After seeing Disney's Coco, I got to wondering how we might connect the church militant with the church triumphant. If we are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, how might we do the "Honor your father and mother" with the saints who have gone before us? Could we schedule some time for meaningful, mystical, beautiful connections that both honor our ancestors and teach our children/ourselves gratitude for the gifts they've given?
After seeing the immigration images and fights in the news every day this spring/summer, I got to wondering how we might connect the generations in an honest discussion about Christly values and welcoming the stranger.
Time passed and I hadn't put any more thought to it until yesterday when Billie Jo Wicks sent me a photo of her son doing FAITH5 and tracing a cross on his grandparents' grave. Then it came to me. An idea for a FAITH5 family reunion or a summer heritage "Honor your father and your mother" adventure trip:
- Take out the family photo albums... as far back as it goes and find photos of your ancestors. Scan one or two of each of your parents/grandparents/great grandparents. (If you're planning this for summer 2018, get to all of your relatives and ask them for their photos, too.)
- Create a photo book of them at Walgreens or CVS or Fedex or Walmart. (Look for coupons online and you can sometimes get 40-50% off). Place your child's photo on the last page.
- Plan a trip to visit your oldest living relatives with a stop at the grave sites. Ask the elders what they remember about each of the ancestors in the book, the hardships they went through to give them a good life, what they valued most, etc. Have them write their memories by each photo in the book.
- Go through the book and model FAITH5 inviting your child to lead the process with them. Ask the elders to:
SHARE a high and a low of memory about each of them, even if it's second-hand stories told about them.
READ Psalm 145:4: "One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts." Maybe highlight it in your Bibles together with the elders, then have your child write the scripture on the first and last page of the book.
TALK about the gifts you were given by each person. Try to find something nice to say about each person - even if they served as a good bad example. Discuss the physical, emotional and spiritual gifts they gave you. If some of them were immigrants, talk about how hard it is to come to a new place, and - - - if you dare have the discussion - - - use this as an opportunity to share your views on immigration and welcoming the stranger.
PRAY with thanksgiving for the gifts these people gave to you, with forgiveness for any hurts they caused you, and with joy and hope for the gifts your child will give to the world in passing on their heritage of life, hope, and faith.
BLESS their memory, and trace the sign of the cross on each face, thanking God for them by name.
End this with a trip to one or more of the gravesite, where you'll share, read, talk, pray, and bless again, tracing the sign of the cross on each stone or marker. Maybe video the whole conversation and the graveside blessings as you go so their memories are not lost.
If it's too late to pull this together this summer/fall, plan ahead for next year and get the whole extended family together in the process.
You'll teach gratitude, honor, reflection and joy. You'll make Cross+Generational connections. And you may even gain insight into the current events on the border and how Christians are called to be "little Christs" to a hurting, broken, and often hopeless world.