Homeless and orphaned children settle down to sleep in the air raid shelter at John Keble Church, Mill Hill, London during the Blitz in 1940.
Lent Week Five—Thursday
Psalm 133 Jeremiah 26:1-16 Romans 11:1-12 John 10:19-42
Following WWII in Europe, the Allied Forces found themselves responsible for hundreds and hundreds of hungry and homeless children, the orphans of war. The children were gathered into large camps and then they were given everything – food, clothes, toys, games, music, diversions of every kind. However, those caring for them were troubled. The children were restless, anxious, “oppositionally defiant,” at night when they should be sleeping. The camps were in a mild turmoil at night. Generally, no one was getting any rest. Finally, a military psychologist offered a solution. After the children were put to bed, each one of them was given a slice of bread, to hold in their hands. If they wanted more to eat, they could have as much as they wanted. But this piece of bread, this piece of bread placed in their hands, was just for holding. It was like a small miracle. The children would go to sleep, and most of them would sleep, and sleep, and sleep. These children simply did not know what they did not know.
They were learning a new thing. The children were beginning to know something they had not known, something they had not known for a very long time; they were beginning to know a new thing, that someone cared, and they were going to be safe. You see, with that piece of bread in their hands, they knew that someone was caring for them. They knew that they would be cared for in the morning. And because they knew they were loved, they could rest.
The children came to know a new thing. It is the very thing Jesus would have each of his children come to know, at least those who decide to listen to Him. I sometimes think of Jesus’s life and teaching as that slice of bread for the children. If we are still hungry in the midst of an abundant life, needing direction, encouragement, hope . . . it is not simply more information that we need; what we need is more love, compassion, and truth that comes only from God. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; and they will never perish.”