Sunday, September 21, 2014

Helper of the Helpless

Monday, September 22, 2014

But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. Psalm 10:14 NRSV

***

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”  Desmond Tutu

There are many things in this world that can cause hurt and pain in a child’s life! Each day too many children are told by adults and other children that they are less than their peers. These children hurt so deeply inside that they sometimes don’t even know how to express their pain.

God sees their pain; God knows the pain is caused by those who oppress them. 

God is the great help to the helpless. God’s concern extends not only to the orphan, but to the bullied and the beat up.  

God of the helpless, help us to see those children around us who are in pain. Use us to help those who are in need. Help us to bring your kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Rev. Ann B. Shepherd
Director of Christian Growth
Timberlake Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 
Lynchburg, Virginia

Associate Regional Minister for Youth & Outdoor Ministry, Christian Church in Virginia

Saturday, September 20, 2014

God Hears Us

Sunday, September 21, 2014

And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Genesis 21:17 NRSV

How often do we cry out in pain, fear, or anguish? How often do these cries fall unanswered? There is this fear that we will be left to handle things alone. An angel of God tells Hagar not to worry or be afraid. God heard the cries of the boy.

We are called to provide loving care to all of God’s children. The good news is that we don’t have to do it alone. God promises to help us in our time of need. Let us listen to the cries of the children and work to protect and cherish these precious lives.

Gracious and loving God, gently guide us to protect the children of this world. Remind us that you too hear our cries and will be with us always. Amen.

Rev. Katie Carlson
Chaplain
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Friday, September 19, 2014

God's Call to Care for Children

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:15 NRSV

This scripture reminds me of a Sunday about three years ago after the Chardon High School Shooting. The children and I made cards to send to the families of the victims. I suggested making cards for the shooter. “He's just a kid who made a bad choice,” I said to the children.

None of the children agreed with me and no cards were sent to him. 

Several months later during the news coverage of the trial, I reflected on that day. My kids perceived evil. Being called to care for children means listening to their perceptions and thoughts. Bad choices or not, it is God who gives second chances; it is God from whom grace flows.

Heavenly Father, I come to you knowing I will make mistakes. Open my heart to knowing and remembering it's not about the mistakes or choices but the heart that is connected to you. Amen.

Michelle Brown
Children's Minister
Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Cleveland, Ohio

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Purposeful Response

Friday, September 19, 2014

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1 NRSV

Why do we need to purposefully answer the call to cherish and protect every child?

Hillel the Elder was a famous Jewish religious leader in the 1st century. He said: “whosoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whosoever that saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”(1)

Within the precious life of every child is the opportunity for a whole new world of possibilities. When we intentionally protect every child, we are protecting the opportunity for those glorious possibilities to emerge, possibilities that have the power to change our world for the better. 

Our children are instruments of God’s love and grace. As we cherish our children we are accepting God’s gifts of love and grace for our world, gifts from God that every child bears. 

Amazing God, help us to see how your soul delights in every child. Give us the courage to cherish and protect every child, your servants, so that they may bear the fruit of your blessing upon us for a better world. Amen.

Rev. Robert E. Van Ess
United Church of Christ
Resident Chaplain 
College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, Arkansas

___

(1) Khushwant Singh. The Freethinker's Prayer Book: And Some Words to Live. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company, 2012.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Learn to Do What is Right

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17 NRSV

God’s message to us through the prophet Isaiah could not be more to the point: 

  1. Stop doing what is wrong. 
  2. Learn to do what is right. 
  3. Work for justice. 
  4. Help and defend those who cannot stand up for themselves, specifically children and widows. 

In today’s world the real problem is figuring out how and where to start. The answer is easy and hard at the same time. 

We begin with prayer, by caring for those children right where we are, and with more prayer. We lead by example, showing others how to cherish and protect the children of our communities. 

We support and encourage those who can do things on a larger scale. We respond to God’s call by taking one step forward and then another, taking care of the children, and learning to do what is right.

God of All Children, you have called us to care for the children of this world. Prod us, provoke us, guide us onto the paths that will make this a world where they are cherished and protected. Amen.

Donna J. Hanby
Pilgrim South United Church of Christ
Springboro United Church of Christ
Springboro, Ohio


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God's Question to Us

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:2-4 NRSV

A year ago I was blessed to meet and hear Mark Barden, parent of Daniel, one of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their group, Sandy Hook Promise, wants to change the Newtown tragedy into an opportunity to change the culture of violence in our nation.

God asks the powers that be and us, “How long?”  That you includes all of us who are not actively working to change our nation’s gun laws. How long will we let guns rule?

Although gun violence is only one facet of the injustices faced daily by the precious children of God, the love affair with a gun and the power over others that it represents is abhorrent to our loving God, who puts aside power in order to become one with us in Jesus Christ.

Join Sandy Hook Promise; let us have sensible dialogue to rescue the needy.

O LORD, you call us to give justice, to rescue the weak, to stand up to the evil in our world. Embolden us to follow Jesus in a life that challenges the status quo. Amen.

Rev. Carol Cook
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Baltimore, Maryland

Monday, September 15, 2014

Being the Favorite

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 NRSV

If you have siblings you've wondered it. If you have multiple children, you’ve been asked about it or thought about it: which one is the favorite?

Which one is the favorite that gets a little more leniency, a little more patience, a little more trust from you? 

I have four kids and it baffles people when I say that each kid is my favorite depending on the day and the situation at hand. It baffles people because even though we all wonder about it we don’t ever say it. The thing is, none of us is good at not showing partiality.  Only God can do that. Only God does that!

Holy and just God, please remind us that we are not the ones who get to decide who deserves more love. Remind us that our hearts have the ability to grow with love when we are willing to share it with all your children. Amen.

Rev. Samantha Houser
Zion United Church of Christ
Waukon, Iowa