I recently stifled a giggle when one of my elementary students inadvertently called me Mom. As a child, I remember how embarrassing this was! As an adult, I secretly like being mistaken for a child’s mother.
Working as a teacher, I have become aware of the gifts and graces of children. Two attributes of children I have come to love are their innate sense of justice and fairness and their outbursts of tears, laughter and creativity.
In the long, dark nights of winter, we need both a sense of fairness and enthusiasm. We must harness our own childlike sensibility to encounter the world today with justice and hope. Christmas is a perfect time to celebrate the children in our lives and make the world safe for all children.
Look at the photo of the girl running on page 13. Her enthusiasm and desire to play even among rubble of war are boundless. The Bible study, “What Does the Lord Require of Us?” by David Wildman on pages 8-14 is a thoughtful guide to our biblical mandate, history and call to nonviolence. Learn of our engagement as a denomination in the land of Jesus’ birth—too frequently seen not as a land not of milk and honey but as a land of knives and rocket launchers and bulldozers.
This pursuit of peace in Israel/Palestine is an unfolding story. Mr. Wildman’s study reminds us that we have an active role to play as faithful witnesses and prophets of peace. We must stand with people who have been marginalized through unjust policies. The study provides a strong rationale for boycott, divestment and sanctions. These are ways we are called to repent from sin.
Follow up on this in-depth reading with a personal story, “Hopes and Fears in Bethlehem,” from Grace Killian, a former Global Mission Fellow. She worked at the Wi’am Center, a site of reconciliation where someone like Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have found herself in today’s Bethlehem. “She [Mary] too wrestled with great uncertainty. Yet in the midst of this she responded with not only obedience to the will of God but also with vision and imagination,” Ms. Killian says.
Children have great imaginations. You will find children imagining, playing and learning when you visit a Pennsylvania national mission institution in “A True Neighborhood Center,” by Richard Lord on pages 24-27. There, you will also meet young mothers who are gaining tools to support their children’s best behavior. Behavior management is a challenge, I, too, face as a mother and teacher. I always appreciate the guidance and advice of women in our community centers.
As we celebrate our children this Christmas season and throughout the year, let us not forget our own self-care. We have been given priceless gifts of enthusiasm and joy. “Finding Happiness in God,” by Irma Clark describes how Ms. Clark chooses love. This reminds me to take time to nurture myself throughout the busy holiday season.
We can all be positive role models for the children in our families and churches. Let’s use this issue as a way to deepen our love and care for the children in our midst—whether they call us mother or friend.
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