Our congregation is at work every day living out the commandment to love our neighbors. Sometimes that love looks like a stack of casseroles delivered to a shelter in Center City Philadelphia; other times it is the act of sorting books for a new library in West Philadelphia. Love lives in bringing flowers after a long sickness or working all day to build a retaining wall outside of Mexico City. Whether our neighbors live close by or they live continents away, the commandment to love shapes everything we do.
That call to love shapes our work in Children’s Ministry as well. Children as young as six months old understand the difference between someone offering help and someone who is hurting another. Before our second birthdays, we have a deep understanding of fairness and an ability to empathize with the experience of others. We are formed to love and to care for one another. As a church, we build on this reality helping children at every age to find new ways to serve and develop practices that reflect our deepest held beliefs. This year, our Sunday School classes worked with BMPC partners to connect to our neighbors and to find ways to help.
Our two and three year olds collected an Offering that will purchase almost 10 skeins of yarn that will be made into prayer shawls for members of our congregation. We are learning together that when someone is hurting, we try to provide comfort.
This Sunday, our Pre-K and Kindergarten students will make casseroles. Through quarters, dimes and the occasional dollar bill, their Offering has helped offset the cost of these casseroles. Not only will we make food, we also will share a meal together. We explain that these casseroles will ensure that everyone has a good meal during a hard time. The meal we prepare is the same as one we would prepare for ourselves.
Last fall our first and second graders met Charles Johnson, our mission co-worker, and learned about Chasefu Theological Seminary and the work of the Presbyterian Church in Zambia. While their Offering is helping to raise money for a new medical clinic, our students also found out what Zambian children are excited about and love to do. We remember that even though we may never meet, we’re still part of the Church together.
Each year we learn more about the Church’s work in the world and our part in that work. We also learn that all our projects begin and end with love. Not love for an unknown “other,” but rather love for a friend, sister, brother, a child of God we have not yet had the privilege to meet.