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A model for today
July provides an interesting moment to consider the place of Grandparents. On 26 th July we are invited to observe what, for many, will be a very obscure feast: Anne and Joachim: Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The ‘Grandparents’ of Jesus.
We are especially conscious in our own times of the significance of grandparents. Providing support for family, and amazing energy into community life and the neighbourliness that keeps people connected in an age of increasing isolation and loneliness. Many of our churches benefit enormously from grandparental energy and commitment.
Gospel in Action
In grandparenting we see inspiring modelling of the value of family, the offering of time and skills beyond more immediate and self-centering concerns, and a huge generosity in sharing resources and offering sacrificial service.
Grandparents can be seen as a great advert for so many of the virtues that the Gospel endorses for the proper flourishing of human life. More, grandparents would be the first to acknowledge how much they receive from family, friends, social engagement.
God has no Grand Parents
And yet – there is a strange fact in the Divine Economy. God has no Grandparents! In Jesus we see God in our midst, Son of the Father. But no theology of a ‘Grand’ Father.
What might we learn from this mystery? First, the energy, commitment and contribution, not to say wisdom, of grandparents may seem to begin from an intergenerational set of relationships – but, in fact, it becomes something broader, richer, flowing beyond these merely human arrangements, to be part of an outpouring of a Spirit enabling greater wholeness. In theological terms, a ‘Holy’ Spirit. The significant factor is not one of generational sequences, but of gracious reaching out to enable a greater fullness of life, hope, faith, love. Origins and creation taken up into something new, ever broader and richer.
From human to Divine
Perhaps God has no grandparents because the point and the power of Life cannot be contained simply in human relationships or structures. Rather these necessary ‘arrangements’ are simply the vehicles God gives for His grace to be nourished, shared and tasted.
Grandparents often say that the great advantage they feel is the freedom to ‘go home’ and take a break from so much that they take on themselves. Home is the place for re-creation, reflection and reshaping our offerings into the world around us. Church provides this ‘Home’ in a special way.
The potential for alliance and connection between our contemporary phenomenon of grandparenting and the work and witness of the Church has never been greater. A key element for mission in our time. Perhaps the fact that God has no grandparents can provide an affirmation of grandparenting as service, a wider perspective of the Holy Spirit made manifest for the flourishing of all, and an agenda for each of us seeking to be Christ’s Church afresh in this generation – through the discipline of re- creation, reflection and being recharged.