|Posted on 31 July, 2017 at 20:20|
I recently spent time working as a Chaplain in a rest home. One of the things that struck me was the very narrow age band in a rest home and the resulting atmosphere. When we are old we need the energy and exuberance of the young to remind us that such an attitude is possible, and perhaps to distract from the constant aches that many elderly live with. When we are young we need the considered approach of those older to remind us to slow down, think first and think of others.
In our very segregated society there are few chances for old and young to be able to offer the gifts of their age group to each other.
This is a strength of Messy Church. One of its core values is to be all-age. Activities are designed so that each age group can participate and learn at a different pace and levels. In fact, as different age levels work together each learns from the other. The insight of a child experiencing something for the first time can reinvigorate the experience for someone jaded from many exposures over the years. Being able to pass on years of experience and learning can help give new purpose to someone who feels as if they are a burden. As we celebrate and eat together relationships form so that it is the person we befriend, not their age.
Cultures around the world have long understood the wisdom of keeping age groups together in extended families and tribes. Messy Church can be viewed as a new form of extended family where instead of blood ties to hold the family together, the love and acceptance first modelled to us by Jesus becomes the glue.