jack and Gay Stubbs with their baby grandson in tow, or Ted and Joan Kilburn with their little great-granddaughters, or Lucy Carpenter with some of hers, or Virginia Mitchell, with her sweet Lily Grace, or Kay Wheeler with her bright-eyed two, or Blanton and Jean Ann with their frequent small visitors from Birmingham and Texas, I think about the rich lessons that are going on before me in the quiet of God’s house.
I also think about how Gene and Allie Greene’s grandsons drove up from Ole Miss all through their college years to see their grandparents who drove down from Germantown, and how they would go to church together on Sundays with Holly Springs as the meeting place. “Meet me at church.” It is not an idle saying.
I can remember preachers saying “God has no grandchildren; you have to believe for yourself.” Well, in a sense that is true. But I also know that grandparents are often the ones who can play such wonderful roles in showing their grandchildren the way.
My grandparents were the only people on earth I ever believed were “perfect.” I am so glad they did not let me down when it came to things of faith.
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