Generation to Generation

Mom and son
Photo credit: <a href="">Ed Yourdon</a>

Malachi 4:5-6

Just before the day all of these great and awesome things happen, I’ll send Elijah to tell you the truth. He’ll show parents how to do right by their kids, and kids to do right by their parents. That way your community won’t be totally wiped out.

Understanding between one generation and the next is essential for any society to continue to exist more than a few years. And yet, tension and misunderstanding between generations is nearly always the state of things when a new generation comes of age.

“Kids these days!” is something every generation exclaims about the next at some point, while “My parents just don’t get it,” is probably as often said by each generation of the one before.

The pain around these struggles to understand and to be understood is particularly acute, ironically enough, because (in spite of appearances to the contrary) members of both generations know the existence of the community depends on finding common ground, on “parents doing right by their kids, and kids doing right by their parents.”

One can easily see Malachi sitting on either side of this great divide. Is he the old prophet looking on as “kids these days” seem to be taking society in a new direction he doesn’t approve of (all these new-fangled ideas about marriage)? Or is he the young firebrand prophet looking at the mistakes of the older generation he and his peers feel they need to fix (they’ve compromised away the real meaning of life behind empty ritual)?

In either case, Malachi has the wisdom to see that it will take both sides of the generational divide doing right by each other, and the one who can tell the truth to every generation and have them listen and understand is a rare gift from God.