The matchbox car, placed in the church mailbox belonging to Kyle’s family, contained the following note: “Kyle, praying for you. Pastor John.” Discovering the car and the message, Kyle’s mom was filled with emotion. Kyle, now an adult, had recently spent time in the hospital and the matchbox car was a special reminder of the relationship he’d had as a child with his pastor. Here’s how his mom tells the story:
When Kyle was in the hospital back in elementary school, Pastor John came to visit Kyle probably every other day. The first day he brought Kyle a matchbox car, and they got on the floor and tried to roll it out the closed room door into the hallway. It didn't fit. The next time Pastor John came, he brought a thinner car, they tried to roll it under the closed door, but it wouldn't fit. This went on for a few days until finally, on the day Kyle was to come home, Pastor John brought a yellow car, flat as a pancake almost. They got on the floor, and yep, this one rolled right into the hallway. SUCCESS!
Although Pastor John had since moved away, he clearly hadn’t forgotten Kyle. And when he was back in Kyle’s church for another event and heard of Kyle’s hospitalization, he took the time to encourage Kyle and to show that he hadn’t forgotten the time they had spent together.
Matchbox cars raced with a caring pastor can nurture faith.
When one of my daughters was in elementary school, an article was written in our local newspaper about her athletic achievements. A few days later she received an envelope in the mail, sent by a middle aged member of our congregation. Inside was a letter—handwritten on a folded piece of green construction paper—congratulating her on her success and encouraging her to continue to use the talents with which God had blessed her. Fifteen years later, she still has that letter.
Encouraging words scrawled on scraps of paper can nurture faith.
Laura Keeley has known Kathryn since Kathryn was three years old. Laura and Kathryn’s mom took turns car-pooling their children to various sports when they were little and to various church events as they grew older. They did life together---in their community and in their church.
When Kathryn was 20, she came to church with a new boyfriend. She stopped at the door of the church to introduce her boyfriend to Laura. “This is Mrs. Keeley,” she said, before pausing as she tried to think of the words that would describe their relationship. Finally she said, “She knows me.”
Carpools and community can nurture faith.
Intergenerational faith forming relationships don’t need big budgets or fancy programs in order to occur. They happen when you take an interest in the life of someone else and look for opportunities to show God’s love through care and encouragement.
With whom might you begin a faith forming intergenerational relationship this week? How might you help create a culture in which intergenerational faith nurturing relationships are formed in your congregation?