Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. This is a special day. Every year in October we celebrate Children’s Sabbath, a day organized by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) to raise awareness of and offer opportunities to get involved in social justice to children all over the world. It is a day where people of many faith beliefs focus on the needs of children, and call God's adult children to act on behalf of God's younger children. We need to respond to issues of child poverty, education, health, hunger and nutrition, and homelessness. Join us in experiencing the heartfelt prayers and calls for justice provided through CDF’s worship resources. May these words of others touch your hearts and make you respond asking, “What can I do?”
Where does it hurt?
We gather this morning with listening hearts
to hear the voices of our children.
What do you hope?
We gather this morning with listening hearts
to hear the hopes of children and
to nurture the hope within each of us.
How can we help?
We gather this morning with listening hearts
to hear how we can help
in partnership with those who are hurting,
as ones who are hoping.
Who are you and why are you here?
We gather this morning as God’s people to worship God,
in confidence that God hears our hurts and hopes
before they are even on our lips,
and calls us, as God’s partners, to help
with a passion for justice and hearts full of love.
Come, let us worship God on this Children’s Sabbath day.
(written by Shannon Daley-Harris)
Prayer for Illumination: O God, by your Spirit quiet our minds, center our hearts, and open our ears that we might hear the word you speak to us through the Word written and proclaimed. Help us to listen so deeply and truly that we might be prepared to go out and loudly live your Word in the world, raising a ruckus for justice, speaking boldly for love, for the sake of your beloved children. Amen. (written by Shannon Daley-Harris)
Prayer for Leaders: O God, as you anointed leaders and called prophets of old, lead us to recognize our true representatives and authentic leaders: men and women who love your people and can walk with them, who feel their pain and share their joys, who dream their dreams and strive to accompany them to their common goal. In your fire, with your Spirit, embolden and commission us to transform our political system, to serve your people, and to bring real glory to your name. Amen. (Philippines, 20th Cent., in United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 544)
Prayer For Children: Great God, Guard the laughter of children. Bring them safely through injury and illness, so they may live the promises you give. Do not let us be so preoccupied with our purposes that we fail to hear their voices, or pay attention to their special vision of the truth; but keep us with them, ready to listen and to love, even as in Jesus Christ you have loved us, your grown-up, wayward children. Amen. (From the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Common Worship)
Prayer for the Courage to Do Justice
O Lord, open our eyes that we may see the needs of others;
open our ears that we may hear their cries;
open our hearts so that they need not be without succor;
let us not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show us where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use us to bring them to those places.
And so open our eyes and our ears that we may,
this coming day, be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen. (By Alan Paton)
Prayer to Take Action: O God, help us to recover our hope for our children’s sake. Help us to recover our courage for our children’s sake. Help us to recover our discipline for our children’s sake. Help us to recover our ability to work together for our children’s sake. Help us to recover our values for our children’s sake. Help us to recover a spirit of sacrifice for our children’s sake. Help us to recover our faith in Thee for our children’s sake. Amen. (In Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditations on Loving and Working for Children by Marian Wright Edelman, founder of Children’s Defense Fund.)
I Am Standing Waiting
I am standing waiting, waiting at your door,
one of hunger’s children from a billion poor,
though you cannot see me, though I am so small--
listen to my crying, crying for us all.
I stand at your table asking to be fed,
holding up my rice bowl, begging for your bread,
I stand at your schoolroom longing just to learn,
hoping that you’ll teach me ways to live and earn.
I stand at your clinic begging for vaccine,
I stand at your wash place where the water’s clean,
I stand at your office, beg the heads of state,
I am just a child, so I must hope and wait.
I stand in your churches, listen to your prayers,
long to know a God who understands and cares.
If there is a God, a God who loves the poor,
I’m still standing waiting, waiting at your door.
(Hymn # 298, Community of Christ Sings. Words: Shirley Erena Murray, 1931– . Music:Words © 1992 Hope Publishing Company. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #A-722962. All rights reserved.)
Benediction: Be strong and let your heart take courage. Go forth with the listening love of God to hear our children; Go forth with the tender love of Christ to heal our children; Go forth with the empowering love of the Spirit to seek justice with our children; On this Children’s Sabbath day and ever more. Amen.
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. How has the week played out for you? Can you look back and count your blessings? Were there any obstacles or stumbling blocks that were particularly hard? This week we look at the story of Job, a man of great faith who loved God through the bad times, as well as the good. Like Job, we can find ourselves facing extreme hardships, but the question is, will we react like Job? How strong is our faith? Get comfortable, take a deep breath, and let’s examine how we can use our faith to face the struggles of life.
In the story of Job, Job’s faith is intentionally tested. The ha-satan, a member of God’s court, proposes a wager with God because the ha-satan is sure Job will lose his faith, love and trust in God when faced with the loss of his animals, his livelihood, his health, and his loved ones. The ha-satan is sure Job will rebuke God. Have you ever faced so much heartache that you get angry with God and your faith “breaks”? When have you “fallen away” and doubt God cares, or even exists?
Job kept his faith even when all was lost and his body was covered in sores. He did not listen to his friends who told him his hardships must be his fault and that God was punishing him. He held onto his love of and trust in God. “…until I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days” (Job 27:5-6). Job states that suffering is not always the result of sin which was a radical assertion in his day, and an important one to affirm even today.
Perhaps you don’t walk away from your faith. But do you turn a bewildered and battered heart toward God and ask, “Why?” In my darkest moments, when my world feels like it is mortally wounded, my question is, “God, why did you even allow this to happen?” In our deepest despair many of us cry out , “Why, God? Why?” Why is my child sick? Why did a co-worker say those awful things? Why does the bullying never stop? Why….WHY? Job shows us that asking these hard and true questions is actually part of being in a relationship with God. His experience resonates with us. Job is at times confident of God’s love and compassion and places his full trust in God. At other times, Job is baffled by what happens in life and realizes there is so much about God he does not understand. But Job does know that God loves him and will listen to his rants and his lament and will hold him as a parent holds his child at the end of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”. Have faith knowing that God’s love is steadfast.
In a recent discussion with friends (part of our weekly Friday, all-are-welcome, Zoom Lunch discussion), we talked about the value of faith. Faith makes us stronger and a result of faith is hope. If we have hope we can keep moving forward. That is worth repeating – a result of faith is hope and when we have hope we can keep moving forward.
So we need to build our faith so it becomes a shield of armor that we can use when faced with the onslaughts of life. There is a sense of peace knowing that we are prepared to face our struggles. So give your anxiousness to God.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath and exhale. Relax your shoulders and invite the Holy Spirit to live inside you. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with each breath. "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!" - Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) This is faith – a faith that brings hope that the blossoms will come again and the vines will bear fruit. Faith that God holds us in the palm of His hand.
Dear God, the Forger of Shields. Help us to build-up the metal of our shields and seek the possibilities and promises of tomorrow. During those times of duress, may we remember that You stand near, always ready to hold us close. May we delight in your love and feel safe in your arms, knowing your love is forever. Hear our prayer as we praise your goodness and accept your grace. Amen
Author - Bonnie Barber, Pastor of the Washington, DC Community of Christ and Mission/Social Justice Team Leader for the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center.
The United Nations designated Saturday, October 2nd, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence, as the International Day of Non-Violence. Community of Christ offered a Taizé Worship Service in observance of non-violence. In Taizé worship there are songs, chanted prayers, meditation and periods of silence. In recognition and observance of our mutual desire for a world of non-violence, today we offer elements of a Taizé worship. May the peace offered in this devotion’s time and space speak to you, inspire you and fill you with the desire for peace for all the earth and for all people.
Experience the worshipful words of asking God to hear our prayers. The music is simple, repetitive and beseeching,
“O Lord, Hear our prayer”.
Prayer of Peace: Dear God of All People and All Creation. We come meek and humble, acknowledging the pain and suffering of your world and your children. Our hands do not always reach out in peace. Forgive us. Our hearts are not always filled with compassion. Forgive us. Help us to transform our energy, thoughts and actions to reflect your love and the peace of your son, Jesus. May all people feel their worth because we treat all people as worthy. Help us to heal the scars on this earth by recognizing the damage we inflict and taking steps to renew, regrow and revive its beauty and richness. May we embrace the vision You have for us and this world. Amen
The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMaCK9JFAZc What is the Kingdom of God to you?
In the words of Ravi Sathavivam, seek the peace of the world.
When you look for peace
then the peace lies within you
When you search for peace
then it is not hard to find
When you want to keep peace alive
then you allow white doves to fly over you
When you make peace with others
then the whole world lives in your heart
When you let peace be in the world
then you live in wonderful world
Dear God, Look upon us and bless us. May we be all that you have to offer us. Amen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYLKrFOLS-E&list=RDj4YgfHcyLlE&index=2
Bonnie Barber is the Pastor for the Washington, DC, Community of Christ and the Team Leader for the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center Mission/Social Justice Team.
Sunday Devotion - Social Justice