This Sunday is Children’s Sabbath, a program originally developed by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund and now recognized by people of many faith traditions.
Gracious God, our creator and our teacher,
We bring before you names that you already know, of your beloved children. Each of us knows some, but in prayer our horizon extends to all those in the education system.
These children of yours are not only students, but also teachers, principals and administrators, maintaining buildings and driving the buses. Yet your beloved younger children are too often reusing books with pages torn away and playing outdoors on equipment that is more dangerous than fun.
These, your beloved children, are not being given the resources they need for their education. In too many places their schools are not funded to be environments that equip them with the tools to survive this world.
They are not thriving, and, God, you taught us better. You taught us to take special care of children, bringing them up in love and in your wise mercy. You sought them out in crowds and held them close despite the worries of your friends. You saw in them seeds that education and formation could nurture into vibrant faith.
Forgive us for the ways we have forgotten your beloved children. Forgive us for when their schools don’t have books, their lunches are not enough, their classes over-crowded, their teachers are underpaid, and their buildings are falling apart.
You taught us better.
Hold these beloved children close to our hearts and always in our minds. Let our faith remind us that the work of child advocacy is the work of every one of us who has made promises at a baptism.
Let us not allow our schools or our teacher morale to crumble and our communities to sit idly by. Forgive us and send us out with prayers and plans for action in our neighborhoods and across our nation and globe.
In the name and spirit of Jesus, our first century teacher,
Author Bio: Beth Olker is a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Now living in South Carolina, Beth is currently employed as Field Staff for Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries, she is seeking a call to serve a congregation. She is a member of the Educate a Child Roundtable.