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Congratulations: You’ve Got Generations

Every family and church is composed of multiple generations. How should we as Christians feel about this sometimes-volatile concoction? At a recent conference, I was assigned the topic of “generations” to speak on. I reasoned that the best way to articulate what I wanted to say about generations was in the form of a poem. Here’s the poem I wrote called “Congratulations: You’ve Got Generations.” I hope you find it helpful.

Congratulations
You’ve got generations
And all their complex relations

When you’re told you’ve got something
Maybe you’ve got the day off
Or you’ve got fruit on your trees
Or maybe you’ve got fleas
Or could be a disease

In all the jumble of who begat and begot
What is it exactly that you’ve got?

Well, you’ve got, “Turn it up,” “No, turn it down”
You’ve got, “You’re not wearing that into town”
You’ve got, “Those shoes make you look like a clown”

This goes back to our beginning
With a generation of our ancestors with hairline thinning
Cursing at the young hotshot driving his camel, speedin’ and swerving’
And thinking he’s cool with his backwards turban
Young people these days, so self-servin’


“This goes back to our beginning.”


You’ve got mass exodus of teens
Because Facebook is now where Grandma posts memes

You’ve got teens praying
To find new slang
By combing through the latest raps
Because now Dad is calling people fam
Saying “No cap,” and “Wow, that slaps”
“Wow, Dad, you’re so lame.”
“Thanks, dawg, you bussin’ the same.”

Congratulations
You’ve got generations
And all their complex relations

The easiest targets to laugh at as lame
The easiest scapegoats to pin all the blame
They’re why life’s unjust with their me-centered ways
Or they’re why we’re a bunch of snowflakes these days


“The easiest targets to laugh at as lame, the easiest scapegoats to pin all the blame.”


These sins of my fathers hamstring my stride
While the sins of my children unravel my pride

Of course, our generation will finally get it right
But then our sunrise curves and falls toward night

The church ladies had seen the boy as a future grand slam
“Elijah, you’ll be, the next Billy Graham”
Sure enough, he grows up and travels the nation
“Turn back to God!” he begs his generation
Mighty prophet of God, unafraid of the king
Calling down fire on the offering

Yet when the ashes settle, the needle stays in place
The people unmoved by grandeur or grace
Discouragement cuts every line on his face
“Take my life,” Elijah prays, “For I see
I’m no better than my ancestors that were counting on me.”


“Take my life,” Elijah prays, “For I see, I’m no better than my ancestors that were counting on me.”


Congratulations
You’ve got generations
And all their complex relations

One generation seeks God
As he leads them through the land
Other generations tick Him off
And He leaves them in the sand

One thing about generations, whether grand or bland
Is that the Bible often weaves them into one strand
His faithfulness continues through all generations
So, pass this along to all daughters and sons
You’ve got a baton that can’t fall when you’re done
It’s got to pass on so the next one can run


“You’ve got a baton that can’t fall when you’re done.”


So, we’ve got generations in the plural
But it’s Nixon & Obama, it’s urban, it’s rural
It’s everyone’s style on a single mural

It’s two sets of tears at a temple unveiling
Two groups gawking at God’s new dwelling
The younger ones weep—never seen a temple before
The older ones weep ‘cause they have . . . and it was so much more

It’s two sets of surprise
The prophet can’t believe his eyes
“This is the new king?
But he’s kind of nothing
You’re sure it’s not one of his brothers?
You sure there are not others?”

David is shocked, Samuel is too
“That God would choose me?”
“That God would choose you?”


“It’s two sets of tears at a temple unveiling.”


And the collective wisdom of the sages through the ages
Hasn’t filled enough pages
To explain
Why God does things that would seem insane
Like taking people from the whole gamut
And mixing us together on the same planet

Congratulations
You’ve got generations
And all their unique vocations
How they each rescue each other from stagnation

Speaking of stagnation,
That’s the destination Eli the priest had led his nation
He’d babysat his adult sons
He carried around tons
His day was nearly done

Another generation in its twilight
No more fight
Just a lot of cursing the night


“Another generation in its twilight.”


When a little boy with his mom holding his hand
Comes to the tabernacle to help the old man

And Eli has to smile
“Here at the last mile
In my final stage
I see God doesn’t age”

And the man taught the boy how to listen in prayer
And the boy taught the man that God is still there

With generations, there’s much to disapprove
But it’s generations that teach us to move
The mom pushing the stroller everywhere
Grows old and guess who pushes her wheelchair?

If you’re old, train the young
If you’re young, find the old
Learn and teach
Cause nights are long and nights are cold


“If you’re old, train the young; if you’re young, find the old.”


Morning’s on its way,
Every people, tribe, and nation
But also there before the throne
Will be every generation

Joined together in a single strand
In every genre known to man
From hip hop to big band
Singing, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb!”

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