A Moment for Mission
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:14, NRSV
On this day we celebrate Children's Sabbath in The United Methodist Church. Within our congregations, we are reminded of the commitments we make to children and parents during the sacrament of baptism. Congregation Members are implored to "do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love" renewing our commitment together as members of the church.
This commitment to the nurture of children within our congregations is vital in the faith formation of our children. According to Barna Research, by age 13 children have formed their beliefs about the nature of God, the Holy Spirit and whether or not they will put their faith in Jesus Christ. Barna goes further to say that only 6 percent of believers come to faith after age 12. Will we be the ones who walk with them that they may increase in faith and grow in hope and love?
Children's Sabbath is also celebrated ecumenically — not only as a celebration of the children who worship among us, but also as a way to look to the needs of children in our communities and our world. Children's Sabbath looks to those children Jesus admonished his disciples for keeping away and insisted they "come to me." How will we respond to our commitment to nurture the children among us and the call to raise up the children outside our doors?
God of love and mercy, may we, your church, press on toward this goal of becoming a Beloved Community, open our hearts to love all children as our children, open our minds that we may now how to act with justice and compassion for children near and far. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost/Children's Sabbath - Almighty God, your wondrous creation testifies to your wisdom. We are in awe of you as we witness an eclipse or a glorious sunset. When a hurricane causes destruction, we ponder your power and feel vulnerable. We would be lost without your life-giving word! Thank you for befriending us in Christ, your word made flesh. May your Spirit give us a loving, childlike heart to reflect your kindness each day. Receive our offerings in Jesus' name. Amen. (Psalm 19)
Children's Sabbath is observed in October to celebrate the life of the children among us as members of our churches. Children's Sabbath is also about turning our attention outward and looking to the hard realities that some children in our communities and world face today. The United Methodist Church is one of a number of faith traditions that celebrate Children's Sabbath with resources from the Children's Defense Fund encouraging faith communities to look to the needs of children and toward decreasing opportunity gaps.
The Four Areas of Focus of the United Methodist Church helps set our course in caring for all children as our children, particularly engaging in ministry with the poor and improving global health. Poverty takes its toll on children in various forms, from the high cost of childcare, to children living with food insecurity, and the lack quality education for all. What these children are lacking keep them from thriving. It is important that we remember these children of God and act as the people of God.