Monday, September 29, 2014

Making the Best of Being Blessed Too Soon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 1 Samuel 1:27 NRSV

On some evenings at our worship service with the homeless, prayer requests cascade on similar themes. 

At one, a pregnant teen, looking very uncomfortable as she leaned against her boyfriend, asked for prayers for the safe delivery of her baby. She had had no prenatal care, but she thought the baby would be coming soon. 

Another young woman ask us to pray that she get her little girl back. The teen had left the baby with a relative and now wanted her. The relative would not give the baby to the teen until she got and held a job and had a place to live. 

A third very young teen, requested prayers that she would get pregnant because she wanted a baby so badly.

God answers all prayers. Sometimes God lets us hear them so we can be a part of the answer.

Mother God, thank you for blessing us with children whether they are newborns or teenagers. They remind us of our vulnerability and how much care we each need and brighten our lives with wonder and love. Amen.

Marilynn Knott
Crown Heights Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blessing the World

Monday, September 29, 2014

...and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Genesis 28:14 NRSV

Genesis 28 describes Jacob’s dream of a ladder of angels, in which angels ascend from earth to heaven and back again. When he awakens, Jacob exclaims, “God was in this place, and I did not know it.”  

Jacob receives a blessing. From his family, all the families of the earth will be blessed. Jacob builds an altar and calls the place, “Beth-el,” the house of God.  

Today, we affirm that the house of God is everywhere and in everyone. Each child is holy. Each child’s face reveals the face of God, and awakens us to our own childlike spirit. We can exclaim “God is in this child, and I know it.”  We can bring out the holy in each child by blessing the child with our loving touch, nourishing food, and good water, safe housing, and neighborhoods and nations that are peaceful and secure.

God of all families, bless your children.  Open our hearts to love, nurture, and protect them.  Help us be generous in our time, affection, treasure, and political support so that each child might be blessed to be a blessing, in Christ’s name.  Amen.

Bruce Epperly
South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, Massachusetts

Bruce is an ordained Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ pastor. He is the author of over thirty books, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God and A Center in the Cyclone: Twenty-first Century Clergy Self-Care.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Mommy, What Is a Blessing?"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 NRSV

My son asked me, “Mommy, what is a blessing?”

“You are a blessing,” I replied.  

Blessings in the Bible are accompanied by a lot of work and little reward, by a lot of responsibility and determination with sparse hope for the fruits of big dreams. When it comes to teaching children about blessings, work and responsibility must be a part of the definition.  

This promise of becoming a great nation comes with receiving blessings and giving blessings.  Giving of ourselves to another person, so that their burdens are easier, is the blessing we are asked to pass along.  We are blessed by the works of others as we are blessings to others through our works. How easily we forget this! 

My children are much happier when they work to make someone else happy. When I think of my blessings, all of them have come from making myself a blessing to another.

God, help us to intentionally think about blessing another and teaching each other to do so, especially children. Amen.

Rev. Dawna K. Watkins
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Dawna is supply preacher, playwright, puppeteer, and  pastor’s spouse serving in the congregation of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Hematite, Missouri

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Global Promise

Saturday, September 27, 2014

For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” Acts 2:39 NRSV

We are confronted daily with terrible news from around the world. Refugee children trapped at our national borders, families fleeing persecution in the Middle East, and the ongoing struggle to provide access to clean water for our sisters and brothers in developing nations impact the lives of children.

In the face of global hardship, can we find within our hearts the courage to believe that ours is a God of abundance? Could our journey toward discipleship extend beyond the scope of our own personal experience?  

As Peter preaches on the day of Pentecost, God’s promise is not only local but global in its scope. God is present, walking beside the refugee children and their parents.  When we remember God’s promise is for all, we let God’s global mercy shape our ongoing prayer life and faith journey.

God of All Creation, kindle within our hearts a sense of global kinship. Remind us that your promise is for all humankind, near and far. Amen.

Rev. Nathan Dannison
Senior Minister
First Congregational Church, UCC
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Warning: Gravity!

Friday, September 26, 2014

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
Mark 9:42 NRSV

Gravity.  Gravity is one of the things that would pull a person with a millstone around their neck to the depths of the sea. It is also a word that describes the seriousness of not caring for a child of God, especially “one of the least of these.”  This warning may seem harsh but I think it indicates the immense care that God has for all of God’s children.

A women’s meeting I attended recently addressed human trafficking, which often involves children.  One way traffickers convince children not to leave those trafficking them is by telling them no one cares for them.  They fill them with lies and tell them they are not worthy of respect.  

We must combat this insidious issue by being vigilant in showing care for all children and reminding them they are all beloved children of God.  That is gravity that can keep us all grounded.

Loving and Caring God, help us treat all of your children as your beloved.  Forgive us when we forget the importance of telling them how very much you love them. Help us feel your divine spark within each of us.  Amen.

Rev. Janna Preston
Southside Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Jacksonville, Florida

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The "It" Factor

Thursday, September 25, 2014

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48 NRSV

My cousin called me it. As a newborn I wasn’t that offended but, as the story goes, my aunt tried correcting him. My cousin protested, “Until it has teeth, I’m calling it an it.” 

These words in scripture that refer to a child as it are awkward to our ears: “Jesus … put it by his side.” However, that is how culture of the day viewed children. Children were treated as non-persons. They were at the bottom of the pecking order. Jesus tells the disciples to put themselves in the place of society’s most vulnerable. Still, this child has a place close to Jesus’ side. 

God’s care for children must be expressed to the world by becoming vulnerable on their behalf. God’s care for children must be expressed to each child by the way we tenderly hold them to our side. 

Lord, give us the courage to stand in the gap, making ourselves vulnerable on behalf of children. May we speak out and stand up for all your children. May we call them by name and hold them close to our side. 

Rev. Lee Yates
Minister of Faith Formation
Christian Church in Indiana (Disciples of Christ)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"And How Are the Children?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 NRSV

The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania greet each other with “Kasserian ingera?” which means, “And how are the children?”

What they hope to hear – what we all hope to hear – is “the children are well.” If all the children are well, life is good and the future is hope-filled.

“And how are the children?” could be a conventional politeness, like “How’s your kids?”  But what if it means “How are all the children, how is this place or this situation or this climate affecting the young and vulnerable?” Could this question become a reminder to us that all children are precious in the eyes of God?   

What if we began each day asking, “And how are the children?” Would it change anything in your life or mine? Would it change life for the children of the world?

God, open our ears to disciples asking, “And how are the children?” that it might undermine our preoccupations and refocus our energies. May the children be the beneficiaries of our hope and trust in you. Hold us accountable for our words and actions. Amen.

Rev. Susan Meeter
United Church of Christ