More Jordans To Cross
Dr. Michael A. Cousin, 4th Episcopal District
It seems that there is tension emerging within the church involving “youthful angst” and “experienced saints.” A “Generation Gap exists between different beliefs, politics and values.“ Youthful Angst” seeks the power from the “Seasoned Saints;” conversely, the seasoned saints expect respect from the youth for what they have established. A dialogue may provide the groundwork needed for a solution. Yet how can we have this dialogue when one side may send a text while the other waits for a phone call? The answer in crossing this Jordan (i.e., this generational divide) lies in the Biblical relationship between Moses and Joshua.
The 2008 General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, was charged with energy for change. The General Conference began like many previous General Conferences, with a move to sweep the house, clearing the way for emerging new church leadership. At the close of that same General Conference, we were reminded that we still had many Jordans to cross, meaning that it would require the Moses and
Joshua generations working together. Moses was encouraged by the zeal of a Joshua in getting his people to the Jordan. However, Joshua needed the experience and wisdom of Moses in crossing to the other side. That is to say that God utilized the gifts of Moses AND Joshua. While it is necessary to periodically sweep our houses, we must be careful not to toss out what may be needed. In other words, we have come a long way but we still have many Jordans to cross.
At a press conference before the final game of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina was asked how he managed to communicate his message to his players. Coach Williams replied that although there was a difference in views due to age, both he and his players realized that the common goal of winning provided a bridge to overcome any generational difference. Hence, the church must involve both sides working towards the common goal. It is within the tension between the eager youth that a “Genesis Moment” will enable the church to view this not as a threat but as an opportunity for growth. How we view this tension will determine if it is a “Threat” or “Genesis” moment.
My sister-in-law was preparing a Christmas Feast for the family. Rule number one is, “No one cooks in a dirty kitchen.” My brother was tasked with cleaning the kitchen to prepare for cooking. While cleaning, he noticed a plastic bag filled with old drippings from Thanksgiving and he threw it out believing that it was garbage. The bag, however, was not filled with garbage. It contained precious seasonings which were necessary for the next feast. When the time arrived to prepare the meal, especially her delicious dressing, his wife noticed that her bag of drippings was gone. Learning that the bag was tossed out as garbage, she became upset. She explained that the old drippings were needed to season and flavor this new batch of dressing. This new batch would not be as flavorful since it now lacked the seasoning and flavor of the old. Be careful what you toss out as being unnecessary, for there is still valuable flavor left.
In short, crossing our “Generational Jordan” will require communication and interaction with God and each other. Youth may possess the strength for the journey, however, the “Experienced Saints” serve as reference points to chart the course. Even Joshua had to place stones of remembrance as beacons for those generations coming behind. Talking with God and with each other will provide tools to build a bridge to cross the Jordan. As the Children of Israel learned, we too must learn that there are more Jordans to cross.
The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Cousin is the pastor of St. Stephen AME Church in Detroit, Michigan.