A message of hope needs to be affirmed and proclaimed by people of good faith as they gather in cyberspace this weekend.
We must offer a hopeful vision of the beloved community that our Creator is continually forming and inviting all to join, in which there will be no enmity between the generations.
The hope is the generations will work together, make sacrifices together and look to tomorrow together.
There are many scriptural accounts that represent this hope. Among them are:
- The story of Ruth
In this timeless story, the grieving Ruth from Moab refuses to abandon her grieving mother-in-law, who is heading home to Bethlehem.
There are several cross-generational interchanges between Ruth and Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, and Boaz and Ruth’s next of kin as the story unfolds.
The birth of Ruth and Boaz’s child reminds us hope lives in the commitment of each generation to bless those who came before and those who will come after.
- The building of the first Temple in Jerusalem
Both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles tell us that while it was King David who envisioned the temple, it was his son, Solomon, who oversaw its building. This massive and glorious project was clearly a multi-generational effort, one that required something of all and gave something to all.
- The promise of the prophet Joel, celebrated in the story of Pentecost in the Book of Acts
With soaring poetry, the prophet promises that God’s Spirit will be poured abundantly on men and women, young and old, alike.
Joel’s vision is one that breaks down many walls and crosses many barriers. It is a vision that brings the generations together, rather than forcing them apart.
- The account from the gospel of John of Jesus on the cross
He pleads with Mary and the “Beloved Disciple” to take care of each other, to be mother and son to each other. This request was that they become a grief-formed, love-sharing, hope-bearing family.
This hope is important because, amid the COVID-19 crisis, loud voices pit the generations against each other, saying there is a choice between medical care for all and a prosperous economy.
We need to reject these voices.
There is no need to pit public health against economic health. There is no need to infer the more vulnerable to disease are an unwanted drain on our national treasure.
Instead, we need to emphasize the only way to transcend the current crisis is a fierce devotion one to the other.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the forces of division directly when he said, “My mother is not expendable. Your mother is not expendable. We will not put a dollar figure on human life. We can have a public health strategy that is consistent with an economic one. No one should be talking about social Darwinism for the sake of the stock market.”
The governor’s words are in keeping with the teachings of Scripture. They are representative of a healthy vision for the beloved community.
They are expressive of the hope that can animate us and connect us across the generations.
They reject the idea that some of us make progress by leaving others behind. They point us to the dream that we – The Great Generation, Boomers, Millennials, Gen Xer’s and Gen Zer’s and those younger than that – are in this together.
Jim Hopkins has been the Senior Minister at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, California, since 1989. He has served as Chair of the Board of Trustees at the American Baptist Seminary of the West and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.