Called to Love and Be Loved

Bible Verse: John 13:33-34 –

“Mi pikni..Mi a tel unu fi du sopm nyuu – lov unu wan aneda. Sed wie mi lov unu, a so unu fi lov unu wan aneda.
My children…I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

A Moment to Ponder

This year, in the Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter, we hear Jesus addressing his disciples as “Mi pikni” or, as several English versions have it, “Little children.” Though Jesus’ disciples were what, we in Jamaica would describe as being twelve big haad tuon man, seeing it is Child’s Month, I like to picture him addressing actual children – after all, that is precisely how I would have interpreted the text as a child in Sunday School, and that is how our teachers would have presented it to us.

In instructing his followers to love each other as he loved them, Jesus unmistakably identified the kind of world they could envision and strive for, a world they had a right to. This kind of world is one in which they give and receive love. In other words, the kind of existence our children are to expect for themselves is one in which they are both the subjects and objects of the activity of loving, an existence in which love is reciprocated and for which Jesus is the gold-standard. This, I believe, is particularly important in a context such as ours, in which our children, at every turn, are constantly exposed to extreme forms of violence and aggression.

Call to Action

We are left, then, to adopt a two-pronged approach to the formation of our children – it should involve not only teaching them how, when, why and who to love, but also creating an atmosphere in which children grow to know and experience being loved. With respect to the latter, I suggest two examples. First, we should work hard to ensure our churches and schools are safe spaces for our children, where those charged with their care are meticulously screened and monitored, with a view to eliminating abusers and predators. Second, we should develop curricula and policies for our Sunday Schools and Church-sponsored schools that are affirmative of our children’s ethnic heritage, with a view to correcting centuries of racism, colourism, systemic oppression and self-hate.

A Moment in Prayer (Mek wi Pray)

Christ our God, you said, “Allow the children to come to me;” help us to intentionally facilitate our children to experience your love and follow your example of loving. Amen.

Contributed by Deacon Bertram Gayle

Music: Jimmy Cliff’s “Children”


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