“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 (ESV)
One day in 1975, the songwriter Kurt Kaiser quickly composed “Oh How He Loves You and Me”:
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you,
Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
Reflecting on the song later, Kaiser said, “Through the years I have been in the habit of keeping my ears tuned to things that people say, a phrase that may give me an idea for a song. One day, I came across this line, Oh how he loves you and me, and I wrote it down.”
God’s love for you and me comes into focus on World Food Day, October 16. That day is an invitation to engage in advocacy actions that deepen our displays of “loving one another with brotherly affection” and to “[o]utdo one another in showing honor.”
What would it look like if we heard more phrases of love from and to strangers similar to the phrases Kurt Kaiser heard in 1975 in ordinary conversation? More importantly, what would it look like if we saw more actions and commitments that demonstrate the phrase? Love is not only intended to be demonstrated in our adoration and worship of God and to those familiar to us, but in the living of our mutual honor of those who are strangers to us.
Honor means to hold someone or something in high esteem. Another definition of honor is to meet terms of a contract. Both definitions come together when we think about our divine calling. People of faith are invited to live in honorable and respectful covenantal relationship with God and our neighbors.
World Food Day invites us to do this as we advocate for the end of the current food crisis, which is fueled by conflicts, climate change, historic inequities, and discrimination. The food crisis disproportionately impacts some communities more than others. In sum, this crisis exposes our human and sacred imbalance of not living up to the invitation to honor one another.
Let us pray, reflect, and act with mutual love and honor for each other so that all can be fed with dignity. The following prayer from the Rev. Lionel Louw from South Africa in Bread’s Pan African Devotional invites us to do this as we honor World Food Day.
“O God our help in ages past, we bring ourselves and our communities before you this day. Land dispossession and the inequitable distribution of nutritious food from the land disempower your people. And yet you call us to receive Jesus Christ into our lives. Today, we pray that the Holy Spirit may guide us beyond charity and into acts of justice and restitution and empower us to remain faithful to Him who has promised to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen and Ashe.”
Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.