All Saints Sunday: Six generations around the throne of God.
I recently attended Bishop’s Convocation—it was a two day event around the topic, “Ministry Across the Generations: From Infancy through Elderhood.”
The thrust of the presentations were that for the first time in human history there are 6 generations all living together, and worshipping together…
and because of this we as Pastors, and as the Church, need to keep in mind the wide variety of experiences the people in the pews of different generations have.
At one point an Older Pastor suggested all the generations are pretty much the same, saying, “We all learned to read with Dick and Jane Books…”
And before he could finish his thought, the Associate Pastor of his Church—a Millennial, responded,
“I have no clue what a Dick and Jane Book is.”
And from somewhere in the room came a snide voice, “Our Sunday School Students don’t know what books are.”
A wide variety of experiences between the GI generation and the as yet un-named generation populated by our pre-teens, all of them in our pews.
And just to get an idea about these 6 generations all here together—
Who here is under 13? You’re that yet un-named generation who is more familiar with tablet computers than books.
Who here is between 14-33? We’re the generation the Media is going gaga about, we’re Millennials.
Who here is between 34-49, you’re the generation sandwiched between two giant generations and are sometimes ignored…
which may suit you just fine…
Who here is 50-68? You’re the generation currently in charge,
but you’re a generation consistently suspicious of those in charge, you’re Boomers.
Any 69-87 year olds? Like the GenXers you’re sandwiched between two powerful generations, but unlike them, you try to bridge the gap between the two of them, you’re the Silent Generation.
Finally, if you’re between the ages of 88-113, you’re the generation who put together the rules this world is playing by, you’re the GI Generation.
Six generations, all together… Six generations worshipping together.
And on this All Saint’s Sunday, I do want to celebrate
the saints around the throne who’ve been
and the saints before the Lamb who will be.
Those who’ve gone before and those yet to come.
And I also want to consider the six generations gathered in worship before the throne of God today.
Six generations around the throne of God.
Let us pray
Six generations around the throne of God.
One or probably two generations after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
one John the Revelator was locked up on the Island of Patmos and wrote an astounding, visionary, Old Testament laced, letter to the churches of Asia Minor—modern day Turkey.
He wrote to a generation of Christians facing either explicit state sanctioned terror at the hands of the Emperor Nero, or local persecution
—you know the kind—peasants with pitchforks and bigots with nooses.
In addition to threats to their life, they also likely experienced threats to their livelihood
—economic discrimination, the inability to do so much as buy basic goods and services.
And to that generation, John writes, “You’ve been through a great ordeal… and God knows it, and cares!”
“Some of you’ve even died, for the sake of your faith! In heaven your death is redeemed and made into a great baptismal washing, joined to Christ’s death, and his resurrection too!”
“Your faithfulness in these trying times, is taken as worship before God in the heavenly temple.”
“And God promises to you that salvation from all of this is coming…
God promises that your ongoing faithfulness is like Palm Sunday—you’re entering into the Temple with Jesus our Savior.
And not only that, those are the same Palm fronds used to build a Sukkah—the booth used at the festival of booths celebrating the end of the Exodus
—the end of Slavery in Egypt
—those Palm fronds are telling you just as Pharaoh’s power over God’s people came to an end, so too has the Emperor’s.”
“God promises that the economic discrimination you’ve experienced will end—you’ll be fed and your thirst quenched.”
“God promises you’ll be protected from those who threaten you.
Though your church leaders may have fallen, Christ the Good Shepherd has not stopped leading and guiding you.”
“Even as you mourn for your fellows, who’ve died, in the faith and for the faith, God promises to wipe away every tear.”
“You might be cut off—away on the Rock of Patmos like me, or in an isolated Church far from the majority of Christians
—but know that there are innumerable multitudes, from all places, and I dare sa,y from all times, here around the throne of God with you, being comforted by God too!”
That was John’s message to his Generation—and it should not be lost on ours—on all of us Six generations around the throne of God.
John says to the GI generation:
“I hear the sadness in your voice as you tell me of losing your friends and contemporaries
—of a funeral every week or so.
I note early on you came through a depression and a war,
and you’ve loyally soldiered on ever since./
God has seen and noted your loyalty,
God was and continues to be with you through the great ordeals
and God holds you in your mourning, wiping away your tears.”
He says to the Silent Generation:
“You tamed the systems your predecessors put in place, making them more humane. I see you consciously leaving space for those who come after you—so much so that your generation never had a president in the oval office. They call you Silent—your war was said to be the ‘forgotten’ war./
God hears you O’ Silent ones.
God also sees your gentleness and your peace-making and your meekness, for what it is, a blessing.
Follow after the Good Shepherd O’ Sheep, He will make you to lie down in green pastures and restore your soul.”
He says to the Boomers:
“You peered into your father’s world and saw no soul—and so you broke it apart and then looked inward to make sure you yourself had a soul, and your intensity is here to stay. You are the wealthiest, most well fed generation in existence, you took leisure and fitness to stratospheric heights, and yet you hunger and are restless./
God offers you living water and a true meal, for in God you will never hunger nor thirst.
“We are restless until we rest in God”—and that rest is offered to you, with joy—for the Lamb has built a booth for you.”
He says to GenX:
“I see the scars of your latch-key childhood. I smell the sizzling cynicism roiling inside you, that comes from a super-saturation of self-sufficiency.
I’ve heard the soulful wrath of your Punk, Metal, and Hip-Hop./
God hears your rage for what it is, an angelic chorus calling to God in a time of need.
God promises to protect you unconditionally, and to never abandon you.
He says to the Millennials:
“A 50% divorce rate, your don’t trust relationships. The 2000 election debacle, you don’t trust politics. 9/11 and the Roman Catholic sexual abuse revelations, you don’t trust religion. The Iraq war, you don’t trust your country. The Great Recession just as you went out into the work world, you don’t trust your own industry. Trust…/
God will lead you by your hand, and I can assure you He is someone, finally, worthy of your trust.”
He says to the youngest among us:
“I’ve heard of your screens, your helicopter parents, being on the go no matter where you go. I gather that your older brothers and sisters are overshadowing you—you may be a new Silent Generation—with your fondness of electronics, perhaps The Muted Generation?/
I do not know where you are headed, but I do know God will be faithful to you
—God is your shelter and food,
will quench your thirst and wipe away your tears.
God is your guard and your guide.
God will see your loyalty even when you despair,
God will redeem your deaths,
And God will transform your lives into the holiest of worship.”
The six generations around the throne of God, as well as those who came before and those who will come after, can all attest that:
God has been faithful,
God is faithful,
and God will continue to be faithful.