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.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Meditation Book Available for Download Sept. 5

The printable Light a Candle for Children Meditation Book will be available for download by noon PDT tomorrow. You will be able to download a pdf at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On Its Way...Promise.

The full 2013 booklet is not quite ready for download. (I know it was supposed to be ready by September 1.) Please check back in a day or two as the final edits are completed.

Thank you for your patience.