The children whose home was Haut de la
Garenne in the past 60 years or more are much in the hearts and minds of Jersey
folk these days. It seems that child abuse in various forms has darkened that
building - a granite Victorian building with fabulous views over countryside
and coast in beautiful Jersey.
Deep sadness arises for these children -
one or more may have been murdered; many will have suffered in silence,
surviving but seriously hurt.
All the national newspapers are reporting
the investigations. BBC1 featured them on Newsnight. ITV national reports are
being updated daily.
How strange it is, then, to see (above)
that Jesus took a boy child in his arms for a reason that seems, at first
blush, to be quite different from thoughts about child abuse. The context was
an argument about who was the greatest of the 12 principal men whom Jesus had
called to be his key followers.
Yes, the 12 were engaging in in-fighting.
In-fighting about greatness, superiority, position, being first, staying first,
having all others as servants.
There is, however, a deep connection
between that and child abuse at Haut de la Garenne. Arguments about superiority
and greatness stem entirely from self. The stronger the self-interest, the
stronger the desire to please self, to gratify self. And, inevitably, to abuse
others for that self-gratification, that pursuit of self-interest.
You see, to be the greatest (including the
wealthiest) means that others are forced to be underneath you, to do your
So Jesus takes a boy child and brings him
into the centre of the room. He takes him up in his arms and says to them
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all, and servant of
all." This is not a short-term servanthood in order to achieve a later,
long-term superiority. It is the permanent position of being servant of all
that is the greatest possible position, the position of the supremo in Jesus'
as elsewhere, we are very accustomed to those who are first being the ones to
receive things: honours, awards, prizes and so on. And rightly so.
What "receipts" then will those
who are "servants of all" actually receive - in Jesus' jurisdiction?
Well, Jesus decided to use the boy as an example. He said -
"Whoever receives one such child in
my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives
not me but him who sent me."
Who in Jersey
is in the business of receiving vulnerable folk in Jesus' name? Let’s not be
under any illusions about what's included in such a wonderful package.
But, most of all, let’s not be under any
illusions about the dreadful power of self-interest. The lesson about the
greatest being the servant of all is true - but remains unattractive. Why? Because we are all captive to
self-interest……..Christian and non-Christian alike.