Today we’re welcoming another wonderful guest writer – Rosemary McKnight. =) Our families go way back, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know Rosemary better the last few years in our Sunday morning class and in our congregation’s ladies book club. She is such a wise, encouraging lady and you’ll see evidence of both of those traits in her guest post below. Enjoy! ~Kristen
I LOVE our Bible class on Sunday morning! I genuinely look forward to getting up on Sunday and going to Bible class. There are several reasons I love the class – spiritual depth, well-prepared teachers, a loving atmosphere, and great participation and discussion are a few. The class is composed mainly of young adults in their twenties and thirties, many of whom are parents of young children. The class is currently studying Christian Parenting. I am super impressed with the commitment and desire these young couples have in helping their children develop godly lives and go to heaven.
Recently, the class discussed helping children develop friendships and the importance of having friends of all ages. This struck a chord with me. As I listened to these couples talk about how their children benefitted from having friends of all ages, I thought about how much older people need young friends.
Due to our mobile society, there are seldom two or three generations of a family living near each other and worshipping together. We can’t usually run to Mom’s house for advice or eat around Grandmother’s table for Sunday dinner likes so many families in the past. This is why the church must be a family. We need each other in so many ways.
Older members who can’t watch their grandchildren growing up due to distance between them may often make a connection with children in their congregation who are the age of their grandchildren. What a joy to see older members “adopt” kids – whether small children, teens, college kids, or young couples – and make them a part of their extended family! After all, can a child have too many grandparents or aunts and uncles? While the younger generation may benefit as they get treats, hear stories of the past, see faith that has endured both good and bad times, and receive love and encouragement, the older generation is also benefitting.
I remember an older man in our congregation saying, “You will never know what it means to an older person for a child to pay attention to them.” Older people need the enthusiasm and energy of those who are younger. Hearing children’s laughter, feeling a hug or a touch on the hand, receiving a picture or note to put on the refrigerator, or just spending a few minutes of time talking may be the best medicine an older person can receive.
Our family has experienced both sides of the benefits. As our two sons were growing up, we had several “adopted” college students who were wonderful role models for them. Their friendships continued after they graduated and we still stay in touch today. Our younger son had four “grand ladies” who he had to hug and talk with every time he went to church. An older gentleman would bring the boys a Missouri watermelon each summer. As part of Lads to Leaders Advanced Bible Reading, one son went to read the Bible to an older lady who was losing her eyesight. What great relationships were formed and memories made!
Now our sons are grown and live with their families in a different state. We don’t see our grandchildren that often. So, we have taken on some additional “grandchildren” by “adopting” our neighbors’ three kids. We love it when they come over and catch frogs and tadpoles in our ditch or rescue a lizard from our screened in patio. They have set a trap to rid our property of a pesky possum. Their oldest child and I recently shared a funny experience when he came over to help get rid of a squirrel trapped in our garage. It nearly turned into the “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” and he and I will be laughing about it for years to come. Occasionally, our doorbell will ring and there will be those three precious children with some hot homemade rolls and jelly or homemade ice cream to share with us. In turn, we try to occasionally go see one of their sporting events, have a tea party for the daughter, remember their birthdays, bring something to them from a trip, and have a gift card as a special “treat” for them at Halloween. It is so much fun to watch them grow up, worship with them, and build a special friendship with the whole family.
Large congregations seem to be so segregated by age groups. How do we break the age barrier down and form relationships with those not in our age group? Being a part of a visitation team is one way. Those groups are usually comprised of different age groups and get to socialize in each other’s homes. It is a great way to get to know people as well as encourage others who need a visit. Sometimes it may be as simple as sitting somewhere different at worship services in order to meet new people. Seek out those who may sit alone or who don’t have family nearby. Look for a young parent who may need someone to sit with her during worship to help her with the children. If you have children, invite older people to your child’s school or sporting events. For those of us who are older, support those events or buy something from the fundraisers they have. Encourage those young people who are participating in worship or Lads to Leaders by writing them notes and speaking uplifting words to them. There are so many other ways to build friendships with different age groups. I would love for you to comment with ideas and stories of special relationships.
As I begin a new year, I want to make a commitment to make some new friends – some younger and some older. I think I can learn a lot from both!
Rosemary is married to Gary McKnight, an elder at the Henderson church of Christ, and a professor and leader of the Chorale at Freed-Hardeman University. They have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and four special grandchildren. Rosemary has been a long-time third grade teacher and is now partially retired, still working part-time in the school system. She enjoys traveling, reading, and being active in the church and community. (Also, her chicken pot pie recipe is the BEST! ~Kristen)
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