Have you noticed how often you see or hear something about “generations?” We have been working with of many generations, our Ninth Triennial Gathering theme, straight from Isaiah 58: 12. One thing I do know is this: the picture Isaiah paints of many generations is not at all how American culture views generations.
This culture uses the word to describe everything from age to mind set. Usually it’s spoken about in the singular—remember the “Pepsi” generation? Although there is no specific definition, the common understanding is that there are 20-30 years in a generation. Using 30 years means scientifically there have been roughly 5,300 generations on the earth. In American culture there are even names for the generations from Hard-Timers (those born between 1890-1910) to Generation X (1965-1985) to the New Silent Generation (2001–present).
The more I read Isaiah 58 I see perhaps that “generation” has more to do with what God is up to than what year you were born. I wonder what would happen if we approached of many generations this way? Just think “first-timers” would be a generation at the gathering. No matter their chronological age, the women and girls in this group hold something in common for the community of women described in Women of the ELCA’s purpose statement, because of what God is up to and how the Holy Spirit is stirring them to come to in Charlotte, N. C., of all places.
Just as we would be bored if we could only interact with people from “our” generation (speaking for me I wouldn’t last a day), I need the wise words of both my 87-year-old mother and my four-year-old niece.
My mom, sisters, nieces and sister-in-laws will join me for the conversation in Charlotte. I’ll be looking for the first timers’ generation too. See you there.
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship.
The photo was taken of three generations at the Seventh Triennial Gathering (2008) in Salt Lake City, Utah.