Saturday, October 18, 2014

Boldly Breaking Rules

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Interfaith Children's Sabbath

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31 NRSV

I don’t remember his name but I do remember how he felt in my arms. He was bony. He was much lighter than a child of his age ought to be. He also lived in a crack house where rats roamed freely.

As his mother stood before me, desperate for a child care placement for her baby so she could enter a drug rehabilitation and job training program, the rules flashed through my head. 

The urban, not-for-profit early childhood program I directed was full. We had a waiting list of twenty children in his age group. Looking into the baby’s eyes and the eyes of his young mother, “the place in which we were gathered together was shaken.” 

When I look back on that day, I believe the Holy Spirit filled my heart causing me to speak the word of God with boldness to that desperate mother. “Yes, he can start first thing in the morning.”  

We’ve been praying for five weeks now but prayer is not enough. While prayer is critical, we must speak with boldness for our children: our children who were abducted from their families in Nigeria, our children at the southern border of the US, our children in privileged communities who cry themselves to sleep, and our children who are victims of gun violence. It is time for adult rules that get in the way of our children’s well-being to be broken. 

Sacred Spirit, shake our churches, shake our homes, and shake our hearts that we might speak the word of God with boldness. Move us to break free of anything that harms even one of your precious children. Amen.

Rev. Tim Graves
Condon United Church of Christ

Condon, Oregon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Call to Act: Cherishing Our Children

Saturday, October 18, 2014

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 NRSV

I am sitting in my coffee shop “office” and Malcolm, a sweet, attentive, intelligent, vivacious 7-year-old boy has introduced himself to me. I am astounded at his joyful, curious personality.  

He asked me what I was doing and came over to my computer where I had the guidelines up for writing the Light a Candle meditation. I told him I was writing a meditation for people in churches. He thought a minute and said, “you mean like for when churches have a candle ceremony when someone dies?” I told him, no, not that kind of lighting a candle. I told him we are lighting candles to help churches remember to pray for children, for all children.  

I can think of no better way to cherish a child than to listen to him, invite her to learn about what you are doing, let him talk about his life, show her you are truly interested in her being.  Malcolm has reminded me of what it means to cherish a child and the joy it brings. 

When we look at the words used when we cherish a child we see that they are action verbs: invite, talk, show, listen.  We are indeed called to act. We must act if we are to let children lead us. I pray you meet a Malcolm today.

God, we pray for your children and trust them to your care. Guide us to feed them, physically and spiritually,  protect them, laugh with them, listen to them, to invite them, enjoy them, and to cherish them. Amen.

Olivia Stewart Robertson

Family and Children’s Co-Minister for Disciples Home Missions and the Faith Formation Team of the United Church of Christ

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Everyone Needs a Hand to Hold

Friday, October 17, 2014

He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse. Malachi 4:6 NRSV

The first rule of childhood: always hold hands while crossing the street. Upon reaching a corner, look for someone with more street crossing experience, to keep you safe.

One day, after many years, yours becomes the hand others will hold.

Imagine childhood without that safety. You cross the street alone or trail after a parent who screams at you to hurry up instead of helping you. Perhaps, the adult grabs your arm and jerks you onto the curb just as cars roar past.

Without a hand to hold, you’d never know the need. Without knowledge, you wouldn’t see the point. The importance of holding a hand would be lost. It would be every person for themselves and the streets would become very dangerous indeed.

So, if yours is a safe hand, don't hesitate to reach out. It’s never too late to discover, learn, and share the security to be found in holding someone’s hand.

God of Restoration, teach us love anew. May our hearts so overflow with your presence that our hands automatically reach toward the children who need us. Give us the insight to also reach out to those grownups who lacked the security of a loving hand.  We mourn the loss of their childhood and pray that you guide them to safe hands where they are now. Amen.

Tammy Nelson
Ministry Coordinator
Northern California Nevada Conference
United Church of Christ
Hayward, California

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Smashing Barriers

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” Mark 5:22-23 NRSV

We find Jairus distraught by the impending death of his daughter. Totally understandable, right? When our children are sick, we will go to any length to bring them back to health. 

Jairus made the decision to go to a man who was very different from himself, a man who was despised by the religious officials. Jairus asked him to touch his daughter. 

Touch. Somehow he knew the touch of this man is what would make her well. 

Jairus and Jesus broke barriers that day. The barriers of culture, ethnicity, race, and religion are human-created boundaries that Jesus simply did not see. Jesus’ only concern was the child. 

Many in our world continue to look at our differences and use them as an excuse to deny the help that is needed. Instead, let us smash those barriers as Jesus did. Let us help all of God’s children.

Loving God, help us to see all of God’s children with your eyes. May we touch those around us with your love and grace as Jesus demonstrated with the daughter of Jairus. Amen.

Lisa Setty
Children and Youth Pastor
Overland Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Overland Park, Kansas

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cherished as Children

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. 2 Kings 4:18-20 NRSV

On the news nearly every night we see the casualties of war.  When those pictures capture the faces of dead and wounded children, I cry.
Elijah had declared that the Shunammite woman would have a son; a child she cherished for each day of his life.  On the day he died in her arms he had been cherished and cared for since the day Elijah had surprised her with his prophecy.  

Today the mothers and fathers of the children wounded or killed in the tragedies of war or from gun violence in our own communities love and cherish their children very much. Let us cherish all children and work to find paths to a more peaceful world. 

Lord, let us be instruments of peace in this world.  Help us be determined in our efforts to shelter and cherish all of our children. Amen.

Rev. Robin Spurling
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Carthage, Illinois

Monday, October 13, 2014

Value Above Politics

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Matthew 2:16 NRSV

Children have been used as political pawns for thousands of years. Furious at influential men who were supposed to help him, King Herod resorts to drastic political measures to preserve his place and the government which he serves. 

Still today, as nations attempt to protect themselves and preserve national security, innocent children are used as pawns, ignored for their innate value above what they can do for the government or the country.  

We wage war on children by cutting food stamps and various forms of public education, by retaining a minimum wage that prevents parents from providing proper care, or by ignoring the children who suffer in every war, regardless of who wins. May we remember children’s true value. Children are precious in God’s sight above and beyond what they can bring to any nation.

Holy God, help us remember that we are ALL your children, loved and valued. Protect us, and our children, as we look to you for guidance. Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips
Associate Minister
Overland Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Overland Park, Kansas

Sunday, October 12, 2014

As My Mind Wandered

Monday, October 13, 2014

And cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down. Joel 3:3 NRSV

One evening while reading the statistics that 300,000 children are kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking each year (U.S. Department of Justice), my mind wandered to the creation of the Ten Commandments.

How different history would have been if the commandments had forbidden war, slavery, exploitation of workers, and abuse and cruelty to children.

What would it be like if the fifth commandment provided an exemption for abuse and neglect? Honor thy father and thy mother, unless they are abusing or neglecting you.

Although we should never second guess the Ten Commandments, written by God’s love, we are born with human frailties.

Gracious God, forgive us if we blame you for allowing bad things to happen. Our pain is great, but yours is greater, feeling the pain in the world you created. Amen.

Ruth Patterson
Nursery Director
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Omaha, Nebraska