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.

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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.