Everyone was excited about the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, my six year old step-daughter Rose included. Except she was excited in a bit of a different way.
One of the many joys that followed that incredible event and Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon came from YouTube. The Bad Lip Reading channel, with its over six million followers, took a stab at the wedding ceremony. If you enjoy silly fun, take a moment to go watch. BLR removes all of the sound out of a video and instead voices over hilariously ridiculous words in the mouths of those in the video, like the princes, Megan and Harry making their vows, Archbishop Justin Welby, Bishop Curry, and the Gospel choir. My step-daughter thought this was the funniest thing she had ever seen, and for days afterward proudly exclaimed “I smell a bikini!” and asked to watch again and again.
The Royal Wedding gave our family a little bit of silly fun to enjoy together, but it also provided Episcopalians so much opportunity. In my own, albeit short, lifetime I do not remember a better time to invite someone to church. Just as Rose proudly exclaimed nonsense lines from that video, we all have a chance to proudly tell people about the Episcopal Church and invite others to hear the same message of love and justice proclaimed by Bishop Curry in his sermon. But Episcopal parents also have another amazing opportunity.
Often our children receive the wrong messages from popular culture about marriage, romance, dating, and love. My two daughters learned in grade school lessons they should have learned much older, that love is fleeting, that marriage too often brings great pain, and break ups and divorce are part of our world today.
Bishop Curry’s wedding sermon gives us a chance to proclaim a different message to our kids, the Good News of Jesus Christ about true love. It gives us a chance to connect the undying, unending, life-changing, liberating love of Jesus to the relationships and romances of our life, reflections of the love God for us. And it gives parents a chance to teach them that even though human beings make mistakes and sometimes love comes to an end, God’s love never, ever changes. God will never leave or abandon them. As they grow older, when they succeed and when they fail, when they soar and when they fall, God will always be there to love them, to catch them, to hold them, cherish them, and celebrate them. This is good news for us parents too, because God will be there even when we are not.
Sometimes I wonder how our children will grow up to know God’s love is unending and certain in the midst of the pain and heartache they experience in life. If their own parents can’t stay together, how can any love be unending?
I’m no expert on early childhood development, but I have come to believe an important thing about raising children of faith: the best way to teach our children God’s unending love is to truly and authentically love them, as much as we can, to the best of our ability. When we pour our own love upon our children, when we spend time with them, when we show them they are important to us, we give them a reflection of God’s love for us, a sacramental means of grace for both parent and child.
So spend some time watching silly videos with your kids the next chance you have. That ridiculous YouTube video may just be a sacrament for your family as God uses that joy to make a little piece of heaven in your lives. Join me in turning off and putting away the distractions and busyness of the world just a bit more often. Spend some quality time with your children, and talk to them about the love of Jesus. If we do, they’ll grow up knowing God’s love for them is real, and they’ll join us in this amazing Jesus Movement.
[Photo Credit: Bad Lip Reading, used with permission]
How do your children hear the message of God’s unending love?
How will you put away the distractions of the world in order to spend quality time with your children this week?