Moment for Mission
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. — Jeremiah 29:7
Children's Sabbath is celebrated in a variety of ways in The United Methodist Church. It is an opportunity, alongside others from a range of faith backgrounds, to make a commitment to educate our congregations about the current state of children and families. It has been said that the welfare of the entire community, its growth and development depend on the health and well-being of the children.
Not only is it important for our nation to care about the welfare of children, but also to act on their behalf. Jesus welcomed the children at a time when children had little to no standing in society. While we live in a time when children have rights, there continues to be children who face hunger and other challenges that accompany poverty every day.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, more than one in five children lives in poverty; one in 17 lacks health coverage; one in nine is at risk of hunger; two in five eighth grade public school children read below grade level; and nearly one in five children drops out of high school.
Children's Sabbath is an opportunity for congregations to celebrate the gift of those children who worship alongside us, as well as those outside of our congregation who are more than statistics and need prayer as well as prayerful actions by the saints.
God, We give thanks for the children among us who bring us joy and remind us to wonder and to hope. For all those children who face hunger, struggle with education, and who are not safe at home, we pray. Inspire us to be people who act on their behalf. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - Merciful God, your steadfast love endures forever. We are grateful that when we are hungry in body or spirit, you give us food. Help our congregation to bring nourishment to those who are hungry for your good gifts. Strengthen and renew our ministries with children and those who are vulnerable. Use these tithes and offerings to reach people with your loving kindness. We pray through Jesus Christ, the bread of life. Amen. (Psalm 111)
The observance of Children's Sabbath by The United Methodist Church is distinct from a typical Children's Sunday in that it moves us beyond celebrating with our children and toward compassion for our neighborhoods, our communities and our nation. Children's Sabbath offers the opportunity for our congregations, alongside those from many other denominations and faith backgrounds, to educate ourselves on the state of children and families today.
Children's Defense Fund provides resources to help congregations take a look at what children in America are facing. They report one in five lives in poverty; one in 17 lacks health coverage; one in nine is at risk of hunger; two in five eighth grade public school children read below grade level; and one in five drops out of high school.
When we prayerfully consider the challenges that our children face, maybe we will be inspired to act as people of faith in ways that will remove obstacles and close opportunity gaps hindering children from realizing their promise.