by Sarah Carson—

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer. The grass is getting greener. It’s May—which means it’s time for Gather’s annual intergenerational devotional.

Many of this issue’s authors share how intergenerational relationships touch our lives and feed our
souls. We’ll read about how we can learn from one another and lift each other up regardless of where we are in our lives. Let’s be honest, though. It’s not that easy, is it?

Writer Violet Little prays in this issue’s devotional: “Open our hearts to those you have placed in our midst that we might walk together on the path you put before us.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always so great at opening my heart to those placed in my midst.

My heart is very open to those I place in my midst: friends and family members I enjoy getting together with. But those I didn’t ask to talk to? Like the folks down the street who let their Doberman run wild through the neighborhood? Or the woman at the bank who didn’t exactly act like I was her favorite customer of the day? Opening my heart isn’t exactly easy.

Soon my family will be moving to a new town. Recently, I found myself looking around the neighborhood and thinking of all the things (and people) I don’t think I’ll miss. That’s not exactly a very Christ-like attitude, is it? But in a time when our country and world are divided along political, racial and cultural lines, I don’t think I’m the only one struggling to keep an open heart.

When I was a child, my family’s congregation encouraged us to go door-to-door to invite neighbors to church. As my father and I handed out vacation Bible school flyers, one neighbor invited us to pray with him. Maybe times have changed, but have they really changed so much that I couldn’t bring myself to knock on the door of the house across the street and say, “Hello”?

In this issue, we’ll meet people of faith who knock on those literal and metaphorical doors— people who make the prayer, “Open our hearts to those you have placed in our midst,” a part of their life’s work.

Anne Basye (p. 31) shares how people are working to end racism in their congregations and communities. They intentionally reach out to those who do not look like them, to listen, learn and make positive change happen.

Amy White (p. 6), Cara Strickland (p. 14) and Tiffany Chaney (p. 36) share the power of intergenerational
relationships and lessons. Devotional author Violet Little explores the stories of those who walked this road long before us—Elizabeth and Mary, Elijah and Elisha, and, of course, Jesus himself, who certainly would never shy away from knocking on a door.

It’s not easy. But as Christians, we’re not called to walk the easy road. Reaching out to those who were different certainly wasn’t easy for Jesus. It got him killed.

So as we remember Jesus’ resurrection and as we celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, may we hear Violet’s prayer as a challenge and a calling. “O God, … Open our hearts to those you have placed in our midst that we might walk together on the path you put before us. Amen.

This article is from the May 2021 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.

Sarah Carson is managing editor of Gather.