Series 2002 - February
"Hey, Daddy, Do You Love Jesus?"
The Irvine Tartan • My monthly column in The New Brunswick Anglican
With a young family, driving any distance
takes some imagination.
And a modicum of patience. Very
young travelers grow impatient with every kilometer.
I remember that we used to play games to help the time pass more quickly.
And often we’d sing. As I
recall, we sang a lot.
Daddy, do you love Jesus?” a chorus of young voices would intone from the back
I love Jesus!” I’d reply antiphonally.
you sure you love Jesus?” was their response.
I’m sure I love Jesus…” I echoed.
us why do you love Jesus…”
is why I love Jesus: because he first loved me…” and there would be a refrain
that we’d all join in enthusiastically.
we’d turn the focus on another. One
in a car seat, and another just out of a car seat, two gleeful voices faces would
erupt from the back seat while Mummy and Daddy shared in their praise, and joy.
I’d catch their glee in the mirror. It
was contagious! In time, other voices
would be added later.
simple song became a regular part of our repertoire: a good memory.
passage of time then, as car wheels sped us through Welsford or Boiestown or St.
George, and the passage of time since then, as calendar pages have yielded to
successive years, have helped me see the fundamental depth of the faith we shared.
The song reflects challenge, courage, curiosity, constancy, confidence and
it disallowed the numbing defence of intellect often made by adults.
children didn’t know the subtle nuances Greek allows when talk turns to love.
They knew only one word for love. Their
questions would begin to inform their understanding that they would carry with them
for life. As they addressed me with
their question: “Hey, Daddy, do you love Jesus?”
They wanted to know me better. And
better, they wanted to know how I felt about Jesus.
I love Jesus,” I replied. And they
learned something about love, and Jesus and me. They had the courage to challenge me. My reply erupted into joyful glee as the antiphonal pattern
carried us on to the recognition that Jesus loves us first.
and Jesus, and me and you… it’s a Valentine theme that reaches far beyond the
calendar page of February. The song
recognizes and affirms both our need to love as well as our need to be loved.
The reciprocal nature of intimacy is a dimension of human relationship that
Jesus exploited when he taught his disciples.
of card shops display banks of greets that speak of love.
I have stood there, studying the variety of cards.
Some are sweet and delicate, while others are humorous and sometimes rude.
Some are designed for youthful loves while others reflect a more mellow
affection. A common thread I’ve
noticed is a note of timidity. I think
timidity has ever been part of the vulnerability of the ubiquitous Valentine.
elementary school we’d give a card to everyone in the class.
They still make the books of punch-out cards and envelopes that are nearly
impossible to construct. The
cartooning is still the same. And the
elemental poetry is as it was decades ago. And
we were indiscriminate in giving them to others.
Oh, a special card might be selected for a special person, but the
imagination and fantasy of youth might go unnoticed by that cute girl who sat in
the second seat in the fourth row… I have long forgotten her name!
cards are selected deliberately with someone in mind. More vulnerable now, perhaps a humorous card would ease the sting
in the event that cards are not exchanged. Embarrassed,
we can always laugh it off. If we have to, we could retreat from love to like and survive the
of love, spoken and heard are critical for our humanity.
daughters helped us see that in vocalizing their inquiry in sweet song.
The melody wasn’t much; the words, the question -- that’s what deepened
understanding and relationship. It’s
with a sense of timidity that we approach one another, afraid of rejection.
We reluctantly approach Jesus much the same.
I know. We are all quick to say that
we love Jesus. Nobody is going to say
that they do not love Jesus. Look, we
even rationalize our feeling toward Jesus by appealing to the Greek subtleties and
claim agape as our basis of love. I
have followed that cautious pattern for too long.
I have another question.
you in love with Jesus?”
what the youthful voices were really asking as we sped along the highway.
Is Jesus the apple of my eye? That’s
what they wanted to know. And why.
Has Jesus caught my attention like no other, not even that cute girl who sat
in the second seat in the fourth row… whose name I have long forgotten?
Do I love Jesus in a manner different from how I love fresh home made bread
and how I love to watch ER and how I love the sound of a loon on the Kennebecasis
River at sunset. Is Jesus just another
recipient of a punch-out Valentine or does he have my heart?
My kids wanted to know.
Copyright © 2002 James T. Irvine