Friday, September 30, 2016

September 30: Acceptance

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.” - Mark 1:40-45

There are so many layers to the story of Jesus healing the Leper, but I think it is important that we hear this, “I choose you.” Do you see? “A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’” Jesus chooses the Leper. He chooses to heal him, to touch him, to accept him exactly for who he is. God knows us to be perfect exactly as we are created. No matter our age or the way we look or who likes us and who doesn’t. There is nothing that comes between us and God, and God’s willingness to meet us right where we are. God continually chooses us over and over again and that is good news. Even with all our perceived faults, God chooses us, arm stretched out reaching. Upon seeing us exactly as we are, God reaches a hand out to us with full acceptance of exactly who we are. Now that’s love.

You are chosen, just as you are, loved uniquely for who you are, healed and made whole.
Heather Tolleson serves as minister of First Christian Church in Katy, Texas. She has also served as Regional Staff for Youth and Children's Ministries in Arizona. She studied at Texas Christian University and completed her M.Div at Brite Divinity School.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29: Let’s Play Together!

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, “humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” - Colossians 3: 12 – 15
In the current world in which we live, we’re more likely to witness or experience messages that divide the children of God from one another. These messages often encourages one to remain separated from the other at all cost, and never enter the same playground or band to play together. Sometimes this separation is due to the complexities and challenges associated with race, culture, economics, interest, fear, stigma, the clothes we wear, and yes, even the things that we might’ve received from our family of origin. Children separate from the other for a host of reasons, which prevents one from playing, singing, or dancing together with those who aren’t like them. Why is it so hard for children of our world to accept one another? Why do so many struggle with acceptance? Aren’t we made in the image of God? Are we called and challenged by Jesus Christ to show compassion and demonstrate love despite our differences? Though there are differences among the many children of the world, there are so many similarities, and those give a richness to our world and to the glory of God. Though our interest and who we are might’ve been developed through and by different experiences, ALL still belong to God. Our individual and collective identities and contributions are for the greater good of God’s world. Our children are simply precious gifts on the playground and notes and instruments in the band. Though they might sound odd, look strange and even create a noisy sound by themselves, together they produce melodies of hope. Our children can play together. Jesus wants our children to accept one another and play together as means of transforming our world by and with love.
Dear God, we ask that you remind children and adults that though we are different and unique, come in all shapes and colors, and are shaped by very different experiences, each belong to you and one another. Help us transform the world by playing together in love. In Jesus name. Amen!
Derrick L. Perkins, M.Div.
is the father of Aliyah Perkins, Derrick L. Perkins, II, and Andrew Perkins. He’s married to Bridget Perkins. The Perkins family are all native St. Louisans. He’s currently the Senior Servant & Pastor of Centennial Christian Church (DOC) in St. Louis, MO and has served in the pastoral office for 8 almost 9 years.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28: Cats and Dogs Can Be Friends!

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  - 2 Corinthians 12:3-5

Have you ever seen a perfect picture of a cat and a dog? 

They look so cute, right?! Can you think of a reason why people would love seeing a cat and a dog who are happy to be next to each other?  I can think of one: it is because commonly, cats and dogs do not get along well.  One of the  reasons why cats and dogs do not get along well is because they are different.  They have so many differences, including that they eat different foods and react differently to people, and even compete for their attention.  It is similar with humans, we are different in many ways, but this does not mean that we can not be friendly to each other.  When we are friendly we share the peace and love of God.  It does not matter how different someone might be from you, we need to respect each other's differences and by doing this we promote peace, and we show love for one another.  2 Corinthians 12: 3-5 says that we can help our world be a better world if we use God’s love to get rid of what is bad, and that God’s love is stronger than anything.  So, it is possible for cats and dogs to be friendly to each other,  and it is possible for you to love, respect and be friendly with people you know are different from you.  

Dear God, help me respect other’s differences and be friendly even to people who might not have things in common with me.  Help me love and respect each person for who they are because I want to live and share your peace. In Christ’s precious name, Amen.

Nancy Cordova-Molina
attends Casa de Oracion Christian Church in San Diego California.  She is completing a M.A in Peace and Justice Studies, and uses music to share a positive message of love, peace and justice. (; )
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27: Trust in God

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13
Often, even as a child of Christ, I find myself doubting the things that I do. As I come to crossroads in my life where I feel I am challenged sometimes I get scared that I can’t conquer the obstacles in front of me. Currently as I apply for colleges late into the night while also writing papers and completing assignments I’m at one of those crossroads. The town I go to school in, Kinston, is ranked number three for violence in North Carolina. With all the bad going on here many people have doubts that anything good can come out of Kinston. Though, by going to church and feeling the holy spirit move within me my candle has been lit to bring something good out of here and to be something for Kinston to be proud of.
Often you may feel like you can’t do something, but remember that your Father will always be there for you.
Five years ago I wasn’t a member of a church or attending church regularly. Then, a wonderful youth minister Jamie Haddock came into my life and told me that the Lord can and will always provide for me if I just let him in. After a few years of becoming extremely active in my youth group and church I was baptized and became a Disciple of Christ. Now I have gone from being a person who just went to church “sometimes” to being a member of RCYW and GYC. I’ve met and taken pictures with the General Minister of the church and I’ve never been happier than I am now with Christ in my life.

Jessica Braxton is a senior at Lenoir County Early College in Kinston, North Carolina. She is a member of the General Youth Coucil, Regional Cabinet of Youth Work, and president of her local Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26: God's Protection

We are all Columbine. My first thought that day was for the mothers who didn’t get a chance to kiss and hug their children as they left for school. And then I wondered, did I kiss my husband, one of the teachers, as he left for work that morning

Violence can happen anywhere. Many of us in the Columbine area now make sure we hug and kiss our children and spouses as they leave each day for school and when they return home in the afternoon. No matter what the day holds, God is our refuge and our love for family and community sends us forward with love, and welcomes us home with gratitude. 

We can’t prevent what is going to happen, but we can be strong each day knowing that God loves us, our family loves us and we are blessed abundantly. Sharing love with each other and with community will end the violence, we hope.

Thank you God for protecting us when there is trouble and for blessing us with family and community that loves us abundantly.  Amen.

Rev. Marcia Meier
lives and serves churches and communities in the Central Rocky Mountain Region.  She has been married to Steve for 33 years and is mother to 2 boys in their 20's.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25: Making New Friends

Luke19:1-10 - Why Doesn’t Anybody Pay Attention to ME?
Zacchaeus had a reputation in Jericho as a bully. He may have been small in size, but he made up for it in meanness. At least, that’s what everybody said.
Then Jesus came to Jericho, and he noticed Zacchaeus sitting in a tree all by himself. Jesus stopped and talked to him, and even went home to his house. Nobody else in Jericho was happy about that – except Zacchaeus!
It turns out that Zacchaeus never felt right about how badly he treated others, but it took somebody who would notice him to get him to change. Jesus got to know him better and after that Zacchaeus was practically a brand new person. Right away he began to treat his neighbors better.
Maybe you know someone like Zacchaeus, someone who has been really mean to others but inside feels really bad about it. Or maybe that person, in fact, is you. Do you really want to stay lonely, or would you rather make a new friend?
Light a candle to remind yourself that it’s important to make new friends.
Adults: Turning a person away from violence can begin with spending a few minutes together, listening without judging, and giving them a chance to start again. Zacchaeus got that chance from Jesus.
Bill Jacobs
is Transitional lnterim Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Medford, Oregon. He loves it when church people try to make new friends of different ages and backgrounds, just in the same way that Jesus did.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24: A "Little" Praise

“God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult."
Psalm 46:1-3
In conversation with my mentor one Sunday afternoon, we were discussing the free spirited nature displayed by my two year old daughter Amaris just earlier in the day. We talked about how comfortable Amaris has become with sitting through and enduring the length of Sunday morning worship services. Dr. Harris brought it to my attention that he was amazed at how Amaris appears to be freely enjoying herself in worship now. It was not long ago when we were discussing how she was reluctant to even leave the pew where we sit each week. That's not the case now! This little lady is leaving her mark Sunday after Sunday, and everyone notices it. It's not the little pieces of paper she leaves torn in the sanctuary floor, that causes people to shake their heads. It's not the residue of whatever snack she enjoyed that morning, that makes the custodian cringe when he is cleaning up after us. However, it's the dancing in her feet, the clapping of her little hands, and the shouts of joy, "Amen...Hallelujah," without provocation, that comes out of her mouth whenever she gets "HAPPY!"
While her mother and I are shackled in fear by what our previous situation could have been in the past week, Amaris somehow at two years old, has the ability to see and feel beyond the anxiety that is thick and very much present within us, and still praise God in her own "little" way. Little way, yes! At two she's by far the smallest praiser in the place. Ha! But little praise, of course not! Even though she is the smallest, somehow she makes it a point to be known as the biggest praiser.
How: I believe Amaris sees and hears something bigger than the problem(s) that her mother and I face daily. I don't guess I could really speak for her. But maybe she truly knows that God is her "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Hmmmmmm! If this is for certain, than yes, she knows that with God there is a safe place. So when she notices something that appears to not sit right with us, through our expressions or verbal tones; because she sees God, she is able to praise big and fill our spaces with joy and laughter. And through it all, she understands that we are there to embrace her with our love, even when, to us, it seems as though the earth is changing and our mountains in life are shaking all around us.
God, give us the courage to look beyond the broken places in our life, and cause us to see you working on something that is bigger than what we face. In your love, Amen!!!
Antonio Redd is the Young Adult President for the National Convocation, and is a member of the Young Adult Commission. He the husband to a lovely wife, Erica, and they are enjoying life with their two year old daughter, Amaris.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23: Looking for the Lighthouse

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

- Psalm 139:11-12
As I reflected on these two verses from Psalm 139 I was reminded of the many times I have said, “You are safe, here in this place” to children and adults alike throughout my years in ministry. I hope it has always been true.
It does not always make sense to us that God could be bright as day even in the darkest of times. How can we find a safe place in the midst of violence or hurt, especially when we are hurt by those who should care for us the most? How can we trust that God can find us even in the darkest of places? The image of a lighthouse comes to mind. Most often, if you aren’t an avid sailor, you notice them more for their beauty against the backdrop of a blue sky. But a lighthouse is most beauty and helpful in the midst of violent wind and rain, guiding a ship back to the safe harbor.

We don’t often recognize our need for a safe “harbor” until we notice even the smallest speck of light piercing the darkness. When you find yourself in the darkness of violence and all the hurt and pain that comes with it, it can be difficult to see the light of a safe harbor. I promise you it’s there, if you are hurting look for the lighthouse, in pastors, teachers, friends, or relatives who the hold light of Christ out like a beacon. Look for the “lighthouse” someone who means it when they say, “You are safe.”

Lord of light, help me see your light in others especially when the darkness is overwhelming. Amen.
Rev. Andrea Brownlee is the Senior Pastor as First Christian Church in Perry Iowa. She has been serving in congregational ministry for 12 years and has served churches in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Iowa.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22: You Are Safe


God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
- Psalm 46:1-3 

When I was a little girl, a very long time ago, we played a game called "War" in the woods next to our school at recess.  The object of the game was to capture or “kill” all of the kids on the opposing team. I often volunteered to be in charge of guarding the prisoners.  Amid all the noise and confusion of the game, I sat peacefully on a log, knowing that I would be safe from capture or harm in that place.  Whenever a classmate was captured and placed in my care, I could assure them saying, “Don’t worry. You are safe here.”  Today when I am afraid, I seek that place within myself that feels like that clearing, that place where God resides inside me.  For God is truly my refuge and my strength. God is always with me, in times of peace and in times of trouble.  And when God is with me, I need not fear.  

Dear God, let me be with you always, for when I am with you, I am safe. 

Maria Tafoya
is Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Selma, California.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21: Finding Safety

If God is for us, who is against us?” - Romans 8:31

During the summer my husband, two children and I enjoy going canoeing at local lakes.  We pack up our canoe, maybe some snacks and often our fishing gear.  Once on the lake we rely on a few things to stay safe.  There's the pontoon attached to the side of the canoe that provides stability.  There are the life jackets that ensure security.  There's the whistle for getting others' attention in the case of an emergency.  We also do our best to move slowly, pay attention to each other and watch where we are going.  It takes a little of everything, the safety of the canoe and the safety of our actions, to make sure we don't fall out of the canoe or flip it over.
Life is similar in that we need safety, to feel safe and be safe.  It is created through our actions and through the presence of God.  Both are needed.  Both are possible.  Both will help during those moments when the waters get rough.  For it is true, God is rooting for us and does desire for us to be safe, whether we are in the middle of a lake, walking down the street or going to school.  God is for us.

God, we pray we may know you are there for us no matter what we face, helping us to find safety.  Amen.

Rev. Alicia Speidel
serves as minister at Hood River Valley Christian Church in Hood River, Oregon. She enjoys spending time with family, camping, fishing and playing games.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20: God Is a Safe Place

Read together Psalm 16.

The poets who wrote the Psalms called God a fortress, a shield, a shelter, a rock, a light, a protector, a savior, a shepherd, and a refugee. In other words, even when things are bad—and they often were bad for those poets—God is with us, helping us stay safe and be brave.

See if your library has the book TheInvisible String by Patrice Karst. Read it as a family. This lovely book reminds us that we are connected by strings of love, so we are never alone. Because God loves us, we can always find a place of refuge, safety, comfort, and courage.

Get creative with the activity below. Use the act of drawing as a time of prayer, or say a prayer based on the drawings when you are finished.

Caroline Hamilton-Arnold
serves as Associate Director of Week of Compassion and lives in New Haven, CT. Her passion is connecting people with the creative, re-creative power of the living God through stories and faithful action.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19: God is with us

All of the violence in our neighborhoods, towns, and world is sometimes too awful to think about.  When we hear of the violence, we want to do something. Many times the response is more violence because we believe that this will solve our problem. As Christians, this cannot be our response because violence doesn’t create peace.  God doesn’t call us to throw punches at the problem, God calls us to show peace and understanding. The majority of the time violence we want to use as a response stems from wanting to protect ourselves and our families.  The One who can and will protect you and your family, already is. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted , but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” and in Psalm 23:1-2 it reads, “ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still water; he restores my soul. He leads me in right path for his name’s sake.” God will keep you safe because you are God’s beloved child. God wants us to stand together, to pray together, and to work together toward peace. Even when we wake up and another tragedy has happened, we can know that God is with us.

Dear God, Thank you for being with us through all of the violence in our world. Keep us safe, as you always do. Amen.

Kate Summers is a senior at Mount Carmel High School.  She lives in Illinois with her parents, who are both pastors, and her brother who attends the University of Illinois.  Serving as the Vice Moderator for the General Youth Council, she is excited to serve as the Moderator next year. She is also a part of her Regional Youth Council, is a section leader for the Marching Aces, is treasurer for Interact, and serves on band council, the Youth Advisory Board, National Honor Society, and Aces for Christ.  Kate takes Honors classes, voice lessons, and sings in 3 choirs. In church, Kate serves as a junior deacon, is an active member of CYF, and has been going on mission trips since she was 4 years old. She plans to study Religion and English in college with hopes of going on to seminary to become a minister.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18: Providing Sanctuary

I want to turn away from all of the pictures of children suffering. Pictures of war torn countries, pictures of children who are victims of domestic violence who could live down the street. There are also other forms of violence that are less easily capture by pictures. The violence of the toxic waste dumped by a company that makes a kid sick. The violence of poisons that seep into the water and endanger an unborn child’s life in the womb. The violence of climate change that causes a famine, destabilizes governments, and leads to a civil war and thousands of refugee children. I want to turn away, to pretend like it is someone else’s problem. But we are called not just to look and lament, but to offer places of safety and sanctuary. When it comes to these other, slower forms of violence—the ones brought on by our abuse of creation—the sanctuary is not just limited to one place but it must extend to all places. To keep our children safe we must keep our watersheds and lands healthy. We cannot turn away, but we must face these problems with hope—for hope will be what gives us courage for the long work of healing slow violence. We need hope to trust and imagine that things can and will be different. To make our places safe we should take consolation in Paul’s hopeful promise that “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rm 8.26)

Lord open our eyes to the damage done to your creation and to the suffering this causes, and give us the courage and hope to transform our lands and towns into sanctuaries of your love and peace.

Wilson Dickinson is a teacher, preacher, and writer who is struggling to live sustainably and faithfully in Central Kentucky with his wife and son. He is currently working on a couple of books (one on "The Wisdom of the Cross" and the other on "Psalms as Songs of Love and Loss"), seeking to cultivate Christian community around issues of sustainability, and will be teaching some at Lexington Theological Seminary this Fall.

A Little More…
First Steps in the Long Work of Healing Slow Violence by Wilson Dickinson

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16: Listening Past the Noise

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” —Psalm 116:1-2 (NIV)

Our world is filled with violent noise. The drums of war beat constantly in our culture, and the horns of anger blow constantly in our ears from the time we wake up in the morning until the time we lay down our heads at night. There are innocent people being murdered in our streets, and neighbors shouting blame on each other over their bodies. Our politicians, our newscasters, our civic leaders, and even our sisters, and even our brothers yell at one another in a constant concert of fear-filled violence. And where is our God?

Elijah knew that God was not in the raging fire, or the thunderous earthquake, or the whipping wind. God was in the silence. We know that God is not in the yelling, or the hatred, or the violence, or the murder. God is in the silence. It is important for us to find a quiet place where we can talk to God, and listen for God’s plan. It is also important for us to be a quiet place for others. Simply by listening to someone else’s story, YOU have the power to show them God’s love.

Let us pray: Loving God, We have ears to hear, so let us hear someone else’s cry for mercy so they may know your love as we do. You are the perfect instrument of God’s love in your world.

Ryan McCormick
is a seminarian at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. He lives in Bardstown, Kentucky with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Emily.

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15: Listening to Each Other

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42

Just Listen
Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” - Sue Patton Thoele

My kindergarten student, Adrienne, ran up to me and burst into tears. “Ms. Spencer, Maria is not listening to me. I listened when she was talking, but now she don’t see me trying to talk!!!” As I held her in my arms, I said gently, “Adrienne, Ms. Spencer is listening to you.” As her sobs gradually began to subside, she looked up at me with her dark brown eyes and said, “Thank you teacher, you always see me when I talk and you listen.”

As I drove home that day, I reflected on the wisdom of my four year old student. When we truly listen to each other, we see each other and it is empowering for the speaker and the listener. The Samaritan woman listened to Jesus and saw him. The community listened to her testimony and saw Christ. They listened to Christ and saw him as the Savior of the world. Listening is far beyond a simple hearing process, it calls us to be intentional, present and open. When we listen to each other, we see each other. Our world is full of those who the world ignores and marginalizes. Imagine how listening with intention gives voice and empowers the speaker. It allows us to see the beautiful gift of God that they are. Thank you, God, I know you see me when I talk because you listen. Listen …… just listen. When I listen to you, I see you.
Loving and Listening God, teach us to listen intently for words spoken and unspoken. Listening deeply can heal hearts and spirits that are broken. Amen
Listening Activities
  • Talking Stick – This can be used as a tool to teach how to be a fully engaged listener. Sit together and whoever has the stick talks and everyone else listens completely. It is passed around so that everyone has the chance to share.
  • Device Free – During meal time, take the time to put away phones, ipads and turn off television. Take time to engage in conversation and listen without distractions.
Minister Sheila P Spencer
is an author, poet, educator and writer. A native of Los Angeles, she was an educator, literacy coach, teacher trainer and parent educator. She currently serves as Director of Christian Education/Formation for Disciples Home Missions and resides in Indianapolis, IN.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14: One Small Act

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make the Lord’s face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up the Lord’s countenance upon you, and give you peace. - Numbers 6:24-26

There is nothing like a smile. When we are afraid or hurt, and we see someone we love and see them smile at us, it is hard not to smile back! God reminds us that God’s presence is always there, smiling at us, being kind to us. But sometimes, when we are afraid, or when we have been hurt, our first thought is to fight back, to hurt back. But God reminds us that the power of a smile, the power of kindness, and the power of love can help us not to hurt others, and remind us that God is with us. One smile, one kind word, one act of kindness can be the beginning of peace. Like ripples in the water when we throw in one small stone, your act of kindness can help bring peace can reach many other people. When we smile, when we are kind, even through our tears, through our fear, we help other people to feel God’s love and peace. And we feel better, too! It is not always easy, but God is there, shining God’s face upon us, smiling to let us know God is with us. You can start the ripples of peace in the world with just one smile, one act of kindness!

Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens is the Senior Minister at First Christian Church of Downers Grove, IL. She is excited by the church’s heart for mission and its focus on families and children. FCCDG serves children locally through the PADS homeless ministry, and with an annual back-to-school fair, serving nearly 700 each year with backpacks, school supplies, health education and screenings, haircuts, food, games and prizes. The church also supports an orphanage and camp in Belarus with an annual giving campaign, supporting 25-30 children in camp each year. Terri is also the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is an alumna of the Divinity School, and of the Disciples Divinity House in Chicago. She serves on the boards of HELM and Christian Theological Seminary. She and her husband of 29 years, Walter, have an adult son, Mitchell.

A Little More… One Good Deed by Terri Fields -

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13: Creating Space for Nonviolence

"He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more."

- Isaiah 2:4
We loved watching the Olympics games from Rio De Janeiro; we had a bad case of Olympic fever! Our kids could not get enough of the swimming and diving, the track and field, even the archery and fencing. Sports that we would not normally give a passing thought to, for those two weeks, had our attention and love. But as our family was watching the Olympics, we frequently had to change the channel during the commercials. Where we would normally speed through on our TiVo DVR, our two young children were subject to advertisements for violent movies, television shows, and innuendoes meant for adults. This led our son to cover his eyes every time the gymnastics went to a commercial break.

For many children, this type of violence isn’t just reserved for the commercial break but is apart of their every day life. At school, at home, on the bus, and on the playground, there is no TiVo remote to pass and no place to cover their eyes because the violence, yelling, and fighting is always there.
Yet, as Christians our response is to create a safe environment where our children know that they are loved. We may not have swords to beat into plowshares, but we have fists that we can turn into an open hand to hold. We may have not spears to turn into pruning hooks, but we have words that can go from being filled with hatred and prejudice to ones full of love and hope. We can create a place where eyes don’t have to be covered because our corner of God’s world is one filled with the peace of Christ.
O loving God, help us create a safe environment for our children to know that they are loved. 

David Yonker is the Senior Pastor of the First Christian Church in Burlington, Iowa. He and his wife Liz are the parents of two young children, Sam and Emmy. 

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and