Year B, 4th Sunday of Easter; 1 John 3:16-24; Lectionary reading for April 25th, 2021
I did a double take when I read the scripture for this week. Hadn’t I just written about sharing and caring for our neighbours? Why yes, yes I did, just 2 weeks ago. But that’s the wonderful thing about the Bible: when a lesson is important, it is repeated. “Love one another” appears 16 times in the New Testament! It’s a good thing my collection of books features more than a few lessons in getting along—I’m going to need all of them.
It’s easy to forget that love is more than a warm feeling towards our neighbours. In this passage, the apostle John reminds us that love is also more than words. It isn’t enough to feel love; it isn’t enough to speak love; God calls us to love with action. Sometimes, this kind of love comes more naturally for children than it does for adults. Best friends Maddi and Sofia do everything together, but when Sofia impulsively runs into Maddi’s apartment for a snack, she discovers Maddi’s fridge is… empty. She hatches a plan to help her friend while keeping the empty fridge a secret.
Globally, approximately 854 million people regularly do not get enough to eat. Hunger kills 25,000 people every day. These numbers are so high they are difficult to even conceptualize. But those are our global neighbours, surely the situation is better closer to home? Over 4.4 million Canadians experienced food insecurity in a 2017-2018 report, and experts estimate that number to be much higher right now because of the COVID pandemic. Clearly, hunger is not an issue exclusive to developing nations. While I don’t suggest throwing these numbers around in your children’s ministry, I bring them up because in Canada, empty fridges are an invisible problem. Sofia discovered Maddi’s empty fridge because she could run faster than Maddi. Hunger can be a shameful secret for many families.
This story celebrates kids helping kids, but it also teaches children the importance of reaching out to adults for help when a problem is more than they can handle. Reading this book is an opportunity to broach the tough topic of poverty with the children in your ministry, but it can be a wake up call to your wider congregation as well. John calls us to love with actions and in truth: are we living up to that call when so many of our brothers and sisters around the world still cry out for food?
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Brandt, Lois. Maddi’s Fridge. Flashlight Press, 2014.