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