My Two Cents
February 13, 2022, 9:00 AM

I’ve used this column before- during Christmas I think- to point out the time I saw a woman at the mall wearing a “World’s Greatest Grandma” sweatshirt, gnashing her teeth, and swatting the back side of a toddler I can only assume was her very grateful granddaughter. That was probably as unfair then as it is now. Who knows what had happened leading up to that moment, right?

Truth is, I don’t think I’ve seen people of my generation any happier than when they become grandparents. Life is changed in the twinkling of an eye. Priorities get rearranged. Curmudgeons become softies. Golfers become horseys. Professionals jump at the chance of having their hair fixed by toddlers. What joy!

Of course, that purity of joy is mostly for us folks with privilege. For others, the shift to being grandparents can be a little harder. It means raising kids, again- sometimes with the active help of the parents, other times not so much. Often in addition to working full time.

Either way, grandparents play an important role in our personal lives. All of us who have good, vivid memories of our grandparents are richly blessed.

But today’s word to the wise is to suggest that families aren’t the only institutions that thrive on grandparents. Churches do too.

When our family arrived on the scene at Christian Temple a generation ago, we were fortunate to have a strong contingent of individuals and families in our own cohort group. We all sort of grew up together at church, didn’t we? While we were probably a little too focused on families with kids and may have excluded some who were looking mostly for other adults to do church with, the prominent presence of children in and around the church shaped who we were.

But make no mistake. Whatever growth we experienced during those years wasn’t just because of the parents and their children. It was also- and maybe primarily- because of that generation who had already raised their families in the church- or never had families- but stuck around to be our ‘congregational grandparents’.

There were the grandparents who sat through very long talent shows filled with gross skits and really bad jokes! There were the ones who entered bidding wars with each other over cherry pies and homemade dinners. And, most impressively, there were the grandparents who didn’t see Youth Sunday as a day off from church, and whose favorite worship service of the year was when the kids talked about their work trip.

Just like in our families’ lives, the grandparents bring the magic. That’s the way it was then. And, as we enter a new chapter in our lives and focus on a new generation of adults who often have kids, I’m pretty sure that’s the way it still is. We are so much stronger when those who have raised their families in the church step into their new roles as congregational grandparents. It may not bring quite as much joy as being called GaGa, (or Oma, or Gigi, or Poppy) but it makes the rest of us so richly blessed.

Shalom, Rick