Dec. 25: Christmas for the Generations
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Christmas day! Presents unwrapped, Christmas dinner eaten. Grandpa snores silently on the easy-boy. Grandma fusses over the newest grandbaby. Aunts put puzzles together, while uncles watch reruns on TV. Nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, cousins all, go bowling in the basement on the Wii. Awesome are the experiences and deeds we expect and take for granted at Christmastide. The coming together of generations, whether in our families of origin or in the church or with friends and others we love, is one of the priceless gifts of Christmas!
The divisions in our nation seem many these days, and not just between political parties. “What divides Americans most,” said a recent Time magazine article, “isn’t race, gender, geography or ideology. It is the year we were born.” The biggest gap between us is the generation gap. An extensive new Pew Research Center poll found that today we have the largest generation gap since 1972. The sheer numbers of people in the middle (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) creates a demographic chasm between the Silent Generation (0ver 65) and the Millennials (18-30 year olds). The survey revealed that the youngest and oldest generations have strikingly different views on everything from how they feel about the Internet, the government, how they’ll vote, the economy, the church, interracial or same sex marriages and so on.
By contrast, the Christmas day passage (Luke 2:22-40) reminds us that the birth of Christ ushers in strong possibilities of uniting generations across time and space. Jesus’ parents bring him to the Temple to offer a sacrifice of two young turtledoves to fulfill the law of dedication. No doubt a few of Jesus’ extended family were with them for this auspicious occasion.
It isn’t long, however, until the infant attracts others, especially two older people, Simeon and Anna. Both are awed by this unexpected visitation. Simeon immediately proclaims Jesus to be his Savior and the Savior of the world, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, O God…a light for revelation to [all people].” Simeon can now die, happy. Then old Anna, a widowed prophet living in the Temple for years, “gave thanks to God and spoke of Jesus to everyone looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” And Mary and Joseph awed by the whole thing, “marveled at the things which were spoken” about Jesus.
What greater Christmas gift could there be to one another? What more unexpected sign of the power of Christ’s birth in our lives than the coming together across time and space, across the generations, however wide the gap? Before this season is over, if you’re of the older generation, whether you agree with them or not, reach out and embrace that youngster nearby. Tell him or her that you believe in them, care for them, love them no matter what. If you’re a part of the younger generation, make sure in this season to give the gift of your hug or kind word, or volunteer to read or do some other loving deed to an older person you know or encounter.
To all of us, Millennials, Generation Xers, Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation alike, whatever our differences, whatever the gap between us, let us all unite to sing with one voice, and not just on this Christmas day, but every day, “Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born!”