Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Indignant Savior

Mark 10: 13-16

The clueless disciples of Mark’s narrative often get a bad rap. They were just trying to make sure that the adults could hear Jesus. They didn’t want any crying babies or giggling three-year-olds disrupting their leader. And instead of thanking them for their efforts, Jesus barked at them!

He was displeased and annoyed. He was irritated and offended. He was appalled his own disciples sought to keep the children away from him. Jesus was indignant! 

The extravagant love of God is for everyone: brown or pink, men, women, gay, straight, middle-aged or old-aged, the bully and bullied, the contemplative, crotchety, or bubbly, girls and boys, and babies, too. And Jesus is angry when we keep others away from his extravagant, unconditional, love.

God of All, give us an unquenchable desire to dismantle the stumbling blocks to you. Help us to love and educate your children that they might read your word, feel your healing caress, and follow your luring to be the human beings you created them to be. Amen.

Rev. Tim Graves
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Mosier, Oregon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Can I Have That?

Luke 11:5-13

Children typically aren’t constrained by social niceties. If they want something they ask for it. Whether it is candy in the grocery checkout line or borrowing someone else's toy, children just ask. 

The problem is that children don’t always know what they need. Children don’t understand that their limited access to education, food, water, clothing, or shelter hinders their opportunities and greatly impacts their ability to succeed. 

It is our job to look after our children--all of our children--and fulfill their needs. God urges us to be direct in prayer. We should also be direct in the care of children. 

Dear Loving God, may we see the specialness of each child. May we take note of what they need, and find ways to provide them in order for them to have a chance. Each day, may we love them more completely than yesterday. May they always have the ability and courage to seek out what they desire. Amen.

Johanna Kennelly Ullman
Assistant Minister
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Portland, Oregon 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bless the Boys and Bless the Girls

Genesis 48:15-16

Sometimes blessings come to us upside down and backwards. Jacob famously stole his brother’s birthright, then less famously flouted tradition by overlooking Joseph’s eldest and giving the greater blessing to a younger son. 

Throughout scripture, God’s realm is a place of unexpected blessing. By turning the expected way of doing things on its head, God sends blessings into new and far-off places . . . often in the hands of a child. How we care for and nurture our children matters.

Holy God, bless the boys and bless
  the girls.
Bless their footsteps in this world.
Bless the hands that dry their
Bless the hearts that calm their
Bless the girls and bless the boys.
Grant them peace and teach them
  joy. Amen.

Connie Myers
First Christian Church (Disciples of
Bloomington, Indiana

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hope for the Fairytale Ending

Zechariah 8:1-8

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven: what a dream come true! No more fear of who’s watching and what they are planning, playgrounds filled with children laughing and having fun,  benches filled with loving adults chatting away about the day, when God’s plan is realized. There is no worrying about who is out to harm you. We have hope for a wonderful place to grow up or grow old, surrounded by love and friendship.

With God all things are possible and someday the dream will become reality. We participate in Heaven on earth each time we touch someone’s life. The simple gestures, smiling, hugging, talking, and caring will help us change the world. The world I want is almost here. Hope is never gone; God will provide. But remember it is God’s time, not our time. Dreams do come true.

Heavenly Father, please help us remember that the world is changing. We can be a part of the change if we want. The world will be better because we, with your help, will change it. Guide us in helping our children change the bad to good. Help us end the bullying and abuse, replacing it with love.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Michelle Brown
Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Cleveland, Ohio

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Heavy Burdens, Weary Hearts

Habakkuk 2:1-3

At times we find ourselves weary with the burden of knowledge. Consequences of actions may seem daunting and overwhelming. Certainly, Elisha was heavy-hearted and sad having seen the outcome of future events. Aside from natural consequences of our actions, God’s actions remain a mystery requiring faith and hope that all will turn out according to God's will. 

What a challenge this is! It is a daily discipline for me to surrender each day to God's will and not my own. Yet it can serve as a reminder to focus on and be grateful for the opportunities we do have to be proactive in our actions at securing justice for children. We have profound and far-reaching opportunities to provide education to all of God's children with equality and justice.

Dear God, thank you for the numerous opportunities to serve as your hands and feet in this world. Remind us daily to make the time to hear and discern responsible actions towards justice in education for all.  For it is in your name that we serve and pray. Amen.

Susan Allen
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Lynchburg, Virginia

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Transforming Tears to Action

Jeremiah 31:15-17

My heart hurts deep within my chest when I read this scripture. Rachel is weeping for her children. The pain of losing a child is unique, overwhelming, and slow to heal, if ever.  

There are many dangers to our children these days. The streets with cultures of drugs, guns, and prostitution seem to have appeal over crowded, ill-equipped schools. Inadequate health care threatens to literally kill some of our vulnerable children. How many mothers and fathers refuse to be comforted?

The Holy One issues an appeal. Stop your tears. There is hope for your future. Your children will come back. How will we be a part of bringing this part of God’s kin-dom to fruition?

Loving Creator, make us instruments of your love and peace for our children. Give us courage to challenge the status quo and demand the best for our kids. Turn our tears into action.

Rev. Maggie Sebastian
Clinical Chaplain
Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital
Hood River, Oregon

Monday, October 15, 2012

You Cannot Do It Alone

Exodus 18:18-19

One person—no matter how gifted, no matter how big-hearted and well-intentioned and prayerful—simply cannot bear all the burdens of the world. Nor can one person bear all the burdens of a family, school, or community. We’ve all seen good people try. But they never last for long; they’re worn out from the burden.

Fortunately for Moses, his father-in-law convinced him to train up new leaders to share the load. Is this not wise counsel for us today?

God who is always with us, for the sake of the world and all your children, raise up new leaders among us and through us. Amen.

Connie Myers
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Bloomington, Indiana

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Covenant with God’s Children

Luke 2:21-22

Jessie in our arms, we promised to raise her faithfully, to teach her, and to love her as God loves us. The congregation promised to teach her, to support us, and to be God’s loving community. Our pastor held our baby, invoked God’s loving power, and blessed God’s beloved child.

Our Disciple tradition of baby dedication serves a similar purpose as the circumcision and naming of Jesus. When families bring their babies or young children forward the people of God make a holy covenant with one another and with God. 

As parents and congregants we sometimes fail in our holy responsibility. We aren’t there when we’re needed or we teach the wrong lessons. But God is present to nudge us and lure us back on the path of unconditional love of every one of God’s beloved children. 

Holy One, open our hearts that we might perceive you within our lifeblood calling us to be your rabbis to all children. Amen.

Rev. Tim Graves
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Mosier, Oregon

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Educating Children, Satisfying God

Isaiah 1:17

Toddlers are notorious for hearing only the last word out of your mouth. “Don’t run” is heard as encouragement to run. “Stop hitting” becomes “hitting.” We say, “no throwing toys” and the toys take flight. Positive statements of desired behavior tend to be more effective than diatribes about bad behavior. 

Yet, what exasperated parent hasn’t ranted at one time or another about their child’s behavior? Why do you run? Why do you keep hitting? I’ve told you ten thousand times that cars are not airplanes! Why do you persist in driving me crazy?

And so, as if he needed to get the frustration out of his system, the prophet rails, “Why do you seek further beatings? Why do you continue to rebel?” (Isaiah 1:5a NRSV) before reminding God’s people what it is that they - that WE - must do to satisfy God. 

Creator God of Love and Learning, help us to be the teachers of your love to all children. Help us assure an education that is specific to learning styles, personality, and spiritual gifts. Amen.

Rev. Tim Graves
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Mosier, Oregon

Friday, October 12, 2012

It Takes a Village

Deuteronomy 31:12

We need everyone – even the “strangers” among us whom some people resent. We need everyone to proclaim that education matters, that our children matter, that our society depends upon a desire for learning.  

The Lord calls for worship, justice, and respect for one another – love of neighbor. 

A local Presbyterian minister spent a year attending the PTO meetings and the school board meetings and talking with the principal. Then she began working with the groups and involving the entire community. What a change has blessed the children at that neighborhood school!

Lord, from big cities to small towns, call us to assemble and be knit together in villages of support for one another and especially for our children. Amen.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hold Tight, Kids

Deuteronomy 6:20-24

The five-year-old undid her seatbelt without permission. The three-year-old giggled and squirmed with joy. Even Aunt Millie shoved her knitting into her bag before the car came to a complete stop. The family of God had been traveling through the desert for a very long time. To suggest they were ready to get out of the car and begin their new lives was an understatement.

“Hold tight, kids,” Grandpa Moses said. “Before you get out of the car, I have a few things you must learn. I need to know that you’re prepared to lead a life worthy of the One who brought us safely this far.”

His timing may have seemed off to the antsy kids in the backseat but Moses understood the connection between the history, present, and future of God’s chosen. God kept God’s promises and now God calls us to respond by faithful living and passing our heritage on to our children.

Holy One of Promises Kept, remind us with gentle and not so gentle nudges that we have an obligation to our children. Help us to pass on the magnificent story of your love as well as the science of your creation to every one of your children. Amen.

Rev. Tim Graves
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Mosier, Oregon

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Strengthen Our Hearts

Psalm 10:17-18

A few days ago, I saw a man grab his daughter by the arm so forcefully that she stumbled and fell against him. He then struck her repeatedly with a pair of large, steel tongs.

Some years ago, I knew a woman who sold her daughter for men's "favors."

Spirit of Comfort, bless us with your Being. We need you with every breath we take. Spirit of Courage, the children of this world need us. Guide us. Make us into the people we must be. For them. Always. Amen.

Rev. Tamalyn Kralman
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Bellingham, Washington

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Would Incur Guilt

Deuteronomy 24: 14-20

Guilt is only good, “once.”

The reading falls under the subheading, Miscellaneous Laws, in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, but little of it seems like it belongs in the miscellaneous file.  Rather, it is a reminder of the responsibility of the privileged to the known and unknown members of our community.

The hard fact is that children are being put to death, literally and metaphorically, based on the choices and actions of adults everyday. We can feel guilty about not doing enough, but that guilt is only good once as a motivator for making different choices with our time, dollars, and lives.  Choose wisely.

God you know my guilty pleasures.  Bless my life that it will be a confession of faith in your confidence that humanity can do right by our children and choose wisely the things that are life giving, sustaining, and meaningful that they will praise your Name and live by your commandments. Amen.

Rev. Michael Davison, Jr.
Associate Regional Pastor
Christian Church in Oklahoma

Monday, October 8, 2012

Not Only a Boy (or Girl)

Jeremiah 1: 4-7

What a powerful message in this passage for children!  As parents, teachers, volunteers, tutors, friends, and other adults involved in the lives of children, this is the message we need to share with them. This is a message of empowerment! 

When we are around a child who may be doubting their self-worth, is insecure in his or her abilities, or who has had their confidence shaken, we can lift them up with this message. Look at a child this week and remind them that with the guidance of God’s Spirit, they can dream big and do great things.

Our prayer today, O God, is that you remind us that even though we are “grown-ups,” we are your children and can do great things by your Spirit. Help us to share that with all children, no matter their ability, background, need, or education. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

Kristin Jack
Associate Minister
Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Waco, Texas

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Only One Winner

Luke 15: 11-32

We live in a world where there can only be one winner. Whether it’s sports, reality TV, spelling bees, pageants or elections, we look for just one winner, that will receive praise and glory. The prodigal son and our God teach us that there is enough to go around. There is enough grace to go around. There is enough education to go around for our children. There are enough resources to give our children the very best, and we do not have to compete. Education reform should start from the confidence that there is enough to go around.

All-providing God, help us to grow out of this assumption that we always have to compete. To give of ourselves, means there is enough to share with others. Grow in our hearts, reminding us of your ever-available grace, that we can apply that to more in our own lives. Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips, Associate Minister
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Long Distance Healing

John 4:46-53

I first met him at Easter Children Worship & Wonder two years ago when he came with his cousins. At that time, Zip had not yet been diagnosed. Last Easter, he was at Children Worship and Wonder again, this time barely moving his neck or arm. 

Today, our youth group is volunteering at a BBQ challenge fundraising event to find a cure for F.O.P.  A cure may be close, the gene that is causing the boy’s body to create a second skeleton in his muscles has been identified. 

Which comes first, miracle or belief? Yes. 

Heavenly Father, watch with us over your child Zip and so many others. Grant that they may be restored to that perfect health which it is yours alone to give; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

Rev. Laurel Ragland
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Claremore, Oklahoma

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Greatness of God

Luke 9:37-43a

We who work with children have our hearts broken daily. If only we could wipe away the suffering and struggle of a child in pain. If only we could touch and heal the disease and wounds of those in our care.

The faith of a father speaking on behalf of his child draws the attention of the Great Healer, and the child is relieved from his seizures. The disciples are given the task of healing, but it is the faith of a father on behalf of his son that eases the suffering.

It is given into our hands. The faith and blessing of Christ is in hands that touch and voices that advocate.

Compassionate Christ, give me strength of faith today. May your loving grace work through my hands and my voice for your children. Be embodied by those who teach your children and care for their every need. May each act be the miracle of healing that you give to us. Amen.

Rev. Erin Reed Cooper
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Being rejected is so great a fear that it can often keep us silent even when faced with grave injustices and wrongdoing. In this passage from Matthew we have two stories of courage. First is a desperate mother screaming for help. She pushes through a hostile crowd to reach Jesus, risking not only rejection but public humiliation. Second is Jesus, a public figure, a teacher, a faith leader who risks rejection by admitting he is wrong and changing his mind. Can we, people who love children and follow Jesus, expect any less of ourselves?  Can we find the courage to work for what our children, all children, need to be healed?

O God, may my eyes and heart be opened to the injustices around me.  May I find the courage to do what is needed to make this world a place where all children can find safety, healing and hope. Amen.

Kaye Edwards
Church of the Covenant (United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ)
Lynchburg, Virginia

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Never Underestimate the Youngest

1 Samuel 16:14-23

This passage comes just after we read about the anointing of David. Chosen. Special. Anointed. Yet, he is also the youngest. In today’s passage, we find that King Saul is in need. The answer is help from a child. 

Sometimes, we underestimate the unique ability a child may have to fit a particular need. How many times do we overlook a little one because they are too young? On the other hand, how many times have we been taken aback by the profound words or actions of a young child? They can and they do make a difference! 

Incredible God, throughout your story, we find examples of how you worked through children. Open our eyes that we may see ways to never miss the opportunity to allow a child to show us the way to you. May your Spirit move among those who work with children, who teach children, who volunteer to guide children, so that they may see the value in helping all children feel anointed as one chosen by you to bring your love to others. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

Kristin Jack
Associate Minister
Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Waco, Texas

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prophetic Voices

1 Samuel 3:10-18

Forbes Magazine cites the United States as the seventh richest nation in the world for the year 2012. According to UNICEF, nearly a quarter of this nation’s children live in relative poverty. Where is the justice in these statistics? The prophets are calling out and their cries fall on apathetic ears. 

If God were to deal with us as is fit, what should we expect? Will any amount of sacrifice or offering be sufficient? Perhaps if our sacrifice and offering were used to alleviate hunger and suffering for our children? What if a tithe of our talents were used to change the systems that perpetuate poverty and hunger? 

O God, we hear your call. May all with ears to hear answer with a resounding, “Here we are! Use us!” Forgive our apathy. Convict our hearts to love deeply. Enkindle within our spirits a powerful passion to create change. May we who love children be a prophetic voice to those who need to hear. Amen.

Rev. Tracy Parker
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Paris, Kentucky

Monday, October 1, 2012

We Have Launch

1 Samuel 3:4-9

Mr. Hardy stood next to the television in our classroom. His eyes were bright as he explained what was happening during the early stages of the space shuttle lift-off.  He pointed to the external fuel tank, the main engine thrusters, and the solid rocket boosters. He detailed their purpose as they propelled the Discovery into orbit around the earth. This man was a teacher, but on that day, he launched a child on an adventure of life long exploration.

God of infinite space and wondering, we give thanks for those who guide children on paths of learning and exploration. May we always be ones who foster environments where all God's children can hear the call and discover ways to respond. Amen.

Rev. Chad Snellgrove
Minister of Faith Formation for Children and Youth
Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lexington, Kentucky

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let Us Nurture Together

1 Samuel 1:19-23

Hannah’s insistence on nursing her child reminds us that all children need deep nurture that they may, as another prophet said, be able to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.  

When we allow society to deny some children this strong nurture through education, we ignore our human responsibility, both to the next generations and to the future of God’s world.  

Holy parent, we pray for wisdom, that we may come to know that all children are our own, and that it is attending to their well-being that we are called.  Give us courage to act for justice, to transform the structures that deny so many children the educational nurture their humanity deserves. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Maureen Killoran
Accredited Interim Minister
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
Kirkwood, Missouri

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wholeness for All

Matthew 19:13-15

In a time when children were often ignored, Jesus’ message was clear:  this is not okay. Let the children come.  Actively bring them from the margins into the circle of wholeness that is the love of God.  

Today, too many children are actively being denied that wholeness – children of color, children living in poverty, children with special needs of health or ability or ways of connecting with the world. Jesus calls us, as he called the disciples, to act for justice – to affirm that all children are blessed, all are worthy, all are in need of our love. 

God of all inclusion, grant us wisdom to see beyond the persuasive arguments of scarcity and embrace the wholeness of your love. Guide us in our discernment, that our thinking may blossom into action, and our action bear fruit in deep change, that opportunities are justly available to all. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Maureen Killoran
Accredited Interim Minister
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
Kirkwood, Missouri

Friday, September 28, 2012

Herod Today

Matthew 2: 16

Children died in massacres in Syria, Kenya, and in Aurora, Colorado this year. What brings groups and individuals to the point of perpetrating mass murder and annihilating young life?  Herod was motivated by fear, by power, and possibly by revenge and jealousy.  He was no different than the perpetrators today.  

The child Jesus is born into a world of suffering and brutality. The UN is investigating the Syrian regime. Feuding ethnic groups have been forced into peace talks by Kenyan police. A young man has been arrested and awaits trial in Colorado.

Weeping with Rachel, singing with Mary, for peace, truth, and justice we pray. May we be courageous midwives who stand against the powers that oppress and destroy victims . . . and perpetrators.  Amen.

Rev. Laurel Ragland
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Claremore, Oklahoma

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Listen to God’s Messengers

2 Chronicles 36:15-17

“A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the future. Like Thomas Jefferson, I tremble for my country when I think that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” (Marian Wright Edelman, Child Watch Column, August 10, 2012)

This disturbing Scripture from 2 Chronicles makes me weep at the lives that are lost when we fail to listen. How many of those lives are just down the street from our homes and places of worship? 

O Lord, we pray for our schools and the children who enter their doors. May our congregations’ support of public education heed your messengers. Help us become involved and caring so that there is equity and opportunity in every place of learning. Amen.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Written in Big Letters, Right on Time

2 Kings 8:11-12

Sometimes bluntness is what it takes for God to get our attention.

And then we are asked to be patient. This is not an easy command to live by in these days of frantic busyness within which we envelop ourselves.

How does this affect our children? Too often we hurriedly listen to them, if we stop to listen at all. But doesn't God say we are to listen to the children? Don’t they have much to teach us? Perhaps that is why they have developed such keen abilities to get our attention. May we offer them every opportunity to grow in knowledge of the world around them, and may we allow ourselves the opportunity to learn from them.

Dear God of all things big and small, we are often too busy to pause to hear your voice. We fail to respond no matter how loudly you may be calling. Renew within us our ability to listen, hear, and discern your will for all of your children. Grant us the wisdom to hear your call daily and to  share your message to the ends of the earth. Amen.

Susan Allen
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lynchburg, Virginia

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rebellion for the Better

Exodus 1: 13-16

It is not clear in verse 15 whether the Hebrew midwives Shiph’rah and Pu’ah are Hebrew slaves themselves or Egyptians serving the Hebrew women.  In the end it doesn’t really matter.  They rebel against the Pharaoh’s attempt to limit the birth rate of the Israelites and save the children, whether they are of their own kind or not.  

This same rebellion must be applied to our educational system.  If our children are in private schools, we must still demand better standards for public. If our state’s public schools are satisfactory, we must demand better for our neighbors’.

God of all cities, states and nations, help us to see beyond our own immediate needs.  Guide us to always be working for the “least of these,” even when that work does not directly affect us.  Direct us in ways that are life-giving for all children, whether under our direct care or by another.  Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips
Associate Minister
First Christian Church (Disciples of
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Monday, September 24, 2012

Valuable Children

Psalm 71:6

Our nation has not always protected and provided for the basic needs of children. For many years we did not have laws in place to guard children from abuse and neglect. Historically, we supported exploitive and cruel practices, like indentured servitude, child slavery, and child labor. Although, we now have laws to safeguard against these practices our work is not done. 

We must continue to strive for justice for our children. Today, we’re called to work together to protect quality public education for all of our nation’s children. It is our responsibility to ensure children have the opportunity to reach their potential. 

Loving God, upon whom we lean and in whose image we are all made, help us recognize the value of all your children. Give us strength and courage to emulate the love of Jesus as we strive to protect our children from harm and provide for their needs. We praise you for the gift of children. By the power of the Holy Spirit we call on your wisdom to guide our actions. Amen.

Karen Cote
Guyton Christian Church (Disciples of 
Guyton, Georgia

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Commitment and Dedication

1 Samuel 1: 19-23

Hannah’s backstory is an example of humility and commitment. In a time when a woman’s worth was based on her womb she could bare no children. Her tear-stained prayers were recognized by the Lord as she bargained for a male child. The Lord remembered Hannah and when Samuel was weaned, she remembered her prayers and commitment.

We often bargain with God in prayers, the Lord remembers, yet when we can be the answer to another’s prayer we forget. The children in our midst, and those half a world away, belong to us when we share the Lord’s memory and Hannah’s dedication.

Nudge me, O God, in those moments when I need a reminder that I can be the answer to a child’s prayer to be heard, loved, and fed.  Grant me the commitment and dedication of Hannah.  Amen.

Rev. Michael Davison, Jr.
Associate Regional Pastor
Christian Church in Oklahoma

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Imago Dei

Matthew 1:18-20

All children bear the image of God (Imago Dei).  They are born of the Spirit and immersed in God’s love. Our job, as the adults around them, is to nourish and cherish them as God nourishes and cherishes us.  Just as Joseph was given an awesome task, we have been given an awesome task. Let us be faithful to it.

Holy Spirit, we all carry your image and likeness. Help us be faithful in taking care of the children around us. May we hear your voice calling us to provide for the children in our midst. 

Reverend Kim Crowley
Associate Minister
Seventh Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Richmond, Virginia

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Craftwork of God’s Hands

Judges 13: 19-25

The frightened second grader sat on the floor cleaning her desk as she’d been instructed. The children were told “No interruptions!” as their teacher sat with a reading group. They knew she meant business. 

Nothing the little girl did was ever right in her teacher’s eyes, so she was determined to mind, even when her bladder told her otherwise. Later, after that tragic, embarrassing day, that little girl was transferred to another classroom, where she was welcomed with open arms and blossomed. The first teacher thought she didn’t fit the age standards and was failing her. She didn’t know she was special.

At first, Manoah did not recognize the angel of the Lord. Yet he and his wife knew that the angel’s presence meant their son Samson would grow up to be someone special.

Lord, you created us. May we never forget how specialness of each and every child. We are thankful for the craftwork of your hands that has specially wrapped each of us in your image. Thank you for these precious gifts. Amen.

Laurie Lea Dyer
Director of Children’s Ministries
Salem First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Salem, Oregon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Will This Be on the Test?

Judges 13: 8-14

As I read the story of Manoah and his wife entreating God to tell them everything they must know in order to raise their special, consecrated child, I can’t help but think of students who ask, “Will this be on the test?”  And like every patient teacher I have known, the angel of the Lord repeats the most important bits of information and concludes with, “just do what I told you to do.”

Just like adults, children learn in different ways and at different tempos.  We need patient teachers and classroom environments where the needs of the individual child may be met.  Like Manoah and his wife, sometimes that means repetition which takes time and attention. 

Dear One, how is it that our wealthy nation must cut school budgets, creating larger and larger classrooms that prohibit individualized instruction?  May we prioritize the use of our resources so that our children may learn the way they learn best. 

Rev. Maggie Sebastian
Clinical Chaplain
Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital
Hood River, Oregon

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ancient Wisdom

Judges 13: 1-7

The instructions given to Manoah’s wife are common sense.  Don’t drink or smoke while you are pregnant. These instructions are given because the child has been consecrated as a Nazarite from birth - something quite unusual.  So the lifestyle restrictions of a Nazarite are imposed on the mother carrying the child.  

Much of ancient wisdom is backed up by modern science. And where do we learn this wisdom today? In health class probably. In health classes that are being slashed from school budgets with so much else because of lack of funding.  How will the next generation learn this wisdom?

Lord give us wisdom in how we use public funds. Help us to see that fully funded public education reaps rich rewards.

Rev. Maggie Sebastian
Clinical Chaplain
Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital
Hood River, Oregon

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Talitha Cum

Mark 5:35-42

So many around Jesus were sure that this 12-year-old girl had already died, even saying to her father, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” However, the teacher knew better and the teacher was the one to demand that the little girl, “get up!”

How easy is it to ignore our teachers when we are considering education reform. We listen to politicians and parents that have certain demands, but the teachers and faculty are those that spend the majority of time in our schools and with our students. Empower our teachers to be the ones giving the commands.

All-knowing God, when we are sure that we have the best answers, and the best interest of our children at heart, embolden us to listen to all points of view.  Encourage us to listen to all those individuals who spend time with our children and all those who have the children at the center of their concern. Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips
Associate Minister
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Monday, September 17, 2012

Educated without Partiality

Mark 5:21-24

In the story preceding this passage we see Jesus has gone to the other side of the sea, and now he has returned again to the other side of the sea.  It is important to note that no matter the healing, no matter what side of the sea, Christ blesses without partiality; Jew and Gentile, near and far, clean and unclean.  

We must approach education of children in the same way, showing no partiality.  All children are worthy of a fulfilling education that lifts up, supports, and gives opportunity. May we work to be a part of such a just system.

Holy God, even when it is hard, help us to minister without partiality.  Give us confidence in our abilities to speak on behalf of all children. Help us to follow your footsteps of radical love. Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips
Associate Minister
First Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Duck Sits on the Nest

Psalm 144: 12

The reading was slow and labored.  This child with a bright smile and energetic body struggled to sit still and focus on the words in front of him. Words like duck, sit, and even the are not familiar. They frustrate this little boy, who told me he can ride his bike around the farm all by himself. The teacher, the classroom aide, and I work with him as his vocabulary grows, but I wonder if the length of his jeans will grow faster than his reading comprehension.   

Almighty and Growing God, as one who tends the souls of all, plant words of learning and hope deep in the minds of all our children. Challenge each of us to water these seeds of knowledge by reading with all God's children.  Amen.

Rev. Chad Snellgrove
Minister of Faith Formation for Children and Youth
Central Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Lexington, Kentucky

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Here We Are

A horrifying story, a god demanding child sacrifice, a parent willing to slay his only son. And who will speak for Isaac? We find it hard to believe, but at times even a parent won't stand up on behalf of their own flesh and blood. Isaac questions, "From where will our lamb come? From where will our help come?" 

Here we are. It is not someone else who will speak for the child who is in danger. It is us. For whom will you speak justice?

God our Parent, warm your heart to the cries of your children. Warm the hearts of parents, teachers, preachers, and friends. Give us the strength of faith that gives us courage to witness for the least of your children. Amen. 

Rev. Erin Reed Cooper
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Friday, September 14, 2012

God Has Brought Me Laughter

Genesis 21: 1-7

Sarah had given up hope of ever knowing the joy of motherhood. She had resigned herself to the status of a barren woman. But God brought her laughter in her son, Isaac. Through the birth of her son she received new hope of a future she could help to create. 

How can we bring together the “Sarah generation” with the children in our communities? What gifts of hope and laughter might these generations offer one other? Through foster grand parenting, homework mentoring, worship buddies, and community advocacy, God can bring laughter and joy into the lives of children and the community.

God of all times, lift to our minds the ways in which we can make intergenerational connections that bring healing, hope, and laughter to the children around us. Amen.

Rev. O. I. Cricket Harrison
Minister of Music and Spiritual Formation
Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of  Christ)
Odessa, Texas

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Satisfied with Plenty

Wouldn’t it be great if we were all satisfied with plenty? That we ate until our bellies were full, that we had a great roof over our head, and clothes to spare, and that love abounded around us from all sides.

Sadly, that is not the case.  Many children do not know what being satisfied is like: mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

God of plenty, crown us with faithful love and compassion that we may feed the children around us to be the best of our ability. Help us to care for them until all their needs are met.

Rev. Kim Crowley
Associate Minister
Seventh Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Richmond, Virginia

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Who’s On Your Side?

Children live under different circumstances. Some don’t know God.  

Luckily God knows and loves all of us.  Like a father who is always there looking out for you, God is the one on whom you can count. Who else would you want on your side? Friends come and go, favorites change, but God is forever. You can’t shake, lose, or hide the love. 

God is a balance beam that helps you understand and control surroundings.  No matter what happens God is there and with you every step of the way.  We often forget God will provide and care for all of God’s children. Don’t lose faith, hope is here. Better times are always around the corner.

Heavenly Father, please help me to remember that life is a roller coaster, ups and downs, but through it all you are right beside me.  Hold my hand and help me understand the world in which we live.  Guide me through with eyes of a child, who can only see the beauty in everything.  Amen.

Michelle Brown
Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Cleveland, Ohio

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God's Choice

This just may be one of the most painful passages in the Bible. Ancient traditions of inheritance and status tear a family apart. A father chooses between two of his children and their mothers, putting a mother and a child in peril. 

Yet, God chooses to love each of them, offering hope and the promise of the greatest of gifts . . . generations as plentiful as the stars.

Holy One who moves throughout time, throughout human chaos and crises, hear the cries of our children. There are so many children who have lost their hope and who fear the coming of the night. Encircle them with your love, that they might know the peace of your presence. Amen.

Rev. Tamalyn Kralman
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Bellingham, WA

Monday, September 10, 2012

That's Not Fair!

Genesis 16: 1-16

A common verse in a child’s vocabulary is, “that’s not fair!” This refrain could’ve been uttered by the slave-girl Hagar, who conceived a child for Abram, only to be dealt with harshly by Sarai. Life is NOT fair!

What makes one school have technology, supplies and hope for the future while another rots in decay, disarray and sadness? Where is the ‘Justice for all’ in the education system? Students have the promise of free public education, but all education systems are not created equally. Is one child more worthy of the necessities of a good education than any other? Not likely? It’s just not fair!

God does not promise fairness. God’s call to humanity is to be the hands and feet, eyes and ears, heart and voice to create a world of justice where there is none.

God of All, empower your people to see the world as you see it, to hear the cries of human despair, to love as you love, and to work to bring your justice to all. Amen.

Rev. Tracy Parker
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Paris, Kentucky

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who Will Be My Voice?

Luke 18: 15-17

I am the bored child who has been tested and approved for a Talented and Gifted program that doesn't exist because my school cannot afford it. Who will be my voice?

I am the withdrawn, at-risk child who has finally discovered music as a way to express myself, only to have that program ripped from my grasp because of funding. Who will be my voice?

I am an intelligent child who can think and laugh like you, but because my body does not cooperate, my special needs teacher does not know my capabilities. Who will be my voice?

I am the new child who does not know this type of math. I sit on the outskirts of a classroom with too many kids, labeled as the troublemaker because no one has the time to explain it to me.  Who will be my voice?

Dear Lord, you said to let the children come, to not hold them back. Our children are being held back Lord. Help us to be the voices that cry out for their educational needs. Help us to make a difference so our children can thrive as you intended.

Laurie Lea Dyer
Director of Children’s Ministries
Salem First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Salem, Oregon

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tomorrow? We Pray.

A friend of mine told me that her tactic for building relationships with the women and men of the large, bureaucratic institution in which she worked was to always ask them about their children and families. Our love of children and our families, whatever form they take, is the great equalizer.

Tomorrow begins the annual Prayer Vigil for Children leading to the interfaith National Observance of Children's Sabbath. In this time of hyper-criticality, divisiveness, and partisanship, we disagree on many things but we all have families. We were all children. Some of us have adult children, some of us know only children in our places of worship, and some of us are immersed in the hectic childrearing years. 

All of us have a responsibility to raise children and support those who raise children. Jesus reminds us that we are to open our children's path to the Divine. We are to let the children come to him and avoid placing a stumbling block before even a single child. 

During the next seven weeks join with me in praying daily for all of our children.

Find Daily Meditations

Posted by Tim Graves.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vigil Begins Sunday

The annual Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil begins Sunday. The vigil leads up to the interfaith Children's Sabbath celebrations the weekend of October 19-21.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Light a Candle Meditation Booklet Ready for Download

The 2012 Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil meditation booklet is available for download. Simply click on the 2012 Meditations tab above.

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Printable Booklet Coming Friday

As I edit and layout the Light A Candle for Children Prayer Vigil meditation booklet, I am touched by the passion of the varied Disciples who are sharing their gifts for children. I'm excited about this resource which will be available for everyone by the end of the week. 

Read the meditations each day, sign up for rss, or download the full printable booklet (by Friday) at: OR follow the Vigil on Twitter at


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2012 Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil

Sunday, September 9 through Sunday, October 21, 2012

A new meditation booklet will be available the first of September. Daily blog posts will begin on September 9th.  You may want to look at the following resources as you plan for the 2012 Light a Candle for Children prayer vigil and the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths.

Children's Defense Fund Children's Sabbath Page

Disciples Home Missions Light a Candle Page

National Council of Churches