Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walking in the Light of the Lord

Day 36: October 20, 2013

We'd scour the playground each morning for dangers. Most days we found bottles or broken glass. Often, we found needles, razor blades, and shell casings. We learned not to be surprised. We knew we could only protect the children during the day. Most lived in violent, impoverished neighborhoods. 

We longed for a future like the prophet Isaiah describes, when sword would be beaten into plowshare and the people would go up to the mountain to learn and practice God's loving and peaceful ways. 

That was three decades ago. Too many children still live in violent neighborhoods. Too many children are still killed by guns. Too many children are valued less than the right-to-bear automatic weapons. National budget priorities fund wars at the expense of children's services and programs. 

The prophet offers hope to a people weary of violence and war. But hope is hollow if we refuse to see our collective sin that allows any child to grow up in poverty and violence. 

Peacemaker God, teach us to walk in your light. Instill in us the urgency of beating our swords into plowshares for the sake of the children of Newtown, the thousands of children whose deaths and injuries never make the news, and those who hunger for bread. Give us hope and the will to make it a reality. Amen.

Tim Graves
Condon United Church of Christ
Condon, OR

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Boldly Speaking Truth to Power

Day 35: October 19, 2013

In the wake of this past year’s flurry of unimaginable violence against children, we must work harder than ever to protect our children from the ravages of gun violence. However, the problem is not just about guns. There are many powers arrayed against the welfare of our children. In the spirit of Acts 4:23-31, we must look at these threats and have the courage and wisdom to speak God’s Word of peace and justice with all boldness. Guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit we must not only speak but confront fear mongering along with the evils of racism and poverty that harm our children. 

Let us prayerfully unite hearts and hands to boldly speak God’s Truth to power. In our congregations, let us equip ourselves like the early community of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem. Let us demonstrate the healing and transforming power of Spirit led, nonviolent, direct actions of self-giving for the safety and wellbeing of our children.

God of love and peace, deliver us and our children from violence and fear. Now, Lord, look at the threats against our children and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness. Give us courage that we may be your hands and feet to heal our violence-ridden land. May signs and wonders be performed in the name of your holy servant Jesus that those who live by violence and greed may be “shaken up” by the Good News of God’s compassion and justice for all. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly
Minister of Family and Children’s Ministries 
United Church of Christ


Friday, October 18, 2013

Peace & Play

Day 34: October 18, 2013

Each year, the preschoolers I work with pass on childhood traditions and tales. The river rocks on the playground are just the right size. A preschooler can pick one up and move them around, but just barely. That effort makes it even more valuable. Turns out, I was wrong, they aren’t actually river rocks. 

Over the years the rocks have evolved to tell different stories. Sometimes they are lined up to make a path or a bridge. Other times, they are assembled in a big pile. Chairs circle the pile and a campsite appears. For a while, they were dinosaur eggs that needed saving. Sometimes they are babies. 

Now that I think of it, they are rarely river rocks. When children, when people, play  in the streets or playground or backyard, a new home, a new place, and a new peace is created.

Lord, guide us to the streets, to see the vision, to play together. How will I play today?

Pat Barton
Chalice Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gilbert, AZ

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sons as Healing Sunflowers, Daughters as Foundations of Peace

Day 33: October 17, 2013

Imagine sons as sunflowers reaching their full autumn height.  These magnificent plants share seeds, oil, and healing properties pulling radioactive contaminants from the soil.

Imagine daughters sturdy and beautiful as founding beams of homes and institutions: supporting the full thriving of all the world’s children, drawing in the exile, and responding to cries of distress.

Psalm 144 offers these hopeful images, a hope rooted in God. To pray with these few verses is to root our hope in the God who seeds our prayers with longing and harvests our peaceful actions.

Creator God, with your help we can see the world’s children fruitful as sunflowers and sturdy as foundations for the future. We see all children nurtured in love and safety. Help us refuse to seed the world with guns and violence. Help us fully accept our one responsibility: creating a peaceful, just world for all children. Amen.

Rev. Susan Meeter
Mira Vista United Church of Christ
El Cerrito, CA

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Leaders & Miracles

Day 32: October 16, 2013

Psalm 72 is all about praying for a just, righteous, generous, and peaceful king. At first glance it seems foreign to us. We do not have one person who will “defend the poor, rescue the homeless, and crush everyone who hurts them...[and who] has pity on the weak and the helpless and protects those in need." (Ps. 72: 4, 13 CEV). 

But we do have a government and we have leaders. We are called to pray daily that they will be honest and fair, righteous, and ready to defend the needy.  This psalm does not celebrate the wealthy; it is all about how the government –the king – is there to help those who are oppressed.

There is a revealing final phrase, however, in this prayer for the king: “Lord God of Israel, we praise you. Only you can work miracles.” (Ps. 72:13 CEV)

Divine Presence, We pray for your guidance for our “king” – our leaders. We need your miracles to help them turn toward each other and work together to bring peace to our nation and our world. May they become a model of a nonviolent solution to conflict and injustice. Amen.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Day 31: October 15, 2013

What meaning do blessing rituals possess? Jacob demonstrated no hesitancy in blessing grandsons he had never met and might never see again. His vision, faithfulness, and sense of urgency called forth a blessing.

On behalf of the God who is our shepherd, in faith, urgency, and with vision our children deserve blessings. Our world needs their gifts. We must affirm the mantles they wear in their young lives. Capable of amazing things, we witness youth as peacemaker, reconciler, and compassion bearer. With blessing (and loving guidance) they possess all they need to love as they are loved.

God of Jacob and Joseph, Ruth and Naomi, bless our children’s lives with peace.  Bless those who care for them with wisdom and a sense of urgency on their behalf. Bless them to be peacemakers and compassion bearers, following your way. Amen.

Karen Ziel
Minister of Faith Formation
CT Conference UCC

Monday, October 14, 2013

If You Get Lost You Can Always Get Found

Day 30: October 14, 2013

Having sown his wild oats and hit rock bottom, the Prodigal Son decides to return home. Despite fears he is unworthy of being considered a family member, he's welcomed home. 

His father, overwhelmed with elation, orders the best calf slaughtered and a party thrown. The eldest is not at all pleased. The father explains that there should be happiness because although he was lost to them for sometime, he has found his way home.

Despite what may cause a family to distance themselves, we should rejoice when a path is opened up and healing can begin. True unconditional love is hard, but is worth it when families can come together and celebrate overcoming life’s struggles.

Creator God, We pray that children of any age, know unconditional love from their family, no matter what distance may separate them. Light the path to those who are lost to family members, and give them safe passage home. Open the hearts of their families to accept them home with open hearts and unconditional love. Amen.

Karen Anne Fitterling-Eckhardt
South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Joplin, Missouri