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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Right Blend

Day 29: October 13, 2013

Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” Each moment of a child’s life is a treasure, and an opportunity for growth and adventure. Children need space to discover their dreams and gifts. What looks like the terrible twos or adolescent rebellion may be the stirrings of a child’s vocation and discovery of their life’s work.

It’s difficult to give children space, especially in a world in which we are constantly bombarded by threats. Still, a child needs room to be her or himself, to go on adventures of the spirit to places never traveled, and to delight in the unexpected wonders of life. We need to be watchful while providing space for adventure.

Mary let go and came to treasure what at first seemed like teenage rebellion. She trusted God and her child Jesus enough to let him go and let him grow as God’s beloved child, the inspiration for our own beloved children.

Adventurous God, help us to let go so our children may grow. Awaken us to the right blend of order and novelty, structure and freedom, and security and risk.  Help us to grow so that our children might flourish. Let us together embrace our identity as God’s beloved. In the name of the growing Jesus. Amen.

Bruce Epperly
South Congregational Church
Centerville, MA

Author of Letters to my Grandson

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Swerve Often

Day 28: October 12, 2013

“If you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path.”
-Mary Webb

The disciples’ sternness in this passage is not their only foible. It is only a symptom of a deeper and more tragic truth. As human beings, we are often afraid to swerve from the most comfortable and secure paths. Being afraid of the unknown, we can fall into the trap of excluding others from our party, particularly strangers, minorities, outcasts, and little children.

Jesus instructs the disciples to stop and be kind, even if it means swerving from the path. Indeed, he urges openness and inclusion for all, but especially for children.

Receiving the Kingdom of God means to welcome the unexpected and greet change kindly. Redirecting can be hard sometimes, but somewhat easier if we remember we are all created children of God.

Loving Creator, We who are fearfully and wonderfully made often forget to be open. Out of fear or doubt, we exclude what is different and overlook the invitation to be kind. Rekindle in us a spirit of adventure, a mind for acceptance, welcoming hands, and affirming hearts. In your many Holy names, Amen.

Rev. Shayanna Jolly
Crittenden Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Crittenden, Kentucky

Friday, October 11, 2013

Shoots of Hope

Day 27: October 11, 2013

When I was a child, I participated in a 4-H program where I learned how to plant, nurture, and harvest strawberries. The strawberry plants had “runners” where new berries would emerge. If one is not careful, the strawberries could take over the garden fairly quickly.

The prophet proclaims “a shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse, a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah is striking in his depiction of the tensions between violence, peace, destruction, and hope. What stands in its center is the child.

The shoots of humanity are full of violence, despair, abuse, and death. These are the branches in which we are accustomed to abide. The hope for our future, “the child,” forces us out of this logic of the world and to accept that a different kind of world is possible. A world where hopelessness does not infest the ground, but instead peace, and with peace, children who live to their full potential is possible.

God of peace, The ways of the world are not your ways; bring us to a new understanding of your will for humanity.  Your prophet proclaims that future generations will not hurt the earth or destroy each other through knowledge of you. Lead us to make this vision a reality. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Christopher D. Rodkey
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
Dallastown, PA

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eager Sharing

Day 26: October 10, 2013

Anyone who lives with, works with, or knows a two-year old understands we are not innately born knowing how to share. However, once children learn the skill they are eager to share all they have with us, whether we want those little treasures or not. It is fitting that this boy eagerly shared his gifts of two fish and five loaves. Adults would see the lack of food and hesitate to share with the large crowd.

Jesus saw the gift the way the boy saw the bread and fish: more than enough. Thanks be to God!

Gracious God, Thank you for the children who teach us to eagerly share our gifts. Thank you for those who see the world through the understanding of children. Point our attention to the simple acts of shared faith so that we can see the ways you make simplicity into more than enough. Amen.

Molly Goodrich
Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
 Weatherford, TX

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Day 25: October 9, 2013

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, 
and he was able to stand. Mark 9:27 NRSV

Holding hands is the first thing we teach children to do. Before we try to get them to smile or talk we are putting our fingers into their tiny palms and waiting for the grasp of their little fingers to tighten. When they get old enough to pull themselves up, we are right there holding their hands to help them stand. 

When they take their first steps our hands are right within reach of their fingers. When they cross the street or the parking lot our hands are always open for theirs to fit into. There’s a connection made.

There’s a feeling of love and safety, even healing in the act of hand holding.   

God, Help us to offer our hands to the boys and girls of this world who have no hand to hold. Help us to make a connection, to extend healing and security and support and, above all else, everlasting love. Amen.

Rev. Samantha Houser
Zion United Church of Christ
Waukon, IA

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Persistence for Children

Day 24: October 8, 2013

In Jesus’ time, custom dictated that the Hebrew people and Gentiles had limited contact with one another. Men and women also did not have direct contact except within families.  

In this scripture lesson, Jesus is alone when a woman comes into the room. She is not only a woman, she is also a Gentile. Jesus looks at her because she should not be there. This woman knows that also. However, her daughter is very sick. So instead of being afraid of custom, she comes to ask Jesus to heal her daughter.

Though Jesus first goes along with the rules about relationships, the woman will not give up.  Finally, Jesus agrees and heals her child. How great it would be if we would all be as persistent as this woman when it comes to helping a child!

God in communion, Holy One, help us share your unconditional love for all people -- children, women, and men -- all people.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wes Morgan
Peachtree Corners Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Norcross, Georgia

Monday, October 7, 2013

Do Not Fear, Only Believe!

Day 23: October 7, 2013

It is hard to look at this world and not have fear in your heart. It is hard to believe that things can be better, that war can end and peace prevail. It is hard to think that one person can make a difference.

Jesus says: “Do not fear, only believe.” Trust God to make things right in the end. Believe that God can work through you. Believe that you can bring peace to the life of a child. Focus on one child at a time and let God’s peace ripple out into the world.

O God, help us to believe, to believe in you, to believe that peace will come to this world, to believe that we can make a difference one small step at a time. Help us to help the children who will carry peace forward into the future. Amen.

Donna J. Hanby
Springboro UCC
Pilgrim South UCC
Springboro, Ohio

Sunday, October 6, 2013

God's Messenger

Day 22: October 6, 2013

Called the “weeping prophet,” Jeremiah was aware of both the sinful behavior of his people and the anger and frustration of God at their disobedience. Even though the ancient people of Judah attended temple worship, they had become entrenched and comfortable. Their traditions led them away from heartfelt worship of God in spirit and truth. They ignored God’s command to seek justice and provide care for the orphans, widows, and aliens. 

Like the ancient people of Jeremiah’s day, we, too, can have good intentions toward God and others as we faithfully attend church and follow the rules of our tradition. But when we allow idolatrous attachments and misplaced values to get in the way of true love for God and others, we, like the ancient Israelites, need to examine our intentions and relationship with God and others. 

Through God’s grace and guidance, we can be like the prophet Jeremiah, finding the courage to speak God’s message of truth and justice for all of God’s children. 

Holy God of Justice and Mercy, grant us the wisdom to recognize and the courage to speak out against unjust systems that oppress and harm your children. Grant us grace to be your messengers of hope to a world in which poverty and violence abound. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Karen Cote
Guyton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Guyton, Georgia

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Composition of a King

Day 21: October 5, 2013

How does a kid from the backwater of Bethlehem escape his mundane, sheep-filled existence to become king? David’s gift for music brought him into the royal court. Whoever nurtured David’s musical ability, opened up a world of possibilities. 

Where better to learn the day to day workings of a kingdom than at the side of the current king?  His music brought comfort and not just to Saul. During some of his loneliest moments David turned to his music. 

When we work to ensure music and the arts continue to be available to children, the results will be unimaginable; kind of like a shepherd king!   

God, we are your instruments. Help us to nourish the bodies, minds, and souls of our children so that your symphony will one day be heard with the clarity that you envision. Amen.

Tammy Nelson
Northern California Nevada Conference, UCC
Hayward, CA

Friday, October 4, 2013

Words of Love From Friends

Day 20: October 4, 2013

Have you ever been told something about a friend that is so awful that you’re afraid to talk to that person about it? I remember this happened to me as a child. I felt like I had a burden thrust upon me and I was afraid to talk to anyone about it. 

I imagine that Samuel felt the same way after God told him Eli and his family were about to be punished. Just like Samuel talked to Eli, I talked to my friend. After I unburdened myself, my friend told me to let the other person say what they need to say. They will eventually do what is right, my friend predicted. 

I think about how words can carry love and strive to make my words show love.

God, as we go about our daily lives, let our words show peace and love as we speak. Magnify your blessings to those we speak.

Marcus L. King
Hilton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 
Newport News, VA

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Listening for Someone Else’s Call

Day 19: October 3, 2013

Perhaps the most important message Eli gave to anyone was to tell young Samuel that it was the Most High God who was calling in the night.

A few days after the movie theater shootings in Colorado, a young girl worked on her craft project for Vacation Bible School. The children were decorating friendship gift bags to hold handmade gifts and snacks for residents at a nearby retirement complex. 

She was thinking seriously as she sought to make her glitter glue swirls come out just right. She asked hesitantly, “Do you believe God wants to love everyone and be their friend?” I said I believed that. She continued, “What about that man who hurt all those people?” I told her that not everyone wants to be friends with God. She was quiet for a time then said simply, “I’m going to pray for all the hurt people and especially that man; he must be hurting, too.”

Holy One, As grown-up companions of the children you have placed in our care, help us remember that your call goes out to all people and is not age-specific. Help us be ready to identify your call and claim on our lives. Lead us to ways of supporting children’s efforts to live in your holy peace. Amen.

Ola I. Cricket Harrison
Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

That Each Child May Follow Where God Calls

Day 18: October 2, 2013

Every 29 seconds a child is born into poverty. Many are cared for and loved. In desperation, some are sold. Hannah was the object of abuse from her husband’s second wife who gave Elkanah children. When Hannah finally bore Samuel, for whatever reason, she didn't keep him. Eli took the boy in, gave him a chance to follow his call.

Every child deserves the chance to grow up and discover his or her calling. Neither poverty nor race, parent’s education nor vocation should hinder the next Samuel or Samantha from becoming the person God is calling them to be.

We pray for each of our children, born in home or hospital, in whatever circumstance the miracle of life is revealed. We pray for ample opportunity for education and nurture, sustenance and flourishing, and the encouragement to listen for and follow your call. Amen.

David Cobb
Spirit of Joy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lakeville, Minnesota

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Make Me Laugh

Day 17: October 1, 2013

Such a potent, powerful action from God. When God gives the seed, whether planted in a womb or planted in a garden, what wondrous bounty results! “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh.” (Gen. 21:6a KJV) 

What a bounty of laughter and love is in the bond between Sarah and her child. In her old age, Sarah is given the joy of a child to laugh with and to nurse. I imagine this joy of laughter contagiously infecting the entire community. 

What does a womb share with a sword? Each one can change hearts and lives. God changes a barren womb to one charged with life. Humanity has the power to change a sword into an implement to break the hard, barren soil so potent seeds can be planted and be transformed into plants of food. What do we want for our children?  Peace and plenty and lots of laughter.  

God, Creator and source of seeds of all kinds, may our desire be to laugh with you! May our love for you lead us to actions that result in loving, happy homes and gardens of plenty. Where there is violence, let us create and sow the seeds of peace as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus to express your love to everyone. Amen.

Brenda Matkin
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Huntsville, AL

Monday, September 30, 2013

All the Time & Everywhere!

Day 16: September 30, 2013

When and where are we to teach children about God? All the time and everywhere! 

As a child everything is new and exciting. Everything can become a teachable moment when it comes to sharing the love of God. Our children cannot learn about God only one day a week at church, the home must be a place where children can learn and grow in their faith daily. 

If we want children to love and follow God, we must make God a part of our own everyday experiences.

God, help me each day to teach the children in my life about your love. Guide me as I walk with you and lead my children to walk with you. Help me to work together with others in my church to build up the body of Christ. Amen.

Rev. Laura West
Associate Minister to Children and Families
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Huntsville, AL 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Independence & Dependence

Day 15: September 29, 2013

We’re told, “Ask God for what you need. Be persistent!” Thinking we can do it on our own, we sometimes struggle asking God for help.

Children struggle, too. They want to do things themselves, yet still need help. We need to be aware of the children around us and their needs. Sometimes children just know they need but are unable to name it. In those times, we can give a hug, pat on the back, or a handshake. We can let children know we love them...and that God loves them. 

Holy Parent, help us to be persistent in asking for what we need. May we be good examples to the children around us. May the children in our world know they can depend on us and on you. Amen. 

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

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying"

Day 14: September 28, 2013

“Lord, listen to your children praying,
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, listen to your children praying...
Send us love, send us pow’r, send us grace.”
(Hymn by Ken Medema)

Rachel is weeping for her children and their suffering. God tells her to cease her crying and remember that she gave birth to a nation. There is hope even in the midst of darkness. 

Like Rachel, we pray for children. We ask to feel God’s presence in their lives and hope for a better life for them. But how do we create a peaceful world for them? Love. We love. We love them, we love our neighbors, we love our enemies, and we love our earth. We love, we love, we love, and we ask for the power and grace to do it again and again. 

Dear Everlasting God, Send your Spirit in the darkness and in the light. May we strive to establish the kind of world that our children deserve, that our children’s children deserve. May we never cease to love, because sharing your love is the answer. Amen.

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

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wisdom of Empathy

Day 13: September 27, 2013

Children often fight over toys and caregivers intervene with rules or regulations. Empathy, however, requires more than policing.  Empathy requires understanding the pain and suffering experienced by another. Solomon’s demand that the women divide the child with a sword ignites compassion within the mother of the living child.  She is willing to let go of her child to allow him to live.  

As she contemplated her son’s life and death, did this mother also have deep compassion for the grieving mother, the mother who had already lost her son?  Perhaps the wisdom of Solomon’s question led her to this path of empathy as well. 

Holy One, Give us questions as wise as Solomon’s so that we may ignite the fire of deep compassion that flickers within every child. Amen.

Rev. Sara Rosenau 
First Congregational UCC
Portland, OR 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paying Attention

Day 12: September 26, 2013

On October 1, 2012, Marguerite Washington, age 18, was murdered in New Orleans while she slept, caught in the crossfire of a feud between boys. She taught Sunday School at church. She babysat my children. 

Since before the days of Moses, countless children like Marguerite have drowned in the rivers of violence. So many children have died, we don’t even notice. But one day along the Nile, three brave women paid attention, and Moses lived. Today, instead of letting Marguerite’s death become another statistic, a church rallies against violence on their streets. They paid attention.

Too many children have died. Too many children are at risk. We must pay attention.

Saving God, the numbers of fallen children are too many. Give us the courage of the three women who saved Moses, that we may pay attention to every child drowning, and do all we can to draw them out of the waters of violence. Amen.

Rev. Travis Stanley
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Abilene, Texas

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Less Hindrance, More Help

Day 11: September 25, 2013

Who are we to hinder the children of the world? Though not intentionally, we are sometimes a roadblock to children. When we fail as a society to make the world a better place for our children, we hinder them by default.

Instead, let us measure our political, economic, and social strides by the difference that they will make for generations to come. Let us make the necessary changes to protect our children from perils such as gun violence and poverty. 

Just as heaven belongs to children, this great earth belongs to them as well. Let it be so.

Holy Parent, Just as Jesus claimed that heaven belongs to the children, let us remember that the earth belongs to them as well. Guide us in creating change that makes the world a safe and loving place, free of violence and poverty. Give us a fiery passion to help children, the most vulnerable and cherished among us. Amen.

Kristen Provost Switzer
Member in Discernment
Monroe Congregational Church, UCC
Monroe, CT 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did I Do Good?

Day 10: September 24, 2013

Children crave recognition from the adults in their lives. They need to know they are valued and loved. They need to hear that they are “goodon a regular basis. We can get so distracted that we neglect to nurture the developing soul of the children in our lives. Not only let children know when they do good, let them know that they are very good. They are good even when they make mistakes. 

I suggest that we who are adults still have a child within us. That child also needs to feel loved. We need to be told we are very good as well. While we remember to nurture the children in our lives, let us not forget that child within each of us. That child, too, asks, “Did I do good?” Yes my child. Yes.  You did very good indeed.  

Holy God, Please heal the hurts of our inner-child. Heal us so that we can be a blessing to the children in our lives.  Bless the children, oh Beautiful Savior.  Let them receive the earthly reward of sincere praise as we know we will receive the Heavenly reward of your eternal praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Rev. Brian D. Morse
Director of Spiritual Care
Truman Medical Centers - Lakewood
Kansas City, MO

Monday, September 23, 2013

Waters of Challenge

Day 9: September 23, 2013

I think of this passage whenever I participate in the congregational response to an infant baptism. What if we were to promise to remove the stumbling blocks that our and prior generations have deposited, and make the paths smooth?  

If so, it would seem that the baptismal promises that we invoke are directed beyond the dampened child before us: they are covenants with the child’s whole generation. Our baptismal promises are inherently political, promising that we will take an active role in constructing the Kingdom of God.  

God of promise: Lead us to live out our own baptisms in ways that the baptisms we witness, call us out of our comfort zones of desires for personal salvation and nostalgia. Move us toward a world where Christ is revealed as making all things new.  Guide and challenge us as we pray with the words spoken at our own baptism:  in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Christopher D. Rodkey
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
Dallastown, PA

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Despair, Anguish, & Hope

Day 8: September 22, 2013

Like Hagar’s despair and cries of anguish, parents feel hopelessness when they hear gunshots out their windows, when they are unable to place food before their starving children, and when the bully at school hurts their child yet again.  But God has not abandoned these children and parents.  

God hears their voices just as God heard the voices of Hagar and her young son, Ishmael. God opens Hagar’s eyes, provides what she needs at that moment: the promise of a future. The boy who has been cast out is God’s child. Nothing can change that. 

As God’s people, it is our responsibility to provide safe, caring, and nurturing homes for all children. When this task seems impossible, we must remain vigilant. When we cry out, God hears us and responds. Let our eyes be opened as we strive to care for the children of God.

Gracious God,  Help us open ourselves to see beyond hopelessness. Guide us to the well of water which sustains and brings us back from the point of despair as we seek to protect all children from dangers. Amen.

Lisa Setty
Children and Youth Pastor
Overland Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Overland Park, KS 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sharing is Praying

Day 7: September 21, 2013

It’s hard to remember to pray. I try to give God thanks before every meal, when I wake up, and when I’m preparing for bed. But it’s just as easy to feel guilty and ashamed when we forget or are too exhausted from the day’s work.

Thankfully, our God has given us other ways to give thanks and praise to our Creator. The prophet Isaiah explains that we may also give praise to God by sharing what we have with others. Isaiah wants us to know that God sees our “light breaking forth” whenever and wherever we practice justice, love, and liberation. A mouthful of food might get between us and our daily prayers, but when the table is shared with others the meal itself becomes a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Holy and Merciful God, we give you thanks.  Guide our hands and feet, O Lord, that we might seek out those in the world who are standing in need of our presence.  Help us become ambassadors of your love and justice.  Help us remember to pray, not only with our lips, Lord, but with our whole being. Amen.

Rev. Nathan Dannison
First Congregational Church, UCC
Kalamazoo, MI

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hope Will Not Perish

Day 6: September 20, 2013

Though harsh and difficult to swallow, the Psalmist tells us we cannot depend exclusively on self-reliance. Instead, we’re called to depend on the Lord who hears and supports us.  

So together, we give thanks for God’s willingness to side with those living against the odds in the midst of our non-peaceful world.  Whatever that “non-peace” is called, or from where it comes, we trust that evil, iniquity, violence, and sin will not thwart God’s work in the world.

Just as Zion was a dwelling place for the Divine, we trust that we too are a dwelling place for your Spirit, O God.  Protect us, and our children, as we depend on you.  For we know that our trust is in you and that, “the needy will not always be forgotten, nor will the hope of the poor perish.”  Amen.

Rev. Laura Phillips
Associate Minister
Overland Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Overland Park, KS

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hide and Seek

Day 5: September 19, 2013

As a child, I played Hide and Seek with my grandmother and sister. I preferred being the one hiding. Seeking required more effort.

Seeking good requires extra effort, too. Yet, Amos tells us we must do it so we may live. Seeking good not only allows us to live but others, too. Amos would say this is one game of Hide and Seek that is worth the extra effort.

Gracious God, For a world where all children can play Hide and Seek, we pray. For a world where children can seek good and not live in fear, we pray. Help us establish justice in your gate, so all may live. Amen. 

Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto
United Church of Christ Minister
serving St. Giles Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)
Raleigh, NC

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 8-Year-Old Prophet

Day 4: September 18, 2013

The scripture seems clear: share what you have with others. While it’s simple to remember the material and financial, I believe today’s prophet would add the emotional.

I counsel camp to give back. This summer I got more than I gave. An 8-year-old girl came up to me and said, “you’re pretty” and left. It was a simple exchange. She gave of herself, leaving behind more power and love than she will ever know. 

She reminds us of the power we hold to not only share of the material but also of our core being, where God dwells within all.

You who dwell deep within all of Creation, remind us to give of our whole selves to a world in need. Amen.

Rev. Kate West
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Des Moines, IA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Measure Up, While Growing Up

Day 3: September 17, 2013

On the chimney in the attic of the parsonage are the names and heights of children who grew up here long ago. We have done the same on a doorway on the second floor.  Measuring one’s height and age in comparison to siblings is something many have done.

We like to know how we measure up. God invites us to use justice and righteousness as the measuring stick of our lives. Built upon the foundation of faith in God, we can trust that we will be bearers of peace as we grow in our faith.

Holy God, help us to see your standards, presented in your word.  Help us to trust that in living according to your word, we will make a difference in the world for all. Amen.

Jeffrey S. Dick
First Congregational Church, UCC
South Haven, MI

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Hubba What?" --Super Grover 2.0

Day 2: September 16, 2013

Isaiah 3:4-9

Super Grover 2.0, a superhero version of Sesame Street’s Grover, “uses his superpowers of investigating, observing, and reporting to solve problems and help others.”(1) Sent to investigate questions causing problems for other characters, Super Grover is not really the intellectual superhero his title claims. He solves problems by accident. He is an everyday character who is going through life, like all the other characters, asking questions like, “Hubba What?” 

Isaiah causes a “Hubba What?” response when he says those in charge should not be in charge, those who are going to be in charge are not ready, and that some are refusing to be in charge.  Nobody trusts or respects anyone else, no one wants to take blame, and everyone is caught up in an evil mess. Sound familiar?

Like those in Judah, we at times create a mess. We try to help our world, but often make a bigger mess for those in the future.  We are afraid that those who look at the world we are creating for the future are going to look at us and say, “Hubba What?” 

But this is the beginning of Isaiah. It is not the end. Once we include God in what we do and in what we teach our children, we have hope. With God, we can be like Super Grover 2.0 who accidentally solves problems. 

O God, with your power may we be accidental superheroes for children, just like Grover. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove
Minister of Family and Children’s Ministries
Disciples Home Missions
Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beating Swords into Plowshares: Creating a Peaceful World with Children

Day 1: September 15, 2013

“…walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, … for your own well-being.”

When we think of creating a peaceful world with children, we need to let the children take the lead. Children can show us how to create and enter into this peaceful world. 

For many reasons, children, more than adults, are able to listen to the wise words, “for your own well-being.”  Children inherently understand that loving, serving, and following God is a way of deep peace. They inherently understand it is for their own and others’ well being.  We as adults so often forget that God’s teachings are good for us, are what is best for us, and are what will indeed bring peace.  

I pray, let the children show us. Amen. 

Rev. Olivia Stewart Robertson
Minister of Family and Children’s Ministries
Disciples Home Missions
Indianapolis, IN

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making Sure You Get the Meditations

The daily devotions are available via 

Twitter: Follow @pray4children
Facebook: Go to and "like" the page. 

You can also download all of them as a pdf at

They begin posting to the blog at 2:00 a.m. PDT on Sunday, September 15th.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rationale for the Light a Candle Prayer Vigil

Prayer matters. Prayer communicates with the still-speaking God about our concerns and worries in this fragmented world. Writes Bruce Epperly,  “Prayer is simply opening to God’s life within your life. Prayer is listening to Divine  Wisdom and then expressing our deepest desires and needs for ourselves and the world.” (1)

This meditation book is designed to help focus prayer on creating a peaceful world in which children can live and grow. As faithful people, let us focus special prayers on our deepest desires for the needs of children. Let us listen for the voice of the Divine so that we might hear and become co-creators of a peaceful world for children.

Rev. Tim Graves, Editor & Project Coordinator
Condon United Church of Christ,
Condon, Oregon

(1) Epperly, Bruce. Listening to God’s Whispered Word in Prayer and Meditation. (accessed August 22, 2013).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

About Light a Candle Prayer Vigil Meditations

The meditations represent the commitment of clergy and lay people associated with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 1989, the UCC and Disciples approved a historic partnership of full communion. The two churches proclaimed mutual recognition of their sacraments and ordained ministry. This ministry represents a common ministry of the two distinct denominations.

Friday, September 6, 2013

2013 Light a Candle Theme: Beating Swords Into Plowshares

The Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil begins five weeks before the National Observance of Children’s Sabbath sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, Washington, DC. Thousands of congregations from multiple faith groups unite during Children’s Sabbath weekend to simultaneously witness for children through prayer, education, and worship. 

The 2013 theme for National Observance of Children’s Sabbath is set each year by the Children’s Defense Fund. The theme this year is Beating Swords Into Plowshares: Ending the Violence of Guns and Child Poverty. A variety of materials to help you with your observance of Children’s Sabbath -- including a downloadable manual -- is available at

The theme for Light a Candle is broader than the Children’s Sabbath theme. Swords Into Plowshares: Creating Peace with Children recognizes the impact of gun violence and poverty on children while also recognizing that children themselves have something to contribute to the discussion. The broader theme also recognizes that violence against children manifests not only in guns and poverty but suicide, child abuse, hunger anxiety, inadequate education, and in many other ways. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

PDF of All Meditations Available for Download

Light a Candle for Children is an advocacy & prayer vigil project that invites congregations to join in Days of Prayer for Children. It is a project of the Family & Children’s Ministries Partnership of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

You can read the daily meditations for the Light a Candle Prayer Vigil between September 15 and October 20 on this blog. (You can also sign up for daily email or the RSS feed.) The printable pdf book of all the meditations is available by clicking on the link in the bar above marked "2013 Book" or at this direct link

The printable book is suitable for sharing with folks who are not online.