October 9-11 is the observance of a Children’s Sabbath. The Children’s Sabbath is a weekend that aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf. I would like to share with you some important information from the Children’s Defense Fund.
The Children’s Sabbath is a time to celebrate existing efforts for children. Encourage the ministries your church are already involved in and those who have made an effort to make sure that ministry takes place every day of the year. We need to lift their work up in prayer and encourage them as they work for justice.
The Children’s Sabbath is a prophetic time when we seek the Spirit of the Lord to lead us into new opportunities to help children. The more than 13 million children living in poverty, without enough family income to provide the food, shelter, and other basic necessities for them to survive and thrive, need us to create change. The nine million children without health coverage who may not be able to see a doctor when they are sick or injured or for regular checkups need us to create change. The children who are being swept along in a pipeline to prison need us to create change. Every minute we wait, we lose another child.
In the words of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, “Many things can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say ‘tomorrow,’ his name is ‘Today.’”
When we create change today, it will bring hope and a better tomorrow for the children themselves and for all of us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects us directly affects all indirectly.” When we create change for children, we as a society will all be better for it.
Many factors and programs can reduce a child’s chances of growing up poor or reduce poverty’s impact on them. We can make a difference. As United Methodists we can take a step to lift children out of poverty and improve their lives. We can pray for discernment to what kind of action God is calling us to for the sake of the children living around us. We can seek to learn more about child poverty. The Children’s Defense Fund’s web site, www.childrensdefense.org has resources and a bibliography. You can volunteer to be in ministry through organizations serving children and families who are poor or start a new outreach in the name of Christ through your own church. Keep your eyes and heart open to opportunities to help connect poor families with the help they need. Be a voice for change on the behalf of children, so the help they need is not cut from budgets.
- Bishop Peggy A. Johnson