—by Sarah Carson

Well dear readers, it’s May again which means it’s time for Gather’s annual intergenerational issue.

One year ago I wrote to you in this column about family—about whether I’d ever have one of my own and what I’d learned about it from the many generations of women in my life.

Of course one year ago family was on my heart because I knew mine was changing. Last year at this time I was secretly scheduling ultrasound appoint­ments, hoping my friends wouldn’t notice it was only juice in my wine glass until I was ready to make the official announcement: A baby girl was on the way.

This year? I’m typing this column to you from my bed. My 6-month-old daughter, Zuzu, is asleep next to me. Her three older cousins are staying the night at our house, and I’ve just spent the last half hour perfectly positioning a nightlight in the hall.

“I’m scared of the dark,” the youngest, Rachel, told me matter-of-factly when she arrived—one of the many basic facts she’d want me to know in order to care for her properly. Later she’d tell me I also wasn’t allowed to let her watch television episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants” or stay up too late. (I’m glad to report I did well on both fronts.)

I am only one year older, but it feels like absolutely everything has changed. Does going from age 32 to 33 magically make one’s life different? Of course not. It’s this new experience that has changed me—just as it is not age, but experience that defines all of us, regardless of where we are in our lives.

This new season in my life brings with it great responsibility: to use what I’ve learned to make the world better, kinder, more hospitable.

“More than just ‘good manners,’ hospitality is a spiritual matter,” Julie A. Kanarr writes in this year’s May devotional (p. 20). “In welcoming in and being welcomed, we experience the love of God, who breaks down human barriers and draws us into community with one another.”

In showing hospitality to one another, we look beyond the superficialities that we so often make the mistake of using to define one another—like in the intergenerational music class Jordan Miller-Stub­bendick describes in this issue, where, “It’s not about perfect or even beautiful voices. It’s about coming together to worship God, to be transformed by the music into a place with space for everyone, young and old, people of different ethnic and racial back­grounds, political viewpoints and histories” (p. 6).

Or as Christa von Zychlin experienced when she was welcomed into a Bible study with Mekong women in Laos: “When we study the Bible with peo­ple different from ourselves, we allow God to help us see the world—and hear God’s voice—with new eyes and ears, and a fresh, receptive heart” (p. 10).

In practicing hospitality with one another, we bridge our differences and create the kingdom of heaven on earth as Jesus called us to do. “In his practice of hospitality, Jesus did not conform to his society’s cultural norms. In addition to dining with Pharisees, Jesus often ate with ‘sinners and tax collectors’…” Kanarr writes in the conclusion to the devotional.

“Can we ‘see’ those who are clutching their alabaster jars of ointment and tearfully wondering, ‘Would I really be welcome here?’ Can we affirm them and join with them in their ministries of hospitality and service?” she asks.

I hope you’ll see in this issue that, yes, we definitely can. And I hope we will.

Sarah Carson is associate editor of Gather.

This article is from the May 2018 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.