October 23, 2016
This weekend marks the 25th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, uniting people of faith in common concern for problems like child poverty; in shared conviction that the God of love and justice calls us to the same; and in renewed commitment to reach out with love and to speak up for justice to improve the lives of children.
The 2016 Children’s Sabbath theme, “Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps,” focuses on the inherent promise in every child, made in God’s image, and on the importance of keeping our promises as adults, citizens, leaders, and people of faith to treat all children with equality, dignity, justice, and love. One way we can do that is by closing the opportunity gaps created by poverty, inadequate early childhood development, and failing schools, so that every child may fulfill her or his God-given promise. (Download free resources for the Children’s Sabbath at www.childrensdefense.org.)
In today’s lectionary reading Luke 18:9–14, Jesus tells a parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” The lesson is that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” When we as a nation allow one in five children to remain in poverty rather than taking steps to lift children and their families out of poverty, isn’t that a form of contempt? When we fail to assure a place in Head Start or other high quality early childhood development opportunities for every eligible child, isn’t that a form of contempt? When we allow some children, consigned by the lottery of birth and geography, to attend failing schools, isn’t that a form of contempt?
What will it look like when we as individuals, communities, and a nation regard no child with contempt but value every child as full of promise and equally cherished by God and by us? On this Children’s Sabbath, let us take steps to make it so.
Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, Children’s Defense Fund Senior Religious Advisor and Author of Hope for the Future: Answering God’s Call to Justice for Children (Westminster John Knox Press, 2016)
Today’s Focus: Children’s Sabbath
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Jean Hemphill, BOP
Brian Henson, PMA
Let us pray
God of love and justice, help us to see the promise in every child and to regard no child with contempt. Stir our hearts, move our hands, and open our mouths to love, serve, and advocate for your beloved children. This we pray in the name of your beloved child, Jesus. Amen.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 23, 2016, the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
First Reading Joel 2:23-32
Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel Luke 18:9-14