Restoring community: Serving children at risk

 

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible/Theme Background

This Sunday we continue recognizing those in our midst who are working for a new church by restoring community.  We want to recognize people in mission all over and today we especially give great thanks for those who serve children at risk.  Children are a precious group of people that can’t always speak out for themselves or know the best situation possible.  It is necessary for many of us to step up and advocate for these precious beings.

It is appropriate to look at how we can serve children when we look at this Sunday’s lectionary.  This Sunday especially focuses on the birth of John the Baptist.  John was a surprise to many since his parents were very…mature (or advanced in age).  When the angel of the Lord announced the birth of John, his mother was surprised, his father went mute and his cousin leapt in Mary’s womb. People started talking about who this child was to become and when he would arrive.  What was his purpose?

This scripture is as much about the child as it is about the adults surrounding the child.  We are told that he is raised with these wonderful parents and surrounded by loving family (Mary is his cousin).  He is raised with the Torah and brought up to be a good Jewish leader.  He will be sent out into the wilderness and lead others to Jesus. John needs those around him who will cheer him on and celebrate his call, not someone who pushes him away or stifles his creativity.   Too many children are trampled on or pushed to the side and forgotten.  John needs other safe adults as well to nurture his call.

Our first reading today, lays out part of John’s purpose and proclaims that these children are indeed going to be great leaders in our history.  In a time when children were unimportant to say the least, John and Jesus needed some extra protection in a world that gave little protection to children. They were given this protection and later Jesus would offer voice to children when kids really had no voice.  He gave them importance and security. We are called to do the same.

Today we recognize those who work for change in how children are treated and offer them a voice when society really doesn’t.  We want to recognize those who advocate for kids in CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), at Julette’s House, in schools and who play special roles in kid’s lives.  You are called by God and special people to walk the way with children in our midst.  Thank you for all of the work you do!  There are leaders in our midst who are to become “strong in spirit (Luke 1:80).”

Quotes for the Week   

 “A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY. Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children”  ― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief 

 “I want my kids to have the things in life that I never had when I was growing up. Things like beards and chest hair.” ― Jarod Kintz     

 “Children see magic because they look for it.” ― Christopher Moore      

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.” – Paula Poundstone

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers                                                                                                      

Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judahand Jerusalemwill be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Luke 1:57-66, 80 (NRSV)

Now the time came forElizabethto give birth, and she bore a son.Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country ofJudea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

 

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly toIsrael.

Questions for the Week

Where could we stand up for children more?

Who played a key mentor in your life when you were a child?

 

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About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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