Friday, October 24, 2008

Long-fellowship

I found my way to the corner booth at Longfellow Grill during the lunch rush. I was surrounded by four other women, new to ministry in the Twin Cities and fellow students with me at Luther Seminary. We have been planning to come together for weeks now.

Soon we noticed that another group of pastors was sitting a few tables from us with two classmates we recognized and greeted. Later, two priests came in, wearing clerical shirts, and were greeted by our laughter and introductions. There we were, more than a dozen ministers sprinkled about the small restaurant, mixing Sunday with Thursday and saying grace over sweet potato fries.

We laughed and shared stories about being new to ministry and the worship blunders we’ve made thus far. We confided about anxieties and joys, pondered the economic crisis and its effects during stewardship season, and talked about the blurred line between Generation X and the Millennial Generation.

Instead of trying to find the official year in history this shifted, I suggested that there is a sociological barometer that makes plain a distinction to me. Years ago, parents had no patience for boredom. The moment the word fell from a child’s lips, the little one was scooted out the door, locked out, and expected to “make play” or “keep busy” outside, curing the boredom herself. Toys did not include instructions for how they were to be played with and kids created games with rules, systems, and props all their own.

Somewhere along the way, technology changed play and parents found (good) reasons to fear sending their kids out until the dinner bell rang. Now we hear, “I’m bored,” as though someone or something is supposed to come along and fix it – entertain and do the creating for them. I remember blocking off the street with orange cones and playing soccer or hockey until dark. I remember inventing imaginary adventure games that didn’t need batteries – or toys for that matter. Are those my age the end of an era?

The word entitlement came up several times, which then reminded me that I’m not above or beyond this Millennial Generation. I remember trying to talk my dad into giving me allowance “just because”, though I knew I hadn’t earned it that week. I remember wanting certain things and thinking I deserved them just because my friends had them.

Maybe I can’t be pigeon-holed into a generational definition and neither can you. Maybe each generation is made up all kinds of personalities, work ethics, parenting styles, learning methods, pros, and cons. I looked around the restaurant at strong and capable Christian leaders of all ages, using their unique gifts to partner with those who compliment and challenge them for the sake of God’s world. It made me want to say grace all over again.

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