News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  17 October 2018  •  No. 175

Processional.Saman: Dance of a Thousand Hands,” a traditional dance with music of the Gayo people of Sumatra, performed by the combined Voice of Chicago and DiMension ensembles of the Chicago Children's Choir.

Above: Photo by Doug Lowry.

Special edition

This year is the Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) 27th observance of Children’s Sabbath.
This year’s theme: “Realizing Dr. King’s Vision for Every Child: Lives of Hope, Not Despair.”
The date is 27-29 October (but you can observe the day whenever it seems appropriate).
CDF has special worship material for Christian, Jewish, and interfaith observances, along with other resources.

Invocation. “It takes a whole village to raise our children / It takes a whole village to raise one child / We all everyone must share the burden / We all everyone will share the joy.” The Choral Project

¶ “No child ever learned curiosity by filling out curiosity work sheets.” —Paul Tough, Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why

Call to worship. “We pray for children / who put chocolate fingers everywhere, / who like to be tickled, / who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, / who sneak popsicles before supper. . . /  And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, / who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers, / who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead, who never go to the circus, who live in an X-rated world.” —continue reading Ina J. Hughes’ “A Prayer for Children

Good news. “The student council of Chelsea High School in Michigan have unanimously agreed to replace their homecoming queen tradition with a new ‘Excellence Award’ that will instead recognize students based on attributes other than appearance and/or popularity.

        “The students hope that the new award will help prevent bullying within the school.  The school has been working to fight bullying since they launched their #WhyYouMatter campaign in 2016.” McKinley Corbley, goodnewsnetwork

¶“Anyone familiar with King James’ translation of Scripture will recognize the phrase ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me,’ spoken by Jesus in rebuffing the disciples’ intent on keeping young ones at arm’s length. (See Mark 9:33-37 and 10:14, with parallel stories in Matthew 18 and Luke 18.) The synoptic writers’ retention of this odd story serves as a point of entry into the Gospel story as a whole.” —continue reading “Suffer the children: A Bible study on Jesus’ teachings about ‘becoming like children’”

Hymn of praise. “All my life I´ve been waiting for / I´ve been praying for / For the people to say / That we don´t wanna fight no more / They´ll be no more wars / And our children will play / One day.” —Koolulam leading 3000 people, three languages in Haifa all singing “One Day” hoping that it is near. (Thanks Marnie.)

¶ “Selfless behaviour could boost confidence in teenagers, new research has found. In a longitudinal study conducted at Brigham Young University, Utah, scientists noted that adolescents who exhibited prosocial behaviour towards strangers had higher self-esteem a year later.

Left: Art by Ade Bethune, ©Ade Bethune Collection, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN.

        “’This study helps us to understand that young people who help those with whom they do not have a relationship report feeling better about themselves over time,’ explained the study’s co-author, professor Laura Padilla-Walker.” Olivia Petter, Independent

Prayer of thanksgiving. ““Dear God, I thank You for the gift of this child to raise, this life to share, this mind to help mold, this body to nurture, and this spirit to enrich. Let me never betray this child’s trust, dampen this child’s hope, or discourage this child’s dreams.” —Marian Wright Edelman, Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers On Loving and Working for Children

¶ “Of the many dangers this presidency poses, one of the greatest is deep damage to our children’s perceptions of race, gender and other kinds of difference. We know the youngest children internalize racist perceptions of themselves and others. These effects are powerful in normal times. In this political climate, they’re on steroids.” Jennifer Harvey, New York Times

Confession. “Create In Me a Clean Heart (Psalm 51),” Thingamakid children’s choir, Jacobs Jewish Summer Camp.

¶ “About 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, a measurement that has been shown to underestimate the needs of families. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 43% of children live in low-income families.” National Center for Children in Poverty

Citizens in the US think social mobility—the ability to move from rags to riches—is a hallmark of our nation. Wrong. “[T]he probability of a child born to parents in the bottom fifth of the incomes reaching the top fifth is 7.5% in America.” Alissa Quart, The Guardian

Words of assurance. “The echoes of childhood whisper violence / Cold wind beating out of the past / Rage in your throat, muffled silence / Hold on, I will stand fast / You are safe in the daylight at last / Nightmare and fear, they have no power here / I will stand fast.” —Fred Small, “I Will Stand Fast,” a song for survivors of child abuse 

We need to incorporate this finding into our analysis. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recently gave Dr. Stacy Drury its award for outstanding scientific achievement for her research into how “early childhood trauma can have negative health consequences that seep across generations. The research showed that a biological marker of an infant’s ability to regulate stress was influenced not only by the amount of stress the child’s mother experienced during pregnancy but also by a mother’s life course experiences with stress.” Keith Brannon, Tulane University

Hymn of resolution. “I am open and I am willing / To be hopeless would seem so strange / It dishonors those who go before us / So lift me up to the light of change. . . . / Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion / Give me a desert to hold my fears / Give me a sunset to hold my wonder / Give me an ocean to hold my tears.” —Holly Near, “I Am Willing

Short story. “’The catcher in the rye’ is what 17-year-old Holden Caufield tells his little sister he wants to be, rejecting her suggestions of lawyer and scientist. Holden, the narrator and main character in Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, wants to preserve innocence.

        “He tells his sister that he imagines thousands of small children playing in a field of rye. At the end of the field is a cliff and if the children in the play wander too close and fall, he would be there to protect them.” —Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, The Nonviolent Moment: Spirituality for the 21st Century

Hymn of intercession. “ICE is loose over those streets. [*ICE = Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; ice = hielo] / We never know when we will be hit. / They cry, the children cry at the doorway, / They cry when they see that their mother will not come back.” “Ice El Hielo,” La Santa Cecilia

Word. “What a society does to its children, its children will do to society." —Marcus Tullius Cicero, 1st century BCE Roman statesman and philosopher

Preach it. “Your children are not your children. / They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. / They come through you but not from you,  / And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. . . . / You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” —Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet”

This is how gangster capitalism works. “A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.” Ecuador was slated to present the resolution. But Trump Administration officials threatened the small Latin American country with punishing trade restrictions and a cutoff of military aid.

        “A 2016 study in The Lancet [the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journal] found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.” Andrew Jacobs, New York Times

By the numbers. “The United States ranks near the bottom of the pack of wealthy nations on a measure of child poverty, according to a report from UNICEF. Nearly one third of US children live in households with an income below 60% of the national median income in 2008—about $31,000 annually. . . . The US ranks 36th out of the 41 wealthy countries.” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

Hymn of thanksgiving.Webale” (“Thank You”), Watoto Children's Choir.

Can’t makes this sh*t up.
        • “It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally,” according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defending the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents. Willa Frej, huffingtonpost
        • “The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border [then separated from her grandmother] and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights.” Sarah Stillman, New Yorker

Call to the table. “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” —Sitting Bull, chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota nation

Preparation for All Saints Day. “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” The Children's Choir of St. John's Episcopal Church in North Haven, CT.

The state of our disunion. “The number of migrant children being detained by the [US] government has reached its highest level ever, according to a report by The New York Times. Data obtained by the Times showed that 12,800 children were detained in federal custody this month, compared to 2,400 children detained in May 2017.” Grace Segers, CBS News

        The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is a billion-dollar industry. —for more see Manny Fernandez and Katie Benner, New York Times

Best one-liner. "It's bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children's health than the pediatrician."  —Meryl Streep

For the beauty of the earth. Preparing for babies—watch this bird’s amazing nest building skill. (2:50 video. Thanks Linda.)

Altar call. “People killin' people dyin' / Children hurtin', I hear them cryin' / Can you practice what you preachin'?—Black Eyed Peas, “Where Is the Love?

¶ “I’m embarrassed to admit muffling a groan when I first heard “safe church policy” [to guard against sexual abuse of children] mentioned in conversation among our members. Three thoughts came rushing up in complaint.” —continue reading “Safe church policies: Pastoral advice on getting started


        • “13 Children’s Books That Encourage Kindness Towards Others.” —BuzzFeed

        • “Books That Facilitate Empathy: Poverty.” —Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup

        • “11 Free Reading Websites for Kids.—Brandi Jordan, Really Good Stuff

Benediction. What to tell the children? “Tell them that this is the great awakening. / Tell them that we humans have made some huge mistakes / And that’s how we now find ourselves in this tenuous place. / Teach them that hate is the poison. / Teach them that love is the remedy, / That it is better to be readied for what comes next, / Even if the revelation is painful.” —read Rachel Kann’s poem written shortly after the November 2016 US election

Recessional. “All people who accept / His authority / Are his children / Are children / Are children / In the power of God.” —English translation of “Bonse Aba,” traditional folk song from the Bemba tribe of Zambia, performed by La Coral Santisima Trinidad de Valencia, Spain

Lectionary for this Sunday.

        • To do a “Children’s Sabbath” sermon, use vv.13-16 of Mark 10 instead of vv. 46-52.

        • “Unimagined grace,” a litany for worship inspired by Jeremiah 31

Lectionary for Sunday next.Unprotected Texts: The difficult dialogue with the Bible on love and marriage,” a sermon by Nancy Hastings Sehested, anchored in the story of Ruth and Naomi.

Just for fun.If you were a sibling of Jesus,” Michael Jr. (3:54 video. Thanks Kyle.)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Suffer the children: A Bible study on Jesus’ teachings about ‘becoming like children’”

• “Unprotected Texts: The difficult dialogue with the Bible on love and marriage,” a sermon by Nancy Hastings Sehested
Other features

• “Teach your children well,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 78

• “Come home,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 146

• “Safe church policies: Pastoral advice on getting started

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